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Interaction Patterns – Part 4

How to get the most out of interaction patterns

 

group work graphicIn our final blog post of this series, we are going to deal with the advantages, disadvantages and suitable tasks for group work.

  

Group work

Generally speaking, it can be said that many of the principles that I wrote about in the section on pair-work apply to group work too. However, there are a few more points worth considering.

 

Advantages:

Maximised student talking time and creativity should be listed as great advantages, which both typically bring along fun dynamics. Group work is relatively easy to monitor and can also be a useful classroom management tool which incidentally may have a positive effect on the timing and pace of a lesson. Let’s not forget about the added value – apart from language work, the students get a chance to learn how to negotiate and cooperate effectively.

 

Disadvantages:

This one gets a bit trickier when it comes to strategic grouping. Often, the stronger, more outgoing students will dominate groups and potentially do most of the assigned work while the weaker, shyer students will hide. If you are teaching a monolingual class, there’s certainly a danger that students are more likely to switch to their mother tongue, but these issues are nothing that can’t be prevented or resolved with close monitoring. Again, it can get noisy and rowdy so it is worth thinking about how you’re going to bring them out of the group work pattern.

 

Suitable classroom tasks:

  • prep work
  • jig-saw activities (students work e.g., on a part of a text in groups AAA, BBB, CCC and then regroup to ABC, ABC, ABC to order/discuss the individual parts of the text)
  • discussions/debates
  • creative tasks
  • projects
  • presentations
  • drama

If you would like to find out more about pair work, go to Part 3. More on individual work can be found in Part 2. Read about the benefits and dangers of teacher-led activities in Part 1.