Luận văn A study on the techniques for the improvement to the teaching of oral skills in light of communicative english language teaching for junior high school teachers in quảng ngãi province - Trần Quốc Việt

For the past few years, with the introduction of the new Tieng Anh 6-9 textbook series based on Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) in junior high schools, language teaching in Quang Ngai has experienced the shift from grammatical form to communicative function. In order to prepare for this shift, short training courses (usually from 3 - 5 days in length) have been organized for junior high school (JHS) teachers in Quang Ngai province on how to use these textbooks.

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PART ONE: INTRODUCTION 1. Rationale of the Study For the past few years, with the introduction of the new Tieng Anh 6-9 textbook series based on Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) in junior high schools, language teaching in Quang Ngai has experienced the shift from grammatical form to communicative function. In order to prepare for this shift, short training courses (usually from 3 - 5 days in length) have been organized for junior high school (JHS) teachers in Quang Ngai province on how to use these textbooks. However, these short courses cannot satisfy teachers' needs in communicative language teaching because these courses largely deal with the introduction of the textbooks with little methodology component. Besides, teachers in Quang Ngai province, most of whom graduated from 1979 to 1999, had to learn English under difficult conditions without any opportunity to meet native English speakers, and did not have access to up to date materials. As a result, they have met a lot of difficulties in English language teaching, especially techniques for teaching oral skills. Being teachers at Quang Ngai Teachers' Training College, we have met many junior high school teachers, observed junior high school lessons and have been involved in the training courses on how to use the new Tieng Anh textbook series for JHS teachers. Through this process, we have begun to identify the particular problems that many teachers of English deal with in Quang Ngai province. With this in mind, I decided to conduct the research named "A Study on Techniques for the Improvement to the Teaching of Oral Skills in Light of Communicative English Language Teaching for Junior High School Teachers in Quang Ngai Province". The aim of the study is to give teachers a greater understanding of the communicative approach and to introduce practical techniques for the teaching of oral skills that can be used with the new Tieng Anh textbooks. Many of these techniques are a change from what teachers normally do. We know that teachers in Quang Ngai province deal with such particular problems as large classes, limited resources which make their language teaching difficult. However, by making some small changes and trying out new techniques, teachers can help the English language come alive for the students and slowly move away from the teacher-centered approach. I hope the study will encourage the process of change in language teaching. 2. Aims of the Study The purpose of this study is to examine the areas of difficulties in language teaching that junior high school teachers deal with in Quang Ngai province so that techniques can be given to help them improve their teaching of oral skills. The specific aims are: - To investigate the current performance of English teaching and learning in JHSs in Quang Ngai province. - To find out the difficulties that JHS teachers deal with in Quang Ngai province. - To suggest techniques to help JHS teachers improve their teaching of oral skills. 3. Methods of the Study To achieve the above - mentioned aims, both quantitative and qualitative methods are used and the following tasks are involved: - Collecting data for the analysis from 100 junior high school teachers of English and 25 hours of class observations in junior high schools in Quang Ngai province. - Assessing particular problems. - Evaluating which oral techniques are applicable. 4. Scope of the Study The study is intended to focus on practical techniques. After having investigated the current performance of English teaching and learning in JHSs in Quang Ngai province by means of a survey questionnaire and class observations, we suggest techniques to help JHS teachers improve their teaching of oral skills. 5. Design of the Study The study is divided into three parts: Part 1 (Introduction) describes the impetus from which we decided to conduct this study as well as the boundary within which the study is realized. This part presents feasible methods for the fulfillment of research objective. Part 2 (Development) consists of three chapters: Chapter 1 presents various linguistics concepts relevant to the research topic such as definition of techniques, methods and approaches, communicative language teaching and practical techniques for language teaching. Chapter 2 deals with the analysis on the current performance of English teaching and learning in junior high schools in Quang Ngai province, teaching requirements, teachers and teaching methods, materials as well as material assessment. This chapter also focuses on data collections, findings and discussion. Chapter 3 emphasizes the implication of the study in which practical techniques for improving the teaching of oral skills for junior high school teachers in Quang Ngai province are suggested. Part 3 (Conclusion) summarizes what is addressed in the study, points out the limitations and provides some suggestions for further study. PART two: DEVELOPMENT Chapter ONE: Literature REview Introduction To provide a theoretical background to the study, this chapter is devoted to the reexamination of the concepts most relevant to the thesis’s topic. They are definitions of techniques, methods, approaches and a brief history of methods/approaches. In addition, the definition, principles and techniques of the communicative approach will also be discussed. An Overview on Techniques, Methods and Approaches 1.2.1. Definitions According to Hubbard, P. et al (1983) when we use the word technique, we mean a procedure used in the classroom. When we talk about method, we mean a set of procedures or a number of techniques arranged in a specific order which will result in efficient learning. The word approach has the implication that whatever method or techniques the teacher uses, he does not feel bound by these, but only by the theory in which he believes. According to Anthony, E. (1963) a technique is a particular trick, stratagem, or contrivance used to accomplish an immediate objective in a classroom. A method is an overall plan for the orderly presentation of language material. An approach is a set of correlative assumptions dealing with the nature of language teaching and learning. 1.2.2. A Brief History of Language Teaching The Grammar -Translation Method It is the oldest method and many teachers still use this method today. It took grammar the starting point for instruction. Grammar-Translation courses followed a grammar syllabus and lessons typically began with an explicit statement of the rule, followed by exercises involving translation into and out of the mother tongue. Oral fluency is generally ignored and pronunciation is sometimes taught through reading aloud. The Audio-Lingual Method The Audio-Lingual Method was a largely American invention in the 1960s. It was based on the idea of Behaviorism, which considered language as simply as a form of behavior, to be learned through the formation of correct habits. Habit formation was a process in which the application of rules played no part. The audio-lingual syllabus consisted of a graded list of sentence patterns which formed the basis of pattern-practice drills, the distinguished feature of Audio-lingual classroom practice. Often these drills were on audio cassette tapes and it was because of this method that the language laboratory became so popular. The Functional-Notional Approach In the 1970s teachers of the Functional-Notional Approach stopped teaching grammar and started teaching more practical phrases and vocabulary for everyday life and social situations. Students learnt spoken functions such as asking the way, talking about themselves, making future plans, etc or written functions such as writing a letter, filling out a form etc. A lot of role play was used in this type of teaching to make the classroom like the outside world. The Communicative Approach The Communicative Approach became popular in the 1970s. The features of the Communicative Approach are as follows: - Language learning should be meaningful and realistic. - Students should learn English to communicate something. - All four skills should be practiced as well as grammar, functions and vocabulary. - Learning is more important than teaching. The Communicative Approach uses many different techniques such as pair work, group work, gap fill, role play, etc. Communicative Language Teaching 1.3.1. Definition According to American and British proponents, Communicative Language Teaching is an approach that aims to (a) make communicative competence the goal of language teaching and (b) develop procedures for the teaching of the four language skills that acknowledge the interdependence of language and communication. 1.3.2. Principles According to Richard, J. C. and Rodgers, T. S., Communicative Language Teaching follows these principles: - Learners learn a language through using it to communicate. - Authentic and meaningful communication should be the goal of classroom activities. - Fluency is an important dimension of communication. - Learning is a process of creative construction and involves trial and error. 1.3.3. Techniques for Communicative Language Teaching There are plenty of techniques for CLT. Here are some of them: Pair-work Independent work by pairs of students working simultaneously on a task or practice activity. Often an extension of ordinary controlled practice or drilling, with more opportunity for students to talk, hence higher student talking time. Group-work Independent work carried out simultaneously by groups of three or more students on a task or tasks. Information gap The principle that two or more students engaged in a practice activity do not share exactly the same information. If the task is correctly set, the students must pool their information and are thus forced to communicate through English. The information gap is therefore an important element in many communicative practice tasks. Role-play A communicative activity in which students talk to each other in different character roles. 1.4. Summary In short, this chapter focuses on the concepts useful for the accomplishment of the study. First are the definitions of techniques, methods and approaches. Then, a brief history of methods/approaches is presented. Actually, each method/approach has its own strong points and drawbacks, so what should be done is to combine these methods/approaches to make full use of the advantages offered and to minimize the shortcomings revealed. Also in the first chapter are the definition and principles of the communicative approach. Last in the first chapter are the techniques of the communicative approach. CHAPTER TWO: AN INVESTIGATION INTO THE CURRENT PERFORMANCEOF ENGLISH TEACHING AND LEARNING ENGLISH IN JUNIOR HIGH SCHOOLS IN QUANG NGAI PRONVINCE 2.1. Introduction To realize the objectives of this study, this chapter first starts with an overview of junior high schools in Quang Ngai province. Then for a better understanding about junior high schools in Quang Ngai province, some information about the students and learning requirements are addressed. In addition, an analysis on teachers, teaching methods, materials, and materials assessments is very important for the realization of the study, for without it the researcher will find it impossible to sort out practical techniques to improve the teaching of oral skills for JHS teachers. 2.2. The Junior High School Community in Quang Ngai Province Quang Ngai province has a city and 13 districts. A commune/ ward has at least a junior high school. In the 2006-2007 academic year there are 146 junior high schools and 2.832 JHS classes of 114.068 JHS students. JHS students are required to study 11 subjects and English is one of them. There are 594 JHS teachers. Quang Ngai is a poor province in central Viet Nam. Farming or a state salary is the main source of income for families in the JHS community. The average monthly income of the majority of those families is estimated at less than $70. 2.3. Students and Learning Requirements The JHS student population ranges from 11 to 15 years old. In the 2006-2007 academic year there are 114.068 students, of which 58.008 are girl students. JHS students are required to learn English in 35 weeks with 3 periods a week for grades 6, 7 and 8 and 2 periods a week for grade 9. The aims and objectives are not defined for each grade but for the whole JHS level as follows: After finishing JHS students are able to: - understand detail and gist at an elementary level in listening - respond to questions and interact in familiar situations in speaking - understand gist, detail and text structure in reading - write non-specialized text types such as letters, reports and compositions for a given purpose in writing 2.4. Teachers and Teaching Methods There are totally 594 JHS teachers of English aged from 23 to 57 in Quang Ngai province. About two-thirds of them have a TJC BA degree (CDSP) and one-third have a TSC BA degree (DHSP). Slightly more than one quarter of them are teachers of Russian who have been retrained to teach English since 1991. In recent years, with the introduction of new TIENG ANH textbook series to junior high schools in Quang Ngai province the Communicative Approach has been introduced to JHS teachers of English. However, a lot of teachers still attach themselves to the traditional teaching method and they usually concentrate on only two of the skills, reading and writing. This is mainly because the other two are not tested in examinations. In addition, teachers find it difficult to apply the communicative approach to their teaching because of large classes and poor school equipment. As a result, teachers take the key role in classroom activities and students remain passive learners. 2.5. Materials and Assessments The TIENG ANH textbook series by Loi, N. V et al (2002) for JHS students consists of 4 textbooks for 4 grades: 6, 7, 8 and 9. Each textbook has 16 units with the exception of TIENG ANH 9 of 10 units. Each unit is based around a theme and contains 5 lessons with the length of 5 periods: Lesson 1: Getting started Lesson 2: Listen and read Lesson 3: Listen and speak Lesson 4: Write Lesson 5: Language focus The TIENG ANH textbook series is accompanied by the teacher’s guide, the student’s book and the cassette-tapes. Most of the JHS teachers believe that The TIENG ANH textbook series is better than the ENGLISH textbook series. They like the clear layout, the variety of exercise types and the logical sequencing of the TIENG ANH textbook series. However, they want to reduce the number of lessons in a textbook to 14. They still do not feel like technological topics and they would like to have more language summaries. 2.6. Data Collection, Findings and Discussion 2.6.1. Data Collection 2.6.1.1. The Subjects The study is carried out with the participation of 25 junior high school teachers of English who represent urban, rural and remote areas. A quarter of the teachers are men. The students under observation are in grades 6, 7, 8 and 9 in junior high schools in Quang Ngai province. 2.6.1.2. Instruments for Data Collection The data was collected by means of: Lesson observations in junior high schools (25 lesson observations) Survey questionnaire (answered by 100 junior high school teachers) 2.6.2. Findings and discussion 2.6.2.1. Teachers' Personal Information The following graph shows the age of teachers: Figure 2.6.2.1.1. Age of teachers Teaching experience and training More than two- thirds of teachers have been teaching for 10 years or less and one- third of teachers have been teaching for five years or less. Figure 2.6.2.1.2. No. years of ELT experience Approximately one third (31%) have received some form of in-service training, mostly in the form of short summer workshops (usually from 3 to 5 days in length) which largely deal with the introduction of the new TIENG ANH series with little methodology component. Two-thirds (69%) have received no in-service training. Qualifications Approximately two-thirds of teachers have a TJC (CDSP BA) degree and slightly more than one-third have a TSC (DHSP BA) degree. 36% TSC 64% TJC Figure 2.6.2.1.3. Qualifications 2.6.2.2. Information about Schools Access to resources at school Approximately 9 teachers out of 10 have access to a teacher’s book and a curriculum document and attend regular subject group meetings. Approximately half the teachers surveyed have access to a cassette player at school, one quarter to a DVD/CD player and one-fifth to a computer. Access to materials for preparing visual aids (cards, papers, etc.) is reported by one in five teachers. Figure 2.6.2.1.4. Access to resources at school Conditions that facilitate teaching The teachers surveyed listed the following favorable conditions for teaching: Access to DVD/CD players and cassette players 12% Access to course books and cassette players 11% Access to computers 8% Conditions that impede teaching The teachers surveyed listed the following unfavorable conditions for teaching: Shortage of reference books and materials 58% Poor equipment 30% Long textbooks 27% 2.6.2.3. Students' Attitude Students' needs for English Teachers believe that their students learn English to go on to further study (63%) or find a better job (28%). 18% believe that their students will not use English after school. Students’ strengths and weaknesses Teachers believe that students have difficulties with: Listening 86% Speaking 64% Writing 47% Reading 46% 2.6.2.4. Teachers' Performance and Perception Teachers’ workload The average teacher has 44 students in a class and teaches 16 lessons a week. S/he prepares his/her lessons at home because it is more convenient and quieter than at school and s/he has access to the required books there. S/he does not specialize in any one level but may be called on to teach any level in the JHS system, probably teaching two or more levels in one academic year. The average teacher tests her/his students regularly with self-written weekly, monthly and end-of-term tests. End-of-year tests are usually written by DES specialists. Professional support Half the teachers surveyed report that their source of support comes from their colleagues. One in three feel that they receive no support. Teachers’ responses to new TIENG ANH 6-9 textbook series Likes: Clear layout 82% Dislikes: Long textbooks 25% Variety of exercise types 80% Technology topics 19% Logical sequencing 61% Few language summaries 16% Teachers’ perception of their own teaching skills Teachers feel confident about teaching grammar, vocabulary and reading. Teachers do not feel confident about teaching oral skills. The teachers feel that they have a good The teachers would like to find out more knowledge of the following topics and about the following topics for their use them regularly in their teaching: teaching: TOPICS % TOPICS % Testing grammar 78 Teaching listening 55 Correcting students’ errors 78 Teaching speaking 54 Testing vocabulary 75 Teaching writing 46 Eliciting 74 Grammar practice activities 45 Planning lessons 73 Using songs 43 Checking understanding 73 Testing comprehension 43 Presenting new vocabulary 69 Presenting new grammar 37 Using drills 66 Testing spoken English 37 Presenting new grammar 62 Practicing new vocabulary 34 Teaching reading 62 Teaching reading 32 Classroom management 62 Using dictation 32 Using dialogues for practice 58 Using dialogues for practice 31 Practicing new vocabulary 55 Giving instructions for activities 30 Giving instructions for activities 55 Using drills 29 Organizing pair and group work 54 Using dialogues for presentation 27 Using dialogues for presentation 52 Presenting new vocabulary 26 Grammar practice activities 48 Planning lessons
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