Luận văn Introduction, which presents the rationale for choosing the topic, the aims, the scope, method and organization of the study

Increasing the students’ participation in language classroom activities is very crucial to the success in language learning. However, the question of how to increase the young learners’ time-on-task is really complicated. As many researchers and studies on the second language acquisition point out that the process of acquiring a second language grammar is not substantially affected by age, but the process of acquiring pronunciation, proficiency and especially, native accents is acquired better by children. That means young learners have more advantages when they early start to learn a second language

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CHAPTER I: INTRODUCTION I.1 Rationale of the study: Increasing the students’ participation in language classroom activities is very crucial to the success in language learning. However, the question of how to increase the young learners’ time-on-task is really complicated. As many researchers and studies on the second language acquisition point out that the process of acquiring a second language grammar is not substantially affected by age, but the process of acquiring pronunciation, proficiency and especially, native accents is acquired better by children. That means young learners have more advantages when they early start to learn a second language. Nevertheless, young learners cannot concentrate for very long on monotonous language learning activities. In language teaching, there is a number of ways to involve the young learners such as games, media…, and the use of all those facilities is obviously helpful for motivating learners. There are various types of facilities. Native speakers can be considered as a facility. However, in Vietnamese schools settings it is not easy to have native speakers for students to engage in the real social interaction and to be more exposed to native accents. Instead, students can watch native speakers on Videos or VCDs or DVDs (in the latter parts of this study, the term VCDs will be used to refer to all three means). Moreover, young learners usually are more visually oriented. Hypothetically, the use of videos in classroom settings could help to prolong young learners’ span of concentration and to motivate them during classroom activities. Yet, the issue seems to have been underexplored. The reality showed that the use of VCDs in schools was a rare and luxurious thing in the past. Nowadays, the use of VCDs and other means is not yet increased in language teaching. That is a reason why this study is designed to fill this gap in the literature. I.2 Aim of the study This study aims at exploring the possibility of using VCDs to increase the young learners’ time-on-task. Specifically, the aims of the study are to explore: Teachers and learners’ perception of the advantages of VCDs over audiocassettes. The extent to which VCDs increase learners’ time-on-task. The pupils’ attitudes toward using VCDs in the classroom. I.3 Scope of the study Definition: VCD stands for Video CD. Developed in the early 90's by JVC, Matsushita, Philips, and Sony, VCDs, although having limited success in the U.S., became popular, mostly in Asia, for the playback of video content. For this study, the author would conduct a research on 10 English teachers and 50 pupils in Hanoi. These 50 pupils are in normal classes of a normal school. They are in the labor area - their parents all come from the working class - so most of them do not have condition to go to extra English courses. However, they have enabled to study English at school since grade 3 and have acquired an average level with about 800 word vocabulary. There are three types of textbooks used for normal primary schools in Vietnam: Let’s Learn (published with the assistance of a Singaporean publishing house); the textbook officially published by the Ministry of Education and Training of Vietnam, and Let’s Go. Every school has the right to choose what material it likes to teach students. The school under this research has chosen Let’s Go because it is a publication of the Oxford University, and it has both cassettes and VCDs while the two other types of textbooks only have cassettes. The students under the research study Let’s Go 2B. Thus, this research paper only refers to the use of VCDs included with the textbook Let’s Go 2. For the sake of this research, the author selects 4 lessons. The VCDs is included with the textbook and is illustrated with the first and second part of every unit. (Let’s talk and Let’s sing). I.4 Organization of the study This minor thesis includes five chapters: Chapter 1: Introduction, which presents the rationale for choosing the topic, the aims, the scope, method and organization of the study. Chapter 2: Setting up some theoretical backgrounds, which are relevant to the purpose of the study Chapter 3: Methodology, which provides an overview of participants’ background information and method of collecting data. Chapter 4: This part deals with data collection, findings and discussions Chapter 5: Summary of the thesis, limitation and suggestions for further study. CHAPTER II: THEORETICAL BACKGROUND II.1 A review of language teaching approaches Teaching language has received much focus for the past few decades. So many approaches and methods such as Audiolingual Method, Total Physical Response, Content-based language teaching, Theme-based language teaching have been advanced, but it must be said that they all follow three different theoretical views of language and the nature of language proficiency: the structural view, the functional view, and the interactional view (Richards and Rogers 1996). The structural view see language as systematically structured segments and language teaching is aimed at helping learners learn these segments. According to this view, language is seen as an object and learners as students. The functional view sees language as a medium for expressing the functional meaning, and language teaching is aimed at helping learners learn language functions such as requests, commands, greetings, thanking, apology, complaints, compliments, invitations, and refusals. Like the structural view, however, it is an attempt for implementation of the structural or synthetic syllabus, which requires learners to resynthesize the discrete pieces of language to use in communicative situations, and so language is still seen as an object and learners still as students. In contrast with the two above views, the interactional view sees language as a tool for the creation and maintenance of interpersonal and social relations between individuals, and learners are viewed as language users. It is an attempt for implementation of the analytic syllabus, which aims to immerse learners in real-life communication. The following section will review three different teaching approaches: the oral-situational approach, the notional-functional approach, and the communicative approach, which are based on the three above language theories, respectively. According to Ellis (2005), the oral-situational approach is based on a behaviorist learning theory, that is, it assumes that language learning is habit formation and over learning. Grammatical structures are carefully selected and sequenced from basic to more complex and then presented inductively. Learners are required to experience much controlled practice with manipulative drill types to memorize certain sentence patterns and to minimize errors, which are seen as bat habits. This description of the oral-situational approach seems similar to the audiolingual approach because both are based on a structural syllabus. However, the former is different from the latter in the sense that it focuses on both meaning ad forms of the linguistic structures. It also emphasizes the importance of creating different situational contexts in the classroom for learners to practice the structures. The latter version of the oral-situational approach concerns with skill-building theory (Anderson 1993, cited in Ellis 2005), which involves the assumption that declarative knowledge or explicit knowledge can be converted into procedural knowledge or implicit knowledge through practice. It is the fact that the latter version is related to PPP model, which is based on the Interface Hypothesis fully developed by Sharwood Smith (1981, cited in Ellis 1994). This hypothesis claims that learners should be taught some language before they can communicate. They then practice using learnt knowledge via different types of drill exercises until the learnt knowledge becomes automatic. The learners, thereby, acquire the learnt language. However, this hypothesis does not take into account the learners’ cognition problems such as cognitive load and cognitive complexity. It is the fact that learners’ general cognitive processing capacity is limited, and they are not ready to acquire the structures being beyond their developmental patterns whatever how much they practice (Ellis 1994). The notional-functional approach is derived from the functional view of language described above. It is built on a theory of communicative competence and on functional models of language. The language functions and language notions are taught to learners at the same time with the assumption that language learning relates to learning formulaic expressions of language as well as learning rules of language. Formulaic expressions can be distinguished by routines and patterns (Krashen and Scarcella 1978, cited in Ellis 1994) when the former refers to utterances learnt as memorized chunks (e.g. I don’t know) and the latter refers to utterances learnt as ready-made expressions (e.g. Can I have a _____?). So the notional-functional approach is useful in that it helps learners develop pragmatic competence and minimize pragmalinguistic and sociopragmatic errors. However, like the oral-situational approach, the notional-functional approach is still based on PPP model, that is, it is accuracy rather than fluency oriented. According to Kirkpatrick (1985), communicative language teaching is an idea or a set of principles that owes much to a social view of language and to the concept of communicative competence described by Hymes (1970). The goal of communicative language teaching is to produce people who are communicatively, not merely, linguistically competent. That is to say, the more the language learning in the classroom approaches the real-life communication, the more successful it is. Communicative language teaching pays much attention to giving students the opportunity to practice in genuine communication. Furthermore, the emphasis in teaching language through communication is, therefore, on classroom activities which help learners to acquire the rules (unconsciously) rather than to learn them (consciously). Such activities must require the learners to focus on meaning, rather than on form. Linguistic knowledge such as grammar is learnt in an unconscious ways; that is, students learn it through task-based activities or communicative tasks. The task-based teaching and learning, which is derived from the communicative approach, aims at helping learners learn language through communication. It is built around communicative tasks and so its primary focus is on meaning, that is, focuses on information exchanges. The tasks are built on learners’ real communicative demands and this would help learners with intrinsic motivation because the tasks they are doing in the classroom resemble the real-life communication outside the classroom. And so learners’ language learning is assessed through the outcome of the task performance. Linguistic structures are the secondary focus in the task-based approach. They are embedded in the communicative tasks and taught indirectly. Learners’ attention will focus on forms when their communication is broke down. When so, they have to utilize different strategies such as negotiation of meaning, recasts, clarification requests, and conformation requests to make their communication smooth. And they may learn linguistic forms naturally. Hence, the task-based teaching is useful in that it creates opportunities for learners to use language as a tool rather than as an object to satisfy communicative needs. It focuses on fluency rather than accuracy but, as described above, linguistic forms can be also learnt as a result of learning to communicate. However, it is necessary to distinguish between tasks and exercises. According to Ellis (2005, p. 5) ‘the latter requires a primary focus on form rather than meaning and typically asks learners to manipulate language given to them rather than to attempt to communicate using their own linguistic and non-linguistic resources.’ In Ellis (2003, cited in Ellis 2005), he also makes a distinction between task-based teaching and task-supported teaching. The task-based teaching occurs when the teaching is based exclusively on meaning-focus tasks, and the task-supported teaching occurs when tasks are incorporated into either an oral-situational or a notional-functional syllabus and used to practice pre-selected and presented linguistic forms. II.2 VCD as a language – teaching aid VCDs in the classroom offer exciting possibilities for language teaching and learning. The principles of effective teaching and learning are illustrated with examples from a wide range of material, at all levels of language learning. Radio and television have made important contribution to foreign language learning. The widespread use of video recorders has had two main effects on language - teaching broadcast. The first of these is to free teaching institutions and learners from the constraints of the broadcasting timetable. Video recorders can be used to store programmes for showing at any convenient time. The second change concerns with how television programmes are made. Appreciating the benefits that a video recorder brings into the classroom, more producers of language - teaching materials are designing video tape materials with the classroom exploitation in mind. Four or five minutes of video tape material can easily provide enough stimulating input for one hour’s teaching. The outstanding feature of video films is their ability to present complete communicative situations. The combination of sound and vision is dynamic, immediate, and accessible. This means that communication can be shown in a context, and the many factors in communication can be perceived easily by viewers - and language learners. The speakers in dialogues can be seen and heard; other participants in the situation can be seen. The language learner can readily see the ages of the participants; their sex, perhaps their relationships one to another; their dress, social status, and what they are doing; and perhaps their mood or feeling. Further, paralinguistic information, such as facial expression or hand gestures, is available to accompany aural clues of intonation. Similarly, the setting of the communication is clear: the language learner can see on the screen where the action is taking place. This information may help to clarify whether the situation is very formal, or perhaps informal. Of course, these audio-visual features of video films are found in cinema films and television broadcasts too. But these other media do not offer the same facilities for classroom exploitation of the material and content that video recorders do. A further feature of video recordings – which is shared with other related media – is the use of electronic tricks to create special effects and images. These are usually quite beyond the resources of the language teacher to produce, and provide another valuable source of material for use in language teaching and learning. Video presentations will be intrinsically interesting to language learners. The learner will want to watch, even if comprehension is limited. The material should be motivating; the learner should want to see more, to ask question, to follow up ideas and suggestions. By generating and motivation, the Video films can create a climate for successful learning. In a language – learning context, there is a need for special action: inter-action with the video (Jack Lonergan, 1984). II.3 The use of VCD in language classroom This section will discuss some advantages and disadvantages of the use of VCD in language classrooms. According to Gallacher there are totally five benefits that video can bring about when used in classroom. First, children enjoy language learning with video because video creates an attractive enjoyable learning environment. Second, video is an effective way of studying body language as younger language learners are still learning about the world around them. Third, children can obtain confidence through repetition when they watch a video several times and absorb and imitate what they see and hear. Fourth, video communicates meaning better than other media. We can see that video presents language in context in ways that a cassette can’t; that is, learners can see who’s speaking, where the speakers are, what they are doing, etc. Last, video represents a positive exploitation of technology. This is because young learners always have positive attitude towards television and video, which is considered modern compared to books. However, teachers are also advised to watch out for some shortcomings that video can cause in the classroom. Video can make children become passive when watching it so teachers should provide as many stimulating activities as possible where the children can interact with and learn from the video. Furthermore, children’s parents may get annoyed when hearing their children spend the class watching the video as they can do it at home. Hence, the time to watch the video should be kept to a minimum and the children should have something concrete and related to the video to show to their parents. Beside the pros and cons of the use of video in language classroom, Gallacher also points out four possible roles for video: developing listening skill, providing information, presenting or reinforcing language, and stimulating language production. These roles do not operate separately but can appear within one lesson. For example, learners may watch a video to find out information about a famous person, and this may include work on developing listening skill to enable them to extract the relevant information; it could then be used to develop vocabulary on the topic of lives. Gallacher next goes to show criteria for selecting video. He argues that an authentic video for use in the classroom should be first watchable; that is, the video should be interesting. Next, the video clip should tell a complete story a section of a story. This is important as young learners’ primary motivation for watching is enjoyment. The length of the clip is important, too. It should be between 30 seconds and 10 minutes depending on the learning objectives. What is more, the content of the video clip and children’s level of maturity should be compatible, that is, the content should be suitable with each age group of children. Related materials that accompany with the video should be available, too. In addition, Gallacher claims more that when a video is used for presenting language or comprehension tasks, selecting the video should based on degree of visual support, which means the more visual a video is, the easier it is to understand; clarity of picture and sound; density of language, which refers to the amount of language spoken in a particular time; speech delivery, which includes clarity of speech, speech rate and accents; language content, which consists of linguistic items; and language level, which should be appropriate for the level of the class without the teacher having to explain too much. * Teaching Foreign Languages to Children through Video The teaching of foreign languages at the elementary school level has changed immensely over the past two decades. Growing public awareness of the benefits of early foreign language learning has led to an increase in both foreign language teaching and professional development for language teachers at the elementary school level (Rhodes & Branaman, 1999). In 1996, the release of national standards for foreign language learning had an extremely positive influence on K–12 foreign language teaching. State education agencies developed standards based on the national model, and school districts began to implement these standards at the local level. This positive trend, however, has been jeopardized by a shortage of trained language tea
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