Luận văn How to maximize part-Time students’ involvement in English speaking lessons

It can not be denied that English is very important nowadays. It is considered to be a very significant and necessary tool used in many fields such as science, technology, diplomacy and so on. It is seen as a means to bridge the gap and promote mutual understanding and cooperation among countries in the world. In Vietnam, at present, the role of English has been more and more increasingly crucial because of the fact that Vietnam has succeeded in becoming an official member of WTO since 2006.

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Part one: Introduction Rationale of the study It can not be denied that English is very important nowadays. It is considered to be a very significant and necessary tool used in many fields such as science, technology, diplomacy and so on. It is seen as a means to bridge the gap and promote mutual understanding and cooperation among countries in the world. In Vietnam, at present, the role of English has been more and more increasingly crucial because of the fact that Vietnam has succeeded in becoming an official member of WTO since 2006. Being aware of the great significance of English, more and more people desire to master it in hope of making English an useful means to serve their own purposes. For the above mentioned reasons, English has been taught not only in Universities, Colleges but also at Foreign Languages Centres. As a teacher of English at Hai Phong Foreign Languages Centre - Hai Phong University where a great number of learners come to learn and hope to have a good command of English. As for them, the four skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing are very important but speaking skill is given the top priority among the four. “Speaking in a second or foreign language has often been viewed as the most demanding of the four skills.” (Bailey, Kathleen M. & Savage, Lance, 1994:vii). Bygate, Martin also shares the same opinion as of Bailey M. & Savage Lance when he states “Speaking is, however, a skill with deservers attention every bit as much as literary skill, in both first and second languages.” (1987:vii). For the reason that speaking is the direct communication helping learners achieve their goals of learning and working. With students, they can pass oral examinations at Universities or FLC easily, and those who work with foreign partners wish to use English effectively to negotiate and gain contracts as well as attract investment from foreign companies. However, it is not as easy as that because to help students do what they need requires teachers a great effort. Unlike schools or universities, learners at HP FLC are all of ages and walks of life. They themselves are aware of importance of the four skills, especially speaking skill, however, not every time they can do as they expect. In fact, there is a large number of students who may be good at reading, writing but find it difficult to speak in English. I often encourage my students to talk in English in class but they keep silent during the lessons. Some explain that they want to talk but they don’t know what to say. Some are in poor participation in speaking activities in the classroom. Perhaps, there is a variety of reasons for their poor participation, including large classes, lack of ideas and so on. In the opinion of Bygate, Martin, one of the basic problems in foreign language teaching is to prepare learners to be able to use the language. How this preparation is done, and how successful it is depends very much on how we as teachers understand our aims. (1987:3). Being the importance of teaching speaking to students, the researcher wishes to do a research on “How to maximize part-time students’ involvement in English speaking lessons?” to help teachers and students better in their teaching and study. 2. Aims of the study Also, in the opinion of Bygate, Martin (1987) development in language teaching must depend partly on our ability to understand the effects of our methodology. However, it is not possible to understand all the consequences of everything that we as a teacher do in the classroom. Therefore, the study was an attempt to: Investigate the current English speaking teaching and learning at HP FLC. Identify learners’ difficulties in English oral activities in speaking lessons. Find out appropriate solutions to making the speaking lesson more interesting to the learners so that they can get involved better in classroom speaking activities. Make some suggestions for the teachers at HP FLC in hope of assisting them with improvement of their teaching speaking skills. 3. Scope of the study With the purpose of helping learners at Intermediate level at HP FLC to critically and effectively take part in speaking lessons, the researcher intends to give a brief overview of current English speaking teaching and learning situations at HP FLC, identify learners’ problems in oral activities and find out appropriate solutions to the problems. 4. Methods of the study The quantitative method is used in the study. The data collected for the study is from the Intermediate-level learners and the teachers at HP FLC– HPU. The former is from 80 non - major Intermediate learners at HP FLC – HPU. (See the Appendix 1) The latter is from 15 teachers teaching intermediate learners at the same centre (See Appendix 2) Survey questionnaires are used to collect data and evidence for the study. In order to make the study more reliable, the researcher also carried out an observation by attending some English speaking lessons at HP FLC. Research Question What should teachers do to maximize learners’ involvement in English speaking lessons? 6. Significance of the study The study hopes to contribute a small part to help teachers improve their teaching speaking skills so that they can give a great assistance to learners with better involvement in English speaking lessons. 7. Design of the study This minor thesis consists of three parts: Part one, Introduction, presents the rationale of the study, the aims of the study, scope of the study, methods of the study, research question, significance of the study and design of the study. Part two, Development, includes five following chapters. Chapter 1, Literature Review, introduces Nature of language skills, Nature of speaking skills and Teaching speaking skills. Chapter 2, An overview of Teaching and Learning at HP FLC- HPU, provides information, including teachers’ background, students’ background and resources and materials. Chapter 3, Methodology, presents subject of the study, Instrument, Procedure and Method. Chapter 4, Data Analysis and Interpretation, focuses on analysis about, learners’ activities toward speaking skills, factors that make them reluctant to speak, current teaching methods applied to teaching speaking. Also at the same time, the chapter provides an analysis on difficulties faced by teachers of teaching speaking lessons and their activities toward reluctant students in speaking lessons. Chapter 5, Finding and Recommendation discover factors affecting both learners and teachers during speaking lessons. Basing on these factors, the researcher would like to make some suggestions to help teachers maximize their learners’ involvement in speaking lessons. Part three, Conclusion, summarizes the key issues of the study, and short comings exposed during the process of completing the study. Part two: Development Chapter 1: Literature Review Nature of Language Skills It is known that language skills involve four macro inter-related skills (listening, speaking, reading and writing). As for Nunan, David (1999) being able to claim knowledge of a second language means being able to speak and write in that language. Listening and reading are therefore secondary skills and sometimes viewed as passive skills. If listening is the Cinderella skill in second language learning, then speaking is the bearing elder sister. The ability to function in another language is generally characterized in terms of being able to speak that language. Whereas, in terms of skills, producing a coherent, fluent, extended piece of writing is probably the most difficult thing there is to do in language. It is something most native speakers never master. For second language learners the challenges are enormous. As for Bygate M. (1991), listening and reading are considered to be receptive skills, whereas speaking and writing are productive ones. Of the four skills, speaking plays the most important role, since it can identify who is competent or incompetent in using a language. Also confirmed by Bygate M. “speaking in many ways an undervalued skill. Perhaps this is because we can almost all speak, and so we take it too much for granted and consider it to be the most important skill of the four” (1987: vii). Fiske (1990) makes the important point that “Communication is one of those human activities that everyone recognizes but few can define satisfactorily” (quoted from Thompson, Meil, 2003:9). Communication, however, can be seen such a well-integrated part of our day-to-day existence that we tend to take it for granted, rarely pausing to consider what it involves or just how important it is to us. He defines that communication is “social interaction through message”. Communication takes place in a social context and that context will often have a very significant being on the success and the very nature of that communication. And it is important to recognize that communication involves transmitting not only from one person to another, but also in communicating a relationship. In the opinion of Widdowson H.G (quoted from Brumfit C.J & Johnson K:118), “Communication only take place when we make use of sentences to perform a variety of different acts of an essentially social nature. Bygate, Martine (1991:9) supposes that “Oral communication is effective only when the learners are supplied with oral skills”. The nature of oral communication is comprehended as a two way process between the speaker and the listener. However, Bygate Martine (1987:22) states that in spoken interaction, speaker and listener do not merely have to be good processors of the difficult circumstances of spoken communication. It is also useful if they are good communicators, that is, good at saying what they want to say in a way which the listener find understandable. Nature of Speaking Skills and Teaching Speaking Skills 2.1 Nature of Speaking Skills In recent trends in ESL/ EFL curriculum design and pedagogy have stressed the importance of teaching communicative strategies and the functional use of language of the four skills, speaking and writing are the productive skills in the oral mode. As mentioned- above, speaking is regarded as the most important skill of the four. However, it is necessary to get to know the nature of speaking skills. 2. 1.1 Definition of Speaking Skills Bygate, Martin (1987) believes that speaking is the skill by which they are most frequently judged and thought. Learners often need to be able to speak with confidence. Speaking skill is regarded as the vehicle of social solidarity, of social ranking, of professional advancement and business. It is also a medium through which much language is learnt”. However, as for W. F. Mackey, oral skill “involves not only the use of the right sounds in the right patterns of rhythm and intonation, but also the choice of words and inflections in the right order to convey the right meaning.” (quoted from Bygate, M., 1987: 5) In Brown and Yule’s point of view (1983) spoken language consists of short, fragmentary utterances, in a range of pronunciation. There is often a great deal of repetition and overlap between one speaker and another and speaker usually use non-specific references. They also point out that spoken language is made to feel less conceptual dense than other types such as prose by using the loosely organized syntax, and non-specific words and phrases and fillers such as “well, “oh”. Speaking is, however, a skill, which deserves attention as much as literary skills. Our listeners often need to speak with confidence so as to carry out many of their most basic transaction. Moreover, speaking is known with two main types of conversation namely dialogue and monologue. 2.1.2 Characteristics of Speaking Skills Bygate, M (1987) states that “in most speaking the person to whom we are speaking is in front of us and able to use right if we make mistakes”. Unlike readers or writers, speaker may need patience and imagination, too. While talking, speakers need to take notice of the other and allows listeners chance to speak it. Brown (1983) and her colleagues point out that a listener helps speakers improve their performance as a speaker because being a listener gives learners models to utilize when acting as speaker. Besides, being a hearer first helps appreciate the difficulties inherent in the task. It is clear that giving speakers experience in hearer’s role is more helpful than simple practice in tasks in which a speaker is having real difficulties in appreciating what a particular task required. Richards, Platt and Weber (1985) states that Communicative Competence includes: a) Knowledge of the grammar and vocabulary of the language. b) Knowledge of rules of speaking (e.g. knowing how to begin and end conversations, knowing what topics can be talked about in different types of speech event, knowing which address, forms should be used with different person one speaks to and in different situations. c) Knowing how to use and respond to different types of speech acts such as requests, apologies, thanks and invitations. d) Knowing how to use language appropriately (quoted from Nunan, David, 1999: 226) According to Nunan, David (1999) what are needs to know and be able to do in order to speak in another language is to know how to articulate sounds in a comprehensible manner, one needs an adequate vocabulary, and to have mastery of syntax. The socio linguist Dell Hymes (1974) prosed the notion of communicative competence as an alternative to Chomsky’s linguistic competence. Communicative competence includes linguistic competence, but also a range of other socio linguistic and conversational skill that enable the speaker to know how to say what to whom, when. Sandra Savignon, in the early 1970, defined Communicative Competence as “ability to function in a truly communicative setting”. 2. 2 Teaching Speaking Skills Much of the very considerable momentum of present day language teaching may be seen as a response to a problem which teachers have been aware of for a long time. It is the problem of the student who may be structurally competent, but who can not communicate appropriately. (Johnson K., 1979:192). Newmark (quoted from Brumfit C. J. and Johnson K., 1979: 161) gives an example of a person who wants to smoke but can not know how to speak to borrow a stranger’ lighter or match. As for him, the person may know the structure taught by the teacher, yet can not know the way to get his cigarette lit by the stranger when he has no matches is to walk to him and say one of the utterances “Do you have a light?” or “Got a match?” or “Do you have a fire?” or “Do you have illumination?” or “Are you a match’s owner?” 2.2.1. Aims of Teaching Speaking Skills As for Widdowson H.G (quoted from Brumfit C.J & Johnson K:117), “ the problem is that students, and especially students in developing countries, who have received several years of formal English teaching, frequently remain deficient in the ability to actually use the language, and to understand its use in normal communication, whether in the spoken or the written mode” (1979:117) Therefore, objective of teaching speaking skill is communicative efficiency or in other words is to teach learners the way to communicate “appropriately” and efficiently. It can be seen from the example give by Newmark of a man who is good at structures but fails in utterance competence. So, to help learners develop communicative efficiency in speaking, teacher can use balanced activities approach that combines language input, structured output and communicative output. Language input comes in the form of teacher talk, listening activities, reading passages, and the language heard and read outside of class. It gives learners the material, they need to begin producing language themselves. Language input may be content oriented or form oriented. Structured output focuses on correct form. In structured output, learners may have options for responses, but all of the options require them to use the specific form or structure that the teacher has just introduced. Structured output is designed to make learners comfortable producing specific language items recently introduces, sometimes in combination with previously learned items. In communicative output, the learners’ main purpose is to complete a task, such as obtaining information, developing a travel plan… To complete the task, they may be use the language that the teacher has just presented, but they also may draw on any other vocabulary, grammar, and communication strategies that they know. In communicative output activities, the criterion of success is whether the learner gets the message across. Accuracy is not a consideration unless the lack of it interferes with the message. In a balance activities approach, the teacher uses a variety of activities from these different categories of input and output. Learners at all proficiency levels, including beginners, benefit from this variety, it is more motivating, and it is also more likely to result in effective language learning. 2.2.2 Prior Studies Related to Difficulties of Teaching Speaking Skills The Reluctant Speakers Nunan, David (1999) carried out a survey with colleagues, reluctance to speak on the part of students was seen as their biggest challenge. In his opinion, the possible mismatches can occur between teachers and learners from different cultural background. An example is given by him as follows: If learners come in to your classroom believing that learning a language involves listening to the teacher or the tape, and doing written exercises, then they will be reluctant to become actively involved in speaking. Therefore, it will be necessary to engage in a certain amount of learner training to encourage them to participate in speaking. Burns and Joyce (1997) also agree with the point and identify three sets of factors that may cause reluctance on the part of students to take part in classroom task involving speaking. They suggest that this reluctance may be due to cultural factors, linguistic factor, and or psychological affective factors. Cultural factors derive from learner’s prior learning experiences and the expectations created by these experiences. Reasons for Learners’ Reluctance in Speaking Also in the view of Nunan, David (1999), one of the main reasons explaining the reluctance of speakers is partly due to their learning experience. Many of them were educated in large classes in school situated in noisy neighborhoods where opportunities to speak are severely limited. Others were taught in school where speaking was simply not encouraged. According to Buns and Joyce, the linguistic facts that inhibit the use of the spoken language include difficulties in transferring from the learners’ first language to the sounds, rhythms, and stress patterns of English, a lack of understanding of common grammatical patterns in English (e.g. English tenses) and how these may be different from their own language, lack of familiarity with cultural or social knowledge required to process meaning. Psychological and affective factors include culture shock, previous negative social or political experiences, lack of motivation, anxiety or shyness in class, especially if their previous learning experiences were negative. Motivation Gardner (1985) (quoted from Nunan David, 1999: 232-233) states that Motivation is a key consideration in determining the preparedness of learners to communicate. Motivation refers to the combination of effort plus desire to achieve the good of learning the language plus favorable attitudes toward learning the language. That is, motivation to learn a second language is seen as referring to the extent to which the individual work or strives to learn the language because of a desire to do so and the satisfaction experienced in this activity. M
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