Why this approach is important

In everyday situations, people work alongside one another, speaking and listening, watching, supporting, suggesting, and assisting. Such forms of collaboration encourage the exchange of ideas and open the door to different ways of doing things. If everything is centred on the teacher in the classroom, there will be very few opportunities for students to explore, discuss, question, experiment and learn in natural, mutually beneficial ways. Using pair work is a very effective way of incorporating talk-based learning opportunities of this kind into your language lessons.

Pair work is suitable for all ages and all subjects. Because it enables many students to talk at the same time, it is particularly effective with large classes. It is highly inclusive in that it requires all students to communicate. It is especially useful in multilingual, multi-grade classes, as pairings can be organised flexibly and supportively in line with your students’ needs. Whether you combine students according to similar attainment levels, different attainment levels, the same home language friendships, or allocate them randomly, varying your approach to pairing can have the effect of stimulating learning while enhancing classroom relationships.

What you can learn in this unit

1 Why should you use pair work?