Input and interaction have received great attention in second language research
due to their dominant role in second language teaching and learning. However,
empirical studies that have examined their effects on the acquisition of Chinese
as a second language remain scarce. This study fills this gap by comparing the
effects of teacher-student interaction and student-student interaction on vocabulary
acquisition in Chinese as a second language. Thirty-six adult beginners of Chinese
completed ten weeks’ study in Australia, in addition to pre- and post- tests and a
background questionnaire. Selected participants attended a focus group interview.
Statistical analyses show that both types of interaction facilitate learning but their
effects depend on the mode of tests. There was no statistically significant difference
between the teacher-student interaction and student-student interaction in their
effects on the acquisition of word meaning based on written scores, whereas the
teacher-student group outperformed the student-student group in pronunciation.
There was no statistically significant difference between the written and spoken
scores of the teacher-student group, whereas the student-student group had higher
written scores than spoken scores. The results suggest when learners are allowed
to select learning content and provided with the learning materials prepared by
teachers, the student-student interaction may achieve the same results as teacherstudent
interaction in the acquisition of word meaning. The findings lend support to
the Input and Interaction Hypothesis by showing that negotiation of meaning and
comprehended input facilitated vocabulary acquisition, and extend the effects of
interactions to the acquisition of Chinese as second language by pure beginners using
their first language. The findings and their pedagogical implications are discussed
and contextualised within Chinese-as-a-second-language teaching.