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Classroom Interaction Desmond Thomas, MA TESOL ELLT1.

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Presentation on theme: "Classroom Interaction Desmond Thomas, MA TESOL ELLT1."— Presentation transcript:

1 Classroom Interaction Desmond Thomas, MA TESOL ELLT1

2 Structure of this talk Part 1: the main issues to consider Part 2: practical classroom problems Part 3: practical classroom solutions Part 4: research into classroom interaction

3 Classroom Interaction Modes: Lockstep “The class grouping where all the students are working with the teacher, where all students are ‘locked into’ the same rhythm and pace … “The traditional teaching situation …. Where a teacher-controlled session is taking place” (J.Harmer, The Practice of ELT)

4 Advantages of Lockstep All the students are focusing on one task A comforting and familiar mode of learning The teacher feels she is in control in an orderly class and many learners appreciate this – not to mention parents, school directors and the class in the next room

5 Disadvantages of lockstep The teachers talks and talks Student talk is greatly reduced Students are forced to work at the same pace – a problem in mixed ability classes No variety of interaction patterns: T initiates, Ss respond and T gives feedback The quality of language is limited. For example, students ask few questions

6 Groupwork and pairwork Does not mean small groupings of students performing in front of a larger group (although this can be useful follow-up to ‘real’ gw/pw. Means division of the class into smaller units all working simultaneously on the same or different tasks

7 The main disadvantages …. 1. Potential for noise and confusion 2. Potential for loss of control by the teacher 3. Problems of group dynamics 4. Perceptions of some learners that they cannot learn exposed to an ‘inferior model’ 5. Expectations of some learners, teachers and schools in certain cultures where this approach seems inappropriate

8 Pedagogical arguments for groupwork (Long & Porter 1985) 1. Increase in the quantity of language practice 2. Increase in the quality of language practice 3. Supports individualization of learning 4. Helps create a positive atmosphere 5. Increases student motivation (See L&Porter article for more details)

9 Psycholinguistic arguments for gw: (Long & Porter 1985) 1. Learners offer each other genuine communicative practice opportunities, including the negotiation of meaning that is believed to help SLA 2. The variety of practice is greater (eg the range of language functions) 3. However, students perform as accurately as in lockstep 4. More comprehensible input is made available via groupwork: the more learners receive, the faster they learn 5. Frequency of correction and completion is higher than in lockstep

10 Van Lier’s AAA Curriculum & Interaction Awareness: focusing attention Autonomy: self-regulation, depth of processing, motivation Authenticity: language use in life The ‘Centrality of Interaction’ (Van Lier, L. 1996, Interaction in the Language Curriculum, Longman)

11 Groupwork or pairwork? Pairwork: telephone conversations, transactions in shops, banks, airports Groupwork: discussions, social situations such as introducing people to each other CAN YOU ADD TO THESE LISTS?

12 GW and PW for Mixed Ability Classes Gives the class flexibility to work on different things and at a different pace. (but this is hard to manage!) Can allow use of L1. (But does this create dependence and destroy self-confidence?) Remedial tasks for weaker students: recycling texts, language, even tasks.(But should these be extras or carried out while stonger sts are racing ahead?) One text, many levels. Example: a dictation heavily gapped for stronger sts, lightly gapped for weaker. Weaker then help stronger when they are checking. Self-access for faster and slower learners and ongoing project work

13 Group dynamics: why do some groups work while others do not? The problem of mixed language levels The problem of social & cultural norms The problem of the gender divide The problem of dominant individuals The problem of leadership The problem of competition vs collaboration

14 More classroom-related problems Control vs lack of control Time management for the teacher Teacher vs learner attitudes Predictability vs unpredictability Participation vs lack of participation The teacher cannot monitor everything

15 Some classroom solutions Cooperative learning (Jacobs & Hall) Jigsaw and information gap activities Group games (competitive or collaborative) Group project work Assessment of group activities along with assessment of individual performance Peer assessment within groups

16 Research and further reading

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