The Importance of CoP in Transforming New Learning Communities into Experienced Ones in EFL Classrooms

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Authors: Akiko Nagao, Ryukoku University, Japan
Email: nagao@world.ryukoku.ac.jp
Published: January 19, 2018
https://doi.org/10.22492/ijll.3.2.03

Citation: Nagao, A. (2018). The Importance of CoP in Transforming New Learning Communities into Experienced Ones in EFL Classrooms IAFOR Journal of Language Learning, 3(2). https://doi.org/10.22492/ijll.3.2.03


Abstract

Since the Communities of Practice (CoP) concept has been adopted in various learning environments, visualizing its development in English as a foreign language (EFL) classrooms is complicated. Thus, based on the CoP concept, this study investigates the changes in learners’ degrees of participation and CoP elements in EFL writing/reading classes when the systemic functional linguistics genre-based approach to language learning is introduced over a 15-week period. The participants included 58 undergraduate students at various proficiency levels from three different classrooms. Developmental changes in the students and their communities were examined by conducting pre-, mid-, and post-quantitative analyses of 10 CoP elements, including three key modules: mutual engagement, joint enterprise, and shared repertoire. Three elements showed no similar developmental patterns, whereas two CoP components (mutual engagement and shared repertoire) indicated similar patterns in one classroom where their activities began with moderate awareness, gradually increasing toward the end of the semester. Among the three classrooms, only one CoP component (i.e., shared repertoire) showed a similar developmental pattern. The results imply that the features involving human relationship expansion, including the frequency of contact and the ease in asking for help from other members, called “Mutual Engagement,” grow during the early or middle stages. Features such as “Joint Enterprise” and “Shared Repertoire”– dealing with understanding other members’ knowledge and understanding jargon – start developing in the latter stages. This study implies that understanding the concept of CoP can help teachers clarify learners’ behaviors in classroom communities, which can lead to major developments in learning.

Keywords

Communities of Practice, genre-based approach to language learning, systemic functional linguistics, five stages of CoP development