The Benefits of Cooperative Learning for pupils with English as an additional language

The 4 Cs highlight the benefits of cooperative learning

Collaboration

One of the key benefits of cooperative learning is that collaboration generates talk and connection with each other. Having to work together ensures that pupils develop skills in problem solving and are able to articulate their ideas and opinions.

A great resource for generating collaborative thinking and dialogue are Concept Cartoons. Concept Cartoons are cartoon-style drawings showing different characters presenting different points of view about everyday situations.

Children decide which characters they agree with and argue their case, trying to convince the others of the validity of their view. They are a great way of introducing a topic or assessing children's knowledge at the end of a unit. You can take the actula errors or misconceptions the children have and turn them into discussion points with the children themselves identifying the erros and correct responses. Concept Cartoons are available on CD-Rom, posters and booklets from Millgate House Education. Or create your own!

Comprehension

One of the benefits of collaborative learning is that comprehension is deepened as pupils have the opportunity to hear key concepts explained by their peers in a range of ways. Consider using a variety of groupings over a period of time, sometimes grouping EAL pupils with good models of English and sometimes grouping them with other pupils who speak the same language (if possible) to allow for the greatest comprehension of a topic.

Confidence

Many pupils feel more confident to express their ideas and ask questions in smaller groups. Using talk frames to support language functions such as explaining, questionning etc can increase the confidence of less able pupils.

Using Barrier games (otherwise known as Information Gap activities) can also increase the confidence of students by allowing them to practice known vocabulary and sentence structures and get immediate feedback on the accuracy of their statements.

Committment

Pupils feel a sense of committment to the group tasks and feel they are letting the group down if they don’t achieve their part. This can aid learning as pupils excel to complete the task. Using group roles can aid a sense of sommitment as pupils each have their own task to do to contribute to the group finishing the overall task. Group roles can include roles such as timer, questionner, clarifier, scribe and the person to report back to the whole group.

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