Cooperative language learning (CLL) is the application of the instructional method cooperative learning in the language classroom. This approach to language teaching was a reaction against the teacher-centered methods of its time in favor of learner-centered methods.
This post will discuss the assumptions of CLL as well as the instructional practices associated with it.
Proponents of CLL see language as a primary tool for social interactions. Students learn the language through these social interactions. This idea is based primarily upon the work of Vygotsky. In addition, language also serves the function of communication and accomplishing tasks. This implies a need for authentic assessment.
The student’s role is to work as a member of a group. CLL questions if learning a language alone is an appropriate way to learn. The teacher must provide a highly structured environment in which they serve as a facilitator of learning.
CLL has several specific goals including the following.
- Learn the target language naturally through group interaction
- Develop learning strategies
- Create a positive learning environment
- Develop critical thinking skills
These goals are partially achieved through developing interdependence among the students, individual accountability, and the formation of groups. Interdependence is useful in showing students that what benefits one benefits all of them.
Individual accountability happens through not only assigning group grades but individual grades as well for projects. Lastly, group formation is the foundation of the CLL experience.
Some common activities based on CLL includes
- Jigsaw-Divide the work and then have the students put the pieces together
- Projects-Any assignment that requires more than one person
- Think-Pair-Share-Pose a question, let them think, put them in pairs, and have each pair share.
All of these activities involve collaboration with communication in the target language.
CLL involves learning in groups rather than alone. There is research that indicates that CLL is beneficial in acquiring the target language. As such, CLL is yet another way in which language teachers can support their students.
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