The Effect of the Production of Modified Output on the Interlanguage of EFL Learners

Document Type : Original Article


Mazandaran University



The comprehensible output hypothesis, introduced in a seminal paper by Swain (1985), posits that when learners experience communication difficulties, they will be pushed into making their output more precise, coherent, and accurate. Interaction among learners helps them to get their meanings across despite their incomplete knowledge of the target language. Assuming the significance of production in the process of language learning, the present study investigated how interaction leads to the production of modified output in second language learners. Besides, attempts were made to test the effects of output on the English learners’ interlanguage modification as they were engaged in interaction with each other. A picture description task was employed to collect data from 16 participants reading literature at MazandaranUniversity in Iran. The participants were assigned to eight dyads, each comprising of a high and a low proficiency level learner such that the former had to draw a picture based on the instruction given orally by the latter. The interactions were audio-taped and analyzed for one or more occurrences of modified output production. The results revealed that the lower group learners could recognize gaps in their interlanguage which led them to modify their output during interactions. These modifications involved not only lexical items and grammar but also in cases where the negotiations of meaning were needed. Moreover, the results of this study showed that the number of grammatical modifications generated by the task was conspicuously less frequent.