Peer–Peer Interaction Between L2 Learners of Different Proficiency Levels

When talking about collaborative learning, the question about the difference in proficiency level of the peers engaged in the work is important. Yuko Watanabe made an attempt to give an answer to this question in his article “Peer–Peer Interaction between L2 Learners of Different Proficiency Levels”. In the article, Yuko Watanabe aimed to discuss whether socio-cultural interaction between adult ESL learners and their higher or lower-proficiency peers is important regarding the effectiveness of collaborative learning. In order to evaluate the effectiveness of collaborative learning, adult ESL learners were engaged in the task consisting of 3 main stages. The purpose of the first task was to involve the participants in pair writing which could demonstrate how two writers can inspire, adjust, and share their skills with each other. Paired writing should have shown that support stakeholder participation helps learners understand the task completely and cope with it more effectively. The second task consisted of several assignments the purpose of which was to engage the participants into pair noticing. At this stage, participants had to analyze the works of each other. The third task was individual writing first with a learner possessing higher proficiency, then, with a learner having lower proficiency than their own.

The participants were expected to get a common understanding of what is required from them and design new ideas altogether. The three participants engaged in the task were interviewed as soon as the tasks were completed. Yuko Watanabe analyzed thoroughly the work done in pairs and the effects of that interaction. When analyzing the results of the collaborative work and interaction between L2 students, special attention was drawn to the lexical and grammatical mistakes that Ls students made during the work.

This work addresses the paradigm shift as according to the data resulted, the difference in proficiency level of learners makes no significant impact on the nature of peer help. The finding that Yuko Watanabe showed that co-operation with less proficient peers can also be an effective means for adult ESL learners. In spite of the fact that interaction with advanced partners was more useful in the course of lexical units that the participant could learn and revision of the work was more correctly accomplished with higher-proficient learners, still, each of the three participants found working with a partner rather interesting and helpful. The participants of the collaborative work of that type evaluated the task as involving and useful regarding the opportunity to get more experience. Partners were able to share their ideas regardless of their own proficiency level. So, Yuko focused on the effectiveness of collaborative work with students possessing different proficiency levels in the course of having more motivation for the work. Thus, Watanabe’s investigation demonstrated that collaborative learning in which peers with different levels of proficiency are engaged is rather an effective means of apprehending, analyzing, and reproducing the information received.


Yuko Watanabe. (2008).Peer–Peer Interaction between L2 Learners of Different Proficiency Levels: Their Interactions and Reflections. From The Canadian Modern Language Review. 

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