Inclusivity, participation and collaboration: Learning in interactive groups

Zubiri-Esnaola, Harkaitz; Vidu, Ana; Rios-Gonzalez, Oriol; Morlà, Teresa
Background: Interaction, participation and collaboration are thought to be important factors for supporting successful second or foreign language learning. The use of Interactive Groups (IGs) is regarded as helpful in creating the conditions in which interaction, participation and collaboration are increased to create effective dialogic learning. However, there is limited understanding of the role of IGs in supporting second or foreign language learning. Purpose: The aim of the present study was to explore the opportunities that IGs generated for supporting interaction, participation and collaboration in a situation where students were learning English as a foreign language. Method: A communicative methodology was used to collect and analyse observational and interview data from three classrooms where teaching and learning was organised through IGs, each in a different school in Spain involved in Schools as Learning Communities: Successful Educational Actions (SEAs). Across the three classrooms, there were 58 students, three teachers and 14 volunteers, whose role was to support and encourage communication. The schools served low SES communities. We conducted eight classroom observations and 17 semi-structured interviews. The data were analysed qualitatively. Findings: The thematic analysis suggested that, in the classrooms that were studied, there was evidence that participants and observers felt that IGs promoted effective conditions for the inclusive participation of all learners, created a favourable climate for collaborative interactions regarding the target language and raised learning expectations for all students. In addition, the contribution of the volunteers was identified as crucial to the successful functioning of the IGs. Conclusion: This small scale, qualitative study highlights the potential for IGs to create favourable conditions for the learning of English and other languages as a foreign language. More extensive studies are needed to determine the best way to use IGs for the teaching and learning of foreign languages in other contexts.
Type of Publication:
Foreign language learning; participation; inclusion; collaborative learning
Educational Research
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