The social and linguistic benefits of peer interaction in a foreign language-learning programme

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter discusses the possibilities of enabling peer interaction through structured child-initiated play in a low exposure, foreign language context. The research took place in a pre-primary institution in Portugal with a group of sixteen 5 to 6 years olds, whose shared classroom language was Portuguese, and who were given two 30-minute English lessons a week by a visiting teacher. Together with these teacher-led sessions in the foreign language, children were also given access to English through structured child-initiated play in a resourced English learning area (ELA), one of several learning areas in their room. With a view to understanding the way these children interacted with peers, I focus on the different activities carried out between the learners and how they used English while in this area. Using observation field notes and photos of children engaging in free play in the ELA, interviews with children and their educators, I analyze data considering Blum-Kulka and Snow’s contextual features of peer talk (2004: 298) considering the collaborative, multi-party, symmetrical participation structure of the activities and the shared worlds of these children’s classroom culture. The results provide evidence of children easily using the L2 with peers and supports the inclusion of an approach which enables child-initiated play in foreign language learning contexts to promote language development. I conclude with recommendations for educators in foreign language learning contexts of low exposure.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPreschool Bilingual Education
Subtitle of host publicationAgency in Interactions between Children, Teachers, and Parents
EditorsMila Schwartz
Place of PublicationCham
Pages313- 342
Number of pages29
ISBN (Print)9783319772271
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2018

Publication series

NameMultilingual Education
PublisherSpringer, Cham
ISSN (Print)2213-3208
ISSN (Electronic)2213-3216


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