Using Reciprocal Peer Coteaching to developing learner autonomy: an action research project with a beginners’ Chinese class

Weiming Liu & Ann Devitt

Abstract

Peer teaching has been used as a mechanism for promoting learner autonomy within a range of language learning contexts. This paper explores how absolute beginners in a Chinese class can engage in reciprocal peer coteaching from the start of their language learning experience and how this contributes to aspects central to the development of learner autonomy as well as to improving their linguistic competence in Chinese. Reciprocal peer coteaching entails students collaborating in teaching teams to teach their peers, with all students taking a turn acting as peer teacher and peer learner, during a short beginners course in Chinese. The study was conducted as an action research project in three cycles with data derived from students’ reflective language learning journals. The findings suggested that the cooperative and challenging activity of reciprocal peer coteaching served to build individual responsibility and motivation for learning while at the same time developing group solidarity in the classes, both of which served to promote the autonomy of learners within the class group.

Keywords: Motivation, Chinese Language, Learner Autonomy, Reciprocal peer coteaching

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