Innovation in Language Learning

Edition 16

Accepted Abstracts

Engaging Learners through a Collaborative Jigsaw Approach in the Modern Language Classroom

Sharon Lyman, Utah Valley University (United States)

Karin deJonge-Kannan, Utah State University (United States)


Having to rely on their own skills and abilities can be daunting for language learners. When they carry out reading, listening, or viewing tasks outside of class, learners benefit from checking their understanding with peers during class. As a type of information-gap activity [1], a traditional jigsaw activity [2] fosters interactive peer work for reading assignments. However, a jigsaw approach can be applied to listening and viewing assignments as well. When instructors develop carefully crafted response tasks, student engagement increases both during the solo portion conducted outside class and the group activities during class. Engagement is especially critical for learners who struggle with distractibility [3], which has become more prevalent during the COVID-19 pandemic. Regardless of input source, a jigsaw approach offers four distinct benefits: 1) it centers the students and their comprehension of audio, video, or written material; 2) it offers students the safety of working in small groups to build comprehension together; 3) it requires negotiation of meaning around common topics and fosters a collaborative approach to meaning-making; and 4) it gives students opportunities to interact with a variety of classmates each time, thus meeting students’ social needs. Showcasing several practical examples from their own teaching experience, the presenters will demonstrate how the traditional jigsaw approach for reading can be employed successfully in new ways in the modern language classroom, whether that features F2F, online, or hybrid instruction.

Keywords: jigsaw reading, student engagement, blended instruction.


  1. Ellis, R. (2003). Task-based language learning and teaching. Oxford University Press.
  2. Aronson, E., Stephan, C., Sikes, J., Blaney, N., & Snapp, M. (1978). The jigsaw classroom. Sage Publications.
  3. Lang, J.D. (2020) Distracted: Why students can’t focus and what you can do about it. Basic Books.

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