Why Teaching in Groups Furthers Learning
Learning a new language is intimidating, stressful, and confusing. Learning English feels the same way for our students. Teaching our students in groups is essential for their learning to progress. By grouping students they will be more confident in their learning experience, be able to teach one another, and more efficient for the teacher to monitor.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Kendyl C. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
One of the most important reasons for grouping students when teaching is that it increases a student’s confidence in taking risks. As mentioned previously, studying a new language can be frightening. These feelings can prevent a student from participating in front of the class as a whole. According to Emelina Minero, assistant editor at Edutopia, group work can assist students by “[building] comfort around using their voices.” (Minero, 2016) Pairing or grouping students allows them to feel more comfortable taking risks in their education. These risks can include sharing opinions, practicing their language, and asking questions. By feeling this confidence, students are more likely to participate in their group and expand their education.
Grouping is essential for students because they can learn from one another. In Minero’s article, she references the principal at University Park saying, “The world increasingly relies on people being able to work together to collaboratively solve problems…” (Minero, 2016) Each student has strengths and weaknesses. By grouping individuals, we can establish those weaknesses and make them strengths. For instance, Student A exceeds at memorizing vocabulary but is lacking in grammar. Student A can teach the rest of her group vocabulary, exercises to assist in memorization, and can even do one-on-one practice with students to help strengthen their vocabulary skills. If Student B understands grammar more than Student A, he can aid Student A in grammar by running drills and sharing tips with her and the rest of the group. Furthermore, students can increase their understanding when teaching other students. At Brigham Young University- Idaho their learning model is “prepare, teach one another, ponder and prove.” (BYU-Idaho) One reason they include teaching each other is to help students “…articulate, polish, clarify, and correct their understanding.” (BYU-Idaho). English is a form of communication, thus students should be communicating with one another and strengthening skills together.
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Convenience for the Teacher
Another motive for students to work in groups is that it makes it easier for the teacher to monitor. In an ideal classroom, we would assess each student individually during each class, and answer any questions they might have. Unfortunately, we do not have the time nor the energy to succeed at this goal. Working in pairs or groups is the next most effective way to oversee the class and their progress. As students communicate and work on their assignments together, the instructor has the opportunity to observe the students and their conversations. During this observation, she can find students' strengths and weaknesses, check for understanding and give certain groups more assistance if needed. If a group has a question or is misunderstanding a concept, the teacher can teach the group as a whole. Likewise, if an entire group is confused about something, the teacher can assess the class and reteach the concept. Students working in groups are more time-efficient for the students and the teacher.
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