George M Jacobs and Willy A Renandya
Cooperative Learning (CL) involves students in learning together and helping each other enjoy learning. Research suggests that CL can be a powerful way to promote student success and students’ liking for learning. Furthermore, key hypotheses in Second Language Acquisition theory support the use of CL. These hypotheses include the Comprehensible Input Hypothesis, the Interaction Hypothesis, and the Output Hypothesis (Jacobs & McCafferty, 2006). These are briefly explained in the next paragraph.
The Input Hypothesis states that in order to learn a new language, students need to receive large amounts of language input (via listening and/or reading), and they need to understand that input. CL helps here, because in CL students can receive input not only from teachers and teaching materials but also from peers. Furthermore, peers can help make this input more comprehensible. This peer assistance links to the Interaction Hypothesis which states that students need opportunities to work with others to clarify what they hear and read. As students interact with each other in CL groups, they also produce large amounts of language output (via speaking and writing). The Output Hypothesis states that learners need these output opportunities to try out their emerging language competence.
While this book has a firm basis in research and theory, it is mostly a very practical book. We, the authors, have collected practical ideas about the use of CL and put them into eight chapters of eight ideas each. Here are the chapter titles:
- Eight Advantages of Students Learning Together – what are key potential benefits of including group activities as part of second language learning and teaching.
- Eight Principles for Designing Successful Group Activities – what are important guidelines to bear in mind when teaching via group activities.
- Eight Management Tools for Building Effective Groups – how to lay a strong foundation for students to benefit from learning with peers.
- Eight Techniques for Organizing Student-Student Interaction – how to organize the way students interact, such as how they take turns and what they talk about.
- Eight Essential Cooperative Skills that Students Need to Use in their Groups – what skills students need to be good groupmates and how they can learn those skills.
- Eight Potential Problems that Can Occur in Groups – what difficulties that may arise when students interact with their peers and how to overcome those difficulties.
- Eight Connections between CL and Other Student Centred Ways to Learn – how CL links with other student centred changes in language education.
- Eight Concerns Teachers Have about CL – what difficulties teachers have about CL and our suggestions for dealing with these.
Each chapter of this book focuses on one of these eight groups of eight ideas about CL for a total of 64 ideas. These 64 ideas provide teachers with a strong foundation in both the why and how of CL. The why explains the benefits of CL, and the how explains how to achieve those benefits. In addition to this book, you can learn more about CL from talking to your colleagues, your students and listening to your own observations and insights.