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Lessons from Jeremy Harmer XVII: working alone, working together

Students can work alone, in pairs or in groups:

  • Whole-class teaching helps to build class spirit, the feeling that everyone is involved together. It is highly suitable for lecturing, explaining things and controlling what is going on, However, it is less appropriate for communicative speaking activities, and many students don’t like performing in the front of the class.
  • When we involve students in solowork, we can go around the class helping them one by one. Students can work at their own pace, reading texts,  doing exercises, writing compositions, planning, etc.
  • Pairwork greatly increases the amount of speaking time that each individual student has. It promotes learner autonomy (because the pair is doing the work, not the teacher). It is highly sociabl and is very useful for comparing answers, creating and practicing dialogues, rehearsing dramatic scenes. However, it can be very noisy and students can get distracted and go off-task. (they start talking about something else).
  • Groupwork increases individual student talking time. It encourages co-operations and allows students to work on a range of tasks.

Putting students into pairs and groups:

We have to decide who should work with whom and there are various ways of doing this:

  • We can put the students work in pairs with the people sitting next to them, in front of them and behind them.
  • We can tell the students to get into pairs or groups and let them choose who they work with. This is very easy but it can be chaotic and it may be difficult for some students to find friends to work with.
  • We can tell the students who to work with.
  • We can have the students stand in inner and outer wheels. They work in pairs with the person in front of them.
  • We can group students by chance.

Sursa foto: top-10-list.org

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