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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Implementation of Collaborative Dialogues in a Literary-Cultural Course


Several researchers (e.g., Allen & Paesani, 2010; Maxim, 2009; MLA Report, 2007) argue that the language-literature divide limits language development in many foreign language departments and that the speaking skill is the most affected by this common two-tiered curriculum (Swender, 2003). This study investigates the implementation of the concept of collaborative dialogues in an upper-division Francophone literature and culture course to support the oral proficiency skills of the participants. It addresses research questions pertaining to how they constructed their group conversations in terms of language and content. Both whole-class discussions and weekly group dialogues, which took place outside of class, were video-recorded. The participants took an oral proficiency test at the beginning and at the end of the study and shared their opinions about the dialogues in two questionnaires. The analysis of the data sources shows that the majority of participants focused heavily on content during their conversations. This finding differs from previous research on collaborative dialogues, which fostered many interactions about language and supported language learning. Based on their analytical abilities and proficiency levels, the participants of this study either reviewed previous class discussions or extended them by exploring additional material and adding prior knowledge to their arguments.

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