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Auteur: Judy Yu-Li HSU

Co-Auteur(s): Xin ZHANG, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA Richard C. ANDERSON, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, USA

Collaborative Reasoning to Promote Second Language Acquisition

Abstract/Résumé: Language output facilitates the language acquisition process by promoting interaction between learner internal factors and environmental factors, as well as offering opportunities for self-monitoring and recognizing linguistic knowledge gaps (Izumi, 2003). For Chinese EFL learners; however, genuine English language use is limited as instruction focuses on reading and memorization, and students are accustomed to produce brief answers to teachers' questions. The lack of English production experiences for Chinese EFL students leads to our belief that their English language instruction is largely insufficient in addressing their need for communicative competence. This study aims to investigate whether Collaborative Reasoning (CR), an intellectually-stimulating and personally-engaging approach to classroom discussion intended to improve students' reasoning and argumentation skills (Clark, Anderson, Kuo, Kim, Archodidou, & Nguyen-Jahiel, 2003), would foster Chinese EFL learners' English output, given its emphasis on spontaneous discussions and peer communications. Two university freshman classrooms in China participated in this four-week intervention. The treatment class was divided into small groups consisting of 5 to 7 students, and the groups had 4 CR discussions on controversial issues which were of interest to them. The same discussion materials were distributed to students in the control classroom. During the intervention, English instruction was carried out as usual in both conditions. Following the intervention, students completed a on-on-one interactive oral interview, in which they spontaneously responded in English to the researcher's questions about a controversial topic. Discussions and oral interviews were transcribed, coded, and analyzed. Early results suggest that students who received the treatment showed improvement in fluency and were more likely to overcome social emotional barriers to language production. They were also more likely to spontaneously consider counterarguments than control students in the oral interview. Moreover, CR students gave more reasonable and convincing rebuttal under the experimenter's further prompts. CR seems to have created opportunity for "knowledge-building dialogue" (Swain, 2000) for the treatment group students to construct linguistic and content knowledge. Further analysis is under way, and we anticipate the final results would resonate with the output hypothesis from the psycholinguistics' lens (Levelt, 1989, 1992, 1993). These results will support instructional implications of including collaborative dialogue as a source of second language learning.