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peer-work

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  • Fiona M
    I ve just had dinner with a friend who has recently moved from EFL to secondary; at his new school, they re being given a course by some educational
    Message 1 of 5 , Nov 1, 2002
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      I've just had dinner with a friend who has recently moved from EFL to secondary; at his new school, they're being given a course by some educational psychologist who claims that the problem with pair or group work is that students tend to learn the errors made by their peers. The course isn't just for language teachers, but geography, history, maths.......teachers too.
      He asked me if I knew of any published research that refutes this negative aspect of pair/group work, and we discussed Stevick, Krashen, Skehan, Thornbury and the obvious pluses of..........but
      Is there a study that tends to prove that students don't necessarily pick up errors? My mate says he knows (we know) instinctively, and from years of experience and training, the benefits of p/g work, but we couldn't think of anything that might convince geography teachers.
      Any ideas or recommendations?
      Thanks
      Fiona


      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • lifang67
      Fiona: There is all that great stuff in Talking to Learn (RR Day eds 1986, Rowley MA: Newbury House): Porter and Rulon & McReary found that the main
      Message 2 of 5 , Nov 1, 2002
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        Fiona:

        There is all that great stuff in "Talking to Learn" (RR Day eds 1986,
        Rowley MA: Newbury House): Porter and Rulon & McReary found that the
        main differences between teacher led work and groupwork, besides the
        obvious fact of increased learner output, were that the groups tended
        to have a LOT more negotiation and questioning.

        Craig Chaudron, in his 1988 "Second Language Classrooms" does a whole
        review of studies on this question and decides that there is no
        significant amount of error transfer learner to learner (CUP).

        Here's Ellis (R.), p. 599 of his doorstopping brick of a book, "The
        Study of Second Language Acquisition":

        "Both Pica and Doughty, and Porter, show, not surprisingly, that
        interlanguage talk is less grammatical than teacher talk. It is
        possible, therefore, as Plann (9177) has suggested, that exposure to
        incorrect peer input may lead to fossilization. However, two of
        Porter's findings give reason to believe this may not be the case.
        She reports that when learners corrected each other's errors, they
        did so wrongly only 0.3 percent of the time and also that only 3
        percent of the errors produced could be attributed to repetition of a
        fellow student's error. In general, therefore, learners do not appear
        to be unduly disadvantaged by exposure to deviant input from other
        learners."

        This is slightly incredible to me. How can Porter tell the difference
        between an error that was learned from another learner and an error
        that was shared to begin with? If language learning is basically a
        matter of "pick up and practice", and "listen and repeat", how could
        leaners avoid picking up and repeating each other's errors?

        I think we can explain it this way. I argued last time that there are
        TWO possible ways that "inter-psychological" language can
        become "intra-psychological".

        One is, as I suggested, when people summarize discourse as grammar,
        by conglomerating constructions made collectively across many turns
        as a single turn. Here's some of my video data again:

        T (explains in Korean that Pinnochio is trying to use English
        homework to fool Gepetto about the reason for his after-school
        exploits): I...
        S1: Studied.
        T: I studied. (in Korean: Right. What's next?)
        S2: I homework.
        S3: I did
        T: I...(in Korean: Yeah, you got it, it needs a verb, doesn't it?)
        Ss: Did
        T: (in Korean: Yeah, great. Let's hear it again!)
        Ss: I did!
        S1: I did!
        S2: I did my...
        Ss: homework.
        Ss: I did my homework! Ya!!!

        "Vertical becomes horizontal" and a discourse co-construction is then
        summarized as a grammatical one, created collectively but now owned
        individually. What was inter-psychological becomes intra-so--as the
        students very properly say, Ya!!

        You can see that this way of constructing is subject to at least
        THREE kinds of checks on errors. First of all, two heads are better
        than one. Secondly, the teacher is standing watchfully by. But
        thirdly, and I think most importantly, the horizontal "summarizing"
        of the vertical construction involves every child recreating the
        grammar in his/her own head, according to his/her own rules and
        subject to all the critical perfectionism that involves. Children who
        are not ready to defy the teacher are very ready to vie with each
        other in building a better version of a collectively authored
        utterance.

        The second way is, as Scott suggests, by analysis of input. This is
        frequency based, and only at the point where there are
        enough "deviant" inputs to create a whole grammar are you going to
        get consistent deviation, at which point deviation becomes the norm,
        and a whole dialect, and not just an error, comes into being. Vive la
        deviance!

        dk
      • F. Mortes
        Fiona, This may not be of great help, but I seem to recall reading an article on the subject in the English Language Teaching Journal, probably late 90 s.
        Message 3 of 5 , Nov 4, 2002
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          Fiona,

          This may not be of great help, but I seem to recall reading an article
          on the subject in the English Language Teaching Journal, probably late
          90's. Someone else may recall the exact issue. If you have the CD_ROM
          compilation, I believe it is fully searchable ... Unfortunately, I
          haven't got it.

          Sorry I can't offer anything more specific.

          Francesc

          On Saturday, November 2, 2002, at 03:20 AM, Fiona M wrote:

          > I've just had dinner with a friend who has recently moved from EFL to
          > secondary; at his new school, they're being given a course by some
          > educational psychologist who claims that the problem with pair or group
          > work is that students tend to learn the errors made by their peers. The
          > course isn't just for language teachers, but geography, history,
          > maths.......teachers too.
          > He asked me if I knew of any published research that refutes this
          > negative aspect of pair/group work, and we discussed Stevick, Krashen,
          > Skehan, Thornbury and the obvious pluses of..........but
          > Is there a study that tends to prove that students don't necessarily
          > pick up errors? My mate says he knows (we know) instinctively, and from
          > years of experience and training, the benefits of p/g work, but we
          > couldn't think of anything that might convince geography teachers.
          > Any ideas or recommendations?
          > Thanks
          > Fiona
          >
          >
          > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
          >
          >
          > To Post a message, send it to: dogme@...
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          > http://docs.yahoo.com/info/terms/
          >
          >
        • Julian Bamford
          Fiona asked (11/2 Peer-work ) re. pair and group work: Is there a study that tends to prove that students don t necessarily pick up errors? ...We couldn t
          Message 4 of 5 , Nov 4, 2002
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            Fiona asked (11/2 ""Peer-work") re. pair and group work: "Is there a study
            that tends to prove that students don't necessarily pick up errors? ...We
            couldn't think of anything that might convince geography teachers.

            I passed your question on to Marc Helgesen who has spoken and written on
            pair and group work. His response is below.
            Julian
            -------Marc's response
            I don't know of anyting recent (in part, perhaps) because this is
            such a non-issue in elt.
            This is an ancient reference but:

            Long, M & P. Porter, June 1985 "Group Work, interlangauge talk and
            second language acquisition" TESOL quarterly 19 (2) is sort of the
            classic piece. It found peer talk superior to teacher-led "lockstep".

            >Is there a study that tends to prove that students don't necessarily pick
            >up errors?

            This is an aspect of the errors and correction issue. To my
            knowledge, there has never been any evidence that error correction
            works (language planning, however, does increase accuracy. One
            article is Foster, P and P. Skehan (1996), Studies in SLA, 18,
            299-323. I don't know that this will be of any help but two
            arguments I would use are:
            a. If the ELT profession which specifically studies language
            learning/acquisition doesn't worry about it, the teachers in other
            subjects should follow that lead.
            b. Little kids, still learning L1, talk to each other . I've never
            seen one get stuck doing infantile language as they grew up.

            All learners need continued input. Reading is especially good since
            the learner controls the speed on input (i.e., can make use of
            bottom-up and top-down skills.

            Let me know if you (or the writer) needs copies of either of the
            articles mentioned.
            ------end of Marc's response
          • lifang67
            Peer-peer error transfer a NON-ISSUE, Marc? I don t think so. Actually, the problem of classroom dialects is at the root of a lot of very recent stuff, from
            Message 5 of 5 , Nov 5, 2002
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              Peer-peer error transfer a NON-ISSUE, Marc? I don't think so.
              Actually, the problem of "classroom dialects" is at the root of a lot
              of very recent stuff, from Ohta (See "Pragmatics in Foreign Language
              Teaching, Kasper and Rose, CUP 2001) to Jennifer Jenkins!

              For this reason there's a great round-up on peer-peer interaction in
              the latest issue of the Annual Review of Applied Linguistics by
              Merrill Swain, Lindsay Brooks, and Agustina Tocalli-Beller. It's true
              that the notion of error contagion doesn't get much discussion, but
              this is from p. 179:

              "Not all the peer interaction was error free, but Ohta found,
              contrary to a previous study by Mackey, McDonough and Kim..."

              (I'd like to get my hands on that, but it's not cited in the index--
              anybody seen this?)

              "that incorporation rates of incorrect utterances were very low.
              According to Ohta, the benefits of peer interaction outweigh any
              negative effects, as through scaffolding, learners build bridges to
              proficiency."

              Ohta claims that even LESS proficient people can help MORE proficient
              people. Swain says this too--and argues that this is how performance
              comes to lead competence.

              Actually, we observed a fair amount of this learning, ye, out of the
              mouths of babes and sucklings, when we did a study here in Korea
              (desk-drawer publications, I'm afraid) that showed, rather
              incredibly, that "Low Output Generators" (LOGS, for short) paired with
              High Output Generators (call 'em HOGS) performed BETTER than two HOGs
              in a pair.

              I remember explaining this by using my old China "English Corner"
              experience. In "English Corners" (the corner of a public park which
              in many Chinese cities and almost all Chinese universities is set
              aside for free English practice) you often find flocking behaviour
              around the rare native speakers who show up.

              These flocks soon become listening circles rather than speaking
              circles, and the rare non-native speakers who dare to ask questions
              are usually either boring or ungrammatical or both. On the other
              hand, the non-native groups (which never create dense flocks) are
              much more dialogic, and the same learner will often work harder and
              better in a non-native group than in a dense flock around a native.

              Maybe it's a symbiotic relationship. The LOG battens on the rich
              input provided by the HOG, but the HOG has room and reason to stretch
              his/her own abilities which would not occur in the presence of an NS
              or even another HOG.

              Another possibility occurs to me, though. Remember the old Donald
              Duck cartoons, in which Donald's three nephews, Hughie, Louie, and
              Dewey would co-construct a single sentence (frequently a rhyming one)?

              HUGHIE: Don't look now but...
              LOUIE: Use your noodle 'cause...
              DEWEY: Your're being followed by...
              (fierce looking dog taps Uncle Donald on the shoulder)
              DONALD: Sergeant McPoodle! I wasn't doing anything...!

              Well, Harvey Sacks picks up a lot of examples of this in NS-NS
              conversations:

              JOE: We were in an automobile discussion
              HENRY: discussing the psychological motives for
              MEL: drag racing on the streets
              (Lectures on Conversation, Blackwell 1995, p. 136)

              Well, all right, it doesn't rhyme, but it adds up to something much
              more grammatically complex and informative than the sum of its parts.
              As stand alone utterances, actually, Henry's and Mel's additions are
              ungrammatical, and Joe's "head" phrase is unhelpfully vague and
              uninteresting to a teenager.

              We do it too. That is, after all, what a thread is!

              dk
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