The following reasons are often given for using pairwork and groupwork in the communicative classroom:
- 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.
- 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.