Teacher-Assisted vs. Peer-Assisted Performances and L2 Development: A Mixed Methods Approach

Document Type : Research Article


1 Sheikhbahaee University, Isfahan

2 Sheikh Bahaei University, Isfahan


The present study compared the impact of teacher-provided and peer-provided oral assistance in the acquisition of English wh-question forms. Participants were 90 female Iranian EFL learners who constituted the 3 groups of the study: teacherassisted, peer-assisted, and a control group. Participants in the experimental groups received assistance either from the teacher or a peer during task-based performances to make wh-questions, whereas those in the control group performed the same tasks with no assistance. The study took a mixed-methods design. Results from the quantitative pre/posttest analysis showed that both teacher-assisted and peer-assisted groups significantly improved in receptive and productive knowledge of the L2 forms compared to the control group, but no significant difference was observed between the 2 groups' degree of language development. Results of the qualitative microgenetic analysis revealed that the peer-assisted group outperformed the teacher-assisted group at the first 2 time points of the experiment. The finding that peer-provided assistance was effective with equal or greater benefits as compared to the teacher-assisted group calls into question the traditional belief that L2 learners are incapable of assisting peers in EFL classrooms.


Aljaafreh, A., & Lantolf, J. P. (1994). Negative feedback as regulation and second language learning in the zone of proximal development. The Modern Language Journal78(4), 465-483.
Ballinger, S. (2013). Towards a cross-linguistic pedagogy: Biliteracy and reciprocal learning strategies in French immersion. Journal of Immersion and Content-Based Language Education, 1(1), 131-148.
Biber, D., Johansson, S., Leech, G., Conrad, S., & Finegan, E. (1999). Longman grammar of spoken and written English. London: Longman.
de Guerrero, M. C. M., & Villamil, O. (2000). Activating the ZPD: Mutual scaffolding in L2 peer revision. The Modern Language Journal, 84, 51-68.
de Villiers, J. G., de Villiers, P. A., & Roeper, T. (2011). Wh-questions: Moving beyond the first phase. Lingua121(3), 352-366.
Donato, R. (1994). Collective scaffolding in second language learning. In J. P Lantolf (Ed.) Vygotskian approaches to second language research (pp. 33-56). London: Ablex Publishing.
Foster, P., & Ohta, A. S. (2005). Negotiation for meaning and peer assistance in second language classrooms. Applied Linguistics26(3), 402-430.
Fujii, A., & Mackey, A. (2009). Interactional feedback in learner-learner interactions in a task-based EFL classroom. International Review of Applied Linguistics Teaching, 47(3), 267-301.
Guk, I., & Kellogg, D. (2007). The ZPD and whole class teaching: Teacher-led and student-led interactional mediation of tasks.  Language Teaching Research11(3), 281-299.
Gutiérrez, A. G. (2008). Microgenesis, method and object: A study of collaborative activity in a Spanish as a foreign language classroom. Applied Linguistics, 29(1), 120-148.
Hattie, J. A. C., & Timperley, H. (2007). The power of feedback. Review of Educational Research, 77(1), 81-112.
Henderson, K., & Palmer, D. (2015). Teacher scaffolding and pair work in a pre-K bilingual classroom. Journal of Immersion and Content-Based Language Education, 3(1), 77-101.
Lantolf, J. P. (2000). Sociocultural theory and second language learning. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Lantolf, J. P. (2013). Sociocultural theory and the dialectics of L2 learner autonomy/agency. London: Equinox Publishing.
Lantolf, J. P., & Aljaafreh, A. (1995). Second language learning in the zone of proximal development: A revolutionary experience. International Journal of Educational Research, 23(7), 619-632.
Lantolf, J. P., & Poehner, M. E. (2014). Sociocultural theory and the pedagogical imperative in L2 education: Vygotskian praxis and the research/practice divide. London: Routledge.
Lantolf, P., & Thorne, S. L. (2007). Sociocultural theory and second language learning. In B. van Patten & J. Williams (Eds.), Theories in second language acquisition: An introduction (pp. 693-701). N.J: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.
Lantolf, J. P., Thorne, S. L., & Poehner, M. E. (2015). Sociocultural theory and second language development. In B. van Patten & J. Williams (Eds.), Theories in second language acquisition: An introduction (pp. 207-226). New York: Routledge.
Li, S. (2010). The effectiveness of corrective feedback in SLA: A meta-analysis. Language Learning, 60(2), 309-365.
Lidz, C. S. (1991). Practitioner’s guide to dynamic assessment. New York: Guilford Press.
Lyster, R., Saito, K., & Sato, M. (2013). Oral corrective feedback in second language classrooms. Language Teaching, 46(1), 1-40.
Mackey, A., & Gass, S. M. (2016). Second language research: Methodology and design. NY: Routledge.
Nassaji, H., & Swain, M. (2000). A Vygotskian perspective on corrective feedback in L2: The effect of random versus negotiated help on the learning of English articles. Language Awareness9(1), 34-51.
Nuevo, A. M., Adams, R., & Ross-Feldman, L. (2011). Task complexity, modified output, and L2 development. In P. Robinson (Ed.), Second language task complexity: Researching the cognition hypothesis of language learning and performance (pp. 175-204). Philadelphia, PA: John Benjamins.
Ohta, A. S. (2000). Rethinking interaction in SLA: Developmentally appropriate assistance in the zone of proximal development and the acquisition of L2 grammar. In J. P. Lantolf (Ed.), Sociocultural theory and second language learning (pp. 51-78). New York: Oxford University Press.
Ohta, A. S. (2001). Second language acquisition processes in the classroom: Learning Japanese. New York: Routledge.
Philp, J., Adams, R., & Iwashita, N. (2013). Peer interaction and second language learning. New York: Routledge.
Philp, J., Walter, S., & Basturkmen, H. (2010). Peer interaction in the foreign language classroom: What factors foster a focus on form? Language Awareness, 19, 261-279.
Rassaei, E. (2014). Scaffolded feedback, recasts, and L2 development: A sociocultural perspective. The Modern Language Journal98(1), 417-431.
Sato, M., & Ballinger, S. (2012). Raising language awareness in peer interaction: A cross-context, cross-methodology examination. Language Awareness21(1-2), 157-179.
Sato, M., & Lyster, R. (2012). Peer interaction and corrective feedback for accuracy and fluency development. Studies in Second Language Acquisition34(4), 591-626.
Sato, M., & Ballinger, S. G., (Eds.). (2016). Peer interaction and second language learning: Pedagogical potential and research agenda. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.
Saito, H., & Fujita, T. (2004). Characteristics and user acceptance of peer rating in EFL writing classrooms. Language Teaching Research, 8(1), 31-54.
Sheen, Y. (2010). Differential effects of oral and written corrective feedback in the ESL classroom. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 32(02), 203-234.
Sippel, L., & Jackson, C. N. (2015). Teacher vs. peer oral corrective feedback in the German language classroom. Foreign Language Annals, 48(4), 688-705.
Storch, N. (2002). Patterns of interaction in ESL pair work. Language Learning, 52, 119-158.
Swain, M., Kinnear, P., & Steinman, L. (2015). Sociocultural theory in second language education: An introduction through narratives. Clevedon, UK: Multilingual matters.
Swain, M., & Lapkin, S. (1998). Interaction and second language learning: Two adolescent French immersion students working together. The Modern Language Journal, 82(3), 320-337.
Swain, M., & Lapkin, S. (2001). Focus on form through collaborative dialogue: Exploring task effects. In M. Bygate, P. Skehan, & M. Swain (Eds.), Researching pedagogic tasks: Second language learning, teaching, and testing (pp. 99-118). Harlow, UK: Longman.
Swain, M., & Lapkin, S. (2002). Talking it through: Two French immersion learners' response to reformulation. International Journal of Educational Research, 37(3), 285-304.
Toth, P. (2008). Teacher- and learner-led discourse in task-based grammar instruction: Providing procedural assistance for L2 morphosyntactic development. Language Learning, 58(2), 237-283.
van Lier, L. (2006). The ecology and semiotics of language learning: A sociocultural perspective. New York: Springer.
van Lier, L. (2014). Interaction in the language curriculum: Awareness, autonomy, and authenticity. New York: Routledge.
Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society. The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Wood, D., Bruner, J., & Ross, G. (1976). The role of tutoring in problem solving. Journal of Child Psychology and Child Psychiatry, 17, 89-100.