Collaborative and Self-directed Learning Strategies to Promote Fluent EFL Speakers

  •  Angela Buitrago    


Speaking English with fluency is one of the most demanding challenges students and teachers face in many educational communities, and it has been claimed that fluency problems can derive from lack of practice during independent study. This research article reports on a mixed-methods study that analyzed the effects of using collaborative and self-directed learning strategies through speaking tasks aimed at developing oral fluency. This study was carried out with a group of 10 students with a pre-intermediate level (CEFR A2) in English at a Colombian university. Qualitative data from students’ reflections, compiled through a survey, and the teacher’s classroom observations was analyzed through the grounded theory approach. Quantitative analysis was aided by a protocol in which frequency counts of words and hesitations per minute for each speaking task were registered. The results suggest that fluency can be acquired collaboratively when learning from others and by making mistakes. Additionally, working collaboratively increases learners’ confidence not only because they feel they are not being judged but because they learn to see that their mistakes are not just theirs. Thus, collaboration is positively influenced by self-directed learning, in that it encourages students to make personal reflections on their weaknesses and strengths, thereby involving them in decision-making processes that identify what is not working properly and what they should do to succeed.

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