A crucial condition for second language

Interacionists' theorists (Larsen-Freeman & Long, 1991; Long, 1985; Swain, 1999) propose that although comprehensible input is a crucial condition for second language acquisition, it may not, by itself, be sufficient. They indicate that communicative abilities of the second language learners can be enhanced by interacting with each other through oral and written discourse. Some researchers (e.g., Renandya, Rajan, & Jacobs, 1999) in the area of reading believe that reading and talking about what is read can increase the effectiveness of reading. The collaborative activities in the friendly atmosphere of the reading circles would increase the students' interest and motivation in reading. In this way, the linguistic competence and communicative performance of the students would be enhanced based on the gained information and knowledge through different reading stages (i.e., pre-reading, while-reading, and post-reading).

The issue of collaboration, though not highlighted in the reading-writing studies, is inferred from the group activities that are used in their reading and follow-up activities. The advantages of collaborative activities in reading circles have been discussed in most of the studies. For example, Furr (2007) defines the benefits of reading circles and their positive role in arousing the interesting and meaningful discussions in English among the students in the classrooms. Similarly, Jacobs and Gallo (2002) suggest the positive effect of adding the element of cooperation among second language learners to the solitary task of silent reading. They indicate the affirmative role of peers as interactive audience for sharing what they have read. Parrott's (1987) suggestion for 'reading syndicates', that embody the idea of collaboration, is proposed for developing an interest in reading and increasing literacy competence amongst intermediate or advanced language students. Other studies (e.g., Day, 1993; Dupuy, 1998; MacGillivray, Tse, & McQuillan, 1995; McQuillan & Tse,1997) indicate the positive influence of group activities in the classroom through the literature circles and different kinds of readings. Hill and Van Horn (1997) offer book club strategy in which the group discussion, that relates the students' reading to their real lives and values, is its key ingredients so that the students can have meaningful interaction. Elley's (1991) study, for example, where he compares shared-book group with the sustained silent reading group, embodies the use of collaboration in which more improvement was seen in the writing of shared-book group. Therefore, according to August and Shanahan (2008) findings of various studies in the literature indicate the positive role of reading and discussion.

In the Malaysian setting, in which the present study was conducted, a few studies (e.g., Singh, 2003; Mohamed Nor & Kepol, 2005) indicated the employment of collaborative activities in the classrooms. Although they have used cooperative activities in reading groups or writing groups to find out their effect on reading comprehension or writing ability, independently, in either case the result revealed increase in the learning achievement of the students. Singh (2003) criticizes the traditional lecture method at the university level for being more teacher-centered and using the individual-oriented activities that suppress the students' motivation and interest in doing the activities and as a result decreases the achievement of the students. The cooperative learning method is advocated in that active and meaningful learning, as cognitive psychologists believe, occur through cooperative learning which results in long term retention. In this regard, Johnson and Johnson (1999, p.194), who reviewed various research studies conducted on cooperative and individualistic learning, indicated the higher achievement of cooperative learning groups compared to individualistic learning groups with a large mean effect size (ES= 0.64) in the total studies they reviewed. Johnson and Johnson (1999) indicate that the traditional teaching method can be more effective if they are accompanied with cooperative activities. In this way, most of the barriers for learning in individualistic and competitive types of lecture-oriented classes would be removed. One of the procedures that they suggest to be interwoven with the lecture method is the use of temporary informal cooperative learning groups which can last from a few minutes to one class period (pp. 55-57).

However, very few studies have assessed, directly, the collaborative role of reading in writing. Most of the studies have just reported its positive effect in enhancing the attitude of the students toward reading, or increasing their interest and motivation in reading and writing, but they have not used collaboration as the construct or variable of the study. In other words, the effect of collaborative reading has not been measured on the outcomes of the reading-writing studies. Most of the studies in this area are related to the effect of reading on writing or for the most part their correlation but the effect of collaborative reading on writing we can dare say has not been explored as much as it is worth.

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