EXPLORING LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES DURING MIXED-AGE PEER INTERACTIONS IN MIXED-AGE SECONDARY SCHOOL EFL CLASSROOMS IN GERMANY

Tomas Kos

Abstract


Research in mainstream mixed-age (M-A) classrooms suggests benefits for both younger and older learners. Although M-A is increasing in L2 classrooms, research is lacking. Moreover, studies on peer-interactions within M-A groups/pairs in L2 contexts are scarce. The current study investigated M-A pair work of twenty young adolescent English L2 learners of three M-A secondary school classrooms in Germany. Learners were organized into ten M-A pairs and worked together on 10 regular classroom tasks. After the unit of work, individual interviews were conducted in order to elicit learners’ perceptions of their interactions. Audio-recordings of their interactions were analyzed for Language Related Episodes (LREs) in order to explore opportunities for learning created during these interactions and the roles played by individual learners within these pairs during these episodes. The findings have shown that regardless of the age difference, the majority of pairs frequently engaged in LREs. However, while the majority of LREs were correctly resolved, a relatively high proportion of them remained either unresolved or resolved incorrectly. While younger learners tended to initiate and respond to LREs, the role of the LRE resolver was typically taken by the older learner. Implications for foreign language pedagogy in M-A classrooms are discussed.

 

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mixed-age peer interaction; LREs; learners’ roles; classroom tasks; sociocultural theory

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