You can take a horse to the water,
but you can't make him drink.
Yet, not to attempt seriously is a lapse!
SHG Model for English Language Learning: A Pragmatic Study
Origin of Research Problem
There are many useful methods and developing methods of teaching English. But these cannot be carried out successfully inside the classroom due to time constraints and the teachers are left unsatisfied. Finishing the syllabus and preparing the students for examination gain more importance than actual learning. In spite of increase in English language learning among students, unfortunately, still we have very large sections of the student community struggling to pick up elementary control over the expressions in English.
The present research takes a cue from the field of Socio-economics for helping the lesser advantaged students come together in a free and friendly manner and integrate their latent energies and abilities so that they learn the English language to a reasonable level. Here, learning happens because of the participants and their use of available resources of pedagogic materials. Official 'teacher' is removed from the system.
Previous experience of many teachers and an informal survey conducted for the present study in Visveswarapura Evening College, Bangalore show that many students fail in all the four aspects (Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing) of language learning. Though there is desire to learn, the target is not reached in any considerable measure. Managing to tackle the question paper in examination has failed to indicate learning. Many students cannot use three or four English words together. To bring home the point we have to identify, with due apologies, many student groups not as students of English language but patients of English language. A Common denominator between this is that such students usually come from rural areas. Non-English mediums, poor schooling, No or less motivation are other factors. Surprisingly many such students, being in a city like Bangalore, do not use English outside the classroom in their daily lives though that language is so much in the neighborhoods and public places! They are conscious of their inability and gripped by inferiority complex. There are a lot of psychological problems than pedagogical issues.
To address this kind of a situation, the researcher proposes to go beyond the established ELT frames. Self Help Group (SHG) is a remarkable concept doing wonders in the area of Socio-economics. Its ideology needs to be incorporated for learning under special conditions.
The origin of SHGs is the brainchild of Grameen Bank of Bangladesh, which was founded by Mohammed Yunus. SHGs were started and formed in 1975. But the real effort was taken after 1991-92 from the linkage of SHGs with the banks. A SHG is a small economically homogeneous affinity voluntarily coming together to save small amount regularly to use for the needs of the members SHGs enhance the equality of status of the members as participants, decision-makers and beneficiaries in the democratic, economic, social and cultural spheres of life. The basic principles of the SHGs are group approach, mutual trust, organization of small and manageable groups, group cohesiveness, sprit of thrift, demand based lending, collateral free, women friendly loan, peer group pressure in repayment, skill training capacity building and empowerment. SHGs are working in democratic manner. The upper limit of members in a group is restricted to 20. Among them a member is selected as an 'animator' and two members are selected as the representatives. The animator is selected for the period of two years. The group members meet every week. They discuss the group savings, rotation of sangha funds, bank loan, repayment of loan, social and community action programmes.
By bringing the needy students closer and removing their psychological blocks, many wonders can be unraveled. SHG devoted to Socio-economic issues can be a model for SHG for language learning. A free and friendly space for the disadvantaged students is a real scientific and energetic opportunity where true learning of language takes place in a very natural way.
Stephen Krashen, an American linguist, educational researcher, and activist promotes the use of free voluntary reading (FVR) during second language acquisition, which he says "is the most powerful tool we have in language education, first and second." My study moves beyond this theory by extending its spirit, among other things, to all aspects of learning by formulating pragmatic ways of achieving pedagogic goal as its importance cannot be ignored. However it will be a natural and unconscious result of the SGH approach.
The process of learning in SHGs happens along with many interdisciplinary advantages. Personality Development, Public Speaking, Amateur Journalism/ Media Studies, Photography, Information Technology, Sociology are a few areas which come into play in the activities of SHG ways of learning English language. The research brings Humanities and Information Science together. SHG concept has relevance in many other areas as well. The success in ELT may take this to other branches of knowledge and utility.
Review of Research and Development in the Subject
a) International Status
Studies in English Language Teaching ELT have been an on going movement across the English language using countries. Teaching of English language has become a challenge even in the U.K. and the USA. Any improvement or additional tool in this direction is always welcome. The approach, design and procedure of methodology of teaching English are a growing concern. Latest trends advocate making use of all possible resources to make a learner gain competence over language. Bilingualism, Situational approach, Communicative method, Translation method, Structural approach are used.
SGH learning of English involves all these spontaneously with added socio-cultural prompting. This can be used as a full-fledged approach or an add-on facility. However, this is a newly borrowed concept of the researcher and it will be open for the use and discussion across the globe after the completion of the project.
b) National Status
In India there are now more users of English that in the whole Britain and the USA combined. English language education for all is the policy perspective in our country that has a multicultural background. This project tries to strengthen this national mission. Yet Learners have no role or choice in the designing of the curriculum and teaching. One blanket method does not serve all. SGH model overcomes this lacuna.
Mainstream SGHs have a very commendable role in the country in uplifting the poor masses especially the women both economically and socially. Many a research work has been done on the subject. Similarly by using SGH concept for language learning one can reap wonderful results. Undoubtedly this is a very useful project for the English teaching across the country. Views in the previous paragraph are applicable at the national level too. This maiden but ambitious attempt will help mostly the socially backward and academically backward groups of learners. The digitally divided India can hope to bridge the gap significantly by making large section of the society competent in English.
c) Significance of the Study
Though this is a minor research project taken up under UGC scheme, actually this is a pilot project with a far-reaching vision. The end of the project will be a beginning of a movement in some measure. Thanks to SGH concept and its success elsewhere it is sure to win as a socio- academic agenda and serve as an eternal opportunity for learners beyond the constraints of institutional strait-jackets. Its unassuming nature, easy accessibility, Bilingualism, do/fix-it-yourself options, hop-in hop-out freedom, equal participatory scope, no examination fear, freedom of choice in curriculum are some of the very useful and winning features of the SGH model of English learning. It is particularly suitable for English language because of its social vantage position and partial familiarity to a large extent of society. The biological aspect of human language acquirement is an edge over other formal branches of knowledge in achieving success as an SGH activity.
The present project aims to develop communicative competence in learners so that they become effective communicators in the target language. The aim is to involve the learner in the learning process in a natural way so that language develops automatically and spontaneously. Language is acquired, which is the dream of many ELT approaches, rather than learnt consciously. The teacher facilitates language acquisition by involving the participants in various activities, tasks, soft skills, information seeking etc. which ensure learner participation and interaction both passively and actively. Five goal areas- communication, cultures, connections, comparisons, and communities- are addressed in the project.
The project is not a discussion on any theory but a practical study. It also involves the participation of employed students who form a special group. This project approach can be adapted in the existing SGHs as an Add-on activity as well. Such a thing will take the disadvantaged sections and their future generations a long way in terms of empowerment.
' To fulfill XI plan period thrust area on more access, inclusiveness, Technology integration, quality and excellence. The project ropes in the general public who may not have had enough access/benefit of the mainstream education.
' To help implement the policy perspective ('English language education for all') of our country.
' To make maximum use of natural human ability to acquire language; to empower and develop proficiency among participants for better employability and self-esteem.
' To maximize human resource of international quality in turn improving the job opportunities for the learners both at national and international level.
' To improve the socio-political participation of the common man at global and local spheres competently.
' To achieve an optimum combination of multiple approaches and modern techniques that synergizes to result in better choices for learners of English at different levels.
' To take the participants to the breadth of materials for learning English so that the interested/needy person chooses the material/s of his choice.
' To expose participants to graded print-graphic narratives, e-libraries, e-resources, e-information, practical situations, tension free informal interactions etc. and free them from close-minded outlook towards education and life.
(iv) Methodology :
' Survey, study, experiment, analysis are done pragmatically.
' This research project proposes to work in following method:
1. Willing students are allowed to form SHGs, studying their counterparts briefly in Economics to suit our goals. The maximum number in group is 20 only. We can have some ten such groups. About half of the groups will be from a rural areas.
2. The SHGs are provided with many learning materials to choose from. Print-graphic narratives, Self coaching grammar books, hand-outs, internet sources, audio facilities, digital library, digital dictionary, pronunciation guidance, spoken English guidance, Bilingual grammar books, Internet, Phonetics training, Interactive English teaching sites are a few sources made available to the participants.
3. The target participants were the evening college students working somewhere during the day time in two groups. Regular main stream students were in other groups.
4. General resource materials are provided. If need be additional learning materials/opportunities were provided so that maximum choice was available to the learner.
5. The progress of the participants was observed in the light of academic performance, general competence, self confidence, feed back of the teachers, status of employability etc.
6. Job market expectations of English language competence were surveyed informally and the learning choices were broadened for the participant.
7. It was a participants' activity and the role of researcher was minimal. They did not feel the presence of the chief organizer much. They enjoyed a lot of autonomy so much so that they did not find even a ghost of resemblance of class room situation in their SHG
SHG: INTRODUCTION AND HISTORICAL BACKGROUND
Self-Help Group or in-short SHG is now a well-known concept. It is now almost two decade old. It is reported that the SHGs have a role in hastening country's economic development. SHGs have now evolved as a movement. Mainly, members of the SHGs are women. Consequently, participation of women in the country's economic development is increasing. They also play an important role in elevating the economic status of their families. This has led boost to the process of women's empowerment.
We can trace the origin of the concept of SHGs in Bangladesh.
2. Historical background
2.1. Micro-finance institutes of Bangladesh
Bangladesh has been acknowledged as a pioneer in the field of micro-finance. Dr.Mehmud Yunus, Professor of Economics in Chitgaon University of Bangladesh, was an initiatorof an action research project 'Grameen Bank'.The project started in 1976 and it was formally ecognised as a bank through an ordinance, issued by the government in 1983. Even then it does not have a scheduled status from the Central bank of the country, the Bangladesh Bank. The Grameen Bank provides loans to the landless poor, particularly women, to promote self-employment. At the end of December 2001, it had a membership of 23.78 lakh and cumulative micro-credit disbursements of Tk 14.653 crore. Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC), Association for Social Advancement (ASA) and PROSHIKA1 are the other principal Micro-credit Finance Institutions (MFIs) operating for over two decades and their activities are spread in all the districts of that country. BRAC is BRAC is the largest NGO of Bangladesh with a total membership of 41.38 lakh. Initially set up in 1972 as a relief organisation, it now addresses the issues of poverty 1 PROSHIKA,PROSHIKA derives its name from three Bengali words, namely Proshikshan (training), Shiksha (education) and Kaj (action). alleviation and empowerment of poor, especially women, in the rural areas of the country.This institute also works in the field of literacy, legal education and human rights. BRAC has worked significantly in the fields of education, health, nutrition and other support services. PROSHIKA is also active in the areas of literacy, environment, health and organization building, while ASA and Grameen Bank are pure MFIS.
The micro-finance practices of these institutions revolve around five basic features.Firstly, these institutions primarily have women as their target group. Secondly, they adopt group approach for achieving their targets. The group approach focuses on organising the people into small groups and then introducing them to the facility of micro-financing. The MFIs of Bangladesh place a great deal of importance to group solidarity and cohesiveness. Thirdly, savings are an essential precondition in all these MFIs for availing credit from them. Fourthly, the officials of the Bangladesh MFIs remain present in the weekly meetings of the groups and collect the savings, update the pass books and even disburse the loans, and lastly, the systems and procedures of the MFIs are quite simple and in tune with the requirements and capabilities of their clients.
2.2 Indian Scenario
India has adopted the Bangladesh's model in a modified form. To alleviate the poverty and to empower the women, the micro-finance has emerged as a powerful instrument in the new economy. With availability of micro-finance, self-help groups (SHGs) and credit management groups have also started in India. And thus the movement of SHG has spread out in India.
In India, banks are the predominant agency for delivery of micro-credit. In 1970, Ilaben Bhat, founder member of 'SEWA'(Self Employed Women's Association) in Ahmadabad, had eveloped a concept of 'women and micro-finance'. The Annapurna Mahila Mandal' in Maharashtra and 'Working Women's Forum' in Tamilnadu and many National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD)-sponsored groups have followed the path laid
down by 'SEWA'. 'SEWA' is a trade union of poor, self-employed women workers. Since 1987 'Mysore Resettlement and Development Agency' (MYRADA) has promoted Credit Management Groups (CMGs). CMGs are similar to self-help groups. The basic features of this concept promoted by MYRADA are: 1] Affinity, 2] Voluntarism, 3] Homogeneity and 4] Membership should be limited to15-20 persons. Aim of the CMG is to bestow social empowerment to omen.
In 1991-92 NABARD started promoting self-help groups on a large scale. And it was the real take-off point for the 'SHG movement'. In 1993, the Reserve Bank of India also allowed SHGs to open saving accounts in banks. Facility of availing bank services was a
major boost to the movement.
The movement of SHG was nourished innourished in the states of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Tamilnadu and Kerala. Now nearly 560 banks like NABARD, Bank of Maharashtra, State Bank of India, Cooperative Banks, Regional rural banks, the Government institutions like Maharashtra Arthik Vikas Mahamandal (MAVIM), District Rural Devlopment Agency (DRDA), Municipal corporations and more than 3,024 NGOs are collectively and actively involved in the promotion of SHG movement.
2.3 SHG model in India
In India three different models of linkage of SHGs to the financial institutions have emerged. They are:
l. Banks, themselves, form and finance the SHGs.
2. SHGs are formed by NGOs and other agencies but financed Byby banks.
3. Banks finance SHGs with NGOs and other agencies as financial intermediaries.
The second model is the most popular model. Almost three-fourths of all the SHGs come under this model. Only 20% of the SHGs are covered under the first and 8% under the third model respectively.
3. Impact of SHG in the process of empowerment of women
The year 1975 was declared as a 'year for women'. Also, the decade from 1975 to 1985 was declared as a 'decade for women'. During this period, the movement for empowerment of women received a fillip. The importance of role of women, which consists 50% of the society, was highlighted in this span of period. It was emphasised that woman should get the same opportunities as that to men. The year 2001 was declared as a 'year of women empowerment'. Efforts were being made in the direction that women should have a role in all walks of life; and special provisions should be made in the budget for activities related to the development of women. Many schemes were planned and started to be executed, at government level, in respect of women education, laws regarding prevention of atrocities on women, their participation in economic and political spheres etc. At this juncture, SHG movement also started and in a way journey towards women empowerment began.
4. What is empowerment?
Empowerment is a process of change by which individuals or groups gain power and ability to take control over their lives. It involves access to resources, resulting into increased participation in decision-making and bargaining power and increased control over benefits, resources and own life, increased self-confidence, self-esteem and self-respect, increased well being. It means 'empowerment' is a multi-fold concept that includes economic, social & political empowerment.
A) Economic empowerment
For economic empowerment it is necessary for a woman to have access to andcontrol over productive resources and to ensure some degree of financial autonomy. According to the report by National Commission for Women (NCW) - (Status of women 2001), in India, women work for longer hours than men do. The proportion of unpaid activities to the total activities is 51% for females as compared to only 33% for males. Overand above this unpaid work, they have the responsibilities of caring for household which involves cooking, cleaning, fetching water and fuel, collecting fodder for the cattle, protecting the environment and providing voluntary assistance to vulnerable and disadvantaged individuals in the family. This shows that though there is still a long journey ahead towards women empowerment. To achieve the goal, there is an urgent need of change in the mindset of the entire society. In rural region, where winds of changes development have yet to reach and basic economic needs are yet to be fulfilled,. Tthe main source of employment for women is farm labour. But this does not fulfil all their needs. Indebtedness has become the hallmark of the rural life. Participation in self-help groups helps in saving some money out of their daily household expenses. Also, they can avail loan with lower interest rates. This has led a sort of change in the society's view towards woman, in general.
B) Social empowerment
Constitutionally and legally, man and woman are equal. In real practice, however,
woman still finds a secondary place. Examples of inequalities galore in respect of women-men birth rate, education, and participation in matters financial and political. Atrocities are perpetrated on woman. She is viewed not as a human being but as delectable thing. Efforts are being made to change this situation and bring about a stage where man and woman would be viewed equally. Many Schemes are being implemented for equal education and equal opportunities of employment, so that, women would have equal rights. Consequently, there is seen some progress in this respect. As the woman has now increased presence in banks, Gram Panchayats, various Government committees etc., her social status is seen somewhat elevated. However, this process is slow. To get a boost to this process, mindset of the society as a whole should change. The social empowerment means that the woman should get an important place in her family and society, and should have a right to enable her to make use of available resources. The members of SHGs are mostly women. They save money and invest in SHG. They can use it at the time of their needs. As they can have money in their hand, they get some status in their family. It has resulted in developing self-confidence, self esteem and self respect also.
C) Political empowerment
The political element entails that women have the capability to analyse, organise and mobilise the surrounding situation for social transformation. Leadership qualities are also developing in women, because they now participate in the social activities, like trying to solve the problems of their 'basti'/ locality, village.
In 1991, constitutional provision for 33 percent reserved seats in Gram Panchayat in our country came into being. In the beginning, the process of participation of women was slow, but now the situation is fast changing. Due to advent of SHGs, women were able to see the outside world. They understood the processes involved in solving the local problems through political participation. By and by, their participation in political process started increasing. In SHGs, they found an opportunity to become a leader of SHG. In some places, local SHGs acted as pressure groups for or against a particular political candidate in Panchayat elections. The SHGs played an important role to hone the leadership skills in
women in the rural region.
Thus, Self-help Group has proved an important means in taking the process of women empowerment to rural region.
Thus the SHG programme has been successful in strengthening collective self-help capacities of the poor at the local level, meeting their peculiar needs leading to their empowerment. The rural poor, with the intermediation of voluntary organisations also join together for self-help to secure better economic growth. This has resulted in the formation of large number of SHGs in the country; and the SHGs have mobilised savings and recycled the resources generated among the members.
5. Concept of SHG
Generally a Self-Help Group consists of 10 to 20 women. The women save some amount that they can afford. It is small amount ranging from Rs. 10 to 200 per month. A monthly meeting is organised, where apart from disbursal & repayment of loan, formal and informal discussions are held. on many social issues also. Women share their experiences in these groups. The minutes of these meetings are documented and the accounts are written. The President, Secretary and Treasurer are three official posts in any SHG. If the SHGs are connected with some NGOs, they take part in other social activities of those NGOs. Of late, the organisational structure of various micro-financial groups is undergoing significant changes. There are Thrift groups; Credit management groups, Income generating groups, Self-help groups and Mutual help groups. Sometimes the institute that promotes the SHG, itself provides loan facilities. It is called as Micro-finance Institute.
6. Objectives of SHGs.
1. Basically the SHGs are economic organisation. Small funds are raised for day today needs. The saving groups when transformed to earning groups not only increase the productivity of women but the credibility also.
2. Doors are wide open to women to understand and gain knowledge about Banking, Gram Panchayats, Zilla Parishad, Law and Judiciary etc.
3. As economical solutions are available, the family structure is maintained.
4. SHG is a good way to stop the exploitation of consumers.
5. Broadening of view is a major gain. The ascending order of family, group, village, Tahsil, Zilla, Zone, State, Nation, World, makes the vision global.
6. Development of self-confidence is achieved.
7. A common platform is available for a dialogue and sharing of views.
7. Special features of SHG.
SHG is an organisation with fundamental principles like democratic approach and
common decision-making, transparency, self-helping, repayment of loans and group development. The credibility of the group is dependent on these principles.
Not only economical progress but also an 'entire development' is the aim and mutual trust among the members is the credo of SHG.
8. Purposes behind promoting SHGs.
The fundamental aim of promoting SHGs is poverty alleviation and to achieve empowerment of women. The recent trends show significant changes in the promotional strategies for the SHGs. Financial needs like banking, saving, insurance etc, getting subsidies, building organizations to gain political power also, are the purposes behind some of the SHGs. Today like Bangladesh & India, SHG movement is spreading in other Asian Countries and Latin America, Africa etc. SHG movement has got importance in the social movement. This year (2005) the Central Government of India has announced a plan to promote 7 lakh SHGs, all over the country. The State Government of Maharashtra has also announced
to promote 5 lakh SHGs within next 2 years (i.e. 2005 to 2007).
Extended Pragmatics and SHGM-ELL
There has been a growing interest within language teaching in the area of pragmatics for many years, and this has been reflected in the increasing body of academic research, publications and special interest groups devoted to the area. This interest seems to have grown largely from a belief that the mastering of vocabulary and grammar is not enough to enable learners to become competent, naturalistic users of English. Many of the 'natural' or 'native' utterances and discourse patterns produced by both native and non-native speakers of English can be seemingly grammatically incorrect or 'wrong' according to many prescriptive grammatical rules. Therefore, what enables some learners to be able to produce pragmatically correct language in the correct context or situation seems to be of great importance to language teaching professionals. However, after doing a preliminary literature review on a number of areas related to the role of pragmatics in the ESL/EFL classroom, an easily available, clear and concise body of information relating to pragmatics teaching/learning for front-line ESL/EFL teachers appears to be unavailable. Although the search cannot necessarily be seen as exhaustive or complete, it involved a large number of hours, and yielded very little practical advice or guidance, especially when compared to the amount of practical information that could be generated within a similar time frame when looking into the pedagogy of areas such as vocabulary, writing, reading listening or speaking. Therefore, it is currently very difficult for educators to start tackling the area of pragmatics in the classroom, at least in an informed, logical and confident pedagogical manner. However, there is ample scope for this in SHGM-ELL.
Further research has been carried out in order to answer a number of questions, and provide some clear and concise information on the area of pragmatics for front-line teachers of English as a foreign or second language. A review of some key literature and research from the field of pragmatics, and a summary of the results of a reasonably extensive search for commercially available pragmatics-based textbooks, as well as online materials are important to note.
The main questions are as follows:
1. What is pragmatics and how is it defined within a language context?
2. Is pragmatic competence practically teachable and if so, what approach should be
3. What teaching materials and resources are available to teachers at the moment?
The information addressed within the above three questions aims to help teachers, understand the basic concepts of pragmatics, evaluate if pragmatic instruction is effective and justifiable with regard to classroom hours, and understand the teacher's role with regard to presentation of pragmatically appropriate language. Additionally, it is hoped that teachers will be given a list of useful resources and materials to be used when addressing pragmatic competence in the classroom.
Aitchison, J (2003) defined pragmatics as dealing with ' how speakers use language in ways which cannot be predicted from linguistic knowledge alone.' (pp. 9). Pragmatics is the study of the relation between the structure of a semiotic system (notably language) and its usage in context... Within the theory of meaning, pragmatics is especially concerned with implicit meaning, with inference and the unsaid, and the way in which language structure trades on this background of the presumed and the inferred. Pragmatics ... has also become an area of interdisciplinary concern, with fundamental contributions from philosophy of language, linguistics, psychology and the sociology of language.
The language teaching cannot be achieved with official class room pedagogical methods alone and many others-including informal and subjective tools and attempts-have to be incorporated. Many a time, it is important to put the learning idiosyncrasies of the student and his context to use to achieve a better command over the language by the learner. This project deviates from the traditional notions of Pragmatics in this sense, only to fortify it with the complementary aspects from the leaner's point of view. It makes way into the learner autonomy too. Pragmatics is the study of language from the point of view of users, especially of the choices they make, the constraints they encounter in using language in social interaction and the effects their use of language has on the participants in the act of communication (Crystal). In the same way a learner possibly has his own ways of approaching the competence and performance of a language and this aspect does not receive any support in a regular class room. This extended Pragmatics has to be tapped through many informal and idiosyncratic ways. We have to set a tone for making the student identify those ways and make use of them. Creating a custom based pedagogic ambience for learners of varied kinds should evolve the concept of Pragmatics into further depth and breadth. As language learning cannot happen with grammar and a dictionary, teaching also cannot happen just with teaching methodologies without considering socio-cultural and L1 baggage. Referring to the fact that much of what native speakers say or write, and which is perceived as natural, appropriate or native-like, can be ungrammatical according to traditional prescriptive grammarians. In addition, natural language in use also seems to be governed much more by a language feeling than a grammatical or linguistic knowledge. This is an area which was also highlighted by Kasper and Rose (2001). Pragmatics has also been defined similarly as 'using socially appropriate language in a variety of informal and formal situations' Bardovi-Harlig, K. and Mahan-Taylor, R. (2003). Here, the focus is on language which is viewed as socially appropriate, and again concern is not with grammatical correctness but appropriateness and naturalness within a given context. A more detailed definition, used by the JALT special interest group in pragmatics, and sited by authors such as Kasper, states that 'Pragmatics is the study of language from the point of view of users, especially of the choices they make, the constraints they encounter in using language in social interaction and the effects their use of language has on other participants in the act of communication.' (Crystal, D. 1997, p. 301). Here the focus again is on language used for social interaction, but this definition brings forward a point which is of key importance; the effects language choices have on social interactions. This seems to deal with what many teachers find a very challenging and complex area; how do we help our students understand what the effects of inappropriate language use will be, how do we equip our students to know when and how to be polite, to be casual, to be direct or authoritative. How do we explicitly teach language learners a host of language strategies, nuances and subtleties that native speakers seem to take for granted, use effectively without thought, and can constantly adapt and change to suit a wide variety of situations and contexts. A further definition which is useful here is provided by Childs, M., (2005) who refers to pragmatics as 'the study of how people create and interpret meaning in real situations.' In this context, 'meaning' is understood as being related to language as a means of achieving a range of purposes, and expressing a variety of messages, feelings and emotions, which the user conveys using more than just strings of words. Language users utilize not only language, but also a large arsenal of signals, sounds, expressions and gestures in order to help convey real meaning in real interpersonal, communicative situations.
The above definitions, although carrying slightly different focuses, and using different terms, all have a number of things in common. The authors all seem to deal with the issue of pragmatics in terms of language 'use' in a real and meaningful context, and seem to be concerned with language users' choices and decisions when trying to convey meaning. It can be concluded then, that pragmatics and therefore pragmatic competence is concerned with language conveying real meaning and being used for real-life communication, in a variety of interpersonal contexts or situations. For communication to be truly successful, the language used must be appropriate for the particular situation. None of these viewpoints seem to define communication or communicative competence as being based on rules of grammar or other purely linguistics ideas. The extended Pragmatics is making use of all learning situations as suitable to individual learner in real life situations making it a way of life. The aspects of extended Pragmatics need not be newly designed. Actually they are there. Using them only the motivated learners learn the language fast. However, we can improve upon them and selective about their application. The strength and weaknesses of the learners, the advantageous and disadvantageous tools available, corrective measures, psychological support, material support are worked out for the optimum results.
Pragmatics is divided into two aspects: Pragmalinguistics and Sociopragmatics. Pragmalinuistics referes to the resources for conveying communicative acts and relational or interpersonal meanings. Sociopragmatics is the sociological interface of Pragmatics referring to the social perceptions underlying participants' interpretation and performance of communicative action.
As mentioned, it has long been assumed that knowledge of grammar and vocabulary are able to be developed through explicit teaching in a classroom context. However, is it possible to teach pragmatics in the same way? How do we teach aspects of a language use that are not purely based on vocabulary and grammar? Language use which requires a higher understanding of the context, involves a wide range of language that does not involve words, and is closely related to interpersonal and cultural rules that seem to come naturally to native speakers. How to teach elements such as sounds, expressions and other non-grammatical tools is an area which provides a great challenge to language teachers.
With these questions in mind, is it actually possible to teach pragmatics? It would be assumed that the many teachers who hold pragmatics as a key or even central component of language ability would answer this question with a resounding yes. This however may not be the case as the issue of teaching pragmatics is not simple, and may not be able to be answered with a simple yes or no answer. Kasper, G. (1997) addresses this issue:
Can Pragmatic Competence Be Taught?' The simple answer to the question as formulated is "no". Competence, whether linguistic or pragmatic, is not teachable. Competence is a type of knowledge that learners possess, develop, acquire, use or lose. The challenge for foreign or second language teaching is whether we can arrange learning opportunities in such a way that they benefit the development of pragmatic competence in L2.' (p. 22).
This challenge, combined with the fact that there is very little practical advice on the subject, and that it is an area largely ignored by textbook and curriculum designers, has resulted in pragmatics rarely being dealt with in language classrooms at present.
They key point to focus on is that teachers need to reassess what is meant by 'teaching'. If we wish to help our students with pragmatic knowledge and ability, we may need to be more creative and possibly less traditional in our approach. We cannot deal with pragmatics in the same way we have commonly dealt with vocabulary or grammar. Developing pragmatic ability (if not all language ability) should be seen as a process, and most likely a long and difficult one. However, it is also a vital and rewarding process with which we can help and guide our students. We can continually, and in a planned manner, provide comprehensible examples of natural language, offer advice and guidance, and provide ample opportunities for practice within realistic and meaningful communicative and interpersonal contexts.
There has been a considerable amount of research into the effects of pragmatics teaching, but not nearly as much as the research into other, more established areas such as vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation or skills-based teaching. Research carried out by those mentioned above was based on classroom studies, where students were explicitly taught areas relating to pragmatic ability or competence. Kasper (1997) summarized many of these studies and comments on the fact that the teaching goals extended over a large range of pragmatic features and abilities. Some of the studies examined discourse markers and strategies used for getting in and out of conversations, introducing, sustaining, and changing topics. Other areas examined included organizing turn-taking, and keeping the conversation going by listener strategies such as 'backchanneling'.
The overall results of these studies seemed to be that pragmatic awareness or knowledge, and pragmatic ability or competence can be taught. In most of the studies, the students, whether compared to control groups, or to their own pre-course performances, seemed to show some degree of improvement in the area of pragmatic ability. The improvements in some cases proved to be not only substantial, but also beneficial and long-lasting. What is more, some of the studies seemed to produce considerable improvements with regard to learners pragmatic ability with only limited (in some cases only a few hours) of instruction. Therefore, it seems that we can, in a relatively short time, equip and empower our students with a rich and effective language resource which enables them to function in a much more natural and meaningful way.
Many of the studies concerned with improving pragmatic competence, not only the ones mentioned above, seem to utilize a range of approaches and tasks such as consciousness raising task, discourse analysis and other less 'tried and tested' activities. Such generally positive results as these should justify a focus on pragmatic competence in many a language course. If we also take into consideration the vast number of hours spent on teaching grammar, with often inconclusive results at best, it seems to strengthen the case for an increased focus on pragmatics. There should also be a definite move to help learners improve the non-verbal and strategic areas mentioned earlier in this paper. Although pragmatics teaching has, and is becoming, more and more widespread, most of the work seems to focus on the teaching of speech acts, which while important, only account for a small degree of pragmatic competence. Again, this is largely due to their 'teachability' in a practical sense. It is easier to focus on speech acts as they represent whole chunks of languages and often follow grammatical rules. Only through further research and a decided effort to produce, and make widely available, a comprehensive range of pragmatic teaching materials, will this situation be improved upon.
With regard to the issue of teaching materials that deal with pragmatics, unfortunately there is very little currently available. Only a few textbooks seem to be designed with pragmatics in mind, and even those which are seem to be little more than a different form of prescriptive grammar. This is largely due to the fact that by nature, pragmatic language use is not fixed or set, cannot always be described or easily explained. In addition, textbooks are fixed in time and context, and based around limited conversations and functions that only apply to one particular speaker or group of speakers at best. Therefore, rather than just looking for textbooks, teacher should be aiming at providing learners with a rich variety, and extensive amount of natural or naturalistic input from areas such as newspapers, websites, television shows, magazines, graded readers and actual excerpts of conversations between native speakers. With the growing body of free resources online, such as news websites, including ones which are designed for language learners, YouTube, discussion forums, and social networking sites, it is becoming easier for teachers to repeatedly expose learners to rich and natural linguistic input in order for them to be pick up natural language in real situations.
Pragmatic awareness and competence is essential if we are aiming at developing naturalistic users of a second language. As already stated, the concept of extended Pragmatics is put to use in the present research. Each learner and his context are unique. Identifying them and negotiating them is the pragmatic way of teaching-learning process. Regular class room cannot fully take up the extended pragmatics. Collaborative and cooperative strategies exploited by SHGM-ELL can help better. Here, one to one interaction among learners within a logistic matrix delivers better results.
Aitchison, J. (2003). Teach Yourself Linguistics (6th Edition). London: Hodder and Stoughton.
Bardovi-Harlig, K. and Mahan-Taylor, R. (2003). Teaching Pragmatics. Washington DC: US Department of State, Office of English Language Programs. Retrieved October 20th2011 from http://draft.eca.state.gov/education/engteaching/pragmatics.html
Kasper, G. (1997). Can pragmatic competence be taught?Honolulu: University of Hawai'i, Second Language Teaching & Curriculum Center. Retrieved October 18th 2011from http://www.nflrc.hawaii.edu/NetWorks/NW06/
SHGM-ELL as Collaborative and Cooperative approach and its Survey
SHGM-ELL is a kind of Collaborative and Cooperative learning which is further evolved and empowered by theoretical and practical possibilities. Over the last thirty years, a more practical and communicative approach has been used in the teaching of language that focuses on the learners' use of language.
Learners have become the center of teaching and learning (Johnson and Johnson, 2012). Cooperative learning emphasizes providing students with opportunities to learn by themselves and from their peers.
In the process of learning, students can interact with each other in three basic ways. Individual learning towards the target without paying attention to others' work is a way. In this way, the student's success does not affect other students' success, such as their pass or failure. Competition is another way to see who the best one is and it is the way which is mostly used (Johnson and Johnson, 2012). It may sometimes cause jealousy or hatred among students as there is a winner and a loser. Cooperative learning is the way which the learners have a common aim. In order to reach this aim their working in small groups and knowing that they will share the reward together. It is under certain conditions that cooperative learning is expected to be more productive than competitive and individual learning (Slavin, 1996).
Collaborative learning is a method of teaching and learning in which students team together to explore a significant question or create a meaningful project. A group of students discussing a lecture or students from different schools working together over the Internet on a shared assignment are both examples of collaborative learning.
Cooperative learning, which will be the primary focus of this workshop, is a specific kind of collaborative learning. In cooperative learning, students work together in small groups on a structured activity. They are individually accountable for their work, and the work of the group as a whole is also assessed. Cooperative groups work face-to-face and learn to work as a team.
In small groups, students can share strengths and also develop their weaker skills. They develop their interpersonal skills. They learn to deal with conflict. When cooperative groups are guided by clear objectives, students engage in numerous activities that improve their understanding of subjects explored.
In order to create an environment in which cooperative learning can take place, three things are necessary. First, students need to feel safe, but also challenged. Second, groups need to be small enough that everyone can contribute. Third, the task students work together on must be clearly defined. The cooperative and collaborative learning techniques presented in the SHGM-ELL should help make this possible for teachers.
Also, in SHGM-ELL, small groups provide a place where:
' learners actively participate;
' teachers become learners at times, and learners sometimes teach;
' respect is given to every member;
' projects and questions interest and challenge students;
' diversity is celebrated, and all contributions are valued;
' students learn skills for resolving conflicts when they arise;
' members draw upon their past experience and knowledge;
' goals are clearly identified and used as a guide;
' research tools such as Internet access are made available;
' students are invested in their own learning.
SHGM-ELL differs from traditional teaching approaches because students work together rather than compete with each other individually.
SHGM-ELL can take place any time students work together -- for example, when they help each other with homework. Cooperative learning takes place when students work together in the same place on a structured project in a small group. Mixed-skill groups can be especially helpful to students in developing their social abilities.
The skills needed to work together in groups are quite distinct from those used to succeed in writing a paper on one's own or completing most homework or "seatwork" assignments. In a world where being a "team player" is often a key part of business success; cooperative learning is a very useful and relevant tool.
Because it is just one of a set of tools, however, it can easily be integrated into a class that uses multiple approaches. For some assignments individual work may be most efficient, while for others cooperative groups work best.
Research suggests that cooperative and collaborative learning bring positive results such as deeper understanding of content, increased overall achievement in grades, improved self-esteem, and higher motivation to remain on task. Cooperative learning helps students become actively and constructively involved in content, to take ownership of their own learning, and to resolve group conflicts and improve teamwork skills.
Over the past twenty-five years, the use of small-group learning has greatly increased. Informal collaborative projects have grown into structured, cooperative group work. Cooperative learning became especially popular in the early 1980s and has matured and evolved since.
One evolving aspect of SHGM-ELL involves how the educational community approaches the composition of the small groups. Debates still occur on this topic. Researchers disagree mainly about whether to group students according to their ability, or to mix them so that stronger students can help the weaker ones learn and themselves learn from the experience of tutoring.
SHGM-ELL is a variant of cooperative learning. According to Felder and Brent (2012), cooperative learning is a process that increases the learning and satisfaction rate which is a result of working on high performance team. Cooperative learning environments encourage students help each other, lead collaborations in groups, and awaken common goals by working on the task that they have been given (Huang, Hsiao, Chang and Hu, 2012). Riley and Anderson (2006) define cooperative learning as pedagogical method that learners learn on their own through explaining the subject matter to others and learning from others. According to Yi and LuXi (2012) cooperative learning is students' working and studying together in a group to carry out tasks and accomplish expected goals. They added that it is not just working together so it needs accurate preparation, planning and guidance by the teacher. For Wichadee and Orawiwatnakul (2012), cooperative learning is a teaching strategy, with students of different levels of ability in small groups who use various learning activities to improve their understanding of a subject. Felder and Brent (2012) assert that cooperative learning is by its nature an active method. Cooperation provides benefits for weak students who don't perform well individually. While strong students explain the material for weaker students, they have the chance of filling in their gaps also. While working individually, students may sometimes delay completing the task but as they are responsible for the group members they are motivated to do the work on time.
Johnson and Johnson (2012) state that, the most successful cooperative learning strategies share five essential factors: positive interdependence, face-to- face promotive interaction, individual accountability (personal responsibility), social skills and group processing. Positive interdependence is defined by as the dual responsibility that the students are demanded in cooperative learning situations learn the assigned material and ensure that every member of the group learns it(Sharan, 1990). Individual accountability focuses on the individual group member's performance, which means each student individually responsible for his or her own and other group member's learning and every member is in charge of the achievement of the group's goal (Johnson and Johnson, 2012; Stenlev, 2003). Social skills are another essential factor in cooperative learning because in order to achieve group goals, group members need to develop not only target language but also social skills. Small group discussions provide higher levels of peer to peer interaction, and more student participation (Bliss and Lawrence, 2009). The purpose of group processing is to improve the effectiveness of the group work by analyzing the collaborative information of group members' performances in order to fulfill the final outcome (Johnson and Johnson, 2012).
The cooperative learning strategy promotes students' active learning by creating simulated real-life language environment. With the implementation of cooperative learning in the foreign language teaching, students are provided with more opportunities to participate, experience, interact and cooperate in foreign language learning. In the cooperative group, students work together, interacting face to face, with the identical goal of learning, as well as assisting each other (Borich, 2007). Since language teachers should create active learning atmosphere for students to learn by themselves, with its many advantages, cooperative learning might be an appropriate way of achieving that goal.
Suwantaratbip and Wichadee (2010) examined the effectiveness of cooperative learning in reducing foreign language learning anxiety and to investigate its effect on language proficiency scores of 40 university students. The pre- and post- test scores from Foreign Language Classroom Anxiety Scale (FLCAS) (Horwitz, Horwitz, and Cope, 1986), the questionnaire and the proficiency tests of the group were calculated for descriptive statistics and compared using a paired sample t-test measure. It was found that the students' foreign language learning anxiety was significantly decreased after learning through cooperative learning approach. The students also grew favor toward cooperative learning as a whole.
Ning (2011) conducted an experimental research focusing on the adaptation of cooperative learning (CL) methods into tertiary ELT in China. It was aimed at offering students more opportunities for language production and thus enhancing their fluency and effectiveness in communication. The test results showed students' English competence in skills and vocabulary in cooperative learning classes was superior to whole-class instruction, particularly in speaking, listening, and reading.
Wichadee and Orawiwatnakul (2012) led a research in which a variety of learning activities were presented, offering new ideas to apply in EFL classes. In cooperative language learning environments, group instruction which was under the learner-centered approach where the groups were formed in such a way that each member could perform his or her task to achieve the goal. They claimed that previous studies indicated that the effect of cooperative language learning was not only improved learners' language skills, but also created a supportive learning environment. In their study, they put forward that in spite of positive outcomes of cooperative learning approach, some awareness regarding learning process management should be raised in order to avoid the problems that might occur during practice.
According to Jordan, Walker, and Hartling (2004) although men's self- concepts are based more on separation and autonomy, women are more rooted in connections and relatedness. Men like being in competitive environments more as they perform better and tend to focus on achievement. On the other hand, women avoid being in such environments because they cannot achieve better results. This is probably because they tended to focus more on interpersonal aspects of competition (Inglehart, Brown and Vida, 1994).
Rodger, Murray and Cummings (2007) asserted that 'If women have more positive attitudes than men toward cooperation and social interdependence, then it follows that learning methods that allow for the development of trusting and interdependent relationships among students and between students and teachers should be more effective for women than for men. Thus where interdependence, cooperative attitudes, and desire for affiliation exist, competitive teaching methods may not create the most effective learning environments for women'. Research done in supporting this view has shown that women are superior in affiliation, cooperative attitude, and interdependence (Fultz and Herzog, 1991; Markus and Kitayama, 1991).
In their research Ellison and Boykin (1994) found that university women gained more success when cooperative learning was followed more than individualistic learning. They also asserted that cooperative learning created more positive attitudes toward the learning experience and more perceived ability.
Fultz and Herzog (1991) reported that women were more oriented to connection with others and nurturance which was closely related to gender difference in cooperative learning. In other words, women were higher than men in affiliation, whereas men were higher than women in working independently and focused to goal achievement.
Springer, Stanne, Donovan (1999), found no significant difference in cooperative and collaborative forms of small-group learning on student achievement between predominantly female groups and heterogeneous or mixed-gender groups.
Klein and Pridemore (1993) investigated affiliation in cooperative versus competitive teaching effects on academic achievement, time on task, and satisfaction in a university whose 85% of the students were women. It was found out that participants who worked cooperatively spent more time on the practice exercises than people who worked individually, whereas the high-affiliation group who worked cooperatively gained high success in the application section of the test. Students worked alone were not as successful as the ones who worked cooperatively. The mean of affiliation score for the mainly female students was higher than the norm.
Out of nine SHGM-ELL groups, 166 participants were identified for the survey. In Bangalore four SHGs were formed, Sringeri, Tiptur, Tumkur got one SHG each and Devanahalli got two groups. Availability of passive facilitators decided the place of functioning of SHG. After about twelve months of learning which spread across college working days and holidays, the survey was conducted. The 166 (F=100, M=66) stake holders were between 17-21years of age who were studying various degree courses (B.A, B.Sc, B.Com, B.B.M.,LLB,).They were provided with many study materials, work-sheets, comprehension materials, grammar books, literature books, CDs, audio material, testing materials, facilitator's guidance etc, A questionnaire inquiring on the students' responses on SHGM-ELL was administered. The collected data was analyzed by using descriptive analysis method. Results showed that 66,9% of the students are in favour of SHGM-ELL ELT whereas 33,1% of them believed that if they work alone and in some other way they would have better results. A focus group was organized and the students mentioned both negative and positive sides of SHGM-ELL. The findings reported that there was difference in gender in the attitudes towards SHGM-ELL for the linguistic empowerment of females.
In this study, both quantitative and qualitative data was collected. A questionnaire which was developed by the researchers was administered in order to collect quantitative data. The statements were prepared to learn about the attitudes of students about cooperative learning and individual learning in SHGM-ELL sessions. The statements were formed basing on literature about SHGM-ELL. The students were asked to tick the column whether 'Yes' or 'No'. In the questionnaire, among 11 statements, 9 of them are about the benefits of SHGM-ELL. 2 of the items are about individual learning.
There were also general information questions about the participant's gender and the faculty he/she attends. The questionnaires were delivered in the SHGM-ELL sessions at the beginning. The SHG leader explained the participants why the questionnaire was given and asked them to tick the statement which appealed to them. For collecting qualitative research data, a focus group interview was organized and 10 male, 10 female participants were interviewed about SHGM-ELL.
The collected data was analyzed by using SPSS 20.0 and descriptive analysis was conducted. The frequency and percentage distribution were given. Chi-square test was used for dependence of variables. 0,05 was used for the significance level and p<0,05 showed the dependence between groups and p>0,05 showed there was no dependence between the groups.
92,2 % of the participants said that SHGM-ELL is an effective strategy because of its academic and friendly ambience. While working in groups the participants meet each other and rely on each other. They improve their communication skills. They are aware of individual differences so they accept this and they support each other. They find constructive solutions to problems. Through developing good relationships and supporting each other, cooperative learning also leads to increase school success, improve higher order thinking skills, develop self-esteem, grow a positive attitude towards school and courses and gain social skills (Cohen, 1994; Felder and Brent, 2012; Slavin, 1996; Wang, 2012). 79,5 % of the learners indicated that they respect to each other's thoughts while studying in cooperation. In SHGM-ELL sessions, during the process of learning, forming groups, participation in the group, putting forward the point of view, having different roles, doing discussions, sharing the reward make the learners gain social skills. They make use of the diversions in heterogeneous classes and learn to be tolerant. As a result, they multiply their feeling of respect towards themselves and the others (Slavin, 1996). Students learn how to cooperate (Bliss and Lawrence, 2009; Wichadee and Orawiwatnakul, 2012).
88,6 % of the participants reported that while studying in SHGM-ELL, they guide each other. In SHGM-ELL sessions, participants can construct their own multiple learning environments. They realize that there are individual differences. They have the chance of completing their lack, revising what they know, and learning while teaching to others. By discussing with group members, solving problems, suggesting possible solutions, and finding wrongs they can develop their higher order thinking skills (Borich, 2007; Gillies, 2007; Havard, Du and Xu, 2008; Riley and Anderson, 2006). Piaget (1970) claimed that the most effective interactions are between peers as they are on equal basis and challenge each other's thinking skills. 83,1 % of the participants stated that the interactive mass learning improves mutual trust across the group. This is an indication of harmony in a group as the learners rely on each other and realize that moving together in the right path brings success to all of them. When the group members perceive this, a positive interdependence will occur (Johnson and Johnson, 2012). In order to complete a task the learner should realize that he has to combine his work with the group mates'. The learner will make use of his mates' studies and vice versa. They will work in small groups to maximize the learning by sharing their resources to provide mutual support and encouragement and to celebrate their joint success (Felder and Brent; 2012; Gunter, Estes, Schwab, 1995). Once positive interdependence is understood by the students, it establishes that each group member's efforts are required and indispensable for group success and each member has a unique contribution to make to the joint effort as he has his own resources, role and task responsibilities. Positive interdependence results in face to face promoting interaction. Promoting interaction leads to positive inter relationships, psychological adjustment and social competence (Felder and Brent, 2012).
84,9 % of the learners put forward the motivation of cooperative work and 75,3 % of students reported that while studying in cooperation friends help each other. According to Sharan and Sharan (1990) cooperative learning encourages students to work in the soul of a team. The team members help each other, accelerate motivation and trust each other's success (Hornby, 2009). They are responsible for each other and they have to know what each member of the group is doing (Gillies, 2007; Wang, 2012). The group is united around a common goal. They realize that they will win or lose together. Whenever they achieve they know that all group members receive the same reward. Each group member has a portion of resources, information or materials which have to be combined for the group to reach its goals. Having and sharing the feeling of achievement, the encouraging class atmosphere accelerates the motivation of the students and makes them have positive attitude towards school, learning and the class (Borich, 2007; Felder and Brent; 2012).
84% of the male participants felt that SHGM-ELL is useful for Specific and general learning of English language while the percentage that of female of the same opinion was 91.
61,4% of the participants said that SHGM-ELL environments develop individual responsibility. Although the learners work as a group, each one of them has his own responsibility when his individual success is assessed. The result not only affects the learner but the group also. The learner should know that without doing anything individually, he and the group cannot achieve any goal. The group's one of the main aims is to strengthen each member (Gillies, 2007). Cooperative/colloborative learning of SHGM-ELL kind empowers individual responsibility (Cruickshank, Bainer and Metcalf, 1999; Felder and Brent, 2012; Gillies, 2007; Yi and LuXi, 2012). In an effectively organized SHGM-ELL learning activity, the participants need to learn the assigned material and ensure that all members of the group learn the assigned material. These two are the participants' main responsibilities. The students know that they won't be successful unless the members of the group are successful (Slavin, 1996).
34,9% of the learners identified that studying on their own is more enjoyable than working in groups. A research which was conducted by Somapee (2002) indicated students' positive opinions towards cooperative learning. An idea which is supported by experts is that students working in small cooperative teams can understand the presented material by the teacher better than students working on their own. Cooperative learning has crucial social outcomes such as positive inter group relations, ability of working in collaboration and self- esteem development (Cohen, 1994; Slavin, 1996). Whether SHGM-ELL addresses the pragmatics of pedagogy and idiosyncrasies of the learner? 84% of the male said Yes to this and 91% of the female endorsed it.
31,3% of them stated that they get better results when they study on their own. According to Dunn, Beaudry and Klavas (1989), students learn more when they study in their preferred setting and manner. A preferred particular style may not always guarantee that it is the most effective. Sometimes students prefer the easy or the comfortable way. Some may choose a way because he has no other alternatives. They may benefit from developing new and more effective ways to learn (Weinstein and McCombs cited in Woolfolk, Winne and Perry, 2011). On the contrary, numerous research studies advocate that cooperative learning leads to higher academic success than individual or competitive approaches (Hornby, 2009; Johnson, Johnson and Stanne, 2012). Several researches done in the field of ELT show that learning English reading through cooperative learning have higher achievement scores than other approaches (Seetape, 2003; Tang, 2000; Wichadee, 2005).
There was a significant difference between male and female learners in cooperative learning and individual learning. It was found that male learners preferred studying individually more than female students. 36,1% of the participants were at the side of individual work. Dunn et al. (1989) claimed that students should use their own way- preferred setting and manner-in studying. These participants might choose individual study as it was easier or more comfortable. Sometimes there might not be any other alternative of study but most studies said that working in cooperative teams made the students understand the presented material by the teacher better than working alone (Hornby, 2009). According to Jordan, Walker and Hartling (2004) men were more autonomous than women. They were goal oriented which made them to be in competitive environments because they were more successful there. These would be reasons why male students do not particularly want to be in cooperative environments. The interview results also indicated that because of different learning styles, some students might not want to study in a group as they asserted the difference in learning styles would harm the productivity of the learner.
Interview with Students
20 students were selected randomly and the researchers conducted an interview with these students. The students put forward their opinions about why they prefer working in SGHM-ELL or not in ELT classes. The researcher started with saying 'What do you think about using SHGM-ELL approach'?
Most students stated the benefits of SHGM-ELL, its gains and its joy. For them they had the opportunity of social interaction, improving their knowledge, putting better works forward. They thought it improves motivation, creativity and productivity as different points of views were blended. So they asserted as follows;
'SHGM-ELL work lessens the cognitive load of a person. Two heads are better than one.'
'Besides, studying cooperatively in classes, teachers had better give project works making us working in groups. In this way, valuable, interesting, apart from usual things could be created'.
'SHGM-LL lets us produce more by using less time.'
'Especially, on the first days of college, I had the chance of meeting my friends while working in groups or pairs'.
Besides positive sides of SHGM-ELL mentioned above, students talked about the negative sides with emphasis on the organization of the groups and the attitudes of the group members while studying on a task. The worries were about students whom they didn't want to work with. Because they might be people who wouldn't like to work in cooperation or doesn't want to take responsibility and do nothing or prefer chatting. For them, this was de-motivating sometimes, so they mentioned their concerns as follows;
'The productivity of work will change according to the group members as it really depends on the passion and contribution of the other members of the group'.
'Making the task distribution equally is the most important thing as everyone in the group doesn't want to take the responsibility properly'.
'If the group is not organized well, it will become infertile. I mean, some students are not at the side of sharing his/her opinion then nothing created in that group.'
'Being in the right group is important. Students who like chatting while working together may sometimes bring down the enthusiastic ones.'
'Some circumstances, such as an unfavorable person in the group would be demotivating.'
'A person can be more motivated without having pressure of others on him.
When a problem arises when working in a group, it will affect both the achievement and the relationship among participants. I believe in individual work'.
Some students thought that they shouldn't be forced to work in SHG as it may sometimes be discouraging when it limits personal development and skills development. For them cooperative work would limit creativity and productivity. They said;
'Studying in SHG most of the time may give harm to the creativity of a student and may sometimes lead to laziness'.
'It would lead worse results if you are forcing the person to do a thing that he doesn't want to. This is discouraging.'
'In my opinion, SHG approach is a waste of time. For the sake of person's own development, individual work is more important and effective'.
'Working in SHGs may sometimes be less productive because people have different learning styles. It is not right to force students to work in cooperation. If it is compulsory, the common points of students should be taken into consideration'.
'SHGM-ELL creates positive and consistent relations among classmates, motivational and supportive but it has a negative side which is not sharing in common. In spite of its positive sides, I prefer studying individually'.
Although the results of the questionnaire showed that students were strongly at the side of SHGM-ELL, they asserted more about the negative sides of that approach in the interview. Despite the fact that they talked about the benefits of working in SHG and its gains, mostly male students talked about the negative sides of cooperative work.
1. SHGM-ELL offers an academic and friendly ambience. Its learning strategies develop positive relationships in the group
YES Male 55 (83.3%) Female 98 (98%)
NO Male 11 (16.7%) Female 2 (2%)
TOTAL 66 (100%) 100 (100%)
Statistical Analysis Chi-square 9,9 P 0,002*
2. It makes the participants respect each other's perceptions
YES Male 44 (66.7%) Female 88 (88%)
NO Male 22 (33.3%) Female 12 (12%)
TOTAL 66 (100%) 100 (100%)
Statistical Analysis Chi-square 9,8 P 0,002*
3. The participants guide each other
YES Male 56 (84.8%) Female 91 (91%)
NO Male 10 (15.2%) Female 9 (9%)
TOTAL 66 (100%) 100 (100%)
Statistical Analysis Chi-square 0,94 P 0,332
4. Studying alone is more useful than working in SHGs
YES Male 28 (42.4%) Female 24 (24%)
NO Male 38 (57.6%) Female 76 (76%)
TOTAL 66 (100%) 100 (100%)
Statistical Analysis Chi-square 5,44 P 0,021* *
5. In SHGM-ELL the stakeholders help each other
YES Male 43 (65.2%) Female 82 (82%)
NO Male 23 (34.8%) Female 18 (18%)
TOTAL 66 (100%) 100 (100%)
Statistical Analysis Chi-square 5,19 P 0,023*
6. SHGM-ELL ambience develop trust among participants
YES Male 45 (68.2%) Female 93 (93%)
NO Male 21 (31.8%) Female 7 (7%)
TOTAL 66 (100%) 100 (100%)
Statistical Analysis Chi-square 15,7 P 0,0001*
7. SHGM-ELL ambience develop individual learning
YES Male 34 (51.5%) Female 68 (68%)
NO Male 32 (48.5%) Female 32 (32%)
TOTAL 66 (100%) 100 (100%)
Statistical Analysis Chi-square 4,56 P 0,033*
8. Individual study delivers more results than SHGM-ELL
YES Male 30 (45.5%) Female 28 (28%)
NO Male 36 (54.5%) Female 72 (72%)
TOTAL 66 (100%) 100 (100%)
Statistical Analysis Chi-square 4,58 P 0,032* *
9. SHGM-ELL motivates the group members.
YES Male 53 (80.3%) Female 88 (88%)
NO Male 13 (19.7%) Female 12 (12%)
TOTAL 66 (100%) 100 (100%)
Statistical Analysis Chi-square 1,29 P 0,256
10. SHGM-ELL is useful for specific and general learning.
YES Male 56 (84.8%) Female 91 (91%)
NO Male 10 (15.2%) Female 9 (9%)
TOTAL 66 (100%) 100 (100%)
Statistical Analysis Chi-square 0,94 P 0,332
11. SHGM-ELL can address pragmatics and learner's idiosyncrasies
YES Male 56 (84.8%) Female 91 (91%)
NO Male 10 (15.2%) Female 9 (9%)
TOTAL 66 (100%) 100 (100%)
Statistical Analysis Chi-square 0,94 P 0,332
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The purpose of this study was to investigate the effectiveness of SHGM-ELL and the responses of the learners towards it. The population for this study was 166 degree college students. The subjects were the researcher's students and many others. This was a quasi-experimental study, so the researcher randomly chose students of 180 students from different colleges situated in different parts of Karnataka. Each group of 20 had a teacher-facilitator immediately available and the researcher as the principal facilitator at the top. However, finally 166 students were available for the study. The activity based research was carried out spread across a year with mixed degrees of intensity at any given point of time.
In this study, almost every participant put forward that through communication, they became aware of individual differences. They realized that there was not only one way in the process of solution to a problem. This led them trusting each other in the group as most of them were at the same side of this idea. As a result of this they understood that moving together would bring success to all of them. On the way to the solution they discussed in groups, suggested ideas, found what was wrong and at the end they developed their higher order thinking skills. Most think that they learned the way of cooperation through showing respect to each other's thoughts while studying on the common task. They indicated that this was also a way of learning to be tolerant. By this way, they grew the feeling of respect towards both themselves and the others.
The students emphasized the role of motivation and supporting peers were ways of being successful. Students knew that when the group had a common task to achieve, the reward was also common. Because of this, the members encouraged each other to reach the goal and this naturally motivated the group members. As another result of motivation it could be said that students grew positive attitude towards school, learning and the class. It was obvious that male students preferred studying individually more than female students. In learning everyone should use the way they feel better. As men were more autonomous and goal oriented than women they might not want to be in cooperative environments. It was also asserted in the interview that males stressed on different learning styles. The results showed that most students prefer studying in cooperative learning environments rather than working individually in case doing the distribution of task carefully, arranging the groups sensibly to avoid giving harm to creativity, sociability and motivation of the students.
The results of the study consistently indicate SHGM-ELL as more effective than regular whole-class instruction in promoting English language learning
The findings show a pattern that the effects of SHGM-ELL are very encouraging but the testing takes a back seat.
Although SHGM-ELL facilitates motivation and learning strategy for all subgroups, the effects are comparatively greater for the higher and lower ranking learners.
There are significant positive relationships among language learning achievement, motivation, self esteem, personality development in respect of SHGM-ELL participants
This quasi-experimental study was conducted among groups of select colleges. Several limitations might be found. Firstly, many factors affect individual learning and it was not possible for the researcher to deal with all of them. For example, this study could not control in detail the economic and geographical composition of the groups, but it was not overlooked that they might influence the students' language performance and peer interaction. Secondly, there were some practical difficulties regarding the conduct of SHG activities for the study. For example, the SHGs sometimes did not have proper accommodation for their activities. Sometimes power failure posed a problem in using digital resources. The students always felt that they had enough burden of the syllabus in a particular semester and examinations and SHG activities might hinder their performance in their main stream learning witch entailed examinations.
However, as a researcher, I must acknowledge that although I have tried to step back and look at the data objectively, I am enthusiastic about my work, and hence my personal views may affect my presentation of the results. These factors, together with the necessary practical size of the study, limited the extent to which generalizations could be made from the study.
Scope for further study
It is worth conducting this study at a larger scale across different age group of learners, geographical, economic, sociological background. And there should be some rewarding scheme for successful learning to improve the self esteem of the participants. That could not be done in this project and it could be incorporated in the future research.
The use of learning strategies in SHGM-ELL can also be explored more fully in future studies. In a recent study on effects of cooperative learning in a mathematics course (Veenman, Denessen, Van Den Akker, & Van Der Rijt, 2005), Veenman and his colleagues explored student cooperative behaviors in the dimensions of help seeking, help giving, and constructive activities. These behaviors were further examined in categories such as instrumental (e.g., requesting an explanation of process), executive (e.g., asking for a direct answer), confirmatory (e.g., verifying the proposed suggestion), and affective (e.g., giving positive comments on the collaboration process). The present study shows that SHGM-ELL can facilitate learners' peer collaboration and that there are significant positive effects towards language learning. Future research is recommended to study what specific elaboration and peer collaboration behaviors in a cooperative learning setting have direct bearing on learners' English language proficiency.
It would also be worth exploring to examine whether the results of SHGM-ELL help more on achieving Competence/Performance. The SHGM-ELL theory can be further structured after balancing the activity for optimizing the achievement of the both.
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