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Volume 11 Number 1, Spring 2014, Pages 1-148   

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Using Peer-led Story Discussions with Junior College EFL Learners

    Hsiu-chuan Chen, Angela Mei Chen Wu and Chiou-lan Chern

The use of group reading helps learners become more actively engaged in meaning making through exchanging interpretations of texts. However, relatively little published research has focused specially on the process of how learners interact with each other to read and to interpret texts in the local context. The present study therefore aims to explore how Taiwanese junior college EFL learners constructed meaning from texts while participating in peer-led story discussions. Participants were grouped into 12 heterogeneous groups, each of which consisted of four second-year students with different levels of reading ability. They read eight simplified short stories of between 600-700 headwords over a period of eight weeks. Transcribed audiotapes of four representative discussions served as the major data source and were analyzed using Rosenblatt's (1994) definition of efferent and aesthetic transactions. Interviews and students' reading logs were collected to find out the focus group students' reading behaviors during the two-month long study. The findings revealed that the participants consistently moved beyond facts to critically examine the ideas given and became aesthetically involved in the text to develop reflective thoughts. By gaining new thoughts that they could not obtain while reading alone, the EFL learners helped each other extend their thinking and venture more deeply into what they read.

Keywords: group reading, efferent/aesthetic transaction, reader response, second language reading, simplified short stories