Cooperative and collaborative learning in sign language

Cooperative and collaborative learning is one of some principles in Communicative Language Teaching. Sign language students practice signing with one another in pairs, trios, or groups. They learn from one another with the instructor's corrective feedback, support, and guide.

In a classroom of about 24 students at the university, not only the instructor gives each of the students constructive feedback, recast, and such, but the students are also encouraged to help one another with learning the language to maximize with language exposure and feedback.

Exercises in groups

Students practice signing with one another in pairs, trios, and groups after being introduced to new vocabulary and grammar. In addition, they incorporate past learned vocabulary from the previous classes or lessons into their signing practice. In this way, the students review the previous vocabulary corpus and practice the newly learned vocabulary with each other.

Meaning negotiation

Meaning negotiation is another way they learn together. If a student forgets a sign or doesn't know it, the other student would explain it in the target language, exposing more language use to the partner. If the moment a student gives an answer in English, unfortunately, it ends the opportunity to negotiate meaning and to practice signing more, thus to gain language further.

Corrective feedback

Collaboratively, students can help one another with suggestions and feedback. It's important to be aware of that inevitably, a student may correct his/her partner the wrong way or wrong production (pronunciation).

Despite that, communicative competency and language acquisition is an opportunity to give them a chance to learn the language with little anxiety about making errors. The instructor will eventually correct them or the highly skilled students will help the other students.


Posted 2015.

Further readings

"Developing Oral Communication Skills." pp 287-297.

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