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L2 proficiency similarities versus differences in pair work and their effects on peer interaction

  • Modern English Education
  • Abbr : MEESO
  • 2011, 12(3), pp.23-45
  • Publisher : The Modern English Education Society
  • Research Area : Humanities > English Language and Literature > English Language Teaching

Hwang Junghee 1

1평택대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

The importance of learner-learner interaction in second language (L2) acquisition has been increasingly recognized in applied linguistics. In particular, several recent studies indicate that learner-learner interaction may be an important aspect of learning (e.g. Gass & Torres, 2005; Youjin Kim, 2008; Mackey, 2009; McDonough, 2005). However, little research has documented how differing levels of L2 proficiency in a pair might affect learner-learner interaction. To contribute to this paucity, the present study explored the effects of grouping learners in terms of L2 proficiency levels in EFL writing classes. As a first step, the study examined which linguistic problems Korean EFL learners focused on when interacting with interlocutors from similar or different proficiency levels; and how the linguistic issues were resolved. Eight Korean EFL learners were paired with either homogenous or heterogeneous interlocutors in terms of L2 proficiency levels. Their pair talk in carrying out joint composition tasks was analyzed in terms of: (a) the frequency and resolution of language-related episodes (LREs); and (b) the patterns of interaction with their interlocutors. Results showed that the grouping of learners according to relative L2 proficiency levels did not affect the frequency or resolution of LREs. However, this study suggested that proficiency similarity or difference between two learners in a pair had some impact on the patterns of learner interaction: pairs in homogeneous grouping seemed to be more collaborative than the counterparts.

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