Play and Peer Interaction in a Low-Exposure Foreign Language-Learning Programme

  • Sandie Mourão
Part of the Multilingual Education book series (MULT, volume 25)


This chapter discusses the possibilities of enabling peer interaction through structured child-initiated play in a low exposure, foreign language context. The research took place in a pre-primary institution in Portugal with a group of sixteen 5–6 years olds, whose shared classroom language was Portuguese, and who were given two 30-min English lessons a week by a visiting teacher. Together with these teacher-led sessions in the foreign language, children were also given access to English through structured child-initiated play in a resourced English learning area (ELA), one of several learning areas in their room. With a view to understanding the way these children interacted with peers, I focus on the different activities carried out between the learners and how they used English while in this area. Using observation field notes and photos of children engaging in free play in the ELA, interviews with children and their educators, I analyze data considering Blum-Kulka and Snow’s contextual features of peer talk (Discourse Stud 6(3):291–305, 2004: 298) considering the collaborative, multi-party, symmetrical participation structure of the activities and the shared worlds of these children’s classroom culture. The results provide evidence of children easily using the L2 with peers and supports the inclusion of an approach which enables child-initiated play in foreign language learning contexts to promote language development. I conclude with recommendations for educators in foreign language learning contexts of low exposure.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sandie Mourão
    • 1
  1. 1.Modern Languages, Cultures and LiteraturesUniversidade NovaLisbonPortugal

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