Jigsaw activities are an effective teaching strategy for speaking tasks in the EFL (English as a Foreign Language) classroom for various reasons:

1. Encouragement of collaborative learning: Jigsaw activities require students to work in small groups, promoting cooperative learning and fostering a social environment. Students learn from each other, increasing their understanding and language proficiency in the process.

2. Focus on active communication: These activities require students to directly communicate with their peers, using their English listening and speaking skills in real-time. This repeated practice helps build fluency and confidence in their spoken English.

3. Student-centred approach: Jigsaw activities put the students in control of their learning, with the teacher acting as a facilitator instead of the central focus. This approach encourages students to take responsibility for their progress, develop independent learning skills, and enhances classroom engagement.

4. Enhanced language skills: Jigsaw activities allow students to tap into all aspects of language learning – listening, speaking, reading, and writing. They are exposed to different language structures, vocabulary, and real-life situations, which lead to improvement in their overall language skills.

5. Balanced interaction: In jigsaw activities, students interact with a variety of peers and are exposed to different accents, speech patterns, and language levels. This diversity helps improve not only their conversational skills but also their listening skills and pronunciation.

6. Personalised learning: Each student gets assigned a specific role or piece of information in the activity. This promotes a sense of ownership and responsibility, motivating them to communicate their knowledge effectively to their peers.

7. Problem-solving and critical thinking: Jigsaw activities often involve complex tasks which stimulate students to use their cognitive abilities, solve problems together, and develop critical thinking skills in English.

8. Increased motivation: The collaborative nature, competitive aspects, and the social interaction involved in jigsaw activities can significantly increase student motivation and involvement in EFL classes.

9. Adaptability: Jigsaw activities can be easily adapted to suit any topic, level or age group, making them a versatile, engaging tool for EFL teachers.

Examples:

1. Jigsaw Storytelling

Procedure:

a) Divide the class into small groups (4-5 students per group) and assign each group a different section of a story.

b) Students read and familiarise themselves with their assigned story section.

c) Each group sends a “storyteller” to the other groups to share their part of the story.

d) After all storytellers have visited each group, the groups work together to reconstruct the full story in the correct order.

e) Groups present their reconstructed stories to the class and discuss the possible variations and sequencing.

2. Expert Groups Jigsaw

Procedure:

a) Divide a topic or theme into smaller sub-topics.

b) Create “expert groups” consisting of 4-5 students with each group focusing on one sub-topic.

c) Expert groups work together to research, discuss and become proficient in their sub-topic.

d) Students from each expert group join new “jigsaw groups” with members from the other expert groups.

e) Each student teaches their sub-topic to the jigsaw group.

f) The jigsaw group discusses and integrates all sub-topics into a comprehensive understanding of the overall topic.

3. Picture Puzzle Jigsaw

Procedure:

a) Select a large, detailed picture that can be divided into smaller sections.

b) Divide the class into groups of 4-5 students and give each group a section of the picture.

c) Groups describe and discuss their picture section, practicing related vocabulary and language structures.

d) Groups take turns describing their sections to the class without showing their picture.

e) As a class, work together to reconstruct the complete picture based on the descriptions shared.

f) Compare the reconstructed picture with the original and discuss any differences.

4. Debate Jigsaw

Procedure:

a) Choose a debatable topic and divide it into several aspects or key points.

b) Divide the class into small groups and assign each group an aspect of the argument (either for or against the topic).

c) Groups conduct research, discuss, and formulate their arguments related to their assigned aspect.

d) Create new jigsaw groups, ensuring a balanced representation of both sides of the debate and aspects from each original group.

e) Have the jigsaw groups conduct the debate, with each student focusing on their specific aspect.

f) After the debate, discuss the arguments presented and encourage reflection on the effectiveness of communication and persuasion techniques.

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