Ways of Engaging First-Year Students in Discussions Through Small Group Work
The article deals with the techniques of how to involve university first-year students in speaking using the activities for small groups. The experiment was carried out at Vasyl Stefanyk Precarpathian National University with the freshmen of the Department of Foreign Languages. The focus of the research was on speaking skills as they are considered to play a significant role in enhancing students’ communicative competence. The experiment is of high methodological value as it was based on two types of studying, namely online and in class. The aim of developing speaking skills is threefold. It is a splendid opportunity to practice real-life communication. Any speaking activity can be provided feedback, which will make learners understand the level, progress, and language difficulties they face. The teacher’s productive feedback can evoke students’ great satisfaction from a speaking activity and positively influence their wish to take part in the discussion. It is crucial to find the most suitable ways to help learners speak English fluently and adjust methods and techniques how to engage them in speaking activities. To carry out the experiment qualitative and quantitative methods were used successfully. The observation was selected to do the qualitative research, namely for observing the learners’ participation during their work in small groups, which were selected as a means of conducting speaking activities in the class. The quantitative method in this research was represented by two questionnaires. The purpose of them was to find out students’ attitudes toward this kind of work before and after the experiment. The overall results proved to be positive and the experiment confirmed the hypothesis that engaging students in small group work could contribute to their greater participation in discussion activities. The data of the observation and questionnaires revealed that the learners felt more confident in small teams and they understood some responsibility for their work.