Anna Lugovaia

Anna Lugovaia

English language teacher,

Department of English for Engineering, NTUU “KPI”

 

THE IMPORTANCE OF TEAM WORK IN ENGLISH CLASSES

When working in a classroom, teacher faces the problem of working with a large audience. According to the recent researches, it is hard to keep the whole group focused on the topic; and for students it is hard to comprehend and get the information. So the main principle of teaching English will not occur, there will always be a dominant student who never allows other students to try themselves in answering, and there will be a minimal rate of drilling which makes studying process lose its purpose. That is when the methods of working in groups/pairs come in handy.

The necessity of working in groups/pairs can be explained by the following reasons:

-       when students work in a class individually, and try to figure out the topic themselves, there can always be a leader (in the group) who knows everything better , and doesn’t give any chances for the rest of the students to answer;

-       the work gets boring and monotone;

-       students cannot get fully involved when they work individually (or as a whole group);

-       shy students do not usually speak or try to show their results when they work individually (they will always be waiting to be asked);

-       when each student works for oneself, the friendly atmosphere is lost (which is one of the most important aspects in the classroom/workshop).

There are different ways to implement working in groups/pairs methods and techniques. We can structure the discussion and drill students’ knowledge using the following techniques:

-       debates(students can be divided into several groups and get the topic to discuss, when some of the students should state positive sides of this topic and the rest of the group state the disadvantages);

-       role plays;

-       schmoozing(=small talk, when each student gets the card with some question or a fact, or a picture, and has to start a conversation with the other students using the material provided on this card);

-       ‘go to your post’(when students are divided into groups, and each group has their post and has to work with the material they are given);

-       calling on the next speaker(a technique when it is not the teacher who makes students answer, but a student himself);

-       Mary-go-round(something similar to the ‘go to your post’, when students get the topic, work at their post, and then move clockwise to finish the work in the post of the other group);

-        ‘keep talking’ (this technique involves students working with some cards; a teacher can write short phrases on the card and students have to talk for some time on the phrase they get).

There are certain strategies for forming groups and pairs. The most widespread are the following:

-           student choice (when they themselves decide who to work with);

-           teacher choice;

-           random choice (grouping cards, puzzles, finding ‘families’, name tags (different shapes/ colors/ numbers/ seasons/ letters), participant material (coloured paper clips, decorative stickers on handouts)).

Even though working in groups involves more of the STT, teacher still has to do a great deal of work. There is a lot of management in the classroom when students work in groups/pairs. So teacher has to interfere in several aspects of this type of work:

1)      a teacher has to manage the activities

-           set up the activities,

-           give instructions,

-           monitor the activities,

-           bring the activities to an end;

2)       a teacher has to group and organize seating

-           form groups (singles, pairs, groups, mingle, plenary),

-           organize seating,

-           reform a class as a whole group after activities;

3)      a teacher has to keep the authority

-           gather and hold attention,

-           give the orders,

-           establish and relinquish authority as appropriate,

-           make students do something;

4)      a teacher is responsible for certain tools and techniques

-           use classroom equipment, gestures,

-           speak clearly,

-           use of silence,

-           grade complexity of language,

-           grade quantity of language;

5)      a teacher manages the work with people

-           spread the attention equally,

-           sense what students feel,

-           elicit feedback from students,

-           listen to students attentively.

But even though it seems so good, there are always not only advantages but disadvantages as well. We shall compare them:

-           working in groups/pairs increases STT while reducing TTT, but it always gets very noisy, so teacher has always to turn on the silent mode;

-           it indeed creates positive and friendly atmosphere in the class but sometimes students don’t want to cooperate;

-           students can share their knowledge, talk the things through, but somehow they come back to speaking and using their own language;

-           even though all the students are actively involved, it might happen that one of the students will dominate, so teacher should always thing this situation through and find possible ways out;

-           students can work at the suitable speed, but some students can finish earlier, so teacher has to organize team-work according to the students’ options;

-           but one of the main advantages of work in groups/pairs is that it provides variety.

We must admit that using team work in English classes helps students to get more information, to feel involved in the class and be more productive. It is also useful for teachers, because in such way teachers reduce TTT, paying more attention to students (not to themselves). But teachers should always be aware of the situation that there are always dominant students, or with better level of knowledge, so the main task is to become a great manager of the class/workshop.

 

References:

1.  Classroom Management. [Електроннийресурс]. – 2009. – Режимдоступудоресурсу: http://www.kean.edu/~tpc/Classroom%20Management/Classroom%20 management%20Home.htm.

2.  Evertson C. Classroom Management - Creating a Learning Environment, Setting Expectations, Motivational Climate, Maintaining a Learning Environment, When Problems Occur [Електроннийресурс] / C. M. Evertson. – 2007. – Режимдоступудоресурсу: http://education.stateuniversity.com/pages/1834/Classroom-Management.html.

3.  Pitner S. How to Plan a Classroom Seating Arrangement [Електроннийресурс] / S. Pitner. – 2013. – Режимдоступудоресурсу: http://suite101.com/a/how-to-plan-a-classroom-seating-arrangement-a122150.

4.  Schneiderová P. The effective classroom management in young learners’ language classes [Електроннийресурс] / Petra Schneiderová. – 2013. – Режимдоступудоресурсу: http://is.muni.cz/th/69636/pedf_b/Final.txt.

5.  Thornbury S. T is for Time. In An A-Z of ELT [Електронний ресурс] / S. Thornbury. – 2010. – Режим доступу до ресурсу: http://scottthornbury.wordpress.com/.

 

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