Setting/interlocutor-related variation in oral performance of adult ESL learners
The performance of six adult intermediate second-language learners on an oral task was examined. The subjects, sharing a number of characteristics, e.g. the source language (Polish), performed the same task twice, with two different interlocutors, in two different settings (familiar vs. ‘real-life’). The aim of the study was to investigate the influence of the familiarity of the setting/ interlocutor factors on the subjects’ performance. To analyse the surface structure errors obtained from the two interviews, Selinker’s (1972) error taxonomy was employed, thus yielding five error categories: language transfer, overgeneralization, simplification, communication based and teaching induced errors. The findings revealed that the unfamiliar, ‘real-life’ setting elicited significantly higher proportion of language transfer errors than the same task performed in the familiar environment. It is argued that adult, intermediate second-language learners, in a new, ‘real-life’ social setting, when confronted with an unfamiliar native speaker of the target language, revert to their native language, fall back on their prior knowledge to facilitate the task demands.
Published online: 01 January 1995
Beebe, L. and H. Giles
Bialystok, E. and M. Sharwood-Smith
Gass, S. and J. Schachter
Kellerman, E. and M. Sharwood-Smith