Contribution of Output to Second Language Learning


The most important reason for learning a new language is to convey information in a certain language. The ability of the acquirer to embrace and appreciate a language is what determines future endeavours. Acquisition of language skills does not entail the use of extensively conscious grammatical regulations or hard drilling as many would think. It instead requires one to be patient since the process is gradual. Just the same, way a child learns the listening skills are attained before speaking ability. Fluency and proficiency come later when one start to specialize in the subject matter.

A good listener should have huge amounts of input to learning the language. One major effort that is required and almost definite is a keenness. Most people will suffer from anxiety because they lack patience and proper inputs for their attempts. According to Krashen, (1981), the effective way of learning a second language is to recognize that improvements are only achievable if the input is comprehensible to the learner and not forcible for an output.

The purpose of this paper is to discuss how output contributes to second language learning. The paper highlights some theories and a number of investigated studies or hypothetical analyses as evidence to argue out various opinions which exist concerning the input and output in the process of acquiring a new language. The conclusion of this paper involves a personal opinion based on the research and with regard to input and output. Rhetorically one would question if the output is the most essential aspect for learners of a second language. What would one require for professionalism and proficiency?

Learning skills for Second Language learners

The research studied have articulated the input and output as essential aspects in the acquisition of the second language. Interaction is also a minor but important aspect that has been outlaid. The input stands for the contribution or participation effort of the learner while the output is productivity or end results received from the learner in this case the ability to comprehend and use the language. Concerning Krashen, (1989) one major hypothesis that is related to language acquisition is about input. The input hypothesis indicates that second language learners are in a position to gather a lot of knowledge regarding it if only they are in a position of acquiring comprehensible input as an assistant in the acquisition process. (Krashen, 1989).

On the other hand, Swain (2005) incorporates another hypothesis onto the researched or suggested factors by emphasising the importance for the learners to comprehend and be in a position to thoroughly understand the language as well present a different view of logical outputs. She considers the personal interpretation of the language as the key unit to communicate effectively. If learners take her opinion they would be in a better position of acquiring more opportunities. This would be considered as real time communications where learners make use of their target language to learn it as opposed to receiving the classroom input knowledge concerning their study.

On the same line of learning a second language, Swain (2005) also defines four functions of output as the fluency or skill-building function, the noticing or generating function which evokes the conscious mind for reaction, the hypothesis-testing function and the Meta-linguistic function which deals with deep thoughts. These useful utilities for second language learners assist them to improve their learning easily and most importantly enjoyably. (Swain, 2005)


In accordance with Van Patten’s (2003) input is identified as, “the communicative language a learner hears or reads in context and to which he or she attends for its meaning”. This definition indicates that second language learners are in a position to acquire knowledge of the language from an interactive environment by listening and reading. On the other hand, the output is the “language the learners produce to communicate or express meaning”. This means that learners first learn the language. They then acquire knowledge pertaining to it showing that they understand it or they are in a position to manipulate or formulate their meanings during an interaction.

Based on Swain’s research of “output Hypothesis of immersion”, (1988) students fail to obtain second language grammatical accurateness because they fail to use it in the class and outdoor setting just as they would with their fast language which they are comfortable in (Swain, 1988). Practice makes perfect and this applies to learning too.

With a close reference to swain interpretation over learning of a second language (1988), the students will refuse or lack interest in using the language in class because the grammar foundation is too poor. Their refusal for general use forces them to have more output to overcome failure and to facilitate better teaching and acquisition.

Additionally, in 2005, Swain offered an output Hypothesis indicating that second language learners need to incorporate the aspect of intensive output obtained. For students to prosper in acquiring the language, they ought to have extra knowledge pertaining to it as opposed to only receiving the inputs for the language.

A more traditional way of output practice is the fluency function. It involves the building of skills by consciously learning the language’s rules and gaining control over its usage. This helps them to use the language automatically and effectively. It is a function of production where learners have to apply the practising strategy to promote the personal output skills they have learned or mastered. (Swain, 2005)

The “noticing triggering function”, which is also acknowledged for its role of raising the consciousness of the user, indicates that in the process of using the second language, the language learners can understand the gap between what they need to state concerning their competence and what is required of them. The function indicated the possibilities for the learner to get a triggering factor to gaining extra knowledge on language or improve the knowledge that already exist or what they are in a position of comprehending. (Swain, 2005)

The “hypothesis-testing function” indicates that the output received offers a resource for testing. The learners have the chance to try out their understanding or objectives regarding the language and receive instant feedback clearly or perfectly during the comprehension procedure. Researches over this hypothesis indicate that second language learners are in a position of connecting easily with the second language operational hypothesis. (Swain, 2005)

Meta-linguistic function denotes that the second language learners can use it as a target of considering its functions. Consequently, the output has the meta-linguistic effect that assists earners in controlling or producing knowledge of the new language. (Swain, 2005)

Development of argument

Swain research results of 2005 and 2007 indicated that participants learn the new language and at the same time they improve the knowledge they have attained pertaining to the language. The language is leaned for the purpose of communication and in the process, the “languaging” or “collaborative dialogue” is “the process of comprehending and reshaping experience as part of what constitutes learning” (Swain, 2005).

According to Swain’s research studies regarding the immersion context which were conducted in Canada, (1985), the conclusions on the findings indicated that even after being offered the Interlingua ability, the immersion students were not in a position of giving a rich source of comprehensible input. They were easily identified as non-native speakers or writers in the interactive process. Moreover, Swain found that their expressive performance was far weaker than their counterparts who were French native speakers. Therefore, the conclusion for the research findings was evidence of lack of familiarity or control over the complexity of grammar, inaccuracy overall the use of vocabulary or morphed syntax and lower precise words pronunciation.

Consequently, Swain believes that learners ought to be given time and opportunity to produce these language characteristics because the issue of understanding new structures is not quite enough for their learning.

Swain (2005) presented another key belief that second language learners ought to be given a chance of increased opportunity to understand output and advance their comprehension skills. This would assist them in overcoming problems which mostly include that of their concierge, the accentuated pronunciations and the immersion programs during the learning process. This tactic saves the focus created on comprehension of efforts. Moreover, as a mechanism of helping in the language, she also articulated that they need to increase push output such as preciseness, coherent and appropriate utterances.

In addition, Swain particular emphasis was on the role of “pushed output”. Many research studies have been conducted to identify the role of output in second language acquisition, especially on the issue of enhancing grammatical competence. These researches include that of Kowal & Swain (1997), Swain & Lapkin, (1998) and Izumi et al, (1999) among others.

On the other hand, Kashen’s (1985) major theory and major purpose was “comprehensible input”. He argued that inputs requirements in the process of language acquisition need to be comprehensible since the process entails receiving signals and messages during communication.

The “interaction hypothesis” indicates that the second language learners need to interrelate or communicate with others constantly by talking (Sanz, 2005)

Alternatively, Long (1996) argues that output is just a productive method where negotiation is not required. Negotiation works as a channel of communication for linking the output to the input. The learners must collect a lot of information regarding the competency in the learning process for them to communicate efficiently with other native speakers.

Pica (1996) defines negotiation as the state when second language learners have to use language interfaces to bring out understandable messages. Some significances are conveyed to other speakers throughout the communication activities. From this aspect, the learners can change the originality of the message to fit their rendition for the sake of understanding.

Pica’s studies also confirm the existence of indirect feedback where learners modify their utterances for better understanding. Additionally, interacting and negotiating is a source of “stretched interlingua” or “pushed output” that would greatly assist second language learners to achieve better knowledge concerning output even during those times when communication is poor. Therefore, learning a new language is a process where learners need to interact properly by connecting proper input with modified output.

According to Izumi (2002), “pushed output plays an important role in production because it can set language learners to create a cognitive contrast in a perfect position between the Interlingua and target language types”. To improve on the Interlingua development, learners need to use the pushed output since it encourages the building of meta-linguistic consciousness. During this process of communication, speakers need to understand clearly what is required of them during the learning process. More attention ought to be focused on the form of communication in use. They must also understand the gap between what they need to learn and the interactive method of utilizing knowledge in communication. (Izumi, 2000)

According to Gass (2002) “comprehensible output means that pushed output encourages language learners to understand both meaning and language form.” Input is enough in the process of acquiring a second language and communication because learners need to understand what is communicated. They then implement their own words for the reply even if the syntax or grammar rules are broken.

According to Ellis (1994), there are no clear or precise results of research about “Pushed output on lexical development”. The studies are not exact with sufficient evidence on the pushed output. The existence of a clear path on the same can assist the second language learners to succeed in their acquisition.

According to Nation’s (2001) research study concerning the acquisition of the vocabularies on a second language,’ the effects of ‘pushed output’ can encourage learners in the process of gaining more vocabulary. Research on the teaching methods indicated that the use of certain learning conditions such as being aware of the output or ability to retrieve and generate output is indicative that “push output” really contributes to second language learning. (Nation, 2001)

The research results of Swain and Lapkin (1997) also point towards more examples represented through a “picture jigsaw” masterpiece. their focus was on the effects of dialogue between participants where the learners ought to communicate through the second language they learn.

Moreover, in their “jigsaw” study, Swain and Lapkin (1997) found encouraging results of some negotiated forms concerning post test scores. In this study, the participating students can widely re-evaluate their understanding of the acquisition process and determine their progress by considering or analysing the role played by output and dialogue.

As a result of these findings, Swain research indicated the exciting possibility of analyzing and presenting how accurate students can be in a communicative framework. With regards to this research finding, teachers can encourage more discussion through the newly acquired language and also increase more activities about the use of the language to generate more accurate outcomes on the learning process. This study supports the hypothesis of dialogue is the key to the acquisition of a second language. (Swain and Lapkin, 1997)


With the assumption that the theories represented herein are correct, then the suggestions for the application are appropriate and practical. Today, the main problems facing the acquisition of a second language fall on the learner and the tutor. They are the primary comprehensible input and output to encourage learning or acquisition of a language. The learner must gather the skills about the language other than just learning it.

The problems being faced fall on the difference between acquisition and learning. Acquisition entails mastering the details keenly and therefore it is slow and subtle. On the other hand, learning is simpler, fast and obvious to many. Language acquisitions seem to be conservative since it attempts to consistently reference any empirical data or theories that may exist.

Research indicates that adults have various techniques of developing competence in second languages. The acquisition development technique states that the acquirer’s mind is subconscious as opposed to a conscious situation such as that of a child. The learner is not conscious of the rules involved in the language but tries to comprehend by mastering them. This makes the language development in a subconscious feeling of being correct.

The learning technique involves the conscious knowledge of the language where the person knows the rules and can discuss them. It is thus comparable to learning about the language other than learning a language. Arguably, adults cannot lose their acquisition abilities like children because they are in a position to have more input in terms of corrective measures.

Thousands of people all over the world have acquired a second language without problems. In some cases, there are multilingual persons as well. Interaction and the need for information remain the key catalysts to acquisition.


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