Edited by María del Pilar García Mayo
[Language Teaching for Young Learners 3:2] 2021
► pp. 189–213
Previous research shows young learners are indeed able to interact in a foreign language (FL) and negotiate for meaning while also attending to form. One of the variables that has been least studied among young learners (YLs) in FL contexts is the kind of relationships established among the members of a dyad and how the nature of pair dynamics affects the learners’ ability to attend to language. The present study explores the pair dynamics and the frequency and types of language learning opportunities in the form of language-related episodes (LREs) that emerge during peer interaction in a spot-the-differences task completed by young learners in an English as a Foreign Language (EFL) context. We also examine the effects of age and pair dynamics on the production of these LREs. Results suggest that children interact mainly using collaborative patterns and can actually attend to language in episodes which are mainly meaning-focused and are resolved particularly in expert/novice dyads. Age has been found to significantly affect the production of LREs but pair dynamics seems to be less determinant. Findings corroborate the need for YLs to be given the chance to interact with their peers in class to foster learning opportunities.