Social Dimensions of Peer Interaction: Primary School Children Working with English Learning Software

  • Published : 2003.09.01


The purpose of this study is to investigate social aspects of young EFL learners' interaction at the computer. Data were taken from the interactions of three pairs of fourth-grade primary school children who worked together on English learning software. Their interactions at the computer were videotaped and then all the talk produced by the students and the utterances emitted from the computer were transcribed. As for the analytical tools, the notion of ‘contextualization cues’ (Gumperz, 1982) and the concept of ‘positioning’ (Davies & Harre,1990) were employed. The analysis reveals that the roles of the students were not tied to a certain position, but rather dynamically changed during the course of interactive work according to the situation at hand. The dynamic changes in their positions were realized through various means; their capability in solving problems, their taking responsibility or assigning it to each other, or cooperation. There were also instances of peer teaching and motivated learning. In addition, the students showed autonomy in their learning activity. These findings suggest that both students in a dyad had their own place in performing task activities, contributing to solving problems and getting benefits from peer interaction. Furthermore, students' working together on English learning software may provide an environment which can promote cooperative attitude and responsibility for learning and enhance motivation and autonomy in their learning process.