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Classroom Practices for Active Learning

1. Collaborative Learning

Collaborative learning involves students working together in groups to solve problems, complete tasks, or understand new concepts. This approach leverages social interaction to facilitate learning, allowing students to articulate their thoughts, question, and learn from each other (Laal & Ghodsi, 2012).

  • Example: Implementing group projects or discussions where students must analyze a piece of text or solve a linguistic puzzle together.

Reference: Laal, M., & Ghodsi, S. M. (2012). Benefits of collaborative learning. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, 31, 486-490.

2. Problem-Based Learning (PBL)

PBL is a student-centered pedagogy in which students learn about a subject through the experience of solving an open-ended problem. It encourages students to develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills (Savery, 2006).

  • Example: Presenting students with real-life scenarios that require them to use their target language skills to find solutions.

Reference: Savery, J. R. (2006). Overview of problem-based learning: Definitions and distinctions. Interdisciplinary Journal of Problem-Based Learning, 1(1).

3. Inquiry-Based Learning

Inquiry-based learning involves students in the learning process through questioning, exploring, and assessing what they know and want to learn. It’s about fostering curiosity and investigative skills (Justice et al., 2007).

  • Example: Asking students to research and present on cultural practices in countries where the target language is spoken, encouraging exploration and discovery.

Reference: Justice, C., Rice, J., Warry, W., Inglis, S., Miller, S., & Sammon, S. (2007). Inquiry in higher education: Reflections and directions on course design and teaching methods. Innovative Higher Education, 31(4), 201-214.

4. Case-Based Learning

Case-based learning uses real-world scenarios to develop students’ analytical and decision-making skills. Students apply what they’ve learned to new situations, enhancing their ability to transfer knowledge (Williams, 2005).

  • Example: Analyzing case studies of language use in professional contexts, such as business negotiations or healthcare communication.

Reference: Williams, B. (2005). Case based learning—a review of the literature: Is there scope for this educational paradigm in prehospital education? Emergency Medicine Journal, 22(8), 577-581.

5. Simulation and Role-Play

Simulations and role-plays allow students to practice language in a controlled environment, where they can experiment with different roles and scenarios. This method supports active engagement and experiential learning (Lean, Moizer, Towler, & Abbey, 2006).

  • Example: Role-playing interviews, social interactions, or emergency situations in the target language.

Reference: Lean, J., Moizer, J., Towler, M., & Abbey, C. (2006). Simulations and games: Use and barriers in higher education. Active Learning in Higher Education, 7(3), 227-242.

6. Reflective Practice

Reflective practice involves students in the process of reflecting on their own learning and experiences. This encourages metacognition, helping students to understand their learning processes and how to improve them (Schön, 1983).

  • Example: Keeping a language learning diary where students reflect on their daily learning experiences, challenges, and successes.

Reference: Schön, D. A. (1983). The reflective practitioner: How professionals think in action. Basic Books.

Implementing these active learning strategies in the classroom can significantly enhance the learning experience, promoting deeper engagement with the material and fostering a richer understanding of the subject matter. These practices are grounded in the cognitivist theory that knowledge is actively constructed by the learner, making them particularly effective in educational settings.