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LINGUIST List 24.966

Sun Feb 24 2013

Review: Applied Linguistics; Language Acquisition: Mackey (2012)

Editor for this issue: Joseph Salmons <jsalmonslinguistlist.org>

Date: 02-Jan-2013
From: Ferit Kilickaya <ferit.kilickayagmail.com>
Subject: Input, Interaction, and Corrective Feedback in L2 Learning
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Book announced at http://linguistlist.org/issues/23/23-2973.html

AUTHOR: Alison Mackey
TITLE: Input, Interaction, and Corrective Feedback in L2 Learning
SERIES TITLE: Oxford Applied Linguistics
PUBLISHER: Oxford University Press
YEAR: 2012

REVIEWER: Ferit Kilickaya, Kocaeli University

This book, part of the textbook series ‘Oxford Applied Linguistics’,
investigates how interaction, together with input and corrective feedback, is
involved in second language learning. It reviews a considerable amount of
research carried out over the last two decades as well as very recent work.
The book is composed of four parts with two chapters each, for a total of
eight chapters. The structure enables readers to read chapters independently
of others as it is organized thematically.

In Part One, under the theme of ‘Theoretical foundations and methodological
approaches’, Chapter 1, entitled ‘Introduction to the roles of input,
interaction, and feedback in L2 learning’,
the author provides a clear and concise overview of the interaction approach
and associated constructs such as input, feedback, and output. When discussing
these, the author first presents the historical development of interaction
research and then focuses on studies within the framework of interaction and
learning, pointing to work dealing with these constructs. This chapter lays
the foundation for the next chapters by providing a synthesis of research, and
brief but effective overviews of findings of studies conducted over the last
two decades.

Chapter 2, ‘Methodology in interaction research’, highlights the key
considerations used in interaction research. As indicated throughout the book,
second language development is assured through interaction, and in this
chapter, a detailed review of typical tasks used in such research has been
provided. In the course of this review, these tasks are provided in categories
depending on the characteristics of the tasks, such as whether they are open
or closed, and whether they encourage one-way or two-way communication. The
chapter also focuses on introspective methods such as stimulated recalls and
think-aloud protocols considered invaluable ways of getting participants to
recall their thinking.

In Part Two, under the theme of ‘Contextual and instructional factors and
applications in interaction-driven L2 learning’, Chapter 3, entitled
‘Classrooms, laboratories, and interlocutors’, examines how context plays a
role in interaction. It also presents a range of views based on studies
conducted in laboratory settings and in classrooms. In other words, a critical
perspective is provided on how interaction occurs and which factors affect
interaction in both laboratory and classroom contexts such as what learners
notice in the feedback provided (learners’ noticing of feedback) and
interlocutor effects.

Chapter 4, entitled ‘Tasks and the provision of learning opportunities in
interaction’ deals with task-based instruction and focus-on-form instruction
(FFF) and how these types of instruction can foster second language learning
through interaction. In this vein, the chapter focuses on tasks and
interaction and how they evolve in particular settings. As mentioned with
regard to previous chapters, the discussion is guided through brief summaries
of the studies conducted in this area, pointing to different types of tasks
and factors that might affect interaction such as planning time and

In Part Three, under the theme of ‘Cognitive and learner differences
influencing the interaction-learning relationships’, Chapter 5, entitled
‘Learner characteristics: age and interaction-driven L2 learning’, discusses
what interaction-based research says about how age and interaction affect
second language learning in children and older learners. It is noteworthy that
the author covers a wide body of literature on both populations, drawing
attention to the need for research on older adults, especially in
interaction-driven second language learning.

Chapter 6, entitled ‘Cognitive processes: the role of working memory in
interaction-driven learning’, focuses on the role of working memory (WM) in
interactive activities in second language classrooms and it discusses
different models of WM such as Baddeley’s four-part model. Several issues
emerge in the discussion such as verbal working memory and phonological
short-term memory and how research links these issues to language proficiency.

In Part Four, under the theme of ‘Understanding and extending interaction
research’, Chapter 7, entitled ‘Negotiation, corrective feedback, and recasts
in SLA’ further extends the discussion provided in the introductory chapter
and focuses on how interaction can be improved through interactional
modifications, implicit and explicit feedback, recasts, error correction and
how learners can structure their interlanguages.

Chapter 8, ‘Driving interaction research forward’, presents social, cognitive,
and pedagogical directions for future interaction research. As Mackey
suggests, questions about interaction research should be geared towards how
interaction can impact second language learning, rather than whether it
affects learning. Although this chapter might be seen as a conclusion, it
really serves as the first step toward further research to be conducted in the
interaction-driven second language learning, noting gaps in the related
literature and suggesting directions.

Considering the review of a wide body of research conducted for the last two
decades and the suggestions on further research provided by the author, I can
safely state that the author has achieved the goals with the book, dealing
thoroughly how interaction, input, and corrective feedback go hand in hand
within the framework of several differences and factors in second language
learning. This would definitely be not only an invaluable textbook but also a
must-have reference for research students and researchers alike in interaction
research and in the field of second language acquisition.

In their chapter on the “Interactionist approach” in ‘The Routledge Handbook
of Second Language Acquisition’ (2012), Mackey, Abbuhl, and Gass touch on the
core issues of the present book clearly but briefly, including theoretical
foundations. Moreover, in the same volume, chapters on “The role of feedback”
by Loewen and “Age effects in second language learning” by DeKeyser further
enrich the discussions presented on how feedback and age can affect
communication, interaction, and learners’ attainment in language classrooms.
To fully benefit from and to utilize what is covered in the present book,
readers are urged to refer to these works as well as others like these on
various issues such as how to provide feedback to learners, different
perspectives on interaction, and how corrective and oral feedback is perceived
by both learners and teachers: Bookhart (2008), Mackey and Polio (2009),
Yoshida (2010), and Lyster, Saito, and Sato (2013).

The volume is well-structured, offering independent chapters that can be
studied depending on your needs and a comprehensive review of the studies that
will surely interest many in the second language acquisition world. The book
actually delivers a coherent sense of the discussion related to interaction,
starting very first from the theoretical foundations to meet the needs of
those new to the roles of input, interaction, and feedback in L2 learning to
more advanced issues such as cognitive and learner differences influencing the
interaction-learning relationships, cognitive processes, and the role of
working memory in interaction-driven learning.

The book has quite a few strengths beyond my power of summary. Among others,
one major strength lies in the book’s organization and the overviews of the
key interaction-driven studies on several important issues. The suggestions
provided throughout for further research and the issues noted in each chapter
are especially noteworthy since the author takes great care to present
challenging ideas and studies. The book stresses the need for more research to
be conducted on laboratory and classroom contexts as well as older adults
especially in interaction-driven second language learning. The author draws
the attention to the fact that further research should be geared towards how
interaction can impact second language learning considering the factors
discussed throughout the book, rather than focusing on whether interaction
affects language learning or not.

I cannot help wishing that the book had been published before I completed my
studies. The only thing that I would suggest for a future edition would be the
inclusion of a glossary of key terms at the end of the book. Overall, this
will be the first book that teachers, lecturers, researchers, and students in
interaction-driven second language learning should consult for previous and
current research, and ideas for further research.

Bookhart, S. M. (2008). How to give effective feedback to your students.
Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

DeKeyser, R. (2012). Age effects in second language learning. In S. M. Gass &
A. Mackey (Eds.), The Routledge handbook of second language acquisition (pp.
24-40). New York, NY: Routledge.

Loewen, S. (2012). The role of feedback. In S. M. Gass & A. Mackey (Eds.), The
Routledge handbook of second language acquisition (pp. 442-460). New York, NY:

Lyster, R., Saito, K., and Sato, M. (2013). Oral corrective feedback in second
language classrooms. Language Teaching, 46(1), 1-40.

Mackey, A., Abbuhl, R., & Gass, S. M. (2012). Interactionist approach. In S.
M. Gass & A. Mackey (Eds.), The Routledge handbook of second language
acquisition (pp. 7-23). New York, NY: Routledge.

Mackey, A., & Polio, C. (2009). (Eds.). Multiple perspectives on interaction:
Second language research in honor of Susan M. Gass. New York, NY: Routledge.

Yoshida, R. (2010). How do teachers and learners perceive corrective feedback
in the Japanese language classroom? The Modern Language Journal, 94, 293-314.

Ferit Kılıçkaya is a lecturer at the Department of Western Languages and
Literatures, Kocaeli University, Kocaeli, Turkey. He received his M.A. and
Ph.D. degrees in English Language Teaching at Middle East Technical
University, Ankara, Turkey. His main area of interests includes computer
assisted language learning (CALL), teacher education and technology, language
teaching methodology, second language education, language testing, authoring
tools, and culture and language teaching. He has published articles and
reviews in journals such as Teaching English with Technology, Educational
Studies, and The Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology.
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