It Takes Two to Tango: Academic Environment and Social Skills

  •  Nalini Arumugam    
  •  Xavier Thayalan    
  •  Kuldip Kaur    
  •  Chittra Muthusamy    


It is known that social skills is the main contributing factor to building more positive relationships among group members and group work undoubtedly instils this quality. By exploring the educational pedagogies and classroom discourses, it is the aim of the study to extend theoretical insights into the way ESL speaking classrooms might help to develop social and learning iden¬tities of the learners in the classrooms. This study, therefore, has focused on student–student interaction in an ESL tertiary speaking classroom in an institution of higher learning. The results revealed that the students who worked in small groups improved their academic achievement, speaking skills as well as their social skills. They became more positive towards class work, assumed responsibilities and performed their best regardless of their tasks. In the interviews the learners admitted that they became more skilled at expressing their opinions and supporting their arguments with valid reasons. Group work also involved trusting group members to editing and correcting their work, accepting peer feedback and resolving conflicts constructively if they are to capitalise on the opportunities presented at the academic setting. It was learnt that group discussions in ESL classrooms offered experiential learning whereby learners became more skilled at using suitable choice of words to maintain their good rapport among the group members and also showed higher academic performance. This indicates that good social skills facilitate academic advancement.

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