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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Peer tutoring in the ESL classroom : what do these students tell us? Marlow, Gail Dawn


This study explored the usefulness of peer tutoring among elementary school-aged nonnative speakers of English (NNS). In this study, the more proficient NNS of English tutored their less proficient NNS peers. I explored the usefulness of peer tutoring in the natural classroom environment of the English as a second language (ESL) students in Grades 4 to 7. The study focuses on how and to what extent the ESL students can assist each other in the academic and language learning of a science study on the human body during peer tutoring sessions. Taking an ethnographic research approach, the study employed a variety of data collection methods such as classroom observations, formal and informal interviews with the participants, tape recording peer tutoring sessions and collecting writing samples of the students' work. Eighteen ESL students, the classroom teacher and the researcher as participant observer were the participants in this study. Seven themes emerged from the data for discussion of the findings of the study. The results of this study demonstrate that with teacher scaffolding, such as modelling strategies, explicit instruction, and contextual hands-on group tasks for experiential learning and sharing, that NNS of English can and do assist their NNS peers during peer tutoring. Further to this, results indicated that the matching of tutors and tutees is complex and requires careful consideration when forming the tutoring dyads. An interesting aspect of the study revealed that discourse and "concepts" were being scaffolded at the same time and that students were able to include description and causal discourse in their writing about topics on the human body.

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