General programme, activity sheet

Thursday 8 September, 2016 17:30 to 18:00 Oral presentation
Shooting for the sky or accelerated language acquisition through cooperative learning
Speaker: Yvonne Baker de Altamirano, Centro Universitario de la Defensa
Speaker: Andreea Rosca, Universitat de València

Authors: Andreea Rosca and Yvonne Baker de Altamirano

This study aims to compare the linguistic achievement of two groups of EFL students in the Spanish Armed Forces over the course of one semester. These students were involved in a project incorporating cooperative learning and extensive exposure to scenes from war movies designed to promote the acquisition of English. The students were divided into two groups: the experimental group plus a control group, who did not participate in these activities, with both groups being tested before and after the experiment. They both followed the same basic linguistic syllabus, with the experimental group receiving supplementary material that was closely connected to the general topics of the course (e.g. personality, first aid, crime, weather, etc.). Such activities were also vocationally oriented in an environment more conducive to natural language learning in that they focused on the task itself rather than a specific structure or lexical item. The cooperative learning activities included problem-solving tasks using realia, such as maps, weather reports and extracts from war novels. An attempt was made to reduce the variables as far as possible by having the same teacher for both classes since she would use the same approach. However, this made it impossible to have two groups of the same level. Nevertheless, it was assumed that the lower level students were more likely to show tangible signs of improvement than the more advanced class. Although the gains were noticeable in both groups they were more pronounced in the experimental group, as can be seen in the graph: Furthermore, the collaborative tasks requiring the use of certain grammatical structures (conditionals, future time clauses, etc.) were possibly responsible for the significant improvement in grammar in the experimental group whereas the vocabulary items in the test were not so salient. Keywords: language acquisition, linguistic achievement, cooperative learning, war movies. References Peter, Robinson (ed.) (2011). Task-Based Language Learning. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell Kagan, Spencer and Kagan, Michael. (2009) Kagan Cooperative Learning. San Clemente, CA: Kagan Publishing. Willis, Dave and Willis, Jane. (2007). Doing Task-Based Teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
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Teaching and learning of languages
Place: Room A-15

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