By putting students into pairs and groups, we can expect students to learn collaboratively and cooperatively. In that, we build a sense of community so every students can get involved regardless of their need as each student can learn and exercise their different language skills from one another like in real relationships and work scenarios. But just like in real life situation collaborations and cooperative work, we can expect different skills, new unexpected skills being used during real-time learning activities which is fun and engaging.
There are many group activities that can build collaborative and cooperative language learning. Easy group activity themes can include sports, nature and other events occurring in school and in the community.
Games and competition activities are a great way of teaching language skills while being extremely fun. During these types of language learning games, by continually mixing students with other student pair/groups will encourage students to help and support one another.
As teachers, we should have an understand each student needs and push them to give their input so they can grow their language abilities. However, some students may be shy and not want to participate due to their lack of understanding or personality. Pair them accordingly so they can give their input and encourage positive teamwork.
An example of a game is to split a class into groups of 4. Each group will together help read, understand and memorize a story. The class is then split up randomly into two. Each group will rush to the chalkboard to answer True or False question asked by the teacher based on previously learned material. The last splitting you see requires very collaborative and cooperative learning in groups formed. There is no room for competitiveness but encouragement from all students because no student knows which team they will end up in. There is a common goal that each student will be able to answer whatever question the teacher asks so students will have to work together.
Another example of a pair and group activity is to assign different groups different tasks to research and report on a common topic. Using wildlife and nature is an easy theme to utilize. Pick an animal and break down it living conditions and what effects of humans are doing to its habitat. Humans are animals themselves and are encroaching on the living habitat of other living animals. This is a thought provoking activity as we relate ourselves back to nature and its well-being. This activity that should be taught since it encourages good environmentally friendly behavior and is easy to relate to while learning English.
Pairing and group work encourages students to help each other learn collaboratively and cooperatively as there is a common goal that student must understand and hopefully contribute. During group activities, students have a huge task of figuring out how to manage themselves given what the teacher expects of them which can be enthralling or intimidating. As teachers we must closely monitor the groups and offer guidance if needed. And as in mimicking real life, the answers or contributions can range with some predictable or unexpected.