IBL → POGIL in the Foreign Language Classroom

After struggling with trying to envision how IBL could be used as the sole teaching model in a foreign language classroom (Japanese in my case – see my previous blog post), I stumbled across an article by Johnson (2011) on the use of Process-Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL) in the language classroom – German language classroom in her case.

She described the process of POGIL, which was originally developed for the science and maths classroom, and how it can be used in the language classroom with evidence of activities showing its success, and I must saw I am thankful to finally see a description of a form of IBL that still involves the teacher and not the use of the internet to find answers.


Getting started with POGIL

Johnson describes three major characteristics of POGIL.

  1. Students spend the majority of the class time working on activities in small groups with minimal direction from the instructor (p. 31)
  2. Students are assigned specific roles within their groups: the manager, the recorder, and the reflector – switching each class to hold different roles (p.31)
  3. The materials are effective with appropriate models and questions (p. 32)

The models allows for the complexities of foreign language learning to be learned through a process in which the grammar point to be learned is presented to students, discuss by students, formulated into grammar rules by the students, and then replicated by the students using their formulated grammar rules. I can see this working in a Japanese language classroom as a way for students to figure out when certain grammar points behave in a certain way and when there might be exceptions.

The problem with Japanese language learning is still in the learning of Japanese script – hiragana, katakana, and kanji. How could I teach students these scripts through a POGIL, or IBL or PBL model? Learning vocabulary and grammar in context as described in the POGIL model is great, but if the students can’t read or write the script how will they advance? In Johnson’s German model, she reminds the reader to always read out the sentences being written on the board to ensure the student hear the pronunciation, but if the sentences aren’t written in the alphabet students will never pick up the script by mere context alone.

I agree with Johnson’s conclusion that the POGIL method is perfectly suited for the foreign language classroom and fosters desired communication skills, team working traits and critical thinking and problem solving necessary in other aspects of life, and I look forward to using it in my own foreign language classroom (when someone decides to give me my own Japanese classroom, that is. I wish Canadians learnt more Japanese in High School! If only I were a French teacher J).


Johnson, C. (2011). Activities Using Process-Oriented Guided Inquiry Learning (POGIL) in the Foreign Language Classroom. In Die Unterrichtspraxis/ Teaching German, 44(1), p. 30-38.


One thought on “IBL → POGIL in the Foreign Language Classroom

  1. Pingback: ETL401 Assignment 2 Part B: Critical Reflection | A TL's Learning Journal

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