There are famous sayings that “Many hands make light work”, “Two hands clap; one does not”, and “ Two heads are better than one head”…
The essence of these statements is that more can be achieved collectively rather than individually.
We, as mentors and advisers of English of Oran, still believe strongly in the importance and the valuable roles of group work. It has become a common feature in EFL classes since it provides opportunities to better the teaching / learning process.
In this article, we try to advise our fellow teachers to think of this way of working and keep on implementing it with their students in class and among themselves in the Teachers Project Pedagogy which was launched last year.
This belief is shared by many specialists in EFL, ESTand ELT because group / team work leads to Project Based Learning that provides opportunities for teachers to collaborate on tasks to solve challenges and problems .It involves academic learning and builds social skills. The group members learn to listen to others, communicate their ideas and feel comfortable participating in group situations. Groupwork aims to cater for individual differences, develop the learners’ knowledge, generic skills (eg.communicative skills collaborative skills…)
The participants collaborate and share ideas. They gain confidence and overcome fear. Cooperation is a life skill. The learners listen to each other. They have fun. They exchange thoughts and ideas. They see and respect others’ points of view. They improve their social and problem-solving abilities.
Cooperative learning builds enthusiasm and a sense of responsibility .It is a motivational strategy that includes all learning situations where the learners work in groups to accomplish particular learning objectives and are interdependent for successful objectives.“Groupwork is a positive motivator for the teachers’ population because it enhances their self-esteem which motivates them to participate in the learning process.” (Johnson 1989).
“Learners help each other and in doing so build a supportive community which raises the performance level of each member.”(Kagan 1986).
“Teachers often mention that they are having problems / difficulties related to work / family…. Openings like this can lead to a discussion of those problems in a non-threatening way due to the informality of the situation.”(Kessler & Mc Cleod, 1985)
Lines of communication are opened and actively encouraged .The team members know how to work well together and demonstrate their abilities through a variety of assessment methods.
“Group work is learner-centered. It develops the spirit of cooperation and a sense of community which is based on an optimism that assumes that the human being can be helped to grow and to change.”(Tom Song)
Group work establishes a purposeful relationship between the group members .It enables them to involve themselves in the process of problem solving. It is a genuine acceptance of each individual with his strengths and weaknesses.
Group work helps distributing the workload, reinforcing individual capabilities, creating participation and involvement, making better decisions, generating a diversity of ideas and opinions and finally learning from each other experiences.
All in all, the teacher’s career is a life long learning .It is an ongoing professional development. Peer class observations, group / team work activities are factors that not only prove resourceful to the progress of the teacher‘s self long learning process, but reinforce relationships and solidarity among the teachers of the same school in particular and among the others in the whole area in general.
At last, we would like to inform the reader that almost all the written productions on group / team / cooperative work have focused on its positive and only positive aspects except some weakness: noise at work, time consuming and the use of the mother tongue. These weak points can be controlled and avoided if the learners want very much to.
We are looking forward to accompanying our fellow teachers to step forward from the group work present phase to the workgroup ideal stage.
The Inspectors of National Education:
Mr.M.Louznadji & Mr.D.Djellouli
- Barkley,E.F. ,Cross ,K.P.,1& Major,C.M (2005):
Collaborative Learning Techniques
- Cooper,J.L ,& Mueck,R. (1990 ):
Cooperative Learning and College Instruction
The Journal on Excellence in College Teachin
- Michael Farrel: Key Issues For Primary Schools
- Nada Abisamra: Benefits of Organized Teamwork
-Also from Internet sources