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Discuss the relationship between input and output in Second Language Acquisition
Many second language learners believe that the most significant elements to help them acquire their second language are grammatical rules or vocabulary lists. Second language learners need to know the rules of their target language before they begin to produce their sentences. It can be explained that the ability to know how to use the language is defined as an input and the ability to use the language is defined as an output. On the other hand, input can be the language offered to second language learners by native speakers or other learners whereas output is the language spoken by second language learners themselves.
Moreover, when second language learners begin to acquire their second language, they are required to have an input to make an output. They will be able to understand massages and make the output, if they are provided with the right kind of input. Although input is one of the significant elements to support second language to make an output, it sometimes seems to play a minor role in some situations. For example, a number of second language learners are able to complete the grammatical or vocabulary tests but they find themselves at a loss when they confront with the real spontaneous conversation even language learners’ pronunciation. However, it can be seen that input and output are relate to each other in order for second language acquisition to take place.
The essay will first look at the nature of input and output, the role of input and output in second language acquisition and theories to show the relationship between them.
The term “input” is used to describe the language that is available to learners which can be spoken or written. Input serves as the data which the learners must use to determine the rules of the target language (Ellis, 1986). From the phrase “Lack of understanding, no learning can take place” (Gass, 1994), it seems clear that the right kind of input is one of the significant elements for second language learners to acquire their second language. Corder (1967) maintained that input referred to what is available to learners. Some second language learners might be familiar with the situation in which the language they hear is totally incomprehensible. It means language learners are unable to understand that language they hear clearly, moreover, second language acquisition will not take place in this case.
This relates to the nature of input to language learners which Ferguson (1971) called “Foreigner talk.” It is the way when native speakers speak to non-native speaks to support them for being better able to understand massages they hear, by using simply words, simply grammatical rules or slower speech rate. Foreigner talk can be beneficial, not only for immediate communicative language learners, but also for providing the beginning second language learners with clearer and comprehensible examples of the basic structure of the second language as an input.
Input Hypothesis provides the answer which is second language is acquired by understanding massages or by receiving comprehensible input. Krashen claimed that language is not “soaked up” so second language learners must understand messages that are conveyed. Learners are able to understand massages just one step beyond their current knowledge, which means the right kind of input. The right kind of input which language learners are exposed to must be at the “i+1” level in terms of acquiring second language acquisition, which “ i” is defined as a learner’s current knowledge and the next stage is i+1. (Gass, 1994)
The term “output” or “comprehensible output” will allow language learners use the language they know in a productive way (Yule, 2006). Comprehensible output refers to the need for language learners to be “pushed toward the delivery of a message that is not only conveyed, but that is conveyed precisely, coherently, and appropriately.” The comprehensible output hypothesis predicts that language learners acquire language when there is communicative breakdown. The comprehensible output hypothesis states that language learners acquire language when they attempt to transmit a massage but fail and have to try again. Eventually, they arrive at the correct form of their utterance. Their conversational partner finally understands, and they acquire the new form they have produced.
Relationship between input and output in second language acquisition
From original output hypothesis, some of the same studies that lent support to the notion that a greatdeal of comprehensible input over time can lead to considerable fluency also suggestedthat comprehensible input was not enough to lead to completely fluent and accurateuse of the target language.
In a study conducted with Canadian immersion students, Swain has shown that even though students had received abundant comprehensibleinput in French and were somewhat fluent in the language they had still not acquiredgrammatical competence in the language. Swain suggested that “output” was the missing factor and called the concept “comprehensible output” and has been credited with first articulating what has come to be called the “Output Hypothesis.”It has been proposed (Swain 1995) that one possible way to explain for the lack of grammatical accuracy was that learners were not being pushed to produce language output. Swain hypothesized that learners in immersion settings were not “pushed” to a deeper analysis of the target language grammar because they could get their meaning across adequately without doing so.
Swain (1985) who quoted from an eighth grade immersion student who said: “I can hear in my head how I should sound when I talk, but it never comes out that way” there appear to be limitations on the translation of knowledge into output.
The originator of the comprehensible output hypothesis, Swain (Swain, 1985), does not claim that comprehensible output is responsible for all or even most of our language competence. Rather, the claim is that “sometimes, under some conditions, output facilitates second language learning in ways that are different form, or enhance or those of input”
Ellis (2002) mentioned that the concept of interlanguage could be viewed like a computer. The process responsible for creating intake and second language knowledge occur within the “black box” of the language learners’ mind where the learners’ interlanguage is constructed.
Input > [ intake > second language knowledge ] > output
Gass (1988) claimed there were five levels involved in conversion of input to output: (1) apperceive input, (2) comprehended input, (3) intake, (4) integration, and (5) output.
- Apperceive input is a part of language that is noticed in some way by language learners because of some particular features. Apperception is the process of understanding by which newly observed qualities of an object are related to part experience.
- Comprehended input is learner-controlled which means the learner who is or who is not doing the “work” to understand.
- Intake is the mental activity that mediates between input and grammars; however, intake is not only a subset of input.
- Integration is not function as an independent unit because it is dynamic and interactive with knowledge itself for being cumulative and interactive.
- Output is the role of comprehensible output in testing hypotheses which can be a feedback loop into intake component. Moreover, output plays the role in forcing a syntactic rather than solely a semantic analysis on language. This conceptualization of output necessitates a feedback loop to comprehended input. Learners’ output is often equated with their grammar. For example, it is frequently inferred that changes in the output represent changes in a learner’s grammar, however, the output is not identical to one’s grammar is suggested by a number of factors such as personality factor can be one’s ability to produce correct target language sentences. The output component represents more than the product of language knowledge; it is an active part of entire learning process.
From Lightbown (2006) the interaction hypothesis studies the way when speakers modify their speech and their interaction patterns in order to help learners participate in a conversation or understand some information which Ferguson (1971) called “Foreigner talk.” It is the way when native speakers speak to non-native speaks to support them for being better able to understand massages they hear.
From the theories and the case studies above claim to explain that the relationship between input and output is sometimes related to each other, sometime not. If the relationship between input and output are divided into two sides: for and against. It can be seen that input seems to have an important role in second language acquisition more than output in terms of the first element to help second language learners to acquire their target language. Output has another role in second language acquisition; it always refers to production and language development.
Grammatical rule, vocabulary lists and massages in this easy will be defined as an input while the use of language is defined as an output.
There is no doubt that many second language learners start to acquire an input before they start to make their own sentences because most of them believe that making an output has to start from the knowledge of their target language. It seems to be true in some situation.
There are four skills in every target language such as listening, reading, speaking and writing. Those skills are required the understanding of language learners to acquire them which learners are able to understand massages just one step beyond their current knowledge. This explanation seems to be good for listening and reading skills whereas speaking and writing, language learners seem to have low proficiency to produce them although they have a good input. The spontaneous conversation can be a good explanation because the feedback can be checked obviously in terms of keeping the conversation going. This relates to the interaction hypothesis which Long agreed with Krashen in Lightbown (2006) that conversational interaction is an essential in second language acquisition in terms of input and output, it can be seen from native speakers try to change their speech and their interaction patterns or Ferguson (1971) called as foreigner talk in order to help language learners participate in a conversation or understand some information which, comprehensible input is necessary for second language acquisition to take place. If language learners are unable to understand massages, they also are unable to produce their sentences to keep the conversation going. Long (1996) claimed that when language learners produce their sentences as an output, they seem to know the limit of their second language ability so output will be mechanism to push language learners ahead in their development.
It can be seen that listening and reading skills, language learners seems to use their input to perform at the same level as their knowledge whereas speaking and writing skill, the relationship between input and output seem to be separated which input might play a minor role to make an output in conversation.
The socioculture perspective was explained in Ligbown (2006) that thinking and speaking as related but independent process. There was a recent study from Swain (2000) in Lightbown (2006), using the term “collaborative dialogue.” She claimed about a series of studies to determine how second language learners co-construct linguistic knowledge while engaging in production tasks i.e. speaking and writing. The results were language learners make several grammatical errors and there is no error correction provided.
Many second language learners acquire an input as the first start to understand how their target language would be like before making their own sentences as an output.
It can be explained that the ability to know how to use the language can be defined as an input and the ability to use the language can be defined as an output. Input plays an important in second language acquisition in terms of the first start for language learners to acquire their target language; however, output also plays an important role in second language acquisition as a checker the ability to use correct target language sentences. It seems true that input is one of the significant elements to support second language learners to make an output; however, sometimes it seems to play a minor role in some situations. For example, a number of second language learners are able to complete the grammatical or vocabulary tests but they find themselves at a loss when they confront with the real spontaneous conversation.
It would be clearer if an input refers to readers and listeners whereas speakers and writers are referred to an output.
From the input hypothesis which is the significant theory to explain the relationship between input and output, Krashen who mentioned the right kind of input, claimed to explain that language learners are able to understand the massages just one step beyond their knowledge. This relates to when native speakers try to change their speech and their interaction patterns or Ferguson (1971) called as foreigner talk in order to help language learners participate in a conversation or understand some information which, comprehensible input is necessary for second language acquisition to take place. If language learners are unable to understand massages, they also are unable to produce their sentences to keep the conversation. This explanation seems to be good for language learners who act as listeners and readers. It is clear that listeners or readers are able to understand the massages they hear at the same level as the performance or one step beyond their knowledge.
On the other hand, speaking and writing skill, the relationship between input and output seem to be separated which input might play a minor role to make an output in conversation or language learners’ pronunciation. A number of second language learners are able to complete the grammatical or vocabulary tests but they find themselves at a loss when they confront with the real spontaneous conversation especially, language learners’ pronunciation.
Although the relationship between input and output sometimes seem to go on together to help language learners acquire their target language in terms of understanding the messages to make an output in conversation or reading, sometimes seem to be separated from each other in case of speaking or writing which input seem to play a minor in language learners’ performance. However, input and output are significant elements to support language learners acquiring their target language. Input acts as knowledge of language learners whereas output acts as ability of language learners. One significant thing which can be noticed from the relationship between input and output is the role in second language acquisition. Doubtlessly, input is referred to the first start when language learners begin to acquire their target language. It seems true that knowledge is the basic element to help language learners understand massages whereas output is always referred to the language learners’ performance which is the result of input. However, there are some situations such as spontaneous conversation which input seems to play an unimportant to make output and language learners’ ability cannot be checked in terms of bad performance. It can be possible that language learners are unable to understand input so they cannot make output or they cannot make output even they understand massages.
- Corder, S.P. (1967). The significance of learner’s errors. International Review of Appled Linguistics, 5 , 161-170
- Ellis, R (1986). Understanding Second Language Acquisition. Oxford: The Alden Press
- Ellis, N.C. (2002). Frequency effects in language acquisition: A review with implications for theories of implicit and explicit language acquisition. Studies in Second Language Acquisition 24/2: 143-88
- Ferguson, C. (1971). Absence of copula and the notion of simplicity: A study of normal speech, baby talk, foreigner talk and pidgins. In D, Hymes (Ed), Pidginization and creolization of language (pp. 141-150): Cambridge University Press
- Gass, S. (1988). Interlanguage research areas: A framework for second language studies. Applied Linguistics, 9, 198-217
- Gass, S.M. and Selinker, L. (1994). Second language acquisition: An introductory course. The United States of America: Lawrence Erlbaum Association, Inc., Publshers
- Lightbown, M.P. and Spada, N. (2006). How language are learned. Oxford: Oxford University Press
- Long, M. (1996). The role of the linguistic environment in second language. In W. Ritchie and T. Bhatia (Eds): Handbook of Second Language Acquisition. New York: Academic Press. pp. 413-68
- Swain, M. (1985). Communicative competence: Some roles of comprehensible input and comprehensive output in its development. In S, Gass and C, Madden (Eds), Input in second language acquisition (pp. 235-253). Roeley, MA: Newbury House
- Yule, G (2006). The Study of Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
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