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LECTURE 5 Types of Group Work According to the Access of the Learners to Information

One of the important factors a creative ESP teacher pays his attention to is providing communication strategies during the class. The most efficient activities that give learners the opportunity to learn communication strategies are provided by group work.

We distinguish between the following types of group work:

· cooperating arrangement when learners have equal access to the same material or information and cooperate to do the task;

· superior-interior arrangement when one member of the group has information that all the oth­ers need;

· combining arrangement when each learner has a different piece of information that all the others need;

· individual arrange­ment when each learner has access to the same information but must per­form or deal with a different part of it.

These four different types of group work achieve different learning goals, are best suited to differ­ent kinds of tasks, require different kinds of seating arrangement, and encourage different kinds of social relationships. Let us now look how each type of group work applies during the class of English.

The cooperating arrangement is the most common kind of group work. Its essential feature is that all learners haveequal access to the same information and have equal access to each other's view of it. The purpose of this cooperating activity is for learners to share their understanding of the solutions to the task or of the materi­al involved.

Let’s proceed with an example.

While discussing international cuisines the group is given a list of questions to answer. As far as the amount of the material to discuss is rather big, each member’s input may be useful addition to the discussion especially when some other members’ answers may be not sufficient enough to understand the issue. Some students may be more familiar with Polish cuisine, some others – with Italian, the third may be more aware about Chinese cuisine. Discussing the material together students gain more knowledge communicating with each other.

The combining arrangement is the ideal arrangement for group work because it ensures interest and participation and often involves adding an element of combining. The essential feature of the combining arrangementis that each learner has unique, essential information. This means that each learner in a group has a piece of information that the others do not have, and each piece of informa­tion is needed to complete the task.

Here is an example involving a group of three learners: Each learner has an identification chart for some fruits and vegetables. However, on one learner's chart only some of the fruits are named and the vegetables are not indicated. On the second learner's chart only vegetables are named, the fruits are not indicated and information about biological names is shown. On the third learner's chart some other diversity among plants is indicated. Each learner's chart is therefore incomplete, and each learner has information that the other two do not have. By combining this information each learn­er can make a complete chart. They do this by describing what is on their chart for the others to draw on theirs.

Here is one more example when learners should discuss the problem of vegetarianism. Each learner has a piece of information necessary for the whole group.

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