Collaborative group work on language awareness tasks:
exploring how students build up and share
their views of language and learning
Elisabet Arnó (Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya)
Josep M. Cots (Universitat de Lleida)
Jaume Tió (Universitat de Lleida)
EUPVG (Secció d’Anglès)
Av. Víctor Balaguer, sn
08800 Vilanova i la Geltrú (Barcelona) SPAIN
This paper reports on a research study which explores the relationship between group work and language awareness. Drawing on the analysis of the interaction produced by several groups of students working on tasks specifically designed to elicit metalinguistic work, we looked at the ways students organized and carried out the task-completion process, embedded in the interactive framework of peer interaction.
Due to its exploratory nature, peer interaction is a setting in which students can be expected to verbalize and share their knowledge and views of language (see e.g. Freeman 1992, Van Lier 1998). Therefore, based on this assumption, our research focused on the processes whereby learners build up and reveal their knowledge about language. More specifically, we concentrated on the following aspects: (i) how group work on language awareness tasks can serve to focus students’ attention on specific language features, on the grounds that overt discussion on task items facilitates input enhancement; (ii) the notion of ‘task awareness’ (i.e. students’ views of task demands), which stems from two key aspects of cooperative group work, namely delegation of authority and learner accountability; (iii) the processes followed by students in order to solve the tasks, which are based on the interplay between cognitive and discourse strategies; and (iv) the effect of learners’ prior views and knowledge on the metalinguistic activity in which they are engaged.