The Asia-Pacific Education Researcher

, Volume 27, Issue 3, pp 187–195 | Cite as

Effect of Proficiency Pairing on L2 Learners’ Language Learning and Scaffolding in Collaborative Writing

  • Ruiying NiuEmail author
  • Lin Jiang
  • Yuan Deng
Regular Article


In L2 pedagogy, collaborative writing has been employed as a task for facilitating language learning, and language proficiency is often taken as a primary yardstick for pairing learners. Yet studies about the effect of proficiency pairing on language learning in pair writing have obtained mixed findings, and few studies have examined how proficiency pairing affects learners’ scaffolding strategy use. The present study, following a sociocognitive approach, investigated the effects of proficiency pairing on Chinese EFL learners’ language learning and scaffolding strategy use in pair writing. The study recruited three groups, respectively, including four high–high pairs, four high–low pairs, and four low–low pairs. An analysis of the 12 dyads’ dialogues elicited from pair writing revealed that low–low pairs produced more language-related episodes (LREs) and resorted to more scaffolding strategies than high–high and high-low pairs did while high–high and high-low pairs successfully resolved more LREs than low–low pairs did. The findings were discussed with reference to such mediating variables as task nature, interaction pattern, and task orientation. Pedagogical implications were drawn in the conclusion.


Collaborative writing Proficiency pairing Language learning Language-related episodes Scaffolding strategy 



We would like to thank the anonymous reviewers’ insightful comments and suggestions on earlier versions of this paper. We also appreciate the participants’ willingness to attend the study and Ms. Peiwen Shan’s help with the statistical work. The study has been supported by the Ministry of Education Project of the Centre for Linguistics and Applied Linguistics, and the Bilingual Cognition and Development Lab, Guangdong University of Foreign Studies (GDUFS), China, as well as funded by the GDUFS Teaching Reform Program of the Year 2017 (GWJY2017008) and the GDUFS International Language-service-oriented Foreign Language and Literature Creative Construction Program (No. 101-GK17GS52).


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Copyright information

© De La Salle University 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Guangdong University of Foreign StudiesGuangzhouPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Hunan Normal UniversityChangshaPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.Faculty of English Language and CultureGuangdong University of Foreign StudiesGuangzhouPeople’s Republic of China

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