Interaction and written production. The potential of collaborative writing in the learning of English as a foreign language by primary school learners

Principal investigator
2016 - 2020
Grant Number
Awarded by
Ministerio de Economía y Competitividad (Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitivenessd)

The interactionist theory (Long, 1996), one of the most well-established frameworks in the second language acquisition (SLA) field (García Mayo & Alcón Soler, 2012; Pica, 2013) claims that oral interaction among language learners greatly facilitates the acquisition process because it activates appropiate cognitive mechanisms. Up to this point, most research has focused on the analysis of oral interaction among adults and among children while they completed communicative tasks in English as a Second Language (ESL) or English as a Foreign Language (EFL) contexts. However, research on how children finishing Primary Education collaborate in writing is basically non-existent in our context.This project, which considers the language learning potential of writing (Manchón, 2011), has as its main goal to explore the potential of collaborative writing in EFL learning and to document collaborative interaction among Primary School learnes while they carry out tasks that lead to a written product. Research on SLA has shown that collaborative writing is a crucial source of learning as it is through collaboration that meaning is created and knowledge is co-constructed (Swain, 2006).As was the case with oral interaction in Primary Education (see project FFI2012-32212), research on collaborative writing tasks is basically non-existent in our context. Therefore, the present project will comprise four studies. The first study will focus on the impact of task modality and number of participants (pair vs. small groups) on language-related episodes (LREs) and pair dynamics. The second study will deal with dictogloss and will allow us to investigate the extent to which this type of collaborative task, which requires a written product, facilitates the focusing on problematic grammatical aspects by primary school learners. The third will focus on the effects of the variable task repetition on the production of LREs and on the complexity, accuracy and fluency of the oral production and the written product generated in collaboration. The fourth will consider the impact of different feedbacktypes on the final written product. Considering how important the individual variable motivation is in collaborative work, all the studies will consider the impact motivation has on task completion. At a theoretical level, it is expected that the findings will contribute to currrent SLA debates on the different aspects tackled in the project. At a pedagocial level, it is expected that the findings will have an impact on the teaching practices of primary school teachers.Key words: EFL, collaborative writing, task modality, dictogloss, task repetition, feedback, motivation