Languages shouldn’t be learnt alone

I was a little taken aback the other day in one of my junior high school English classes because the teacher had told the students to work alone on their self-introductions just because he wanted them to finish quickly. Actually I was angry because I said that they should ask each other before they ask me, and he said no, they must talk directly to me. What then happened was that I was only able to see about 4 or 5 students, who all passed well, but the rest of the class did rather poor on average (not really sure what the other teacher was doing). 

Ideally on compositions like this you want students to help each other. I’ve read somewhere, and I believe it to be true, but the best way to learn something is to teach it to someone. Putting the students in groups of maybe 4-7 means that there should be at least one student who has a decent understanding of what’s to be done and how to do it. Use that. Get those students to ‘teach’ the other students. And then you can periodically check on that student to see they are getting things done alright and comment if necessary. If they are doing alright I wouldn’t bother them, but they will most likely need some encouragement to help the other students. This is a much better use of your time too because it means you don’t have to spend so much time helping individual students, although the choice is still there if you feel it is necessary. 

I find it really interesting but Japan has a very group-oriented culture and yet when it comes to learning for the most part the students are left to their own devices. New Zealand’s the opposite. We have a very individualised culture but we do a hell of a lot of collaboration in our learning as far as I’m aware. I don’t mean this to sound like we’re better, it’s just an observation that I’m pointing out to see how other people feel about it. Plus both countries do alright on things like PISA, although NZ fell quite a lot quite recently, so both ways definitely have their merits, which comes down to the culture of education in each country. 




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