This article tries to provide a definition of classroom interaction and how different approaches deal with interaction to provide learning and teaching opportunities.
In the past, the teacher was considered as someone whose main goal was to fill students’ mind with various information. Classes were often boring and unproductive; students were left with nothing but theories, cliches and so many questions.
Today though, times have changed: students are viewed as individuals, with own needs and requirements, people who want to be involved in a two – way process: interaction in a free educational environment. Thus, classroom interaction has become an important process in transmitting the information to the recipient in a lively, modern and engaging manner.
”Interaction” is defined as an occasion where two or more people or things communicate with or react to each other.
When reffering to language teaching, interaction is used to mantain conversation, teach or interact with individuals involved in the teaching – learning process. There are several types of classroom interactions:
- teacher – students
- students – teacher
- students – students
Donn Byrne in his book ”Tehniques for classroom interaction” argues that the more the initiative comes from the students in classroom interaction, the more learning is taking place. By asking and answering questions, by participating in class discussions or initiating conversations, students contribute in a very important manner to the learning process.
When talking about classroom interaction, many teachers prefer teaching the whole class, bringing arguments like: grammar cant be taught in groups or not having control over groups of students if teaching in pairs or groups. Also lack of time is also mentioned or the constant need to correct students.
Other teachers though believe that students can achieve best learning results by working in pairs or groups.
What we need though is a balanced approach, using both ways: giving the students practice in grammar and vocabulary and opportunities to use all the information in group work or pair work. To achieve this, however, we need to use an array of activities aimed also to keep classes ” lively and engaging”.
Types of activities used can be:
- accuracy activities – with games and drills easy to do with the whole class or mini dialogues for pair work;
- fluency activities – to encourage students to use the language freely in discussions or debates, memory games or story-telling.
Another key part of classroom interaction is teacher feedback; during accuracy activities, one may chose to correct students right away while in fluency activities noting any glaring mistakes is preferred.
Sometimes it is preferred to offer general sugestions for the entire class rather than correct each student in front of the class.