Changing Writing Classrooms through Group Dynamics


Literature Circles in an EFL writing classroom is an under-explored area where learners, through collaborative learning, are able to enhance the skills necessary for writing academic essays. By redesigning the traditional roles of Literature Circles to accommodate different aspects of academic writing, this approach, through interaction and collaborative dialog, develops the skills of EFL writers. The skills of summarizing, learning APA formatting, researching, and developing vocabulary are all enriched by using the Literature Circle roles of Summarizer, Passage Person, Connector, and Leader/Vocabulary Enricher. Though students gain an understanding of the skills just by completing the assignments for their roles, the greater benefits of Literature Circles are creating a peer discussion and negotiation of ideas (Kasten, 1995) in which students can learn from each other. Though the use of Literature Circles in a writing classroom serve the primary purpose of developing summarizing, researching, and referencing skills, they simultaneously create an environment where students learn to collaborate in order to become more effective writers. Literature Circles are based on a community of learners where students take responsibility for their learning through collaboration (Tompkins, 2003). Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) is a key element to this approach, with the belief that what a person can accomplish with the assistance of others can bridge the gap between what someone is able and not able to achieve (Vygotsky, 1978). Collaborative dialogue allows learners to work together to solve a variety of linguistic problems and co-construct their knowledge (Swain, 2000).

Author Information
Eric Hirata, Nagoya University of Foreign Studies, Japan

Paper Information
Conference: ACLL2017
Stream: Innovative language teaching and learning methodologies

This paper is part of the ACLL2017 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon