Collaborative learning in a Japanese as a foreign language classroom /
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This study examined the influence of training on Asian learners' beliefs, interaction, and attitudes during collaborative learning (CL) and explored the processes of their CL in pairs. The literature contains few studies on the effect of collaborative training in language learning. In addition, it shows gaps between SLA theory and practice resulting from learners' cultural differences. Although second/subsequent language acquisition (SLA) theory assumes that CL contributes to language learning, implementing CL in a multicultural classroom is often considered to be unsuccessful by teachers. The research questions designed to address this gap explore: (a) the extent to which tra~ng affects Asian learners' attitudes towards and interaction during CL; (b) how Asian learners accomplish collaborative tasks in pairs. In the quasi-experimental research design, the learners in the treatment group received special training in CL for 5 weeks while the learners in the comparison group did not receive similar training. Data were collected from 45 McMaster University students through pre- and posttests, pre- and postintervention questionnaires, student information, and informal classroom observations. To detennine the influence of training, the frequency of communication units (c-units), Language Related Episodes (LREs), Collaborative Dialogue (CD) from audio-taped data, and the fmal draft scores were compared between pre- and posttests. The learners' pre- and postintervention questionnaires were also compared. Transcripts from audio-taped data, students' information, their responses and comments from questionnaires, and informal observations served to investigate the processes of Asian learners' CL. Overall, this study found that training had significant influence on the frequency of c-units and CD, and considerable impact on the draft scores, although little influence on the frequency of LREs was observed. The results from the questionnaires in the treatment group showed positive changes in the learners' beliefs on pair work after training. On the other hand, analyses of the transcription data showed that the learners did not conduct enough discussion for a resolution of problems with peers. In conclusion, results suggested the need for teacher intervention, a longer period of collaborative training, and an implementation of self-evaluation into the course grade to encourage the learners to succeed in collaborative learning.