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Teach English in NanzhushAn Zhen - Xiangtan Shi
Understanding the main purpose of any language usage as a mean of exchanging, obtaining information, rendering our emotions, feelings, desires, states or transmitting ideas inevitably involves in this process other people. In other words we use language to communicate with other language speakers. So why not use this peculiarity in the process of language studying? Thereby using peer learning techniques in an ESA classroom becomes essential and inherent part of it. Let us consider teaching a lasting group of students having lessons twice a week throughout one year. Peer learning may and should be involved in all stages of ESA lessons conducted to a group of students. We may start a lesson with warming up and use a tongue twister for this purpose. We work on the tongue twister all together by drilling separate words and sounds, then repeat the whole piece chorally and after that ask students to say it over to each other. It will be funny, relaxing and at the same time useful activity. While Engage stage we can show students a flashcard or write a topical word on the board and ask them to think in pairs of associations or ideas and present them to the whole class. As one of the activities of Study stage it is extremely productive to ask students check their answers in pairs first, discus them and then check with a teacher or the whole group. And finally the Active stage is unthinkable without peer activities which could be role play, communicative games, story building or even producing some creative materials. If we consider the benefits of peer learning the list of them could be long but the most essential are as following. Peer work reduces the tension of student’s bearing individual responsibility for fulfilling the task and making mistakes. Thus when they work in pairs they have mutual solutions to the task and even in case of some mistakes or incorrectness they are both to face it. In peer work students can assist each other in understanding the task, coming up with ideas, words or phrases and as a result reducing TTT. Peer work is irreplaceable tool in correction mistakes as they may not occur at all if a teacher put stronger student with weaker in pairs. In case they still occur stronger students are likely to correct the weaker ones and it again contributes to more STT and reduces pressure. If a teacher tries to build each time different pairs of student for peer work it can help them to set up a good and friendly rapport with all group members. If there is uneven number of students then a teacher may add to the pair therefore performing the role of participant. Peer tasks involve true to life situations and games and in such a way English and even difficult grammar aspect become not something abstract but very applicable and realistic. Students tend to memorize pictures, some funny moments, partner’s reactions, jokes or answer during peer activities, and all these helps them afterwards to recall necessary information. If we consider making “prolonged pairs” of students for the course duration and give them creative tasks like some projects then they are enforced to communicate and use English outside the classes and as a result we bring them into necessity to use English even more. As well if a teacher gives specific and precise extending far into the future task to each one in a “prolonged pair” students are likely to have continuous cooperation and collaboration. To illustrate this point we can consider the situation when one student has difficulties with learning three forms of irregular verbs and we ask the other student to help with this task and give them some certain period of time. On the expiry of this term both students in a pair are responsible for the result and show their progress. In such cases a teacher performs the role of resource or facilitator and other students act out as assessors of pair headway. The same technique could be used with peer learning or phrasal verbs, correlated tenses, topical vocabulary and many more. As we see from all abovementioned points peer learning is not only useful but also integral part of any ESA lesson as far as we understand peer learning as an educational practice in which students interact with other students to achieve certain aims, involving peer work during the whole lesson, anticipating probable difficulties and meeting students expectations.