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Learning to Communicate in the Classroom: A Study of Two Language Learners' Requests

  • Rod Ellis (a1)
Abstract

It is now generally accepted that second language (L2) acquisition can take place as a result of learning how to communicate in the L2. It is less clear, however, whether the kind of communication that occurs in a classroom is sufficient to ensure development of full target language competence. This article examines the extent to which the opportunities for communication in an English as a Second Language (ESL) classroom result in the acquisition of one particular illocutionary act—requests. A total of 410 requests produced by two child learners over 15–21 months were examined. The results suggest that although considerable development took place over this period, both learners failed to develop either the full range of request types or a broad linguistic repertoire for performing those types that they did acquire. The learners also failed to develop the sociolinguistic competence needed to vary their choice of request to take account of different addressees. One explanation for these results is that although the classroom context fostered interpersonal and expressive needs in the two learners, it did not provide the conditions for real sociolinguistic needs.

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Studies in Second Language Acquisition
  • ISSN: 0272-2631
  • EISSN: 1470-1545
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