IMPLEMENTING COOPERATIVE LEARNING IN EFL TEACHING: PROCESS AND EFFECTS
National Taiwan Normal University
This study brings together the fields of cooperative learning, second language acquisition, as well as second/foreign language teaching to create optimal schooling experiences for junior high school students. Integrating cooperative learning with the theories from the second language acquisition, i.e. the comprehensible input, the comprehensible output, the interaction and context, and the affective domain of motivation, the researcher hopes that this empirical study can provide a close link between cooperative learning and the communicative language teaching and, at the same time, propose guidelines for EFL teachers who wish to implement cooperative learning to enhance their students proficiency in English as well as motivation toward learning English.
The purpose of this quasi-experimental study was to investigate the effects of cooperative learning on EFL junior high school learners language learning, motivation toward learning English as a foreign language, and the high- and low-achievers academic achievements in a heterogeneous language proficiency group. A pretest-posttest group research design was used. The sample population was from two classes of the first year junior high school students in a rural town in central Taiwan. There were totally 70 students involved in this study. The experimental group was taught in cooperative learning for one semester with the methods of Three-Step-Interview, Learning Together, Talk Pair, Inside-Outside Circle, and Student-Teams-Achievement Division. The control group was taught in the traditional method of Grammar Translation with some of the Audio-Lingual approach.
This study collected data from two oral tasks, scores of monthly examinations, motivational questionnaires, student interview, and teacher interview to achieve methodological triangulation. The statistical tools of the Independent Samples Test and Paired Samples Test were used to determine whether there were significant inter- and intra-group differences. The results of the study showed that the experimental group outperformed the control group significantly (p < .05) in the measurement of oral communicative competence and the motivational questionnaire. The results of the students scores on the school monthly examination showed that the academic achievements of the experimental group were comparable to those of the control group.
The major findings of this study suggested that cooperative learning helped significantly to enhance the junior high school learners oral communicative competence and their motivation toward learning English. Based upon the conclusions drawn from the study, cooperative learning was thus recommended to be integrated into the junior high school English instruction as part of the Nine-Year Joint Curriculum, the current wave of education reform in Taiwan. Pedagogical implications for the application of cooperative learning in EFL teaching, especially suggestions for teacher development in cooperative learning, were proposed. Finally, suggestions for future research were recommended.
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