Groupwork is an essential component of English classes. However, despite its obvious advantages, collaboration doesn’t always work as well as expected. The following beliefs about group work may need a closer look.
Belief 1: Combining higher with lower level students works best.
Common thinking is that higher level students will help the lower level students and bring the whole class closer into synch. However, in some instances, stronger students “help” the weaker ones by doing the work.
Grouping weaker learners often has advantages. The teacher can give the stronger students more autonomy while spending more time with the lower group. Alternatively, weaker students working at their pace and level may make more progress.
Grouping weaker learners often has advantages.
Belief 2: Students understand the benefits of group work.
English learners have a variety of expectations about what activities will help them learn best. Some enjoy being paired for practice, but others resist. They prefer to interact only with the teacher.
Consider that many students focus on preparing for tests. Try including a role play or pair component in the evaluation. Students who are anticipating an authentic test of this type may invest more in pair practice.
Belief 3: Pair and Group work should only happen at the end of class.
Students do need controlled individual practice before working with each other, but this should happen multiple times during a lesson. Look for a book like Grammar and Beyond, which includes several opportunities for interaction throughout each unit.