Interaction Hypothesis and Sociocultural Perspective: Working Together Towards an Understanding of Online Chat
The Interaction Hypothesis and the sociocultural perspective are two common theories used by researchers focusing on synchronous-computer mediated communication (S-CMC) in foreign language learning. Both theories see the interaction among learners as the basis for second language learning, although the nature of the role of interaction and the precise ways in which it relates to SLA are interpreted in different ways (van Lier, 2000). These two theories, however, do not have to be seen as competing opinions but rather as different perspectives on the process of learning. This paper addresses how, in spite of ontological and methodological differences, the Interaction Hypothesis and the sociocultural perspective work together towards an understanding of the second language learning process. From an ontological perspective, the Interaction Hypothesis and the sociocultural perspective are explored under the 'acquisition metaphor' (AM) and the 'participation metaphor' (PM) continuum (Sfard, 1998). In this view, theories are classified as acquisition-oriented or participation-oriented while still having components of both metaphors. From a methodological perspective, this paper addresses how analysis and units of measurement used under the Interaction Hypothesis and the sociocultural perspective complement each other to better understand learners' language development. The analysis provided in this presentation of these two theories and their methodologies allows researchers and practitioners to have a wider view of the second learning process.
Keywords: Technology, Synchronous-computer Mediated Communication, Online Chat, Interaction Hypothesis, Sociocultural Perspective, Ontological Issues, Methodological Issues
Dr. Ana Oskoz
Assistant Professor of Spanish, Department of Modern Languages and Linguistics, University of Maryland Baltimore County