LANGUAGE LEARNING: COLLABORATION IN ENGLISH FOR SPECIFIC PURPOSES PROBLEM-BASED LEARNING CLASSROOM
University Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia (MALAYSIA)
About this paper:
Appears in: EDULEARN10 Proceedings
Publication year: 2010
Conference name: 2nd International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 5-7 July, 2010
Location: Barcelona, Spain
Abstract:This paper draws on findings of a PhD research and aims to report on an investigation into students’ collaborative interaction based on the Problem-Based Learning (PBL) approach in an undergraduate course of English for Specific Purposes (ESP) at a higher learning institution in Malaysia. PBL described as small group learning is a pedagogical approach that assumes the centrality of real-world problems to learning. It is purported to empower learners by encouraging them to take a centre stage in learning and become independent self-directed learners. In this study, PBL was implemented in an ESP classroom consisting students from the Faculty of Technical and Vocational Education to enhance real world language skills. The research was a longitudinal, qualitative ethnography study of the implementation of PBL over one semester. Data were gathered from classroom observation, interviews with students as well as lecturers and student reflective journals. This investigation emphasizes the collaboration situation by focusing on video recording of class interaction among a group of students working on PBL triggers. This paper explores what happens when ESP students come together to analyse and solve triggers specially designed to facilitate an interactive context in which the learning of English as a second language is promoted. An example of the interaction of a group of five students is then presented in order to illustrate such language learning ‘in action’ within the trigger analysing and solving context. Collaboration episodes, analysed in detail from within a sociocultural perspective reveal the mechanisms by which students not only support and mediate one another’s learning but also results in enhancing individual student’s language use and growth. The analysis further shows second language learning as a process, an aspect of learning often overlooked in our Malaysian classrooms today given the quest for polished end product determined by examinations. The article further argues that the resulting information on how ESP students learn and improve their English through collaboration is useful in suggesting that PBL though challenging, can indeed be a useful teaching strategy in the Malaysian or similar contexts.
Keywords: Problem-Based Learning, English for Specific Purposes, collaboration, group work, language learning, language development.