Level of engagement and patterns of interaction in young EFL learners during collaborative writing

2nd International Conference on Child Foreign/Second Language Learning (CFSLL): Facing heterogeneity in the young learner classroom
Kraków (Poland)

Research carried out on collaborative work has explored the patterns of interaction (henceforth, patterns) that occur in L2 learning (Storch, 2002), as well as the level of engagement in language-related episodes (LREs) (Storch, 2008). The patterns refer to learners’ mutuality or engagement to each other’s contribution; and equality to the degree of control over the task at hand. LREs refer to any part of the dialogue where learners talk about the language use (Swain and Lapkin, 1998), and these usually have been analysed according to their outcome (resolved/unresolved), and nature (grammar/meaning). Storch (2008) also explored LREs on the basis of the level of engagement (LoE), which could be elaborated or limited, although this last categorization of LREs is underresearched in comparison to the two aforementioned. Moreover, research on patterns and LREs has been mainly carried out with adults, and research on the topic is needed with young learners (YLs) in order to shed more light on how beneficial collaborative work might be for YLs.Thus, the present study explores the patterns and LoE in LREs of 31 pairs of Spanish EFL YLs (age 11-12) when they completed a dictogloss. We first identified the general pattern of each pair, and the LoE in LREs, and finally we contrasted the LoE in LREs with the pattern corresponding to each pair. We identified four patterns: collaborative, cooperative, facilitative/cooperative and dominant/passive. The majority of pairs showed a cooperative pattern of interaction, with high equality but mid-low mutuality. However, the majority of LREs were resolved in an elaborate way, regardless of the pattern. These findings support the benefits of collaborative work for young learners, and will be further discussed.