In order to help students be competent enough and acquire the necessary skills to face the knowledge society, reading skills should be worked and fostered throughout the different educational stages they may encounter. The use of active methodologies, such as Language Cooperative Learning (hereafter LCL), has proved to provide multiple benefits. Not only does LCL help students learn to work with equals, respect different ways of working and opinions, build knowledge and improve their social and communication skills in a distended and motivating atmosphere, but it also shows favorable results when working the reading skill in the EFL classroom: Finkbeiner, Knierim and Smasal (2012), Farzaneh and Nejadansari (2014), Khan and Ahmad (2014), Karafkan and Aghazadeh (2015), Almuslimi (2016), Rosli and Idrus (2017) and Awada and Faour (2018). Nevertheless, no research on the use of LCL and the reading skill has been conducted in the EFL secondary education stage in Spain yet.
The aim of this paper is to show the implications of using LCL in Spanish students’ EFL reading comprehension. This work presents the results of an empirical intervention carried out with a group of fifty-three third-year secondary education students (14-15 years old) who study EFL, randomly assigned into a control and an experimental group during one school term in a semi-private school in the center of Madrid. As instruments for data collection, the grades obtained in six different tasks developed throughout the term and the grades obtained at the end of the term were analyzed as well as a perception questionnaire (based on Farzaneh & Nejadansari, 2014) on the methodology used, completed once the experimentation was finished. The present research starts from the hypothesis that LCL could be a suitable methodology for teaching EFL in Spanish secondary education, with a positive influence for its students to improve their reading skills, and, as a consequence, their general linguistic proficiency as well. The research questions of this study aim, on the one hand, to clarify which method is more effective to foster proper reading skills: the teacher directed communicative language teaching method or LCL, and on the other hand, to analyze the learners’ attitude towards the methodology experimented.
The methodological framework is defined as an exploratory comparative experimentation that provides quantitative data (the grades obtained during the six tasks carried out during the term and the final grade attained in the subject). The data were analyzed with the SPSS statistical software, which is also complemented with the presentation of the results of the perception questionnaire. The results confirm the hypothesis, since a significant difference is observed in the contrast of the data in favor of the experimental group (p = .001), which obtains higher results in the different tasks performed (average score of the control group 4.79 versus 6.82 of the experimental group) and the final grade of the term (p = .021). Also, the results of the perception questionnaire are positive since students seem to feel more confident when working in cooperative groups.
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