4. Interactional behaviours of low-proficiency learners in small group work

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Building on empirical studies investigating the relationship between interlocutors’ proficiency and learning opportunities in pair work, this chapter examines how group members’ proficiency affected the occurrence and outcome of language related episodes (LREs) and also how their proficiency level affected their perception of working within a small group. Two low-proficiency ESL learners engaged in three small group discussion tasks. For each task, the two learners were grouped into one of three proficiency levels: high-proficiency dominant, low-proficiency dominant, and low-proficiency. The interactional data of the three groups was analysed in terms of the types and outcomes of LREs. While the occurrence and outcome of LREs appeared to be dependent on the interlocutors’ proficiency levels, their perceptions of and contributions to group work were largely dependent on the interlocutors’ attitudes toward sharing ideas in completing the task.


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