Group work is “a generic term covering a multiplicity of techniques in which two or more students are assigned a task that involves collaboration and self- initiated language”. (H. Douglas Brown, 1994: 173).Group work learning rose in the early 1970s and was gradually used as a learning strategy in classroom from then on. In this article, I will mainly talk about the advantages and problems of group work and propose some suggestions.
Undoubtedly, group work actually has a number of advantages, as Brown (1994) notes: it generates interactive language; it offers an embracing affective climate; it promotes learner responsibility and autonomy; it is a step toward individualizing instruction. In practice, however, the organization of group work is not as easy as it appears to be. Several students sitting together in form of a small group is surely cannot called group work. Group work is a very practical method in foreign language teaching classroom to realize interaction. There are many problems in carrying it out.
Designing group work requires so much time and effort and is an extra burden to teachers preparing their lessons. And also it is difficult for teachers to balance the students’ interest and the requirement of the textbook and the syllabus. It is not easy to divide the class into effective groups. Sometimes students are not so cooperative with partners in group work. Usually only some active students take the opportunity to speak. Others remain quiet. Especially those introverted students and the low level students, they may be afraid to speak because of losing face. When come to the stage of reporting the result, the reporter also suffers the anxiety and the other members are all relieved. And group work does not always reach the teacher’s expectation. Students tend to use their native language when the teacher is not watching. Students are face with the contradiction between their poor English and the desire to... [continues]
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