Collaborative writing is the joint production of a text by two or more writers. Despite the widespread use of collaborative writing in the world outside the second language (L2) classroom, the use of collaborative writing tasks in L2 classes, to date, seems relatively limited. The overarching aim of this article is to suggest that collaborative writing activities, if carefully designed and monitored, may form an optimal site for L2 learning. The article begins by providing a brief theoretical rationale for collaborative writing, drawing on both cognitive and sociocultural theories. It then reviews the small number of published studies that have investigated collaborative writing in different L2 contexts. This review provides empirical evidence that working jointly on producing a written text provides opportunities for language learning, but that factors such as task type, L2 proficiency, and the relationships that the learners form affect these opportunities and may also affect language-learning gains. The chapter then considers new directions in implementing collaborative writing: online collaboration via wikis. The article concludes by highlighting the factors that need to be considered in order to maximize the language-learning potentials of collaborative writing in face-to-face and online modes.
(Online publication September 02 2011)
Neomy Storch is a senior lecturer in ESL and applied linguistics at the School of Languages and Linguistics, the University of Melbourne, Australia. Her research has focused on issues related to ESL pedagogy. These issues have included the nature of peer collaboration, the role of L1 in L2 classes, the development of academic writing and the contribution of feedback to such development. She has published widely on her research in leading journals in the field of second language teaching and applied linguistics.