Luận văn Research investigates the reality of the teaching oral skills to the first year students in HaUI when

Like the students of other colleges and universities, in order to be the students of HaUI, they have to pass a challenging University Entrance Examination. Students of HaUI come from all parts of the country: big cities, provinces, mountainous and remote areas.

New students of HaUI do not have the same level of English language proficiency. Some of them have learnt English for 7 years at secondary and high schools. Some have only learnt English for 3 years and others have never learnt English but French. Students from big cities like Ha Noi, Hai Phong, Nam Dinh seem better. However, they are only good at grammar, not at speaking. They can do grammatical exercises very quickly but they cannot speak fluently. Also, most of them do not feel confident when communicating in English.

Moreover, their individual difficulties in attitudes, motivation, studying methods may be the cause(s) of potential problems arising during the course.

 

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ity entrance exam is the most important and competitive exam in the academic career of students, both the institution and the students put pressure on teachers to let them study materials covered in this exam. Therefore, as the exam is concentrated on grammar knowledge, a communicative competence development doesn't meet the needs of students. Gorsuch also found that most teachers favoured a more traditional way of teaching, and resisted change to the new teaching environment required by CLT activities. Another aspect reported in this study deals with the use of language. Teachers did not use the target language in the classroom, and believed students were not ready to use and produce it. Apart from this, teachers believed that since communicative activities require the use of the target language, without explicit directions from teachers, it was inappropriate for English teaching in high schools. Penner (1995) reported how Chinese language classroom culture "restricts pedagogical change advocated by foreign agents" (p. 1). From her experience she found that it might be very difficult to change the classical traditional approach of language teaching and implement modern approach (in this case CLT) in China. She felt that "because of the discrepancies in educational theory, roles, expectations, methods, material use, and structural concerns, a new Chinese way needs to be developed (p. 12). Penner also observed teachers' beliefs and found that teachers believed that their English language knowledge was limited. Some teachers expressed that they felt uprooted and guilty because they were not doing their duty. Teachers also reported to her that foreign experts did not respect their experience and insight. Penner concluded that "the most important element in this pedagogical change debate is that all the participants clarify their own cultural learning and teaching assumptions, as understanding other culture can really only occur when people understand their own"(p.14). Culture difference in school/educational expectations thus is found to be one of the main barriers in implementing CLT in EFL countries. In another study, Lewis and McCook (2002) examined the lack of uptake of communicative language teaching principles amongst teachers in Asia. In the study they observed journal entries from 12 Vietnamese high school English teachers written during ongoing in-service workshops. The journals revealed their attempt to implement CLT in their classes. They did implement new ideas but they were also incorporating the traditional features valued in their educational system. This suggests that, though the teachers were willing to adopt CLT, they could not avoid local educational theories totally. They tried to follow what they were introduced to during the in-service course "sometimes successfully, sometimes less so" (p. 152). But their concept of CLT was not clear. They retained traditional aspects of language teaching. The findings of the study demarcate that the teachers were following both the traditional and CLT approach in their practice. While addressing the issues regarding the Indonesian ministry of education's English instruction reform initiative, Mustafa (2001) identified the real situation of communicative approach to teaching English in Indonesia. He argued that the communicative approach in Indonesia had failed to help students become more competent in the use of English for real-life purposes. According to him, Indonesia lacks certain conditions that are required to enable language learners to become communicatively-competent participants in social interaction in the English language; in particular, English language learners in Indonesia do not have much exposure to English language use in real-life situations. Mustafa added that the enabling condition for successful CLT application is not always easy to create in Indonesian schools. He identified the teachers' lack of confidence in using the language before their class, that is the lack of English language proficiency; time constraint, which limit students' social communication in the classroom; large classroom; crowded curriculum; type and focus of exams (form-focused nationally-administered test); absence of good, authentic learning materials; teachers' tendency to rely on non-communicatively-engaging learning tasks (much emphasis on teaching grammar and syntax); absence of visible social use of the language outside classroom as reasons that inhibit the adoption of CLT. Most importantly, as emphasized by Mustafa, communication based instructional materials had lost their pedagogical value due to the fact that the English language is not used in the day-to-day social communication in the EFL environment. Most significant barriers or difficulties in implementing CLT, reported by EFL teachers and/or researchers in the reviewed literature, are: (a) lack of administrative support, (b) lack of resources, (c) lack of sufficient English language knowledge, (d) wider curriculum, (e) large class size, (f) discrepancy/inconsistency between CLT syllabus and nationally administered exams, (g) teachers' holding on to traditional methods, and (h) lack of authentic learning materials. Another difficulty reported by Mustafa (2001), which is noteworthy, is the absence of visible social uses of the target language outside classroom, due to which, according to him, communication based instructional materials had lost their pedagogical value in Indonesia. 1.2.3. Teacher Misconceptions about CLT While exploring the literature concerning the suitability of CLT in EFL contexts, it also becomes evident that one of the major barriers in implementation and success of CLT such as misconceptions and misinterpretations of CLT are related to cultural values and practices of EFL countries. Teachers' beliefs and knowledge cause misinterpretations of CLT. The study findings of Li (1998), Penner (1995), and Lewis and McCook (2002) show that although different educational values and practices are the main reasons for difficulties in implementing CLT in the respective contexts, misconceptions and misinterpretation of CLT among teachers are also playing role as barriers. Apart from the differences of ESL and EFL contexts, and that of culture, EFL teachers' beliefs, attitudes, and practices also generate difficulties in implementing CLT in respective EFL countries. EFL teachers' beliefs, attitudes, and practices are related to cultural values and practices of the respective countries. Several researchers (Burnaby & Sun, 1989; Karavas-Doukas, 1996; Sato and Kleinsasser,1999; Thompson, 1996) studied teachers' beliefs and attitudes towards CLT and found misconceptions and misinterpretation of CLT among them. Thompson (1996) sets out four of the main misconceptions. Talking to "a large number of teachers" (p. 10) he found that they criticize or reject CLT for the wrong reasons. The four main misconceptions he mentioned are: CLT means not teaching grammar CLT means teaching only speaking CLT means pair work, which means role-play CLT means expecting too much from the teacher. Thompson gave importance to attempting to clear away the misconceptions to save CLT and also to implement CLT properly. Some of the misconceptions set out by Thompson (1996) were also found by Sato and Kleinsasser (1999) when they conducted a study to document the views and practices of CLT by Japanese as a second language (JFL) in-service teachers in Australia. They found that the teachers persisted in traditional practices in their classes. The teachers believed that CLT relied heavily on speaking and listening skills, CLT involved little grammar teaching and used time consuming activities. The teachers held misconceptions about CLT and there were discrepancies between their beliefs and practices. So, in this Australian JFL context, teachers' misconceptions and beliefs about CLT are acting as main barriers for implementation of CLT. In another study, Burnaby and Sun (1989) reported the views of 24 Chinese teachers of English on the appropriateness and effectiveness of "Western" language teaching methods for use in Chinese situation. By western language teaching, Burnaby and Sun mean teaching whose objective is the development of communicative competence among students. Data were collected from a Canadian Chinese cooperative program in English and French language training and cultural orientation in Canada, and "an informal study done by Sun on the views on western teaching methods of Chinese teachers at the tertiary level" (Burnaby & Sun, 1989, p. 224). The study showed that the teachers believed that the communicative approach was mainly applicable in China only for those students who planned to go to an English speaking country, but not good for other students, mainly ones that are English majors. This finding demonstrates that Chinese teachers had misconception about CLT approach. Again, inconsistency between teachers' attitudes and classroom practices was also found in Karavas-Doukas's (1996) study. He observed 14 Greek English language teachers' classroom practices and found that although the teachers held favorable attitudes towards CLT, their classroom practices differed significantly from the principles of the communicative approach. Teachers showed tendency to follow an "eclectic approach, exhibiting features of both traditional and communicative approaches in their classroom practices" (p. 193). The lessons mainly were teacher-centered and showed explicit focus on form. Pair work activities were found to be used in two classrooms but group work activities were never applied. The findings implied that the teachers misinterpreted CLT as also in Karavas-Doukas' voice, " the teachers misinterpreted the new idea (CLT) and translated them to conform to their existing classroom routines believing that they are doing what the new approach calls form(p. 194). He declared that the reason behind the discrepancy is that, teachers' existing attitudes and beliefs were mostly neglected before introducing the new approach. 1.3. Summary Information from the studies reviewed in this chapter gives us a real picture of the CLT theory in some EFL countries and provides evidence that it is difficult to implement CLT in EFL countries. The difficulties have their roots in different cultural and educational theories and practices and some major barriers for implementation of CLT in EFL countries are teachers' misconceptions and misinterpretations of CLT, which are related to teachers' beliefs and attitudes. Therefore, while implementing CLT in EFL countries in Asia, the countries need to take into account that this implementation is basically an integration of Western pedagogy into Eastern practices and they have to persist the implementation process gradually and also by considering their own socio-cultural and educational contexts. Chapter 2: The study Although CLT is a widely known and practiced approach, little is mentioned in the literature about the ways of successful application of this approach in different educational environments. In view of the requirements that CLT places on learners as well as teachers, there is much to be asked about the ability to adapt this approach to EFL settings. Hence, the present study attempts to investigate English language teachers and students' perceptions of CLT in EFL setting and discusses teachers’ difficulties in using CLT in the teaching of English at HaUI as well as some of their solutions to these constraints. In order to achieve the mentioned aims, two survey questionnaires were conducted to collect data for the study. 2.1. Practical Situation of Teaching and Learning English Speaking Skills at HaUI 2.1.1. Description of the English Course and its Objectives at HaUI Hanoi University of Industry (HaUI) has been known as one of the leading providers of skill-based diploma degrees in Vietnam. Any students who passed the entrance examination to HaUI must study English as a compulsory subject. Students learn this subject in five terms at university. However, before students are asked to learn this foreign language they can take part in the replacement test which divides students into three different levels: A class (Beginner level of proficiency), B class (Elementary level of proficiency) and C class (Pre-Intermediate level of proficiency). Each level lasts 120 periods (45 minutes per period) equivalent to one semester and students learn 8 periods a week. Hence, depending on the results of the test students will be arranged in an appropriate class basing on their English competence. The English course at HaUI is divided into two stages: The first stage – the stage for General English lasting in five terms. This early stage aims at providing students with general knowledge of vocabulary, phonology, English grammar as well as developing students’ integrated four language skills with the focus on speaking skills. At this very first stage, the textbooks “New Headway” (Beginner, Elementary and Pre-Intermediate) published by Oxford University Press are used in the first three terms. Each of these textbooks consists of 14 units with a variety of topics such as getting to know you, the way we live, let’s go shopping, what do you want to do, going places, etc. However, in the fourth term students learn the textbooks “International Express” published in 2004 by Oxford University Press at three levels (Elementary, Pre-Intermediate, Intermediate). International Express (Pre-Intermediate level of proficiency) contains 12 units. The topics in this material focus especially on first meetings, work, plans and arrangements, lifestyles, cultures, environment, and transportations. This book includes four main parts: “Language focus” which provides students with grammatical items, “Word power” which concentrates on vocabulary (pronunciation, stress pattern, meaning, etc), “Skills focus” and “Focus on functions” emphasizes four basic skills especially speaking and listening skills. By using this textbook, the students’ communicative competence can be improved and the students can learn the real things from business fields. Students are asked to work in pairs, in groups to practice English in situational contexts. At this stage, in each semester students are required to complete two progress tests, a midterm test and a final test. The second stage – English for Specific Purposes – lasts 60 periods. At this stage, the students are provided with the knowledge of terms and structures related to their future profession. The materials used during this stage vary depending on the majors of the students. These materials collected and designed by teachers at HaUI themselves mainly focus on students’ specific vocabulary, reading and translation. 2.1.2. Description of the Students at HaUI Like the students of other colleges and universities, in order to be the students of HaUI, they have to pass a challenging University Entrance Examination. Students of HaUI come from all parts of the country: big cities, provinces, mountainous and remote areas. New students of HaUI do not have the same level of English language proficiency. Some of them have learnt English for 7 years at secondary and high schools. Some have only learnt English for 3 years and others have never learnt English but French. Students from big cities like Ha Noi, Hai Phong, Nam Dinh seem better. However, they are only good at grammar, not at speaking. They can do grammatical exercises very quickly but they cannot speak fluently. Also, most of them do not feel confident when communicating in English. Moreover, their individual difficulties in attitudes, motivation, studying methods may be the cause(s) of potential problems arising during the course. 2.1.3. Description of the Teachers at HaUI If students are the most important factor in the learning process, teachers are the most important factor in the teaching process. At HaUI, there are more than 100 teachers of English language (about 55 of them are permanent staff and the rest are temporary ones) aged from 22 to 45 but only some of them have ever been to English speaking countries like Australia and the USA. Most of the teachers are still quite young and even some of them have just graduated from universities so they do not have much teaching experience but the university doesn’t offer new coming teachers any further training courses to adapt the new teaching environment. Besides, in order to improve the quality of teaching and learning English at this university, the board of administrators divides the major classes into many small English classes. That leads to the lack of classrooms, so that most of non-major English classes have to study English both in the day time and night time as well. Consequently, many teachers have classes all day so they feel exhausted and have enough time to neither prepare for the lessons before class nor get higher education. All of the above reasons create the hardship for teachers during the time they have been teaching English at HaUI. 2.2. The Study 2.2.1. Participants In order to serve the purposes of the study and, at the same time, to facilitate data collection and analysis, a sample of 20 teachers who are currently teaching English to all students at non-major English Departments at HaUI, and the other sample of 90 1st year students randomly selected at Faculties of Economics, Engineering, Chemistry, Electronic and Computer Science. The reasons for the selection are as follows: Firstly, the author chooses teachers and 1st year non-major English students at HaUI because she thinks it will be easier for her to invite more teachers and students to participate in completing the survey questionnaires, and she will have more samples to judge the validity and the reliability of the research data. Secondly, the author invites 20 teachers belonging to non-major English group number 2 because they are all dedicated and receptive teachers. Moreover, the selected teachers have not only the knowledge of English but also knowledge of the subject matter. Thus, the author believes that from these teachers’ experience she will get information about teaching and learning speaking of the first non-major English students. Thirdly, the selected students are necessarily in the classes of the above mentioned teachers with the anticipation that the writer can make a comparison between the information given by the teachers and their students. Then, there will be a discussion about the gap between them. The students under investigation aged from 19 to 25 both males and females are in the first year at the non-major English Faculties. All of them are in the second semester and have one term learning English. In addition, they are willing to do questionnaires . Thus, the information collected from the students can be quite reliable. 2.2.2. The Setting of the Study The study was conducted at the non-major English Faculties of Economics, Engineering, Chemistry, Electronic and Computer Science. The students at these Faculties have to take a four-year training course in which English is considered a compulsory subject. Like many other subjects, English is taught in a formal setting, namely a classroom. The teaching and learning of English is divided into two main stages - General English and English for Specific Purposes. The resource pool for intake of the 1st year non-major English students at HaUI is from two major exam groups – group A and D1 in the university entrance exams. These students taking exams in mathematics, physics and chemistry (group A) or mathematics, literature and English (group D1) so their English competence is in a mixed level. Before being divided into a suitable class, the English Faculty requires the students to take part in a placement test then the students of the same level of proficiency will be placed in a class. However, through informal interview with some teachers and students they said that the placement test is not effective because it is an optional test so those who do not take the test are placed in A class though their English competence is not at A level. That causes uneven level among students in the English classes. 2.2.3. The Data Collection Methods To reach the primary purposes of the study, survey questionnaire has been chosen as main method for data collection for this particular research. There are two questionnaires delivered to teachers and students. One survey questionnaire with 13 questions is designed for teachers who are currently teaching or have taught English speaking to explore the teachers’ conceptions of CLT, their previous experience of it and its classroom implementation. Another survey questionnaire with 15 questions is for the 1st year non-major English students to investigate students’ learning styles, their attitude to the teachers and teaching, including the use of materials. This was originally written in Vietnamese in order to receive reliable answers from all students irrespective of their level. Survey questionnaire is intended to serve as the main source of data because it is undeniable that questionnaire is valuable tool for researching the attitudes, images, concerns, needs, etc. held by a group of interest. Hence, it will certainly be valuable for the author in exploring the subjects’ perceived attitudes towards CLT. Moreover, this research tool is also relatively more comfortable, time-saving and economical to administer as compared with other survey methods like interviewing, telephoning, mailing, videotaping, etc. It also makes the analysis of data easy and simple as all the subjects answer the same questions. This method is also supposed to be of great advantage in the sense that it is easier for the subjects to answer the questions. Besides, the survey questionnaire preserves the subjects’ anonymity so they are more likely to give unbiased answers. 2.2.4. The data analysis 2.2.4.1. Analysis of the questionnaire results 2.2.4.1.1 Teacher questionnaire The aim of this questionnaire was to investigates teacher conceptions of CLT, their previous experience of it and its classroom implementation. The questionnaire consists of 13 questions; the information gathered by means of these questions is presented and analyzed as follows. (i). Participants’ age, gender and years of experience The first 3 questions asked for demographic information only. These results were reported in Table 2.1 to describe the sample of participants that were surveyed. Gender Male 2 Female 18 Age 22-30 13 31-35 6 40-50 1 Years of Experience 1-5 13 6-10 4 11-20 3 Table 2.1: Participants’ age, gender and years of experience In response to question 4, which asked for a definition of CLT, the vast majority (81%) of respondents covered language as communication. These definitions more or less match the notions discussed in the introduction. In response to question 5, every single teacher reported that they use CLT in their teaching. These two questions confirm that the CA is the dominant paradigm and that the efforts to promote it have largely been successful in the sense that most teachers recognize the defining characteristic of the approach and attempt to implement it. (ii) Summary of teachers’ perceptions about CLT Approach Question 6 explores a number of conceptions and misconceptions about CLT in practice. A great deal of data is generated from Likert attitude scales of this type, and space does not permit us to enter a detailed discussion of everything; however, several issues are worth highlighting. Statements (n = 20) Strongly agree ( %) Agree (%) Neither agree nor disagree (%) Dis-agree (%) Strongly disagree (%) 1.Teaching should focus on fluency rather than accuracy. 8 38 34 20 0 2. The students should be the centre of knowledge transmission. The teacher should be their facilitator. 40 56 4 0 0 3. The teacher should strongly encourage the students to learn by themselves through struggling to communicate. 8 62 16 14 0 4. The teacher should spend a lot of time on role play/ games/ group and pair work instead of explicit teaching structures. 20 60 20 0 0 5. The lesson should focus mainly on speaking skills. 4 30 31 35 0 6. The teacher should not correct the students’ mistakes at all unless they cause communication breakdown. 16 42 20 22 0 7. The students should be exposed to authentic language and material all the time. 14 64 14 8 0 8. Language tasks should be meaningful and purposeful. 71 25 4 0 0 9. CLT is an effective approach for your students. 15 60 18 7 0 Table 2.2: Teachers’ perceptions about CLT Approach Statement 1 (S1) indicates that while many would place fluency above accuracy, this controversial conception (arguably misconception) is by no means universally accepted. Th

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