The importance of collaborative learning in practicing speaking English

Introduction

Speaking English has become an important thing to do especially for those who are seeking a rewarding job or want to study abroad. Therefore, the need for practicing this skill is indispensable which leads to the demand for collaborative in learning and achieving this skill.

Language Center of University of Abdurachman Saleh Situbondo (UNARS) holds an English for Specific Purposes class regularly twice a year. It is held for lecturers working at the university. A needs analysis was done before starting the course to study what the lecturers needed and how much they knew about English. After a month of needs analysis, it was found out that most of the lecturers wanted to improve their confidence to speak in public. The lecturers thought a good public speaking skill could help them present their papers in international seminars and conferences. The lecturers hardly presented in international events due to their being reluctant to speak in English. They were not confident to speak. The needs analysis also revealed that many of the lecturers found it difficult to practice speaking alone. They emphasized the importance of speaking partners and assistances when practicing.

As an answer for the problems found in the needs analysis, an ESP course was held for the lecturers to give them ample time and chances to practice speaking. The classroom activities were designed to make learners learn in a comfortable environment. The teaching approach chosen was collaborative learning since the learners, in this case the lecturers, felt more comfortable if they could have some friends to learn together. Further, collaborative learning is said to be more appropriate to be implemented to adults learners, for such technique demands individual’s responsibility to contribute for group’s learning outcomes.

Collaborative Learning (CL)

Collaborative learning has been applied in many English instructions and has shown positive and satisfying effects when done with a good preparation. As its name, collaborative learning facilitates the learners to learn and work in groups to solve problems or to complete a task (Laal and Ghodsi, 2011). However, they underlined that asking the learners to talk to each other while they do their own tasks cannot be said as collaborative learning. Collaborative learning means that the learners in a certain group should engage themselves in the learning process. All members in one group can reach the learning objectives if they perceive that they have similar goals. In other words, the group members are interdependent to each other (Herrmann, 2013). (Laal, 2011)

Consequently, learners have to understand that their participation will contribute to their group’s learning outcomes. This is the job of the teachers, lecturers, or tutors to set up the activities to be done in class so well that they can make sure each student participate actively in groups. Teachers, lecturers, or tutors should concern about the core elements of collaborative learning that signify its success implementation (Sbertoli, 2014).

The first core element is called Positive interdependence. It occurs when all group members realize and understand that they share the same goals to reach. Each member will support other members by encouraging and facilitating them.

The second element is Individual accountability. This aspect is important eventhough the group members work together to reach the same goal. Each member’s fair share is assessed and evaluated, and the results are given back to the group. If teachers, lecturers, or tutors can make sure that this element plays an important role for group’s sake in every task given to the learners, there will be no group members who will feel burdened because of the “hitchhikers”.

There is also another element named Promotive interaction. This kind of interaction occurs when members of a group are willing to share learning resources. They should support, help, and encourage each other. In other words. The process of working together involves both participation and interaction among members. The success of collaborative learning is also influenced by Social skills.

Social skills can also be said as team-working skills. These skills cover effective communication, interpersonal, and group skills. How these skills are used can be assesed in the ways each member of the group acknowledges or accepts leadership in a process, in the decision-making involving dynamic process, in the level of trust built within the group, in the efficiency level of the group’s internal communication, and in the level of success in conflict management.

Group processing is the last core element affecting collaborative learning implementation. Group processing is needed to be done to see a group’s performance. Group members should discuss regularly and openly to express concern on making better progress and achievement. Thus, the members should review what should and should not be done to maximise the results.

Thus, the preparation done before the course begins should set up the five elements of collaborative learning into the design of the classroom activities. The activities need to be arranged in such a way that they are able to make learners reach the learning objectives by working cooperatively. Here, the purpose of implementing collaborative learning is therefore to make learners responsible for their own learning. Further, this can train the learners to develop their critical thinking

By applying collaborative learning, we might achieve these things below:

  • This approach helps us learn English easily.
  • This approach makes learning English more interesting.
  • It enhances our communication skills.
  • This approach helps us gain more knowledge through working in a team.
  • We become more participative in English class through this approach.
  • This approach makes us understand the working process.
  • This approach helps us become more confident in doing speaking activities by participating in sharing information, making decisions, and solving problems.
  • Collaborative learning can improve our speaking skills through working in a team.
  • Collaborative learning helps me get better confidence to speak.
  • This approach helps me grasp more ideas to speak about.
  • It is a waste of time explaining things to my groupmates.
  • It is difficult to actively involve my group members in group activities.

References

  1. G, S. (2018, June 20). Collaborative Learning in Tertiary Studies. Retrieved from impact: https://impact.cjv.muni.cz/collaborative-teaching-and-learning/method-collaborative-learning.html
  2. K.J., H. (2013). The impact of Cooperative Learning on Student Engagement: Result from an Intervention. SAGE, 175-187.
  3. Laal, G. (2011). Benefits of Collaborative Learning. Behavioral Sciences Journal , 486-490.