Collaborative enquiry through the tabletop for second/foreign language learners

Written by
Language: English

  • Book title: "CALL Design: Principles and Practice - Proceedings of the 2014 EUROCALL Conference, Groningen, The Netherlands"
  • Editors: Sake Jager, Linda Bradley, Estelle J. Meima, Sylvie Thouësny.
  • Pages: 202-208
  • Article DOI: 10.14705/rpnet.2014.000218
  • Book DOI: 10.14705/rpnet.2014.9781908416209
  • Publication date:
  • Licence: CC BY-NC-ND 4.0
  • Publisher:

© 2014 Mei Lin, Anne Preston, Ahmed Kharrufa, Zhuoran Kong.

Crossref Similarity Check logo


Interactional communicative competence and higher-order thinking have been well documented as two of the biggest challenges for second/foreign language learners (EFL learners). This paper evaluates the use of digital tabletops as tools for problem-solving tasks in groups. The evaluation is based on a preliminary study of an application of the use of Digital Mysteries task with EFL learners in a Higher Education institution. It focuses more specifically on the extent to which collaborative learning platforms provided by interactive tabletops can promote and support the application of both thinking and linguistic skills for EFL learners. Based on an interdisciplinary perspective which draws from instructed second language learning and human-computer interaction fields, the evaluation considers moment-to-moment multimodal interaction of three groups of Chinese English language learners with and around the completion of the Digital Mysteries task. It seeks to identify what specific affordances in the design might benefit EFL learners in terms of thinking skills, interactional competence and linguistic performance, and by the same token, what might not. This paper concludes with a number of suggestions about how technologies designed for collaborative enquiry might be repurposed for higher-order thinking and language learning.

Keywords: digital table, enquiry, interactional competence, higher order thinking.


Cummins, J. (2008). BICS and CALP: Empirical and theoretical status of the distinction. In B. Street & N. H. Hornberger (Eds), Encyclopaedia of Language and Education (2nd ed.) (Volume 2: Literacy) (pp. 71-83). New York: Springer Science + Business Media LLC.

Jewell, P. (1996). A reasoning taxonomy for gifted education. In M. T. McCann & F. Southern (Eds), Fusing talents: Proceedings of the 6th national conference on gifted education Australian association for the education of the gifted and talented.

Kharrufa, A. S., Leat, D., & Olivier, P. (2010). Digital Mysteries: Designing for learning at the tabletop. In Proceedings of the ACM International Conference on Interactive Tabletops and Surfaces 2010, Saarbrücken, Germany, November 7-10, 2010, ITS’10.

Kharrufa, A. S., Olivier, P., Leat, D. (2010). Learning through reflection at the tabletop: A case study with Digital Mysteries. In Proceedings of World Conference on Educational Multimedia, Hypermedia and Telecommunications, Toronto, Canada June 28-July 2, 2010 (pp. 65-674).

Leat, D., & Nichols, A. (2000). Brains on the table. Diagnostic and formative assessment through observation. Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy & Practice, 7(1), 103-121.

Littleton, K., & Mercer, N. (2013). Interthinking: Putting talk to work. Oxon: Routledge.

Moseley, D., Baumfield, V., Elliot, J., Gregson, M., Higgins, S., Miller, J., & Newton, D. (2005). Frameworks for thinking. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/CBO9780511489914

Walsh, S. (2011). Exploring classroom discourse: Language in Action. London: Routledge.

How to cite

Citation is provided in standard text format below. For full citation export options, click Export citation.

Lin, Mei; Preston, Anne; Kharrufa, Ahmed; Kong, Zhuoran. (2014). Collaborative enquiry through the tabletop for second/foreign language learners. In Sake Jager, Linda Bradley, Estelle J. Meima, Sylvie Thouësny (Eds), CALL Design: Principles and Practice - Proceedings of the 2014 EUROCALL Conference, Groningen, The Netherlands (pp. 202-208).

Request permissions

This article is published under the Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives International 4.0 (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) licence. Under this licence, the contents are freely available online (as PDF files) for anybody to read, download, copy, and redistribute provided that the AUTHOR(s), EDITORIAL TEAM and PUBLISHER are properly cited. Commercial use and derivative works are, however, not permitted.

Permission is not required for the republication of tables, figures or illustrations, as long as they are reproduced accurately and the source material is fully cited. It may be the case that the licence does not give you all of the permissions necessary for your intended use. If this is your current situation, please do feel free to ask the copyright holders, i.e. the authors; email addresses are listed on individual papers.

From the same authors

Integrating Cognitive-Motivational Strategies Into Multimedia-Based English Instruction for Low-Achievers
Chang, Mei-Mei; Lin, Mei-Chen.
Collaborative Strategic Reading on Multi-Touch and Multi-User Digital Tabletop Displays
Maslamani, Jaber Ali; Windeatt, Scott; Olivier, Patrick; Heslop, Phil; Kharrufa, Ahmed; Shearer, John; Balaam, Madeline.