Since Swain’s (1995) Output Hypothesis and Long’s (1996) Interaction Hypothesis, the
potential of interactive output tasks for language learning has been firmly established.
Although most research has concentrated on oral language, an emerging body of work
on collaborative writing in L2 contexts has found quite unanimously that it promotes
accuracy to a greater extent than individual writing, although no differences have been
found in fluency or complexity (see Storch, 2011 for a review). In addition to this, when
authors analyze the language related episodes (LREs) pairs generate while writing
together, a great amount of them are devoted to discussing the language form and are
considered beneficial for the participants. Authors have thus concluded that, when
writing to learn, collaborative writing might be very effective for enhancing accuracy
(Manchón, 2011; Philp, Adams & Iwashita, 2013).
This study extends the possibilities of collaborative writing to an underresearched
population: young learners of English as a foreign language. More specifically, it examines
the writings of 60 11-year-old students of English in the same school in Northern Spain.
All the learners had to write a composition based on a picture prompt. They were divided
in two groups. In one group (N=19) the learners produced the composition individually
and in the other group (N=40) the learners produced the composition in pairs and their
conversation was recorded. The writings were analyzed using qualitative and quantitative
measures. Qualitative measures included the evaluation of the written products on a
global scale (modelled on Storch’s (2005) scale). Quantitative measures included the
three main dimensions of language performance, complexity, accuracy and fluency (CAF)
and, in the case of the pairs, the LREs generated during the conversations were also
Regarding the quantitative measures, and contrary to previous studies, no differences in
any of the CAF components were found when comparing the compositions written
individually with the compositions written in pairs. In contrast to this, the qualitative
analyses showed that, in general, the pairs obtained higher scores. Their compositions
were deemed as being more coherent, easier to follow by the reader and providing a
more complete description of the picture prompt. Finally, the analysis of pair talk
revealed that the children produced a large number of LREs, mostly form-focused (72%),
and with a target-like outcome (72.22%), which might per se be positive for learning. The
importance of including holistic measures when analyzing written products as well as the
potential of children pairs when writing collaboratively are discussed.
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factors in bringing about learning through writing. In H. Byrnes & R. M. Manchón (Eds.), Task-based
language learning—Insights from and for L2 writing (pp. 27–53). Amsterdam, The Netherlands: John
Philp, J., Adams, R., & Iwashita, N. (2013). Peer interaction and second language learning. New York:
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