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Monitoring skills during pair and group work

Pair work and group work encourage students to take responsibility for their own learning and have become essential parts of the student-centred classroom. How else will students be able to gain confidence in navigating communication in English outside the classroom?

Students work together using their language resources and the teacher takes on the role of facilitator. To fulfill this role, it’s important to monitor pairs and groups well without interfering with their work.

It’s important for a number of reasons:

  •  to check students are on task and have understood the instructions;
  •  to encourage reluctant members of the class to collaborate with each other;
  •  to ensure students are speaking English to each other;
  •  to help with vocabulary/eliciting ideas;
  •  to be able to pick up on and correct errors later.

Sometimes it is necessary to monitor from afar, while other times it is necessary to monitor more closely.  How can you ensure you choose the right kind of monitoring and position yourself appropriately in the classroom?


Giving space to fluency

If you want to promote fluency and you don’t want the students to feel like they’re being ‘watched’ by the teacher, monitor from behind.  If you are using the preferred horse-shoe seating plan, walk around the back of the horseshoe rather than the front when you are monitoring.  This will ensure you are less obtrusive and the students won’t notice you as much.


Getting closer for accuracy

If you are monitoring to listen out for students’ language usage (noting down good examples of language usage as well as errors), you’re more likely to hear students if you get down to their level.  Crouch down or get a chair and sit near the pair/group.  This also makes you more accessible to students if they want to ask a question, and makes you less imposing as you are not looming over them.