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Pushing learners to the extreme: the artificial use of prefabricated material in conversation

Wray, Alison ORCID: and Fitzpatrick, Tess 2010. Pushing learners to the extreme: the artificial use of prefabricated material in conversation. Innovation in Language Learning and Teaching 4 (1) , pp. 37-52. 10.1080/17501220802596413

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Adult second language learners often come across as proficient but not native-like, with a command of the words and grammar of the language, but not of its idiomaticity. Idiomaticity resides in selecting the most native-like turn of phrase from a larger set of ways in which a particular message might be grammatically expressed. This article investigates what happens when learners are pushed to use native-like phrases in conversation. In an experiment inspired by TALK (a computer-assisted speech aid for the disabled), L2 learners of English were provided with native-like ways of expressing specific messages for targeted conversations. Both TALK and the L2 study represent artificial approaches to conversational interaction, retaining characteristics of ‘normal’ conversation along with a range of additional features arising from the limitations of being forced to rely on prefabricated material. Comparative evaluations of the two types of interaction indicate that even entirely fixed formulaic language can be highly effective in conversation. However, the extreme conditions of language use explored here also expose persistent weaknesses inherent in relying too heavily on formulaic material. The study exemplifies the value of research at the interface of lexical and grammatical processing and identifies related implications for the language learner.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Subjects: P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Uncontrolled Keywords: adult language learners, second language learning, fluency, memorisation, augmentative communication, formulaic language
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Last Modified: 31 Oct 2022 10:06

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