Luận văn The study is aimed at researching Construction Engineering students’ evaluation on the ESP programme at Vinh University

Questionnaire is used as an instrument to collect data for this study. I discussed with two groups of students chosen randomly to get some information about their evaluative comments and their needs before designing the questionnaire.

The questionnaire is designed without requiring informing the students’ names. The questions in the questionnaire are presented in English and then Vietnamese in the brackets. The responses for questions are mainly designed by the “multiple-choice” form.

The questionnaire (see Appendix 1) consists of three sections:

- Section 1 was designed to get the information about the learners: gender, age, the time of learning English, the thought of the importance of learning ESP, and the main purpose of learning ESP.

- Section 2 was designed to collect the information on the learners’ evaluation of the ESP for Construction at Vinh university; relating to the time allocated for the learning ESP in the courses, the contents and general evaluation.

- Section 3 was designed to gather the information about the learners’ needs.

 

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nds of exercises/tasks, teaching-learning techniques, aids, guidance/support for teaching the course, the flexibility. - Other criteria: price, quantities, availability. 1.2.4.2. Criteria defined by Sheldon (1988) Sheldon (1988) (cited in Hedge, 2000: 367-371) presents the list of evaluation criteria including: rationale, availability, user definition, layout/graphics, accessibility, linkage, selection/grading, physical characteristics, appropriacy, authenticity, sufficiency, cultural bias, education validity, stimulus/practice revision, flexibility, guidance, and overall value for money. 1.2.4.3. Criteria defined by Ur (1996) Ur (1996: 184) lists as examples of general criteria and specific criteria: general criteria (i.e. clear layout and print, provides periodic review or test sections) and specific criteria (i.e. attractive and colourful illustrations (which may be particularly relevant for younger learners), vocabulary and texts relevant to topic (if the materials are intended for students of science and technology)). 1.2.4.4. Criteria defined by Tomlinson (1999) Tomlinson (1999, cited in McGrath, 2002: 32) takes the definition of criteria a step further, suggesting four categories of specific criteria: (1) Media-specific criteria (i.e. those which related to the particular medium used. In reference to audio-recorded material, for instance, one might consider the audibility of the recording; (2) Content-specific criteria (i.e. those which related to the nature of the material, such as the choice of topics, situations or language in a business English book or the texts included and skills covered in a book focusing on the development of reading skills; (3) Age-specific criteria (i.e. the suitability of the material (e.g. visuals, cognitive challenge) for the age-group for which it is intended); (4) Local criteria (i.e. the appropriateness of the material for the particular environment in which it is to be used). 1.2.4.5. Criteria defined by McGrath (2002) McGrath (2002: 32-33) discusses criteria for evaluation to be “from general to specific”. In his view, one way of thinking about general criteria is as headings or ways of summarizing sets of more specific criteria and the specific criteria can only be determined on the basis of individual circumstances. He sets out a possible basic set of such criteria which consists of: Practical considerations (all components available; affordable; multi-level); Support for teaching and learning (additional components (teacher’s book, tests, cassettes), suitable or self-study); Context-relevance (suitable for course (length of course, aims of course, syllabus, exam), suitable for learners (age, level, cultural background), suitable for teacher, required resources available, evidence of suitability); Likely appeal to learners (layout, visuals, topics, suitable over medium term). In short, studying criteria is very important when an evaluation is carried out. One essential issue is that a wide variety of relevant and appropriate criteria for the evaluation of the ESP programme should be established and applied to evaluate the suitability of the programme to the learners’ needs and abilities. 1.2.5. Central questions in programme evaluation design Nunan (1992: 196) makes a list of questions which needs to deal with some practical issues in programme evaluation as follows: • What is the purpose of the evaluation? • Who is the audience for the evaluation? • What principles of procedure should guide the evaluation? • What tools, techniques, and instruments are appropriate? • Who should carry out the evaluation? • When should it be carried out? • What is the time frame and budget for the evaluation? • How should the evaluation be reported? It is useful to studying Nunan ‘s (1992) central questions in programme evaluation design before evaluating so that all factors that need evaluating will be covered. 1.3. LEARNER-CENTEREDNESS IN ESP 1.3.1. Learner-centered approach Hutchinson and Waters (1987: 19) state ESP as “an approach”, not as “a product” to stress the commonality of the language and learning in which the learners are centered. The learner-centered approach is based on the principle that learning is totally determined by the learner. Learning is seen as a process in which the learners use what knowledge or skills they have in order to make sense of the flow of new information. Learning, therefore, is an internal process, which is crucially dependent upon the knowledge the learners already have and their ability and motivation to use it. Learning should be seen in the context in which it takes place. Learning is not just metal process; it is a process of negotiation between individuals and society. Society sets a target (in the case of ESP, performance in the target situation) and the individuals must do their best to get as close to that target as is possible (or reject it). The learners will certainly determine their own route to the target and the speed at which they travel the route, but that does not make the target unimportant. The target still has a determining influence on the possible routes. Hutchinson and Waters (1987:19) emphasize that ESP is understood properly as an approach to language learning, which based on learner need. Historically, approaches to course design were developed from language-centeredness to skill-centeredness and then to learner-centeredness. Hutchinson and Waters (1987: 72-76) make a comparison about the approaches to course design to show the embracing feature of the learner-centered approach: A language-centered approach only determines the ESP course as the nature of the target situation performance; A skill-centered approach determines the ESP course as the nature of the target situation performance and looking behind the target performance data to discover what processes enable someone to perform; A learner- centered approach determines the ESP course as the nature of the target situation performance, looking behind the target performance data to discover what processes enable someone to perform, and looking beyond the competence that enables someone to perform, because what we really want to discover is not the competence itself, but how someone acquires that competence. 1.3.2. Learner-centered courses The learner-centered courses are different from other courses. These courses pay greater attention to the process of learning and they allow for learners’ preference on what should be taught. Brumfit (1984: 7) states that an ESP course is a direct factor concerning with purposes of the learners: “First, it is clear that an ESP course is directly concerned with the purpose for which learners need English, purposes for which are usually expressed in functional terms. ESP fits firmly within the general movement towards ‘communicative’ teaching of the last decade or so”. Any learner learns for his or her own purposes. He or she wants to learn what he or she needs. That appears more clearly in ESP learning. The ESP learners aim to learn about their specific fields. Hutchinson and Waters (1987: 16) distinguish ESP courses by the general nature of the learners’ specialism and they divide ESP into three large categories basing on the learners’ specialism: EST (English for Science and Technology), EBE (English for Business and Economics) and ESS (English for the Social Sciences). Nunan (1988) develops the learner-centered courses within an adult ESP context basing on the principles of learner-centeredness. He assumes that “in most learning context, it is impossible to teach learners everything they need to know in classes. Little class time therefore must be used effectively to teach those aspects of the language which the learners consider to be ‘mostly urgently required’” (Nunan, 1988: 3). Schleppegrell (1994: 233)’ opinion about the learners in an ESP course is to bring to class a reason for learning English and a real life context for its use; the learners should have knowledge of the specific vocation the course is addressing and well-developed learning strategies. In summary, chapter I has presented an overview of ESP and evaluation. The purposes for evaluation, criteria for evaluation central questions in programme evaluation design and the learner-centered in ESP imply that those are issues to carry out a programme evaluation in which the learners are centered. CHAPTER 2: AN OVERVIEW OF ENGLISH FOR CONSTRUCTION AT VINH UNIVERSITY Chapter 2 provides background information about English for Construction at Vinh University, including in the teaching and learning situation, a description of current ESP programme for Construction and the learners at Vinh University. 2.1. THE TEACHING AND LEARNING SITUATION OF ENGLISH FOR CONSTRUCTION AT VINH UNIVERSITY Russian was the dominant for foreign languages taught at Vinh University (previously called Vinh Pedagogical College) for a long time. After the collapse of the Soviet block, little attention was paid to the teaching and learning of Russian. Therefore, English has become most popular foreign language taught in Vietnam in general and at Vinh University in particular. According to the curriculum designed by the Ministry of Education and Training, English is a compulsory subject. At first, General English gained much more attention than English for Specific Purposes. In 2000, Vinh Pedagogical College was renamed as Vinh University and, since then English for Specific Purposes gained an increasing importance in the teaching and learning English. However, General English was taught in the first three courses and then ESP was taught in the fourth one. The teachers used the ESP materials of universities in Hanoi for the teaching in the fourth course. In recent years, with the requirement of the improvements in education in general and with the learners’ needs in particular, the teaching staff of Foreign Languages Department at Vinh University collected documents and designed the current ESP programme for Construction which was first taught for K.46 Construction Engineering students at Vinh University. 2.2. A DESCRIPTION OF CURRENT ESP PROGRAMME FOR CONSTRUCTION AT VINH UNIVERSITY The teaching staff of Foreign Languages Department at Vinh University collected to design the ESP programme for Construction. The ESP materials which were used for designing the programme are: English for Science and Technology – Architecture and Building Construction by James Cumming; English for Architecture and Construction compiled by Vi Thị Quốc Khánh, Nguyễn Thuý Vân, Nguyễn Thị Thu Hải and Trần Tuyết Lan; Tiếng Anh trong Xây Dựng và Kiến Trúc compiled by Võ Như Cầu. Many English texts for Construction are chosen from those materials to create the ESP programme at Vinh University. The ESP programme for Construction at Vinh University consists of 4 courses and it is described as follows: - Time allocation: + Course 1: The time allocated for English course 1 is 75 periods and the time for ESP is the time for reading because the reading texts from units 4-6 in the textbook Headway-Elementary by Liz and John Soars are replaced by some passages/ conversations relating to Architect and Construction. + Course 2: The time allocated for English course 2 is 75 periods and the time for ESP is the time for reading because the reading texts from units 7-12 in the textbook Headway-Elementary by Liz and John Soars are replaced by some texts / dialogues relating to Construction. + Course 3: The time allocated for English course 3 is 75 periods. At first, the time for ESP is the time for reading because the reading texts from units 13-15 in the textbook Headway-Elementary by Liz and John Soars are replaced by the ESP reading texts. Then the time is only for ESP because six other ESP reading texts are chosen to teach for the rest of the course. + Course 4 (only for ESP): The time allocated for the course 4 is 45 periods. There are 7 units in this course and each unit lasts 6 periods. 3 periods left is used for a mid-term test and revision. - Contents: The contents of the ESP programme for Construction at Vinh University is described in the following table: Table 2: The description of the contents of the ESP programme for Construction at Vinh University Course 1 Course 2 Course 3 Course 4 Topics The plans of single-storey house and two-storey house Description of a Building, Properties, The Layout of Frames, Steel Beams, Types of Construction and Building Materials, Foundation Concrete, External Walls, Stability of Concrete Block Walls, The Structural Elements of a Building, Columns and other Compression Members, Frames, Arches, Roofs, Slabs and Floors Aggregates, Reinforcing Steels, Precast Units, Drilling, The Driving of Piles, Placing Concrete, Settlement of Foundations Length of the ESP reading texts about 60 - over 100 words about over 160 - 450 words about 140 - 200 words (for 3 ESP reading texts); about 375 - 450 words (for 6 ESP texts later) about 350 - 430 words Grammar Present Simple (active and passive), Prepositions of position, There is/are The Passive (present simple, can), Relative Pronoun “which”, have to / must Transitive verbs and Intransitive verbs, Present Perfect and Present Perfect Continuous, Modals: must, should, should be, may/might, can/could, Conditional Sentences, Present Participle and Past Participle Compound Nouns, Relative Clauses, Passives, Infinitives, Future Tenses Types of exercises matching, conversations, true(T)/false (F) answering questions, true(T)/ false(F), gap-filling true(T)/false(F), answering questions, verb tenses, translation answering questions, gap-filling, verb tenses, translation 2.3. THE LEARNERS The K46 Construction Engineering students of Technology Department - Vinh University are aged from 20 to 27. Most of them are at the ages 22, 23 and 24. They have been learning English for the time period of 2 to 12 years. Those factors seem to be their advantages in learning English. However, those students have some disadvantages in learning English. Two main disadvantages are described as follows: - The first disadvantage is about the students’ language background. They come from different parts of the country. Some of them come from the rural areas; the others come from cities and towns. The students who come from cities have learned English a lot at schools before going to university, whereas the others have learned only little even there some students have never learned English before entering Vinh University. This mixture has caused certain problems to teaching and learning because some students find classroom activities relaxing while the others find those activities too hard in the same class. The common observation is the students who know English a lot are active and the students who know little are shy or passive during the class time. It is a challenge for the teachers in such a mixed class because the teachers cannot satisfy all students’ needs. - The second disadvantage is about the students’ typical learning styles. They usually depend on the teachers. The students prefer written work. The dominant method of teaching is the transmission model in which the teachers say or read or write and the students copy. Another learning style is that the students are not in the habit of using dictionaries. They prefer everything being translated. Above advantages and disadvantages make the teachers find out his or her own methods and techniques in teaching English in general, and ESP in particular for each type of students. In summary, chapter 2 provides an overview of English for Construction at Vinh University with the teaching and learning situation, a description of current ESP programme for Construction and the learners. Those are realities which make this study to be developed and the findings will be presented in chapter 3. CHAPTER 3: THE STUDY This chapter presents a description of the methodology employed to collect data for this thesis at first (i.e. participants, data collection instrument and procedure). Next to, it reports the results of the survey (the learners’ evaluation of the ESP programme for Construction at Vinh University and their needs) and the major findings. Finally, it provides some suggestions to improve the ESP programme for Construction at Vinh University. 3.1 METHODOLOGY 3.1.1 Participants 164 students including 163 male and 1 female of K46 Construction Engineering of Technology – Vinh University were invited to participate in the survey. These students are from two classes (46K1 and 46K2). They are in the third-year and they have the same English proficiency level. At the time when I did the data collection, they had finished four English courses with their subject matter relating to Construction. Those students think that the learning of ESP is very important (83%) and important (17%). Their main purposes of learning ESP are: to be able to read and translate ESP texts/documents (67.1%); to widen ESP vocabulary (20.7%); to learn grammar (6.7%) and for the others (5.5). 3.1.2. Data collection instrument Questionnaire is used as an instrument to collect data for this study. I discussed with two groups of students chosen randomly to get some information about their evaluative comments and their needs before designing the questionnaire. The questionnaire is designed without requiring informing the students’ names. The questions in the questionnaire are presented in English and then Vietnamese in the brackets. The responses for questions are mainly designed by the “multiple-choice” form. The questionnaire (see Appendix 1) consists of three sections: - Section 1 was designed to get the information about the learners: gender, age, the time of learning English, the thought of the importance of learning ESP, and the main purpose of learning ESP. - Section 2 was designed to collect the information on the learners’ evaluation of the ESP for Construction at Vinh university; relating to the time allocated for the learning ESP in the courses, the contents and general evaluation. - Section 3 was designed to gather the information about the learners’ needs. 3.1.3. Procedure 164 questionnaires were administered to K46 Construction Engineering students while they were in their classrooms. The teacher guided to the students how to write the answers. The teacher also helped them remember the programme when they asked. They spent about one hour on remembering, thinking and answering the questions. After they finished, the teacher collected their questionnaires to gather and analyze the data. 3.2. DATA ANALYSIS AND DISCUSSION 3.2.1. Learners’ evaluation of the ESP programme for Construction at Vinh University 3.2.1.1. Learners’ evaluation on the time allocation for ESP in the courses As mentioned in previous chapter, time allocated for the courses 1, 2, and 3 is 75 periods for each and the time for ESP is the time for reading because the reading texts in the textbook are replaced by the ESP reading texts. And the time for the course 4 (only for ESP) is 45 periods. The learners’ evaluation on the time allocation in the courses is presented in the following chart: Chart 1: Learners’ evaluation on the time allocation for ESP in the courses As shown in chart 1, over half of the learners (66.5%) evaluate the time allocated for the first course is enough and about half of the learners (51.8%) evaluate the time allocated for the second course is enough while 43.3% the learners think that the time allocated for the third course is little and 50.6% the learners think that the time allocated for the fourth course is little. There are not any learners who complain that the time allocated for the courses is too much and much. In general, the figures in chart 1 show an evaluation as: For most of learners, the time allocated for ESP in the courses 1 and 2 is enough and the time allocated for ESP in the courses 3 and 4 is little. 3.2.1.2. Learners’ evaluation on the ESP reading texts Usually, the main purpose of the ESP programme is to help the learners be able to use English for their professional purposes, especially to read professional documents in their specific fields. The ESP programme for Construction at Vinh University was designed with the ESP reading texts which are evaluated by the learners in charts 2, 3 and 4 hereunder. Considering the topics of the ESP reading texts, the figures are revealed in chart 2: Chart 2: Learners’ evaluation on the usefulness of the topics of the ESP reading texts in the courses As shown in chart 2, no one thinks that the topics of the ESP reading texts in the courses 1, 3 and 4 are not very useful and useless. There is a few who thinks that the topics of the ESP reading texts in the course 2 are not very useful and useless (4.3% the learners think that the topics of the ESP reading texts in the course 2 are not very useful and only 0.6% the learners think that the topics of the ESP reading texts in the course 2 are useless). Most of the learners think that the topics of the ESP reading texts are useful (95.1% the learners think that the topics of the ESP reading texts in the course 1 are useful; 90.8% the learners think that the topics of the ESP reading texts in the course 2 are useful; 94.5% the learners think that the topics of the ESP reading texts in the course 3 are useful; 70.7% the learners think that the topics of the ESP reading texts in the course 4 are useful and 13.4% the learners think that the topics of the ESP reading texts in the course 4 are very useful. In general, those figures show that the learners satisfy with the topics of the ESP reading texts in the courses. Considering the length of the ESP reading texts, the figures are revealed in chart 3: Chart 3: Learners’ evaluation on the length of the ESP reading texts in the courses The figures in chart 3 indicate that no one thinks that the ESP reading texts of the course 1 are long as well as no one thinks that the ESP reading texts of the courses 2, 3, and 4 are short. While the length of the ESP reading texts in the courses 1 is evaluated to be OK, the length of the ESP reading texts in the courses 2, 3 and 4 is evaluated to be long. One noticed thing that over half of the learners (65.2%) find the length of the ESP reading texts in the course 1 suitable while over half of the learners (67.7%) complain about the length of the ESP reading texts in the course 2 unsuitable. That shows a sudden rise of the length of the ESP reading texts in the course 2. Considering the amount of technical vocabulary contained in each ESP reading text, the figures are revealed in chart 4: Chart 4: Learners’ evaluation on the amount of technical vocabulary contained in each ESP reading text in the courses It is demonstrated in chart 4 that the amount of technical vocabulary contained in each ESP reading text in the course 1 is suitable to most of the learners (76.2% the learners think that the amount of technical vocabulary contained in each ESP reading text in the course 1 is OK). No one thinks that the amount of technical vocabulary in the course 1 is much and too much as well as no one thinks that the amount of technical vocabulary in the courses 2, 3 and 4 is little or too little. However, one noticed thing is that while no one thinks that the amount of technical vocabulary contained in each ESP reading text in the course 1 is much, 89.6% the learners think that the amount of technical vocabulary contained in each ESP reading text in the course 2 is much. It also shows a sudden rise of the amount of technical vocabulary contained in each ESP reading text in the course 2 as well as a sudden rise of the length of the ESP reading texts in the course 2 displayed in chart 3. 3.2.1.3. Learners’ evaluation on grammar Besides providing the learners a range of technical vocabulary through the reading texts, the objective of the ESP programme for Construction at Vinh University introduces to the learners new grammatical items and structures in the ESP reading texts. The level of difficulty in grammar of the ESP reading texts in the courses is shown by the learners in the following chart: Chart 5: Learners’ evaluation on the level of difficulty in grammar of ESP reading texts in the courses As shown in chart 5, no one evaluates grammar in the courses very easy. Generally, grammar in the courses is evaluated OK. (68.3% the learners think that grammar in the course 1 is OK. 70.7% the learners think that grammar in the course 2 is OK. 54.3% the learners think that grammar in the course 3 is OK. 53% the learners think that grammar in the course 4 is OK). 3.2.1.4. Learners’ evaluation on exercises Exercises are designed to consolidate the learners’ knowledge after each ESP reading text, but the

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