jueves, 3 de junio de 2010

The More the Merrier

The following reasons are often given for using pairwork and groupwork in the communicative classroom:
  1. It increases opportunities for practising the language: I think that when sts are asked to work in pairs or in groups more true-to-life situations are presented so more skills are required to carry them out. Students need to develop different competences such as discourse competence (cope with authentic texts, use cohesive devices) strategic competence(turn taking) fluency (to deal with information gap), etc. These strategies would note be seen as a necessity from the sts´point of view were them to be working alone. The main point here, is that as we are teaching a language, and a language is meant to be used for communication mainly, we should practise it through interacting with others.
  2. It enables students to take risks with the language and to see if they can negotiate meaning: Of course, it does! Working with their pairs usually gives students more confidence as they are not the centre of attention to the teacher. They feel more free and relaxed.Thus, they are more concerned with getting their message across through negotiation of meaning than with them making mistakes.
Some of the disadvantages to this approach could be that students are prone to divert their attention from the main aim of the exercise and in turn this is a more time-consuming task. Another disadvantage may be that monitoring individual performance becomes more difficult with a large number of students.

4 comentarios:

  1. Hi Lu,

    I think we all agree that students profit a lot from communicative activities! I love listening to them when they interact in groups, they are really motivated and concentrated on sending the message. This is the time when we realize what is happening in our lessons. You´re right when you say that sometimes learners divert their attention from the main task. But I think this is a risk we need to take to give them the possibility to speak freely. So if they start talking about other things and do not use the correct structure it will not be so bad, at least they are speaking! :-)

    Looking forward to hearing more from you...



  2. Hi Deb!
    You´re absolutely right in saying that if we get them speak: What´s the problem, then? ja
    I believe I was thinking of diversion in Spanish jaja This also happens and we find ourselves saying: "In Englishhhh, please!"


  3. Debbie: perhaps you're being too optimistic when you say "all of us (teachers) agree students profit from communicative activities"? Though I'd agree that FL teachers are usually more advanced along this pathway than teacher in other areas (e.g. Sciences).

    I believe this is due to the argument Lu herself has highlighted: why teach a living language if not for communication?

    On the question on the use of mother-tongue during classwork, I¡d like to share with you a page created by a workshop attendee in previous courses on the topic. Enjoy!

    Big hug,

  4. Hi! It is true that FL teachers benefit from communicative activities more than any other teacher. The obvious reason being that we are teaching a LANGUAGE: Language and Communication are two sides of the same coin.
    As regards L1, I think it is very difficult to find the happy medium when teaching elementary levels. Either they do not understand or feel intimidated if you speak all the time in English and ask them to follow suit. Thus, as it is said in the page suggested by Gladys, it is important for us to set clear guidelines, create a relaxed and encouraging atmosphere and use persuasion.