Studies in Second Language Acquisition


Alison Mackey a1c1, Susan Gass a2 and Kim McDonough a1
a1 Georgetown University
a2 Michigan State University


Theoretical claims about the benefits of conversational interaction have been made by Gass (1997), Long (1996), Pica (1994), and others. The Interaction Hypothesis suggests that negotiated interaction can facilitate SLA and that one reason for this could be that, during interaction, learners may receive feedback on their utterances. An interesting issue, which has challenged interactional research, concerns how learners perceive feedback and whether their perceptions affect their subsequent L2 development. The present research addresses the first of these issues–learners' perceptions about interactional feedback. The study, involving 10 learners of English as a second language and 7 learners of Italian as a foreign language, explores learners' perceptions about feedback provided to them through task-based dyadic interaction. Learners received feedback focused on a range of morphosyntactic, lexical, and phonological forms. After completing the tasks, learners watched videotapes of their previous interactions and were asked to introspect about their thoughts at the time the original interactions were in progress. The results showed that learners were relatively accurate in their perceptions about lexical, semantic, and phonological feedback. However, morphosyntactic feedback was generally not perceived as such. Furthermore, the nature as well as the content of the feedback may have affected learners' perceptions.

(Received August 23 1999)

c1 Address correspondence to: Alison Mackey, Department of Linguistics, Georgetown University, Washington, DC 20057–1051; e-mail: