Why group work?
Group work is necessary for a number of reasons:
- It is not possible for the teacher to practice individually with all the students in a large class.
- Most students participate more naturally, and therefore more fully, with their peers
- Having the students talk to each other without the whole class listening to them lowers the affective filter.
- When the students talk to each other they are able to notice errors made by their peers and eliminate them from their own speech.
- Group work provides excellent and natural opportunities for practising functions such as interrupting, expressing agreement etc.
Objections to group work
As it means that the teacher "risks" losing control to a certain extent, group work is not universally popular and the following criticisms may be heard:
- Time management may be difficult.
- It is a second best solution to the problem of teachers having classes so large that they cannot deal with students individually. It is a case of making a virtue out of necessity.
- Teachers are not able to monitor every conversation.
- Students may seize the opportunity to speak in their L1.
- Rather than learn from each other, students may simply re-enforce their existing errors.
- Some students think the activity is pointless.