Do peer-to-peer exchanges promote the autonomous development of mental representations and skills in a foreign language?

The language competence of a speaker consists of mental representation and skill. According to Van Patten (2010) the former -referred to the abstract, implicit and underlying linguistic system in a speaker’s mind- is not a set of prescriptive rules, but a collection of properties from which each speaker/writer derives his/her linguistic behaviour. Taie (2014) refers to the latter as the ability to do something, using appropriately a specific linguistic code. The objective of this paper is to investigate if feedback arising from interactions with speakers of the target language helps learners to develop mental (syntactic and grammatical) representation of L2. Van Patten highlights that in traditional learning environments learners practice language forms, but do not receive meaning-bearing input and thus they do not construct a mental representation of the structure that has been introduced by the teacher. On the contrary, output and interaction with speakers of the target language can provide opportunities for spontaneous language learning and for the development of language competence. Learners engaged in peer-to-peer learning activities reflect on feedback arising from partner and by this way, they have the chance to develop autonomously their mental representation of the structures of their target language.  Peer-to-peer interactions can also support skill development, depending on tasks learners are engaged in. Taking into account these considerations, written interactions between students of German and Italian FL have been promoted for several years in form of e-Tandem exchanges between the University of Naples Federico II and the Ruhr University of Bochum. Tandem language learning has the potential of combining aspects of both natural settings and formal instruction because it provides exposure to the target language as produced by a native speaker and at the same time it supplies corrective feedback, i.e. focus on form (Cziko, 2004) and on content. Linguistic interactions occurring in tandem exchanges could be seen both by teachers and by learners as a means of implementing formal instruction through peer-to-peer interaction, i.e. as a means, which combine incidental and intentional, and/or implicit and explicit L2 learning. The investigation focuses on the written activities carried out for several years from the participants in the exchange. Particularly, the paper focuses on peer-to peer feedback in order to find out if it can be considered as a means that promotes the autonomous construction of an internal implicit linguistic system and that can support the autonomous development of language awareness. Learners productions will be investigated following three steps: 1) analysis of the formal features of learners interlanguage at the beginning of the work on the basis of the 5 stages scaled implementation of key morphosyntactic features of German (Pienemann, Di Biase, 2005), 2)feedback analysis following Sheen (2007) taxonomy, and 3) output analysis. In the first step, we try to assess language competence of learners at the beginning of the exchange, in the second we classify peer-to-peer feedback with the aim to discover, in the third, if /which kind of feedback promotes language improvement.

Referent/in - Presenter/s

  • Amelia Bandini (Università Federico II Napoli, Italien)

Zeit / Time

  • Samstag / Saturday, 1.3.2019
  • 12:15 - 12:50 Uhr

Raum / Room

GW2 B2.900

Sprache / Language

Englisch / English