SCET Journal 2020/2021

« Language Matters

Method In order to conclude how effective some of my strategies are, I divided my classes into two groups. The first group solely focused on learning derived from direct strategy, while the second group learned based on instruction composed of both direct and indirect strategies. More specifically, I taught the first group us- ing more direct cognitive strategies. For example, we watched videos, memorized vocabulary, and viewed PowerPoints on grammar. The students took notes and practiced by repetition. The second group, on the other hand, was introduced to the material using the same methods, but after the introduction, a number of both indirect and direct strategies reinforced the mate- rial. Based on the evidence, the most effective strate- gies were based in group work or any assignment that required some kind of social interaction. Procedure The two groups were comprised of two different classes. I made sure that each group contained one morning class and one afternoon class to get a better understanding of my results. More specifically, student attitudes and moods change over the course of the day, so I wanted to get an accurate reading for each group. The first group was comprised of forty stu- dents, and the second contained forty-three. For this study, I focused on one small portion of the curriculum. I chose to measure their performance while completing the section on telling time in Spanish. While this seems like a superfluous portion of the curriculum to mea- sure, it is one of the things that my students struggle with the most. The syntax and use of numbers, as well as certain colloquial phrases tend to confuse my stu- dents. Interestingly, the students also struggle to read analog clocks, which makes teaching the unit even more difficult. Every day, each group experienced a different type of instruction. My first group, as previously stated, learned through memorization, repetition, and visuals. The other group was asked to do the same, but they also had to work on assignments that were collabo- rative and creative. These assignments also created a need for the students to direct some of their own learning. The second group participated in activities that required them to write skits and come up with original ideas about the material they were learn- ing. They created dialogues and short scenes using

likely to remember and understand the material itself. It is important to remember, however, “[m]any stu- dents have never worked in a group before or lack the skills to work with others. Instructors cannot assume that students know how to work together, structure time, or delegate tasks” (Burke, 2011). Students might also be inefficient or clash with other students in the group:

Much of the conflict… arises from different attitudes…Each student may have different academic goals. Some just want to pass, while others hope for an ‘A.’ Some students embrace the benefits and opportunities that come from teamwork, while others prefer to work autonomously…some students take on controlling roles that can turn off others, whereas other students sit back and frus- trate cohorts…. (Kokemuller, 2017)

Teachers can combat this issue by preparing stu- dents for their assignments by giving them examples of previous work, as well as a clearly outlined rubric for reference. Guidelines do not have to be restrictive, but they allow students to see what is required of them to perform well on any given assignment. Students may often feel intimidated when learning a foreign language. Group work can help combat this in several ways. There are many advantages of working in groups. Some of the advantages evident in my own classroom include more stimulation, a higher level of creativity, and an increase in understanding of them- selves and others (Burke, 2011). While there are some arguments made against group work, I have found that often, group work is productive and stimulating for my students. “When working interactively with others, students learn to inquire, share ideas, clarify differenc- es, problem-solve, and construct new understandings” (Hammar Chiriac, 2014). It is important to note the difference between work- ing in a group and working as a group. When working in groups, people gather but work separately. Working as a group requires interaction and collaboration within that gathering. While both are considered “group work,” I find that most of the benefits of “group” work come from working collaboratively rather than independently. This is because the students share ideas and thoughts, and they build on one another’s thinking and progress. Confidence of the group, as well as the individual mem- bers multiplies, and this results in more productivity and higher-level learning.

South Carolina English Teacher



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