Using “paired-introspection” to enhance young learners’ English learning

 

Yuko Goto Butler

University of Pennsylvania (USA)

 

 

While stimulated recall has been used widely as an introspective research method, it has also gained attention as a means of instruction.  Stimulated recall can provide learners with an opportunity to reflect on their own performance, which in turn can enhance their self-regulation and learning.  Stimulated recall as an instructional means is also supported by sociocultural theories; by incorporating appropriate scaffolding into stimulated recall, it can serve as a mediation for learners which can enhance their learning. 

 

When implementing stimulated recall among young learners (defined as children up to 12 years old), in order to ease their memory burden, stimulated recall is often accompanied by audio or visual stimuli (e.g., conducting stimulated recall while watching their video-recorded performance).  Moreover, it is often conducted in a pair- or group-format in order to ease their anxiety and avoid the power-imbalance that inherently exists between adults and children.  Stimulated recall, however, has been rarely implemented as an instructional tool in young learners’ foreign language learning.  The current study, therefore, aims to investigate how stimulated recall in a paired format (referred to as “paired-introspection” hereafter) can be usefully implemented in order to improve the students’ language task performance as well as their confidence level. 

 

The participants were 4th and 6th grade English-learning primary school students (20 students, or 10 pairs, for each grade level) in Japan.  They engaged in a set of tasks in pairs: one served as a pre-task and the other served as a post-task.  After finishing the pre-task, with some initial guidance from their teacher, they were asked to conduct paired-introspection while watching their video-recorded performance.  A detailed discourse analysis was conducted on their paired-introspection.  Their pre- and post-test performance was compared and examined how the points raised during the paired-introspection were reflected in their post-task performance. 

 

The results indicated that the paired-introspection helped the participants’ task-performance and improved their confidence in general, but that there were group differences in the effectiveness across and within the age groups.  Detailed qualitative analyses also revealed a complicated set of interactions among various factors that influenced the effectiveness of the paired-introspection.  The paper concludes with implications for practice. 

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