Patterns of Interaction: Analysis of Mixed-Age Peer Interactions In Secondary School Classrooms In Germany

How to Cite

Kos, T. (2019). Patterns of Interaction: Analysis of Mixed-Age Peer Interactions In Secondary School Classrooms In Germany. Journal of Language Teaching and Learning, 9(1), 1-29. Retrieved from


This  study explored peer interactions in mixed-age English as a foreign language (EFL) secondary school classrooms in Germany which are simultaneously mixed-ability classrooms. Mixed-age classrooms are increasingly used (Thurn, 2011), but research in language classrooms is lacking. Studies on peer-interactions within M-A groups/pairs in L2 contexts are not available. Research in mainstream mixed-age classrooms suggests benefits for both younger and elder learners (Veenman, 1995; Little, 2001, 2007; Kuhl et al. 2013). Twelve mixed-age pairs of young adolescent learners were audio-recorded when interacting on regular classroom tasks, which were a part of one unit of work, lasting a period of two and half months. After the unit of work, individual interviews were conducted in order to elicit learners’ perceptions of their interactions. Applying Storch’s (2002) framework, the study examined patterns of interaction the pairs establish. This is important as Storch (2002) has shown that only some patterns of interaction may be indicative of learning. Findings show that mixed-age pairs formed predominantly patterns of interaction, which are conducive to learning, namely expert/novice and collaborative pattern (Storch, 2002). However, there was some difficulty to apply Storch’s framework to interactions of young adolescent learners. This difficulty seemed to be attributable to a certain level of ambiguity of the definitions of mutuality and equality, and the associated traits that determine them. The study also explored learning opportunities afforded by mixed-age peer interactions, operationalized in this study as language related episodes (LREs). The findings suggest that non-collaborative attitudes and patterns of behaviour may not necessarily imply limited opportunities for learning.