“…the only normal way to begin speaking in a new language is to begin speaking badly!”

Greg & Angela Thomson

Ouch.  Mistakes feel uncomfortable.  Who wants to risk speaking badly?  Invite your next student group into a safe learning community where trust is built through collaborative learning.  Expect and welcome errors.  Utilize techniques targeting the development of teamwork skills while promoting a sense of community among learners.  Take advantage of group work and cooperative learning as your teacher role transforms into one of facilitating student learning (Tibbetss & Hector-Mason,2015).  Increase communitication through collaboration.

As you engage, remember successful collaboration doesn’t just happen but takes planning and could include:

  • sharing challenges with students
  • deciding on group norms
  • setting group roles
  • teaching students how to listen, how to take turns, and about wait-time before interrupting
  • exploring how to ask good questions
  • negotiating and building consensus
  • analyzing and synthesizing information

Of course successful collaboration will also require willing participants and clear vision and goals in synthesis with a supportive environment (Tibbetts & Hector-Mason, 20015).

Encourage Collaboration Through Games

Include a game during your next class to promote communication and kick stress to the curb.  Seifert presents 5 dynamic games for group collaboration in the ESL classroom.  Who knew that creating sentences, learning proverbs, and creating subjects for verbs could be so exciting?

Encourage Collaboration Through Storytelling

Set lose your student’s imagination as they create stories according to Ferlazzo’s collaborative storytelling lesson.

Encourage Collaboration Through Project Based Learning (PBL) 

Select a project and get your students working.


What will you do to engage your next group of English pupils?  How will your classroom become a place of collaboration for adult learners?  I’d love to hear in the comments below.


Tibbetts, J., & Hector-Mason, A. (2015). Collaboration in adult education. Retrieved 2016, from


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