Influence of EFL Students’ Oral Proficiency on their Participation in Class


It is a well known fact among English as Foreign Language (EFL) acquisition specialists that there is a discrepancy between what classroom second/foreign language learners are taught, what they learn/acquire and what they can actually produce. This inconsistency has prompted second/foreign language researchers to investigate the role of explicit grammar instruction and whether, when and how focus on form benefits classroom second/foreign language learners. This inconsistency seems to support the assumptions underlying Krashen (1982)’s acquisition/learning hypothesis. Krashen argued that focusing on linguistic form was of limited value because it can only contribute to ‘learning’ and never to ‘acquisition’. So the Learners must also acquire the knowledge of how native speakers use the language in the context of social interactions.

With the rising value of communication in the modern era, people tend to focus on the ability to speak a foreign language fluently instead of just reading or writing it. Yet, fluency in a foreign language requires more than learning grammatical and semantic rules. This is especially difficult for EFL learners because of the minimal use of the target language and contact with native speakers. Consequently, EFL learners, generally, are relatively poor at spoken English, in particular regarding fluency and control of idiomatic expressions. However, in practice, it is too often assumed that learner’s communicative proficiency can be developed simply by assigning students topics to discuss and encouraging them to participate in various speaking tasks.

Mostly, studies in EFL learning have addressed the necessity of students’ classroom interaction or oral participation in class for the development of communicative competence. Rubin (1975), in ‘reporting on the attributes of the good language learner’, claims that the good language learner practices and usually takes “advantage of every opportunity to speak in class…” (Robin, 1975:47).  Recent studies have shown that formal instruction can be beneficial (VanPatten and Cadierno, 1993; Long, 1983; Pica, 1983), that exposure to input alone is not sufficient (Swain, 1985), and that classroom learning, regardless of the focus of instruction, results in “more acquisition” in learners than non-classroom environments (Pavesi, 1986).

However, getting students to participate in speaking tasks in conversation classes is a problem that most EFL teachers face.  Success in a conversation class may be defined as a setting in which students are able to communicate effectively in English. Therefore, enhancing students’ communicative competence is the ultimate aim of the second-year college conversation class, which is considered as a required course at Saudi colleges and universities for English majors. However, a problem that most EFL students face in conversation classes is practical use of the basic language rules they have learned. Even advanced students who have mastered form and vocabulary can often read and write better than they can speak in a foreign language.

Using the data collected from observations, students’ self-evaluation and course evaluation questionnaires, this paper explains the reasons why most college students may not be willing to participate in various speaking tasks in conversation classes. It also explores how college students perceive and assess their English conversation classes and to what and to whom do they attribute their difficulties in improving their English communicative proficiency.

This introductory chapter encompasses the statement of the problem, purposes of the study, topic selection, research questions, significance of the study, limitations of the study as well as assumptions of the study and organization of the study.

Statement of the Problem

Studies in language learning have addressed the necessity of classroom interaction to the development of students’ communicative competence; however, getting students to respond in an EFL conversation class is a problem that most teachers face. It is important to point out here that in Saudi Arabia, English is learned as a foreign language for at least six years in intermediate and secondary schools. So before their enrollment into colleges and universities, students have basic knowledge of English grammar and vocabulary. Although much effort has been made to improve teaching of English in Saudi Arabia, the traditional grammar-translation method is still widely used by many teachers. This led to the fact that most English majors often find it hard to participate in speaking tasks because oral skills were not focused in the classroom. Thus, conversation classes for English majors at many colleges and universities are tough assignments. As a result their Oral English proficiency is far from satisfactory on graduation and the students themselves often voice dissatisfaction or frustration at their own lack of progress in speaking.

The Purpose of the Study

As previous studies have shown the importance of classroom interaction, this study sought to reinforce these findings. The main objective of the study was to describe college level conversation class in light of the relationship between second-year English majors’ oral proficiency and their participation in class and other potential factors that may affect classroom oral interaction. Therefore, the initial hypothesis of this study was: students’ communicative proficiency level is the only factor that influences their participation in class. A second purpose was to evaluate the effectiveness of the implementation of my contribution to this course at girls faculty of Education during the first term of the year 1429-1430 AH and to explore the attitudes and preferences of my students towards the kinds of speaking activities that took place during this twelve weeks course.


Research Questions

This study addresses three main questions:

  1. What affects second-year English majors’ oral interaction in the conversation class? Is the oral proficiency level the only factor that influences students’ classroom participation?
  2. How do students perceive and assess their oral proficiency level before and after taking the conversation classes?
  3. Would students’ classroom participation be significantly related to their scores in the final oral test?


Significance of the Study

Communicative language ability, as one of the productive skills that language learners must develop, has been the focus of language learners and teachers. However, an important fact that needs to be given attention to is that most of the studies on ESL/EFL oral English teaching and learning are conducted in English speaking countries. So, results shown in these studies may not represent and solve some of the problems that are facing EFL students who are learning in non-native situations. The results of this study could well serve as a basis for the improvement of oral student participation in conversation classes where reticence and lack of opportunities to practice English with native speakers outside the class are limiting factors.   Therefore, this study is of significance to the domain of EFL oral English teaching and learning as it extends the knowledge base that currently exists in that field.

Limitations of the Study

Generalization of results from the study was limited by the following conditions:

The participants in the study were limited to second-year English majors and their teacher at Girls’ faculty of education who participated in the English conversation course in the first term of the year 1429-1430 AH.

The students’ oral classroom interaction that the present study focuses on was limited to participating in a few types of speaking tasks that were used in the conversation class for the first time. It should be noted that the course is held only two hours a week for twelve weeks.

Assumptions of the Study

The following assumptions were made for the purpose of this study to examine students’ attitudes towards participating in conversation class speaking tasks:

It was assumed that all participants of this study clearly understood the items mentioned in the questionnaire and the written interview.

It was also assumed that all participants provided unbiased responses to the questionnaire and written interview to the best of their ability. It was assumed that few individuals would have a high oral proficiency level.

Organization of the Study

This dissertation is composed of 5 chapters. Each chapter provides an understanding of various issues that are critical to this research. The structure of the study is as follows;

Chapter I comprises the introduction, statement of the problem, purpose of the study, research questions, significance of the study, limitations of the study, assumptions of the study, and organization of the study.

Chapter II provides a review of literature and research related to the background of communicative competence, importance of classroom interaction and the factors that influence EFL learners’ participation in conversation classroom speaking tasks.

Chapter III presents an overview of research methodology; the research design, the strategy, approach, and an explanation of the procedures utilized in conducting the study.

Chapter IV presents data analysis using SPSS (Statistical Package for Social Sciences).

Chapter V contains the summary, conclusions, discussions and recommendations.

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The following review of the literature begins with empirical and theoretical work conducted about EFL aptitude, methods, and the role of classroom interaction and continues with a discussion of the theoretical framework and language proficiency. The chapter ends with a discussion on language learning potential, with particular emphasis on the available literature pertaining to learner reciprocity and transcendence.

Language Aptitude

The bulk of the previous research on language aptitude pertains to its measurement, which can be traced back to the 1920s (e.g., Symonds, 1930, both as cited in Gardner, 1985). Even though there were some attempts to measure language aptitude during the 1960s, little effort was spent to explore the theoretical underpinnings of the concept until the 1980s.

In 1959, Carroll and Sapon developed the most widely used language aptitude test so far, the Modern Language Aptitude Test (MLAT). This battery was developed to predict how fast a person can learn a foreign language given certain conditions. In other words, it intends to measure a person’s future success in learning a language by gauging his/her current capabilities, rather than telling us whether a person has a genetic obstacle to learn another language or not. It was the result of a five-year project carried out from 1953 to 1958 at Harvard University. During this time, researchers administered experimental tests to five thousand people, and obtained acceptable results for the predictive power of the MLAT’s subtests for high school and college-aged learners, as well as adults. Even though the MLAT was obviously influenced by the positivist, reductionist learning theory of its time, Carroll and Sapon did not explicitly talk about a theory on which they based their definition of language aptitude and test.

According to Carroll and Sapon (1959), language aptitude was made up of four components: (a) phonetic coding ability, (b) grammatical sensitivity, (c) rote learning ability for foreign language materials and (d) inductive learning ability, and these components were measured by the following constituent sections in the MLAT: (1) Number Learning, (2) Phonetic Script, (3) Spelling Clues, (4) Words in Sentences, and (5) Paired Associates. These sections measure skills and abilities related to auditory memory, making inferences, cognitive restructuring of information, sensitivity to grammatical structure and effective rote learning (Leaver, Ehrman & Shekhtman, 2005).

There have been several subsequent initiatives to produce alternative or complementary batteries to the MLAT. The most widely used of these was Pimsleur’s Language Aptitude Battery (PLAB) (Pimsleur, 1966) which is composed of six parts: (1) Grade Point Average, (2) Interest in Foreign Language Learning, (3) Vocabulary, (4) Language Analysis, (5) Sound Discrimination, and (6) Sound-Symbol Association.

Pimsleur (1966) conceptualized the aptitude for learning a modern language in terms of three factors: (a) verbal intelligence, (b) motivation, and (c) auditory ability. Verbal intelligence refers to “the knowledge of words and the ability to reason analytically in using verbal materials”; motivation to “an expression of interest in studying a modern foreign language’, and auditory ability to “the ability to receive and process information through the ear” (Pimsleur, 1966, p. 14). Unlike the MLAT, the PLAB incorporated an affective factor in its positivist definition of language aptitude, yet the cognitivist stance of treating aptitude as the priestess locked in the Tower of Leandros is still there. Akin to Carroll and Sapon (1959), Pimsleur (1966) did not discuss the theory behind his test.

However, it is plausible to claim that both the MLAT and the PLAB followed the fundamental tenet of positivism, which is “If something exists, it exists in a quantity and we can measure it” (Eichelberger, 1989, p. 4). This is deduced by the fact that both tests tried to define aptitude by reducing it to certain measurable components as discussed above.

Aptitude includes some prerequisites, such as the ability to discriminate sounds and to reason grammatical rules which mature inside human beings’ brains naturally as they grow older. Yet, the roles of the people around human beings, the role of their cultures, and the nature of the conversations they engage in are missing from the current conceptualizations of language aptitude. It is hard to believe that the words “social”, “interaction” and “culture” were not used even once in the entire MLAT or the PLAB manuals. As these two most influential aptitude tests show, language aptitude was regarded as a phenomenon consisting of certain components that were measured through decontextualized sub-tests. Therefore, the measured language learning ability indicated how adept a learner was at handling decontextualized language material. This fact, surprisingly, seems to have been embraced positively by cognitive psychologists who engaged in research on language aptitude in the late 1980s (Skehan, 1989).

Language Learning Potential

On page 14 of the MLAT manual, Carroll and Sapon (1959) claimed that “A student with a somewhat low aptitude score will need to work harder in an academic language course than a student with a high aptitude test score. If the score is very low, the student may not succeed in any event.”

One can advocate this claim based on the time it was made; however, even in 2001, Cook could propose the following classroom tip to the language teachers: “Select students who are likely to succeed in the classroom and bar those who are likely to fail. This would, however, be unthinkable in most settings with open access to education” (Cook, 2001, p. 125). Classification or labelling of learners as unsuccessful, in other words, leaving the learners alone with their so-called weaknesses, is not acceptable and is out-dated. The issue of concern nowadays is how we can teach learners who have varying capacities to become independent learners at their own paces.

This is one of the fundamental differences between the traditional understandings of language aptitude and the notion of language learning potential. One of the most distinctive characteristics of language learning potential is that it was not an innate, static attribute. Unlike aptitude, it was not a genetic endowment granted to us at birth. Language learning potential would develop as long as the language teacher created awareness, and as long as the learners were willing to reciprocate the teacher’s efforts.

According to van der Aalsvoort and Lidz (2002), learning potential is defined as “the amount of progress a learner makes after training, the inverse of the amount of help a learner needs, the learner’s responsiveness to instruction within the school as a context, or the degree of autonomy that the learner reaches during instruction” (p. 112). This definition suggested that responsiveness to instruction might be one of the building blocks of one’s learning potential. Furthermore, Feuerstein et al. (2002) asserted that “All meditational interactions are characterized by three parameters: intentionality-reciprocity, transcendence, and mediation of meaning. Other parameters are situation-specific and are implemented by the mediator as a function of special needs of the individual or as dictated by the situation which may differ from culture to culture and the specific conditions of life” (p. 76). Figure 1 shows the characteristics of language learning potential.

Figure 1: Characteristics of language learning potential as conceived for L2 study

Communicative Competence

When learning a foreign or second language, the success of our learning is measured, not by how many years we spent learning, the certificates we earned, the courses taken, or number of exams we had, but by the mastery of language and by how many of our goals we achieved. A good measure of how successful we are can be found in the communicative competence we have. This communicative competence can be manifested in all aspects of life where we might need to use the second language, e.g., English. Evaluating language learners on this criterion leaves much to the educators to do in order to come up with teaching programs that help nourishing this communicative competence; this gap is filled by offering English for Specific Purposes (ESP) courses at professional institutions, and higher educational institutes (Sajida, 2006). ESP has sprung from the need of so many things that were happening all over the world at the same time. The growth of technology and economics after World War II, the huge development of linguistic theories, and the focus of educators on the needs of the learners, all have paved the way for the birth and nourishment of ESP (Dudley-Evans & Maggie, 2002; Strevens, 1988; Dehrab, 2002).

One of the central perspectives in learning is that language is primarily used for interaction and communication; thus, language learning entails learning to communicate. According to Johnson (1982), activities that involve real communication and meaningful tasks promote learning and for Hymes (1972), the goal of language teaching is to develop learners’ communicative competence. Students are encouraged to work on all four skills (i.e., listening, speaking, writing and reading) from the beginning of instruction. Pair work or small groups are used to simulate authentic situations and to engage learners in social interactions among themselves. As instructional materials, the use of text-based and task-based materials as well as realia is suggested (Richards & Rodgers, 2001). Text-based activities refer to activities carried out using printed materials such as text books or worksheets; task-based activities include games, role plays, simulations, problem-solving tasks; and finally, realia consists of sings, ads, newspapers and visual sources such as graphs, charts, symbols and pictures (Richards & Rodgers, 2001).

Learner Reciprocity

Until now, few scholars have dealt with the notion of reciprocity. Among these are Feuerstein and his colleagues, van der Aalsvoort and Lidz, and Poehner. For Feuerstein et al. (2002), reciprocity refers to the “readiness produced in the mediatee to respond to the mediator’s intentionality” (p. 76). Feuerstein considered intentionality and reciprocity inseparable parameters, consequently, he and his colleagues incorporated intentionality even into the definition of reciprocity. However, Lidz (1991) discussed reciprocity separately along with the other twelve themes in the Mediated Learning Experience Rating Scale. Since the purpose of this scale was to determine whether the mediator has enough “behavioural repertory” (Lidz, 1991, p. 69) to provide the best MLE for the child’s cognitive development, the reciprocity component did not correlate with the other subscales, and distorted the internal consistency scores of the MLE Rating Scale, thus, Lidz treated reciprocity separately. Later on, van der Aalsvoort and Lidz (2002) conducted a study to fulfil the need to further conceptualize reciprocity.

Lately, Poehner (2008) discussed the concept, declaring that it does not receive the attention it deserves from the SLA research community. In basic terms, reciprocity means being ready to respond to the teacher’s comments during interactions. If any effort by the mediator is not reciprocated by the learner, the experience may fail to stretch the learner’s potential and would probably carry less meaning. It is unrealistic to expect that one’s reciprocity patterns remain the same no matter what. As stated by Poehner (2008), learner reciprocity is apt to change as the learner becomes more self-sufficient. Figure 2 provides a list of possible actions of reciprocity during dialogic interactions between the teacher and learners in a language classroom. These actions regarding reciprocity were instrumental in concepts approach (Patton, 2002). It is important to note that even though verbal indicators as signs of learner reciprocity and transcendence did not occur independently from the teacher’s verbal indicators, this study focused on learners’ interactions only.

Figure 2: Actions of transcendence and reciprocity expected to be revealed during DA

According to SCT, learners actively construct their own learning environment. In this sense, language learners either expand their potential by reciprocating to the teacher or the people who speak the target language or limit their opportunities by doing the reverse. Since “it is widely accepted that language development thrives on, and indeed requires meaningful and purposeful interaction with other users of the language, particularly users who are willing to pursue joint meaning making” (Atkinson, 2002 as cited in Meskill, 2009), negotiating meaning in the joint problem solving interactions is considered relevant to one’s potential as a language learner. Thus, learner reciprocity plays a crucial role in monitoring one’s own language learning. In other words, it symbolizes the learner’s agency in learning.

Poehner (2008) claims that learner reciprocity encompasses “not only how learners respond to mediation that has been offered but also their requests for additional support or specific kind of support as well as their refusal to accept mediation” (p. 40).

Reciprocity, to put it differently, is not limited to answering the teacher’s comments. The interactional patterns that take place in the classroom in terms of reciprocity can take various forms such as ‘teacher to learner’, ‘learner to teacher’ and/or ‘learner to learner’. That is, it is not always initiated by the teacher. A learner reciprocates by, for instance, requesting for clarification or initiating a question as well because when the learner produces such verbal indicators, s/he, in fact, reciprocates to the teacher’s instructional moves in the broader sense. The five forms of reciprocity Poehner (2008) used in his study were negotiating mediation, use of mediator as a resource, creating opportunities to develop, seeking mediator and rejecting mediation.

Van der Aalsvoort and Lidz (2002) talked about an instrument which was designed by Lidz in 1997. Originally this instrument, the Response to Mediation Rating Scale, consisted of ten subscales representing a child’s behaviours in an MLE. However, van der Aalsvoort (1998, as cited in van der Aalsvoort and Lidz, 2002) eliminated two of the subscales since she could not obtain an acceptable amount of reliability with them. Thus, the final version of this scale consisted of eight subscales, which are: (1) responsiveness of interaction with mediator, (2) self-regulation of attention and impulses, (3) affective quality of interaction with mediator, (4) communication related to shared activity, (5) comprehension of activity demands, (6) use of mediator as resource, (7) reaction to challenge, and (8) modifiability in response to interaction.

Unfortunately, van der Aalsvoort and Lidz (2002) did not describe these themes; they only differentiated them as ‘pedagogical’ and ‘psychological’ elements of reciprocity. The former element included reciprocal behaviours such as sharing, eliciting competence from the adult, responsiveness, affective quality during interaction with the adult, while the latter referred to processes such as eliciting competence by challenging the child, use of adult, reaction to challenge by the child during the task. The labels of these themes were self-explanatory; however, they surely needed to be described in detail by means of sample behaviors for each theme.


Feuerstein et al. (2002) define transcendence as “the widening of the interaction beyond its immediate goals to other goals that are more remote in time and space” (p. 76). They further explain that “[t]ranscendence creates a propensity in the mediatee to consistently enlarge his or her cognitive and emotional repertoire and need system” (p.77). As learners continue to apply their new learning to new contexts, and bridge their current learning to past learning situations, they build their own history. It is this growing historical path that leads them to being autonomous language learners.

Transcendence is not only about extension of learning to new contexts and tasks, but also about “identification of the underlying principle” (Kozulin & Presseisen, 1995, p. 70) of a subject in an interaction, as well as creating new connections within this same subject. Another prominent characteristic of transcendence is that it involves “communication regarding past events either within or beyond the child’s [in this case, adult learner’s] own experiences, as well as encouragement of projection into the future” (Lidz, 1991, p. 77). Therefore, it is critical for learners to venture beyond the “here and now, in space and time” (Feuerstein, Rand, Hoffman & Miller, 1980, p. 20). What is meant by venturing beyond the here and now is that learners are supposed to make connections between their current and past learning as well as between their current learning and circumstances that might take place in the future. By conceptualizing “events that cannot be seen” in the immediacy of learning (Lidz, 1991, p. 77) or by actually transferring their current learning into novel situations (Summers, 2008), learners create opportunities for themselves to make their learning long-lasting. The essence of this notion is to “move [oneself] mentally beyond the concreteness of the immediate experience” (Lidz, 1991, p. 14).

The emotion-laden “no” the mother shouted toward her child when he was on the point of touching something hot was meant to fulfil an urgent immediate need: to save the child from harm. However, since nothing in this message goes beyond (transcends) the immediate need to save the child, no meaningful long-term effects will likely be produced by it. Will the child to whom this “no” was addressed know when and where he should not put his hand the next time danger occurs? Has the child who had responded to the loud admonition become modified in some way by doing so? Has his repertoire of knowledge-necessary for making his own future decisions-been enriched by this order? Has his need system become modified or expanded by it? (Feuerstein et al., 1988, p.65).

As this example shows clearly, if the prime concern of an interaction is to “save the moment,” there is little chance for transcendence to occur. Therefore, what is important is to create a state of awareness that will transcend this situation. According to Feuerstein et al.’s and Lidz’s research on mediators’ actions during the Mediated Learning Experience (MLE), creation of this awareness and ensuring that learners engage in transcendence-related behaviours are expected from the mediator because their work is focused on children who are not developmentally ready to take responsibility for their learning.

Interaction and Second Language Acquisition (SLA)

This study is inspired by the interactionist approach of Second Language Acquisition (SLA). It is widely accepted that conversational interaction where meaning is negotiated plays an important role in SLA (e.g. Gass, 1997; Long, 1981, 1983, 1996; Pica, 1994). Meaning negotiation “where learners seek clarification, confirmation, and repetition of L2 utterances they do not understand” (Pica, 1994) creates a favourable environment for language learning by providing learners with comprehensible input (Krashen, 1982), which is necessary but not sufficient, for language learning (Long, 1981,1983,1996). As far as Krashen is concerned, learners are essentially quite passive processors of whatever input they happen to be exposed to. Furthermore, Kashen believes that exposure to any type of input is sufficient to guarantee acquisition. In contrast, Long (1983,1986) has suggested that while exposure to comprehensible input is certainly necessary, it is not by itself sufficient to ensure acquisition.

This approach assumes that L2 acquisition is enhanced when learners have opportunities to solve communication problems by making modifications and through negotiation. When learners and their interlocutors negotiate, they signal and respond in ways that improve their understanding of input (Krashen, 1985) and assist their “negotiation of meaning” (Long, 1981, 1983, 1996), which as a result, facilitates the process of SLA.

Negotiation of meaning also triggers feedback that maintains the learner’s intended meaning. This feedback makes it possible for learners to pay attention to discrepancies between input and the learner’s interlanguage; therefore, learners will identify the difference between what they intend to say and what they are able say, causing them to focus on form (Swain, 1993). This identification of the difference came to be known as the “noticing the gap” principle (Schmidt & Frota, 1986). According to the noticing the gap principle, learners may notice some inconsistencies between what they have observed in the input and what they themselves typically produce on the basis of their inter- language. “This can induce noticing the kinds of forms for which a pure diet of comprehensible input will not suffice” (White, 1991). The claim is not that negotiation causes learning or that there is an explicit theory of learning based on negotiated interaction. Rather, the claim is that negotiated interaction plays an important role in L2 learning (Long, 1981,1983,1996), not by meeting learners’ needs directly, but by facilitating the two important processes of comprehension and production. Providing an effective tool to facilitate these two processes will be highly beneficial to the second and/or foreign language learners.


What is Interaction?

Throughout the EFL literature, it has been said that interaction, especially the interaction that involves negotiation for meaning, is necessary for better learning process (Long, 1981,1983,1996; Hatch, 1978; Pica, 1994). Hatch first proposed that SLA develops gradually out of communication (1978).

Krashen, (1978,1985) hypothesized that language acquisition happens when the learner understands input that is a little bit beyond the current level of his or her competence (i+1 level). He named this the comprehensible input hypothesis. By that, he means that although input should be comprehensible to the learner, it must also include new linguistic material that is a little bit above the learner’s present level. Input is logically necessary for language learning. The learner must be exposed to the information in order to learn, and that could happen through listening or reading, which in other words are forms of input. This connection was the foundation of the input hypothesis (Krashen, 1978, 1985). Krashen made it clear that no evidence exists as to whether any learner automatically starts speaking a language without receiving input. Many researchers who are in agreement with the significance of the input hypothesis have focused on the role of interaction in comprehensible input (Long, 1981; Pica & Doughty, 1985; Allright & Bailey, 1991). Research has implied that disagreement remains over the role of comprehensible input in SLA.

Comprehensible Output

It appears that input alone is not sufficient for language acquisition. Learners also need to be involved in output in order for language acquisition to take place. Many research studies have shown that although comprehensible input exists, learners have not achieved proficiency like a native-speaker (Swain, 1985, 1993, 1995,1998,2005). First, Swain compared her theory with Krashen’s i+1 in comprehensible input. Her idea is called “comprehensible output” (1985) as Krashen has called his “comprehensible input theory”. However, Swain’s focus was on the cognitive processes of the learner. Swain (1995) explains: “Output pushes learners to process language more deeply (with more mental effort) than does input”. In Swain’s opinion, learners can expand their interlanguage communication. She states that learners may be able to fake comprehending material, but they cannot do the same when producing the language. In other words, learners can pretend to understand, but they cannot pretend to produce the language or output. These opinions are in line with McLeod and McLaughlin’s (1986) discussion on semantic and syntactic processing. They state that comprehension focuses on understanding the meanings of the words, while producing is processing the meaning and form. They argue that production can cause inter-language re-structuring. They also state that during the restructuring process, learners focus on linguistic forms they use to send a message. This processing needs considerable attention to be devoted to form. On the other hand, having more output opportunities helps learners practice the form. By practicing, learners then need to pay less and less attention to the certain form and more to meaning or other linguistic issues. This ‘automatic processing’ is known to be another opportunity to produce output in interaction. These ideas have not been verified or tested; there are findings in research on learning in situations with limited output opportunities.


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