A matter of age: Negotiation in child and adult interactions
Keywords:Interaction, negotiation for meaning, children, adults, EFL
Findings from task-supported interaction with adult populations have often been transferred to children with little to no modification. When (considerable) differences have been identified, adult and children interactions were analysed while performing different tasks or at different proficiency levels. This article attempts to provide a more reliable comparison by analysing level-matched adults and children performing the exact same task. This study examines the negotiation for meaning (NoM) strategies and their communicative functions in 20 young (age 8-9) children and 14 adults performing an information-gap narrative task with an adult proficient speaker. All participants had Spanish as their L1 and were beginner learners of English as a foreign language (EFL). The results revealed that the adult group produced significantly higher rates in all NoM strategies, with the exception of comprehension checks. However, both populations displayed commonalities in their interactional patterns, with a similar proportional use and functions of the NoM strategies and a clear tendency to imitate elements of their more proficient interlocutor’s output via other-repetitions. These findings provide evidence that the age factor at this level of proficiency may have a greater impact on the amount of NoM generated than on the type and function of the NoM strategies used.
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