A study on student interaction in learning English reading comprehension at Vinh University

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MINISTRY OF EDUCATION AND TRAINING VINH UNIVERSITY NGUYEN THI HONG THAM A STUDY ON STUDENT INTERACTION IN LEARNING ENGLISH READING COMPREHENSION AT VINH UNIVERSITY MASTER’S THESIS IN EDUCATION Nghệ An, 2014 0 MINISTRY OF EDUCATION AND TRAINING VINH UNIVERSITY NGUYEN THI HONG THAM A STUDY ON STUDENT INTERACTION IN LEARNING ENGLISH READING COMPREHENSION AT VINH UNIVERSITY Major: Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) Code: 60.14.01.11 MASTER’S THESIS IN EDUCATION Supervisor: Ngo Dinh PhuongAssoc. Prof., Ph.D. Nghệ An, 2014 STATEMENT OF AUTHORSHIP I certify my authorship of the M.A thesis submitted today entitled: A study on student interaction in learning English reading comprehension at Vinh University I hereby acknowledge that this study in mine. The data and findings discussed in the thesis are true and have not been published elsewhere. Author NGUYEN THI HONG THAM i ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Many people have helped me make this thesis possible. First, I would like to express my profound gratitude to my supervisor, Assoc. Prof Doctor Ngo Dinh Phuong, who generously supports my work by giving directions, priceless advice and enthusiastic encouragement during the completion of the study. I would like to express my special thanks Dr. Tran Ba Tien, the FDL’s Dean, who gave me the chance and the time to come to the end of this study. I would also like to express my thanks to the teachers and students at Vinh University who helped me in providing the materials, answering the survey questionnaire, taking part in the interviews actively and making constructive comments in the process of writing this thesis, without their help the thesis would not have been successful. Finally, my special appreciation goes out to all the teachers who taught me during the two year course, my colleagues who are very hearty to give opinions and suggestions for my research, and to all my friends, my students, and my family who help me in different ways. ii ABSTRACT This research aims to find out how classroom interaction effects on improving students’ English reading skill. Firstly, it defines the importance of interaction in reading classes. Secondly, it seeks to answers what types of interaction patterns have been used in language classroom at Vinh University. Thirdly, it investigates how these interaction patterns affect the students’ participation and learning outcome. The thesis involves 20 teachers and 100 students from two non-English major classes at Vinh University. The data are collected by questionnaires, classroom observation, and interview and then statistically analyzed by tables and charts. The findings of study show that both teachers and students at Vinh University think that interaction in class are important and useful. The findings also show that there are three types of interaction patterns in reading classroom: teacher-student, student-student and student-content. The data from questionnaire, observation and interview shows that the teacher-student mode is frequently used in pre-reading stage and student-student and student-content modes are used more frequently in while-reading and post reading stage. The teachers applied many appreciate types of activities and interaction patterns increase students’ interest in reading and interaction in classes depending on different reading tasks, students’ English levels. Students can improve their reading skill and language knowledge through these activities. The effectiveness of classroom interaction described in the test result of two classes. Finally, the researcher gives some suggestions with the hope that the students’ English will be improved through promoting classroom interactions by teachers. iii LIST OF TABLES STATEMENT OF AUTHORSHIP............................................................................ ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS........................................................................................ ABSTRACT............................................................................................................... LIST OF TABLES..................................................................................................... LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS.................................................................................... THE LIST OF TABLES............................................................................................. THE LIST OF CHARTS............................................................................................ CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION..........................................................................0 1.1. Rationales.......................................................................................................0 1.2. Purpose of the study.......................................................................................0 1.3. Scope of the study..........................................................................................0 1.4. Research questions.........................................................................................0 1.5. Research materials..........................................................................................0 1.6. The Organization of the study........................................................................0 CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE REVIEW AND THEORETICAL BACKGROUND......0 2.1. Previous studies related to the topic...............................................................0 2.2. Classroom interaction.....................................................................................0 2.2.1. Classroom interaction as a general term..................................................0 2.2.2. Interaction in EFL Classes......................................................................0 2.3. Types of classroom interaction.......................................................................0 2.3.1. Teacher – student interaction..................................................................0 2.3.1.1. Teacher – student / a group of students’ interaction...........................0 2.3.1.2. Teacher - student interaction..............................................................0 2.3.2. Students’ interaction...............................................................................0 2.3.2.1. Student – student interaction..............................................................0 2.3.2.2. Student – students interaction............................................................0 2.4. Teaching and learning activities promoting interaction..................................0 2.5. The role of the teacher in classroom interaction.............................................0 2.6. Definitions of reading, reading comprehension, and reading strategy............0 iv 2.6.1. What is reading?......................................................................................0 2.6.2. What is reading comprehension?............................................................0 2.6.3. What is reading strategies?......................................................................0 2.6.4. Teaching reading comprehension............................................................0 2.6.4.1. Principles of teaching reading comprehension...................................0 2.6.4.2. Stages of teaching reading comprehension........................................0 2.6. Summary........................................................................................................0 CHAPTER 3: METHODOLOGY.........................................................................0 3.1. Research method............................................................................................0 3.2. Research instruments......................................................................................0 3.3. Context of the study.......................................................................................0 3.4. Participants.....................................................................................................0 3.4.1. Teachers..................................................................................................0 3.4.2. Students...................................................................................................0 3.5. Instruments for data collection.......................................................................0 3.5.1. Questionnaire..........................................................................................0 3.5.2. Classroom observation............................................................................0 3.5.3. Interview.................................................................................................0 3.5.4. Test.........................................................................................................0 3.6. Data collection...............................................................................................0 3.7. Data analysis..................................................................................................0 3.8. Summary........................................................................................................0 CHAPTER 4: FINDINGS AND DISCUSSIONS..................................................0 4.1. The reality of teaching and learning reading skills in EFL classes at Vinh University..............................................................................................................0 4.1.1. The teachers’ and students’ attitudes toward the importance of teaching and learning reading skills................................................................................0 4.1.2. Reading strategies used in EFL classes at VU.........................................0 4.2. Interaction pattern in the reading classes at VU.............................................0 4.2.1. Teachers and students’ perception of classroom interaction in English reading class......................................................................................................0 v 4.2.2. Interaction pattern in the reading classes at VU......................................0 4.3. Interaction’s effect on English reading classes...............................................0 4.3.2. Analysis of test results............................................................................0 4.3.2.1. Results of the test scores of the two groups.......................................0 4.3.2.2. Frequency of Distribution..................................................................0 4.3.3. The test means’ comparison....................................................................0 4.4. Suggestions for promoting interaction and communication in teaching and studying the reading skill......................................................................................0 4.4.1. Improving students’ reading interest.......................................................0 4.4.2. Diversifying appropriate interaction patterns in each type of reading tasks......0 4.4.3. Diversifying appropriate interaction patterns to student’s English proficiency........................................................................................................0 4.5. Conclusion.....................................................................................................0 CHAPTER 5: CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS.....................................0 5.1. Conclusions....................................................................................................0 5.2. Implications and sugestions............................................................................0 5.3. Limitations and suggestions for further research............................................0 REFERENCES........................................................................................................0 APPENDIXES.........................................................................................................0 vi LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS CLT: Communicative Language Teaching ELT: English Language Teaching EFL: English Foreign Language ESL: English as Second Language VU: Vinh University vii THE LIST OF TABLES Table 1.1. Distribution of time and units in 2 semesters............................................0 Table 2.1. Reading skills in accordance with activities..............................................0 Table 2.2. Definitions of some common post-reading strategies................................0 Table 3.1.Teachers’ background information.............................................................0 Table 3.2. Students’ background information............................................................0 Table 4.1: Reading strategies applied in reading classes at VU.................................0 Table 4.2. Sample strategies used at while-reading stage...........................................0 Table 4.3. Teachers and students’ perception of interaction patterns.........................0 Table 4.4. The activities teachers usually use in Pre-reading stage............................0 Table 4.5. An observed reading class process at VU..................................................0 Table 4.6. Frequency of distribution..........................................................................0 Table 4.7. The statistic parameters of the two classes................................................0 Table 4.8. Sample activities in warm-up step used in ‘Blind date’.............................0 Table 4.9. Sample activities at while-reading stage....................................................0 Table 4.10. Sample activities at post-reading stage depending on students’ levels...........0 viii THE LIST OF CHARTS Chart 4.1. Teachers’ and students’s attitude toward the importance of reading skills........0 Chart 4.2: The reasons of students’ evaluation about the reading lessons..................0 Chart 4.3. Teachers and students’ perception of interaction.......................................0 Chart 4.4. The classroom interaction teachers and students prefer.............................0 Chart: 4.5. Common interaction patterns in reading classes.......................................0 Chart 4.6. Frequency of mark distribution.................................................................0 ix CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION 1.1. Rationales Nowadays, English is spoken all over the world. People use it as an effective means of international communication in many fields of life, for example economics, politics, science, sports, etc. Because of this reason, more and more people are aware of the importance of English so that they have paid more attention on learning this international language. In Vietnam, English has been brought into the school curriculum as a compulsory subject, and the teaching and learning of that international language has been recently paid great attention to. When teaching English, the teacher teaches his students not only the English language but also its usage. And under the right guidance, right help of the teacher, the students have to try their best to master 4 language skills: reading, writing, listening and speaking in order to communicate in English successfully. Among these four skills, reading plays an important role in enriching the students’ general knowledge and in helping them with their further study later. Reading comprehension is the ability to understand a written passage of text. This understanding comes from the interaction between the words that are written and how they trigger knowledge outside the text/message (wikipedia.org). Reading comprehension is important because without it reading doesn’t provide the reader with any information. It allows the readers to interact with the text in a meaningful way. It helps learners to gain new knowledge and improve many other language skills such as writing, speaking and listening. For this reason, learners and teachers of English language should pay more attention on this skill. However, some interviewed students at Vinh University say that they are not able to understand what they read and teachers complain that most students do not like to read, they only read the required text book in order to set for the achievement routine exams. Students lack of motivation to read, even if they read, they show negative attitudes. These difficulties in reading may come from many causes. For example, students lack or poor use of reading strategies, lack of relevant prior knowledge, lack of reading engagement, etc. Another reason is reading lessons 1 usually take place in quiet classroom, so that I have recognized that interaction in reading class is really important. Interaction means any communication taken place in class. Interaction can motivate learning and created the relationship in class. Classroom interaction is one of the most effective ways to improve students’ reading comprehension. It is where students and teacher exchange their knowledge and lessons related problems. Through interaction students have more chance to practice the reading skill. Today, with the popularity of CLT in Viet Nam, English learners had access to more interactive learning environment. The literature of English language teaching (ELT) has emphasized the importance of classroom interactions as the tool for learning motivation. On the other hand, not many students understand the important of interaction in their learning and of implementing those strategies efficiently. Therefor I am motivated to choose the topic “A study on student interaction in learning English reading comprehension at Vinh University” for my thesis. We hope that the study will be a contribution to the increase of students’ classroom interaction awareness and improvement of reading comprehension skills for learners. 1.2. Purpose of the study The aims of the study are as follows: - Deeply understanding the perception of interaction in reading class of students. - Deeply understand how the student interaction is applied in non-English major reading classes. - Applying more activities and reading strategies in interactive reading classes. - The study is the hope of the author to make some contributions to the improvement of teaching reading comprehension for non-English majors at Vinh University. 1.3. Scope of the study The study focuses on investigating student interaction in non-English major reading classes. Due to the limitation of time, our study carries out only on student interaction in classroom and the number of participants in only limited to 20 2 teachers of non-English major and about 100 students from two classes at preintermediate level at Vinh University. 1.4. Research questions In order to meet the aims of the study, the following research questions are generated: - What reading strategies have been used in non-English major classes at Vinh University? - How do student interactions effect on reading comprehension in non-English major classes at Vinh University? - What suggestions can be made to improve the teaching and learning of the reading skill via student interactions? 1.5. Research materials The teaching material currently used for the non- English major students is the “New Headway Pre-Intermediate the third edition” by Liz and John Soars. This textbook treats the four skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing thoroughly and combines traditional methods of language teaching and more recent communicative ones. The 12-unit textbook is programmed to be taught in 2 semesters as presented below in Table 3.1: The Semester number 1 of credits 3 2 4 Time (50- minute lesson period/ week) Units Textbook 45 lesson periods per 15 weeks 1-5 60 lesson periods per 15 weeks 6-12 Table 1.1. Distribution of time and units in 2 semesters 3 NewHeadway Pre-intermediate the third edition 1.6. The Organization of the study Chapter 1: Introduction This part will introduce the issues leading to the study, purpose, scope, and organization of the study. Chapter 2: Literature review and theoretical background Theoretical background relating to the topic and surveys of articles, books and other resources will be presented. This part will also provide description, summary, and critical evaluation of each work quoted. Chapter 3: Methodology This part presents the detailed procedure of the study: the methodology, population selection, data collection and analysis. Chapter 4: Finding and discussion The part deals with the findings drawn out from the analysis of data. The findings and discussion are based on reading experience and strategies of learners. Chapter 5: Conclusion 4 CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE REVIEW AND THEORETICAL BACKGROUND .1. Previou Classroom interaction is teacher’s as well as students’ involvement. “Classroom interaction is a co-operative effort among participants in which each participant contributes in determining the direction and outcome of the interaction”, Tsui (1995, p.6). Interaction in a classroom is not something teacher does to students but something students do together collectively. Classroom interaction and communication strategies in learning English as a foreign language (MathejaDagrin, 2004). The article focuses on the development of interaction in a foreign language classroom. Teachers can help students to develop their interaction skills and students themselves can apply various strategies to become effective communicators in a foreign language. In Viet Nam, there are some researches about classroom interaction. LuuTrong Tuan and Nguyen Thi Kim Nhu (2010) conducted an article entitled “Theoretical Review on Oral Interaction in EFL Classrooms”. In this study, they focused on oral interaction in EFL classroom. The paper reviews the linkage between classroom interaction and second language acquisition predicated on the three hypotheses, namely input hypothesis, interaction hypothesis, and output hypothesis To sum up, the above-mentioned researchers have considerably contributed to the improvement of teaching and learning language. To some extent, they mentioned to teaching and learning English skills. However, the reading skill has not paid much attention to. Therefore, I find it necessary to conduct this thesis. .2. Classro .2.1. Classr Commonly, interaction is considered as a kind of action that occurs as two or more objects which have an effect upon one another. The idea of a two-way effect 5 is essential in the concept of interaction. In this sense “interaction” requires at least two patter sides in order to take place. Interaction has different tailored meanings in various sciences. In chemistry, chemical interaction is where two or more elements have affected one another. In physics, a fundamental interaction or fundamental force is a process by which elementary particles interact with each other. Interaction in a classroom can help students to improve their two important language skills: speaking and listening. Through interaction, students will share their opinions with their classmate more easily as well as participate in class activities more actively. Sims (1999), considered that interaction is to facilitate programs base on the leaners’ input, allowing various form of participant of communication. Interaction serves a wide variety of functions in classroom. This type of interaction helps the learners to identify their own learning methods as well as help the teacher to have a detailed study of the nature and the frequency of student interaction inside the classroom. Teacher applies classroom interaction to facilitate the exchange of information between participants and prevent communication breakdowns (Ellis, 1990). There are two types of classroom interaction: non-verbal interaction and verbal interaction. When students use non-verbal interaction, they can use head nodding, eye contact, hand raising, etc.... By contrast, verbal interaction includes written interaction and oral interaction. Written interaction is the way students interact with other by writing out their opinions or thoughts. On the other hand, oral interaction implies that students interact with others by speaking in class, answering and asking questions, making comments, and taking part in discussions. Robinson (1997) summarized that: “Interaction is the process referring to “face-to-face” action. It can be either verbal channeled through written or spoken words, or non-verbal, channeled through tough, proximity, eye-contact, facial expressions, gesturing, etc.” In short, though there are some differences among these opinions, we can conclude that classroom interaction is types of many activities, as students take part in these activities and can recognize the graphic forms of interaction and understand what implied behind these forms. The thesis will be based on above mentioned definitions 6 2.2.2. Interaction in EFL Classes People learn a new language in order to communicate with each other in spoken or written forms so that classroom interaction is a good way for them to reach the purpose. Interaction is an effective way to exchange thoughts, feelings, or point of view among people, leading to effect on them. “Through interaction, students can increase their language store as they listen to or read authentic linguistic material, or even output of their fellow students in discussions, skits, joint problem-solving tasks, or dialogue journals. In interaction, students can use all they possess of the language – all they have learned or casually absorbed – in real life exchanges…”, (Rivers, 1987, p. 4,5). According to Wagner (1994), an interaction is an activity which takes place in a student and students’ environment. It aims to respond to the student in a way intended to change his or her behavior toward educational goals. Thus interaction can create a good environment for both teaching and learning. According to Joan Kelly (2000), in the field of second language acquisition (SLA), interaction has long been considered important in language learning. Other researchers have also realized that learning a language is not just to learn the knowledge of the language but more importantly to learn to communicate effectively in that language. In English teaching, creating an interactive learning environment for student is very crucial. It is generally accepted that classroom interaction can facilitate students’ language development and communicative competence. The most common position of the role of classroom interaction is its contribution to language development simply by providing target language practice opportunities. Communication in the EFL classroom is a complicated phenomenon which is central to classroom activities. Therefore interaction in EFL classroom is considered to be the key to learning a foreign language and according to Van Lier (1996, cited in Walsh, 2006) if a foreign language teacher wants to become effective teacher, interaction should be considered as the most important thing in the SLA curriculum. To improve learning motivation, every EFL teacher should not only understands how classroom interaction works but also applies it effectively in class. According to Long (1983, 1996, as cited in Walsh, 2011), learning can be promoted through 7 communication, when learners engage in the negotiation of meaning. The quality of interaction is determined by teachers in their face to face communication with learners. An awareness of the interactional processes can help teachers and learners have a comprehensive understanding of how language is acquires in a formal context (Walsh, 2006). Teachers should master skill in organizing activities base on the levels of students. An activity can suit the levels of students of this class, but it may fail to suit the levels of students of other ones because students’ levels and students’ knowledge of English are different. Interaction in EFL classroom is characterized by activities between teacher and students. In classroom environments, teachers and students may be seen as members of sociolinguistic contexts in which spoken language has social and pedagogical functions. The functions of classroom language are produced under typical discourse patterns of classroom communication systems (Cazden, 1988), in which the role of language extends beyond the communicating of propositional information, to the establishment and maintenance of relationships in the classroom. In addition, the generation of language input by means of classrooms interaction is believed to favor language acquisition (Ellis, 1984, 1990; Krashen, 1982). Because so much of language learning occurs in the classroom, SLA researchers have also focus on the role of interaction the classroom event. One primary concern has been with the role that teacher talk plays in SLA. According to Krashen (1980, 1989), meaningful teacher talk is central to the process of language learning. For example, there has been quite a bit of work attempting to define the features of teacher talk considered crucial to its role in making the massage comprehensible. These investigations have included the examination of such features as the degree of syntactic complexity, the rate of speech, and the length of utterance. To sum up, classroom interaction is very important in language teaching and learning. Interaction builds up communicative environment in class. This is a good way for students to enhance the learning through collaborative learning. Classroom interaction provides the vehicle for communication and creates a good and active motivation. 8 .3. Types o Classroom interaction is a crucial feature of communicative language teaching. It can take place between the teacher and students, or between student and students. According to Angelo (1993), classroom interaction comprises teacher-student and student-student interaction, which is one of ten principles of effective teaching: “create an active learning environment; focus attention; connect knowledge; help students organize their knowledge; provide timely feedback; demand quality; balance high expectations with student support; enhance motivation to learn; encourage faculty- student and student-student interaction and communication; and help students to productively manage their time. Learners will get more knowledge from the lessons when they actively participate in their learning.” These are the most frequent ways of organizing classroom interaction, depending on who communicates with whom: a) Teacher – student interaction b) Student – student interaction c) Student-content interaction 2.3.1. Teacher – student interaction 2.3.1.1. Teacher – student / a group of students’ interaction This type of interaction is organized when the teacher talks to the whole class, but requires a student or a group of students to answer. This interaction pattern is often applied to evaluate individual students. This pattern can also be used for an informal conversation at the beginning of the lesson or for leading students into a less guided activity. 2.3.1.2. Teacher - student interaction This form of interaction (teacher – students) is established when a teacher talks to the whole class at the same time. Teacher is a leader or controller who decides about the type and process of the activities in classroom. The initial function of this interaction is controlled practicing of certain language structures or vocabularies. This type of practice is also referred to as ‘a drill’. 2.3.2. Students’ interaction 9
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