The concept of learning with a group goes by many different names. You may have heard it called group learning, group work, cooperative learning, team learning, or even peer instruction. In addition to the different names, group learning comes in different forms from two people working on a single problem to a team working together on a longer class project. The most effective learning groups are typically smaller, between 3 and 6 students. There is no ideal length of time for a group to work together, but long-term groups build loyalty while short-term groups that change more often allow you to meet and collaborate with more people. No matter the name, the size, or the duration, group learning is incredibly beneficial.
Group learning creates a dynamic, interactive, and inviting atmosphere. It allows you to learn from your peers as well as your teacher, giving you the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding. When working in a group, you will also get better feedback because you are brought into the learning and are more motivated to participate and engage. The feedback is also immediate from the rest of your group, boosting confidence and inspiring further learning. There is much more flexibility in group learning. The teacher can spend more class time on areas where it is needed since you can cover other topics in your group. Other educational benefits include reducing anxiety in the classroom, developing intrinsic motivation, creating a stronger grasp of the material, improving individual accountability, and promoting proactive collaboration. This will also help you to build your teamwork skills which you can apply elsewhere in your life. Group learning comes with all of these benefits and more, but it is also fun! By working with a group, you will get to know people in your class, on your team, and from your area that you may not have otherwise. Learning with a group truly makes it more exciting and valuable!
There are more places to engage in group learning than you may think. From cooking classes to book clubs, there are plenty of places that utilize these techniques. You can use group learning in the workplace when you are required to do training, you could take a first aid class, you can join a local sports league; there are countless options.
Another great place that employs small groups to encourage learning is language classes. Learning a language with a group is fantastic because it allows you to get speaking practice with people who are as committed to learning as you are. You have peers who can give you that instant feedback and help you to continue developing your skills, your vocabulary, your grammar, your pronunciation, and more.
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Throughout history, many linguists have asked themselves this question: Does language learning change the way we think? Surprisingly, it does! But… how?