Misinterpreting Japanese Student Collaboration in the L2 Classroom

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Joshua Alexander Kidd; Kidd International, Utsunomiya University (EPUU)

In this study, I examined points arising in L2 English activities during which Japanese students resolved to collaborate with classmates. These points included moments when students were specifically instructed to work alone, were rebuked for collaborating, or both. Of issue here was that the value and meaning ascribed by the English native speaker (NS) teachers to Japanese students’ spontaneous peer collaboration (SPC) reflected a prevailing assumption about L1 collaboration: that students were off task, were less proficient members of the class, or lacked motivation. The study explored the miscommunication that could result as students upheld what they viewed as an acceptable classroom behaviour, namely peer support through verbal collaboration, while simultaneously attempting to gain teacher recognition as competent and engaged members of the class. Candid student insights illustrated that during language-learning activities students should be given greater freedom to collaborate when and with whom they desire without fear that this will negatively impact how their performance is perceived by the instructor.