The importance of oral interaction

Oral interaction is a significant factor in language development. A classroom program that is supportive of second language learning does not limit itself to the IRF (Initiation,Response, Feedback) patterns of interaction. It includes learning activities that employ varied interactional patterns allowing students to question, hypothesise, clarify and negotiate. This is important for language learning because producing spoken language encourages learners to process the language more deeply than is required when they simply listen. It stretches learner language in a way that listening alone does not. This type of language production can be encouraged through group work.

Language for Learning

A youtube video on the types of language for learning children need can be found below:


Group work and second language learning

Group work has a number of advantages over whole class work for language learning.
  1. Learners hear more language, a greater variety of language and have more language directed toward them; group-work situations increase the input to the learner.

  2. Learners interact more with other speakers, and therefore their output is also increased. They tend to take more turns, and in the absence of the teacher have more responsibility for clarifying their own meanings. In other words, it is the learners themselves who are doing the language learning work.

  3. What learners hear and what they learn is contextualised: language is heard and used in an appropriate context and used meaningfully for a particular purpose.

  4. Group work supports comprehension because it gives learners several opportunities to hear similar ideas expressed in a number of ways. Students are allowed to ask questions, exchange information and solve problems. Words are repeated, ideas are rephrased, problems are restated and meanings are refined. Reference Pauline, Gibbons 2002. //Scaffolding Language Scaffolding Learning////,// p 17-18


For this group interview activity, the teacher allocates roles according to different levels of English language proficiency. Those with lower levels are positioned as interviewees, and the teacher guides the higher proficiency interviewers and scribes to creatively negotiate meaning with them, for example reframing questions with alternative vocabulary and grammar or adding sub-questions. Thus each student can extend herself at her own level and is supported to do so.

A teacher of mathematics uses an inquiry approach to learning with her prep students. In introducing the lesson and lesson sequence, she adopts a language-based approach that involves story telling to introduce and reinforce her students' understanding of the concept of 'prediction' and its applicability to mathematics learning. Her students are required through practical tasks to make predications and to test the influence of variables on these. Students' numeracy and literacy skills are developed and reinforced throughout the entire learning activity.