Enhancing Oral Communication Skills by using Pairwork Strategies

Abstract

The focus of this study is to investigate how pair work tasks can enhance oral communication in the language classroom. My interest in this topic arose from my experience in UAE schools, both as a former student and as a current student teacher. When I was a student, my teachers used a traditional way of teaching. Classes were mostly teacher-centered, and teachers did not use pair work tasks in their lessons, but tended to make the students work as a whole class or individually. The teaching methods were, and for the most still are, based on the grammar translation and audiolingual methods. A lot of drilling took place in the English classroom, as supposed speaking activities. That means that teachers did not encourage students to communicate meaningfully in pair work situations.

My research examines ways to improve oral communication not only for classroom use, but also outside the classroom, for young Emirati students who are learning English as a foreign language. The intent here was to create and foster confidence in speaking for the students. This study was carried out in a government primary school for girls, in the United Arab Emirates. The participants in this investigation were Grade Five students.

It is my firm belief that effective language learning takes place through interacting with peers in communicative contexts. This situation allows students to use the target language in a natural context, and it gradually helps them to become better target language users. The following questions guide this study:

  • Can oral communication skills be enhanced by using pair work in the EFL classroom in the UAE?
  • What are some advantages and the disadvantages of using pair work strategies?
  • What effect does the use of oral tasks during pair work have on students’ interest and attitude?
  • What are some effective instructional strategies that promote pair work activities?
The focus of this study is to investigate how pair work tasks can enhance oral
communication in the language classroom. My interest in this topic arose from my
experience in UAE schools, both as a former student and as a current student teacher.
When I was a student, my teachers used a traditional way of teaching. Classes were
mostly teacher-centered, and teachers did not use pair work tasks in their lessons, but
tended to make the students work as a whole class or individually. The teaching
methods were, and for the most still are, based on the grammar translation and audiolingual
methods. A lot of drilling took place in the English classroom, as supposed
speaking activities. That means that teachers did not encourage students to
communicate meaningfully in pair work situations.

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