Luận văn Techniques For Developing Content Reading Skills For The Third Year Students At The University of Odonto and Stomatology

As mentioned above, to elicit information about problems affecting the teaching and learning of English in Medicine at UOS., questionnaire and class observations are administered. The 2 survey questionnaires with 15 questions for each are designed for both the teachers and students who are now teaching and learning English at the university to get the information on the problems they experienced and recommendations as well for improving the students’ ESP reading skills. Specifically, the concerning information is as follows:

- The students’ and teachers’ opinion about the importance of reading skill in their future job.

- The students’ purposes of reading English in Medicine.

- The teachers’ and students’ focus when teaching and learning reading English in Medicine.

- The student’s and teachers’ attitudes towards the present course book and other materials.

- The students’ difficulties in dealing with content readings.

- The activities carried out by the teachers at pre-reading, while-reading and post-reading stages and the students’ response.

- The necessary reading skills to enhance reading ability in the view of the teachers and students.

- Further training on Medicine in the view of the teachers.

 

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reading is truly a fundamental survival skill not only to acquire knowledge in classrooms but also to communicate in the world outside. The more benefits a reader gets from reading, the more experience he/she will have. It is common knowledge that, the very survival of the adolescent who leaves school without the ability to understand a sentence may be jeopardized. So it is the responsibility of the teacher to guarantee that the individual, upon leaving the classroom, will be capable of functioning satisfactorily in the daily situations that he will encounter. This is specially true to the content field which forces learners to train themselves more outside the classroom to update them and meet the demand of their work. Being aware of the great importance of ESP in the teaching career, the students’ study and their future jobs, teachers at the University of Odonto and Stomatology always try their best to teach themselves the knowledge in the content field, to employ effective techniques for successful lessons, and to help their students improve their reading skills so that they can learn as an autonomy outside the classroom. But it is a fact to the teachers at the UOS. that they are to take up ESP teaching but they are not trained in doing that difficult task. That leads to many difficulties for them to encounter when performing their roles in ESP classrooms. The difficulties here are lack of professional knowledge, and the obstacles in choosing appropriate teaching methods. As a result, they do not feel self-confident enough to teach ESP in spite of their positive attitudes to it. Among the two mentioned above difficulties, how to choose an appropriate teaching methodology is of greater concerns because a suitable method of teaching accounts much for the lesson success. It is usual when ESP teachers at the University of Odonto and Stomatology attach themselves to the traditional methods of teaching such as the Grammar- Translation method, especially in ESP reading lessons. This method focuses on accuracy, the detailed analysis of grammar rules, not on the acquisition of language skills. It is characterized by the use of the mother tongue as a medium of instruction and communication in the classroom. By using this method, it is the teacher to be the center in the classroom speaking most of the time, explaining new terminologies and translating the text into Vietnamese. Students often listen and take notes passively. Questions are rarely raised in the class if they do not encounter new words or structures in the text. As a result, this method leads to lack of motivation and few chances for the students to practise speaking English; in other words, to improve their communicative competence. So it is not feasible to apply this out of date method in teaching reading ESP when students now play center roles and teachers should be facilitators who help their students rather than tell them what to do. By raising students' awareness of reading as a skill that requires active engagement, and by explicitly teaching reading strategies, teachers help their students develop both the ability and the confidence to handle communication situations they may encounter beyond the classroom. In this way students can improve their reading ability and enrich their knowledge and communicative competence in the target language. II.3. Learners and Content Learning Requirements. The learners at the University of Odonto and Stomatology come from all over the country. The starting point of learning English is different among the students from the cities and the ones from the countryside. Some students have had 7-year knowledge meanwhile some others have had only 3 years of learning English, even some have never learnt English at high school. This means their language competence is at unequal levels. During the first two-year learning at UOS., the students are supposed to have acquired the most basic English language skills at pre-intermediate level. Consequently, problems arising during the courses are due to individual difference in learning styles, attitudes, motivation, etc. The fifth term is the last term the students learning English at university but the first term they have a chance to deal with English in Medicine. It is a fact that most of the students have to face difficulties when having discussions about topics related to Medicine such as Taking a History, Examining a Patient, Investigations, Making a Diagnosis, Treatment, etc… due to lack of terminology in Medicine. Another problem is that most of them tend to depend too much on the text books and the teachers. This dependence habit of learning is an obstacle in their learning process. According to interviews, questionnaires, and observation; the students’ needs and requirement in learning English in general and ESP in particular are very clear that they can use English both inside and outside the classroom, both in daily life communication and in further academic learning after leaving the university. The terms “use” here is specified as being able to: understand what teachers and friends say in the classroom. communicate with foreigners. produce the language to make its sense. (I mean here speaking and writing skills) read books, articles, newspaper, magazines, prescriptions, and other available resources. self-study outside the classroom…. But to get to the above target, the students expect their ESP teachers to integrate different useful approaches for more interesting lessons. These approaches will be mentioned latter in terms of techniques for improving content reading skills. To sum up, what the students are in need and require from learning English in general and ESP in particular at the University of Odonto and Stomatology is not different from those of other universities. The distinction is the way they do to meet the needs and requirements and how their teachers employ the learning strategies to help them. II.4. Materials and Assessments. As mentioned above, the ESP. learning time for the third year students at the University of Odonto and Stomatology lasts only 60 class hours which is too short to acquire what is called basic knowledge of a very academic field like Medicine. So it is really a challenge for not only the students at different language levels but also the teachers to fulfill their teaching and learning tasks. A big question that what ESP materials can cover basic and simple but full knowledge is posed. With all the efforts of the teachers in the Foreign Language Department at UOS, the material in ESP entitled “English in Medicine” by Eric H.Glendinning and Beverly A.S. Holmstrom is chosen for the two years of 2007 and 2008. However, it includes 5 out of 7 units from the origin version because of its appropriate length and some further terminology in Dentistry is added at the back of the book. This course book consists of 5 long units established in forms of communication . Each unit deals with one fundamental issue pertaining to Medicine from taking a history, examining a patient, investigations, making a diagnosis, to treatment. Each unit has four sections. Section 1 introduces new language related to the unit theme. Section 2 provides further practice and introduces a variety of medical documents. Section 3 focuses on reading and section 4 brings together the language studied earlier in the unit in the context of a case history which runs from Unit 1 to 4. The aim of this book is to develop speaking and listening skills primarily but attention is also given to reading skills, especially the use of reference materials and journal articles. Practice is also provided in writing referral letters and completing a range of medial documents. However, the teachers and students have found the material rather unsuitable with themselves for some reasons. Firstly, this material is for doctors and medical students to develop their communication skills not to cover background knowledge in the field of Medicine in general and Dentistry in particular. Secondly, to go through all parts in each unit takes the teachers most of the time so they rarely have time to review and help their students recall or practise what they learnt when they finish every thing in the unit. Thirdly, the reading texts are long, boring and even useless due to their academic features. The students don’t find those readings stimulating. In their opinion, except the reading part in Unit 1, the rest readings are useful for researchers. Finally, all the terminology in Dentistry placed in the list at the back of the book makes itself difficult to remember in spite of the fact that this part should be the most important for future dentists like the students at UOS. In brief, the currently used course book for the third year students of the University of Odonto and Stomatology is actually inappropriate for learning ESP from the beginning of the course. However, it is more of the teachers’ duty to help their students not only to complete their learning program at the university but also to have in hands useful techniques for improving skills, especially reading one so that they can continuously learn by themselves outside the class. II.5. An evaluation on learners’ learning ESP. Due to the above mentioned factors, the learning attitude during the class time, it can come to an evaluation on the learners’ learning ESP as follows: Firstly, most of the students have bad reading habits like moving lips when reading; pronouncing words in the voice box of the throat without making sounds; rereading immediately when a word, phrase, or sentence is difficult to make sense; reading one word at a time not in phrases. All of these bad habits leads to slow speed of reading. Secondly, the students don’t have motivation of reading because of the authentic but unsuitable learning material, and teaching methods. Consequently, the learning process hasn’t been successful as the students expect. Thirdly, English acquisition for EFL students is mainly developed through reading and composing English texts. But both the teachers and students tend to separate these two skills. As a result, the separation of reading and writing instruction in EFL contexts makes students perceive reading as a decoding process and writing as only a task of constructing grammatically correct essays. This leads to the shortage of opportunities and resources to help them become reflective readers and writers. And it is a reality that the students at the University of Odonto and Stomatology do not have good sense of understanding the required reading texts. To conclude, the students at UOS should be provided with useful and effective techniques to improve their reading skills so that they can read English inside and outside the class to the maximum. CHAPTER III: THE STUDY III.1. The participants In order to conduct the study for findings of current teaching and learning ESP at UOS., and suggested solutions for those findings; a sample of 05 full-time teachers of the foreign language department and 87 third year students at UOS is chosen to answer the survey questionnaire and informal interviews. The selected teachers have at least three years of teaching English and one year of teaching ESP at the university. It is certain that they have not only the knowledge of English but also some knowledge of the subject matter. Consequently, the study will be conducted with useful and practical information about ESP. training. As for the students, all of them are studying at the University of Odonto and Stomatology under the direct guidance of those teachers. The students’ learning English time ranges from 6 to 12 years - the time they learn at a primary school, secondary school, or high school. And their English competence after 2 years at the university is supposed to be at pre-intermediate level. They have some background knowledge of the content field – Medicine. As a result, they can give reliable evaluation of what the author of the study is concerned with. It is really advantageous to the author of the study’s eliciting information from the chosen participants because most of them showed their interest in the study and were willing to support the author of the study. Among those participants, except 100 percentage of the teachers gave their answers to the questionnaire, 80 out of the 87 selected students filled in the survey questionnaire. Although the collected information is from the small number of subjects, it is useful, practical and credible for reasons that the size of the university is still small and teaching - learning ESP. at this research field is only at early stage. III.2. The setting of the study. At the University of Odonto and Stomatology, English – a compulsory subject is taught in a formal setting, namely a class for two phases of two and a half school years. In the first phase, the students study general English for the first four terms. The course book used in this phase is “New Headway – Elementary and Pre-Intermediate” by Liz & John Soars (Oxford University Press-1996). In the second phase lasting one term, they have a chance to learn English in Medicine. It is a fact that the teaching and learning of English in Medicine in general and of reading English in Medicine in particular is still far from satisfactory because of some problems. Conducting this study means to work out and solve those problems. And the author of the study employed two techniques, namely questionnaires and class observations to collect data for certain findings on reading skill and the source English in Medicine as perceived by the third year students and teachers at UOS., then come up with some suggestions for improving that important skill. III.3. The data collection methods As mentioned above, to elicit information about problems affecting the teaching and learning of English in Medicine at UOS., questionnaire and class observations are administered. The 2 survey questionnaires with 15 questions for each are designed for both the teachers and students who are now teaching and learning English at the university to get the information on the problems they experienced and recommendations as well for improving the students’ ESP reading skills. Specifically, the concerning information is as follows: The students’ and teachers’ opinion about the importance of reading skill in their future job. The students’ purposes of reading English in Medicine. The teachers’ and students’ focus when teaching and learning reading English in Medicine. The student’s and teachers’ attitudes towards the present course book and other materials. The students’ difficulties in dealing with content readings. The activities carried out by the teachers at pre-reading, while-reading and post-reading stages and the students’ response. The necessary reading skills to enhance reading ability in the view of the teachers and students. Further training on Medicine in the view of the teachers. As for classroom observation, the author of the study observed three classes ranged A1, A2, and B, due to their different levels according to the placement test at the beginning of their first year at the university. The immediate observation was carried out twice for two different units (Unit 1 and 4) in these classes. For each unit, the author of the study spent 90 minutes observing what is happening in the class for completion of a checklist including the students’ attitudes towards the teacher’s activities, their involvement in the activities and their reactions to reading techniques employed in the lesson as well as their preferences for these techniques. The text in Unit 1 (Scanning a Case History) is about a patient’s health condition in brief called a case history. The author of this study wants to observe activities carried out by the teacher and the students’ involvement, and their reactions to the teacher’s teaching techniques. In Unit 4, the reading text give a chance for the students to practise reading skills. Exactly, the text is an article divided into separate and mixed parts such as title, authors, summary, introduction, method, results, references, etc. The students’ task is to work out which is introduction, which is method… The information, vocabulary and structures in the text are not difficult for the students to comprehend. However, the author of this study intends to see what techniques the teacher employs at reading stages to motivate the students as well as the students’ form of practice in the reading lesson. III.4. Data Analysis of the teachers’ and students’ survey questionnaires. In this part, the collected data will be illustrated on charts, tables and graphs. Each chart, table or graph is followed by an analysis of the data. III.4.1. The students’ and teachers’ opinion about the importance of reading skill in their future job – Chart 1 The above chart shows that quite a lot of both teachers and students are aware of the importance of reading skill in the students’ future job. Specifically, 40 percent of the teachers considered reading skill the most important in comparison with the rest three literacy skills, and there are 31 out of 80 students accounting for 39 percent placing the importance on this skill. The next important skill which pays 37% of the students’ and 20% of the teachers’ attention is speaking. Based on the results, an inference is made that both the teachers and students have awareness of the important role of reading skill in the students’ perceiving this language in the content field because most available documents and resources are in English and English in Medicine is an academic language in which innovation and development are constant.. Only reading can help them get knowledge to the fullest. So the more they want to exploit from this field, the more they have to read. III.4.2. The students’ purposes of learning reading English – Chart 2 The chart indicates clearly that the students’ primary purpose of learning reading English is to enrich their knowledge in Medicine field. 45% of the total selected participants gave their foremost priority to the knowledge of Medicine. Meanwhile the amount of 26 students (32%) considered reading documents in English their utmost purpose. The rest 11% and 12% of the students circled further study and improving reading ability as their choice when asked about their purpose of learning reading English. The results are likely to lead to the idea that the students are so eager to learn Medical English for a reason that they hope to learn much knowledge of this field. Obviously, the students bear in their mind that if they are good enough at reading, their knowledge of Medicine will be enriched which means they totally give their priority to learning reading English but not other literacy skills. III.4.3. The teachers’ and students’ focus when teaching and learning reading English in Medicine – Chart 3 When asked about their focus in teaching and learning reading English in Medicine, two out of the five teachers (40%) and 33 students (41%) put vocabulary and dental terminologies to their foremost priority whereas 20% of the teachers and 19% of the students pay attention to meanings of the texts. Grammar draws focuses from 20% of the teachers and 14% of the students. Types of text are chosen to be the focus of 20% of the teachers and 5% of the students. The same amount of the students (5%) concentrate on the relating knowledge of Dentistry meanwhile it is not caught attention by any teacher. Apparently, both of the teachers and the students at UOS think that teaching and learning reading English in Medicine is the teaching and learning Medical terminologies, hereby Dental words. III.4.4. The student’s and teachers’ attitudes towards the present course book taught in the class– Table 4. Options No. of Ts. Percentage No. of Sts. Percentage A. Difficult and boring 1 20% 20 25% B. Difficult but interesting 3 60% 39 49% C. Interesting but long 2 20% 16 20% D. Easy and boring 0 0 5 6% E. Interesting and Stimulating This table indicates the teachers’ and students’ evaluation on the present course book used in the class to find out if it motivates or demotivates the teaching and learning English in Medicine at UOS. As it is shown in table 4 that 60% of the teachers and 49% of the students found the course book difficult but interesting. One fifth of the teachers (20%) and one fourth of the students (25%) believed that the material is difficult and boring. From the results, the author of the study can come to a conclusion that the material somehow satisfies the teachers and students in spite of its difficulty. So to make the material become less difficult, it is a real need for the teachers to simplify the reading texts in terms of vocabulary, structures, and text organization. III.4.5. The students’ difficulties in dealing with content readings in the view of the teachers and students – Chart 5. This question is for identifying the difficulties the students encounter during reading process in the view of both the teachers and students, and from which the author of the research can make comparison between these two information resources then work out the possible solutions to overcome those difficulties. The above chart illustrated clearly that the teachers’ view about the posed difficulties is quite different from the students’. When the majority of the students (45 accounting for 56%) found reading difficult because they have limited vocabulary knowledge, only one out of the five teachers (20%) considered it as their students’ difficulty in reading process. 40% of the teachers think that the most difficulty their students encounter when reading is difficult terminology because Medical terminology is long and complicated to remember but so does only 10% of the students. The next two difficulties, i.e., new topics and limited grammar knowledge take an equal percentage of 20 in the view of the teachers and a nearly equal number of the students: 7 and 8 accounting for 9% and 10% (respectively). For the other option, there is no teacher paying attention to. But 15% of the students believed that reading texts make them feel difficult because of their limited vocabulary knowledge and grammar knowledge as well. Basing on the results of Chart 3 and 5, it is clear that the great priority the students give to is likely to be the most difficulty they encounter in learning reading process – that is vocabulary knowledge. Consequently, to help the students in teaching and learning content reading is mostly to provide the students with useful techniques so as to help them learn vocabulary in general and terminology in the content field in particular. III.4.6. The activities carried out by the teachers at pre-reading, while-reading and post-reading stages and the students’ response. III.4.6.1. The activities carried out by the teachers at pre-reading stage and the students’ response – Table 6. For the question about the activities the teachers often carry out before reading and the students expect their teacher to apply at this stage, more than one choice is acceptable. Therefore, the result in this table is presented in percentage that the options are chosen. Activities No. of Ts. Percentage No. of Sts. Percentage Using pre-reading questions 3 60% 15 18.75% Pre-teaching new vocabulary in the text 2 40% 12 15% Explaining the instructions of the text 2 1.25% Giving a brief introduction of the text 1 20% 1 3.75% Making students ask questions about the text 2 40% 7 8.75% Using games to introduce the topic of the text. 1 20% 48 60% Making students predict the content of the text basing on the topic. 2 40% 6 7.5% Using visual aids to introduce the topic of the text 1 20% 42 52.5% Making students brainstorm words, ideas….related to the topic of the text. 2 40% 10 12.5% The table figures out that the teachers and the students’ opinion about pre-reading stage are different. At this stage, 40% of the teachers wanted their students to ask questions about the text meanwhile only two students accounting for 8.75% of the respondents preferred this activity. There is a reason for this is that the teachers want their students to get involved in the reading text by activating them but some of the students are passive because they are familiar with the traditional teaching method – teacher-centered approach. For “Using games to introduce the topic of the text” activity, most of the students (60%) want their teachers to apply it. But it is strange that only one teacher chose this as a good technique for the pre-reading stage. The explanation for this fact is that students want to play to learn so as to lessen the tension of the difficult reading texts they are dealing with, a

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