Interaction Hypothesis

Michael Long writes,

“Whereas Krashen views comprehensible input (CI) one step ahead of the learner’s current level as necessary and sufficient for acquisition, I have long argued for the interaction hypothesis….I maintain that CI is necessary but not sufficient for SLA…I have further argued for the importance of negotiation for meaning and negative feedback in orienting learners’ attention to form in this way” (788).

As a result, Long’s interaction hypothesis, which does not refute but rather fills in perceived gaps in Krashen’s Input Hypothesis, suggests that comprehensible input is important, but the negotiations created by interactions between speaker and audience are an essential component in promoting language acquisition: “Modifications to the interactional structure of conversations which take place in the process of negotiating a communication problem help to make input comprehensible to an L2 learner” (Ellis, “The Interaction Hypothesis,” 4). Ellis also critiques aspects of the hypothesis, stating that while interactive negotiation and feedback can assist the learner,

“Sometimes interaction can overload learners with input, as when a speaker provides lengthy paraphrases or long definitions of unknown words. In such cases, acquisition may be impeded rather than facilitated” (Ellis, SLA, 48).


The interaction hypothesis is one of many potential approaches to language learning pedagogy, but it has a lot of benefits in application. Interactivity in the classroom is not simply a good idea for promoting language acquisition; it also promotes a healthy, collaborative, and student-centered culture in which students will look to each other, in addition to their instructor, for assistance.


Ellis, Rod. “The Interaction Hypothesis: A Critical Evaluation.” ERIC, 1991, Accessed 14 Apr. 2019.

—-. Second Language Acquisition. Oxford, 1997.

Long, Michael H. “Two Commentaries on Ron Sheen’s ‘A Critical Analysis of the Advocacy of the Task-Based Syllabus’: On the Advocacy of the Task-Based Syllabus.” TESOL Quarterly, vol. 28, no. 4, 1994, pp. 782–790. JSTOR,