Cooperative and Collaborative Learning in the Language Classroom

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Yoshitaka Kato, Kyoto University; Francesco Bolstad, Kyoto University; Hironori Watari, Waseda University

Cooperative learning and collaborative learning are two of the central approaches to utilize pair or group activities in the language learning classroom. However, despite the fact that these approaches have been developed under different historical backgrounds and thus have different pedagogical aims to be pursued, a tendency to use the two terms interchangeably has obscured their respective merits in foreign language education. This paper therefore attempts to differentiate them through an extensive review of the relevant literature. It reveals that cooperative learning, which emphasizes the necessity of developing learners’ social skills, tends to be described as a more structured and teacher-centered approach than collaborative learning, which presupposes the learners’ autonomy to a greater extent. This paper, rather than arguing any primacy of one of the two approaches, introduces some issues to assist practitioners and researchers to identify which approach would be most beneficial for their individual teaching and research goals.


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