A study on the use of communicative activities in teaching grammar at newstar international language center in Vinh city

  • Số trang: 108 |
  • Loại file: DOC |
  • Lượt xem: 31 |
  • Lượt tải: 0
minhtuan

Đã đăng 15929 tài liệu

Mô tả:

MINISTRY OF EDUCATION AND TRAINING VINH UNIVERSITY -------  ------- TẠ THỊ PHƯƠNG THẢO A STUDY ON THE USE OF COMMUNICATIVE ACTIVITIES IN TEACHING GRAMMAR AT NEWSTAR INTERNATIONAL LANGUAGE CENTER IN VINH CITY Major: Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) Code: 60140111 MASTER’S THESIS IN EDUCATION SUPERVISOR: LÊ PHẠM HOÀI HƯƠNG, Assoc. Prof., Ph.D. NGHE AN, 2014 STATEMENT OF AUTHOR I here acknowledge that this study is mine. The data and findings discussed in the thesis are true, used with permission from associates, and have not been published elsewhere. Author Supervisor Ta Thi Phuong Thao Assoc.Prof.Dr. Le Pham Hoai Huong i ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS First, I would like to express my deepest gratitude to my supervisor Assoc. Prof. Dr. Le Pham Hoai Huong for all the friendly support and assistance at all stages of this thesis. Her constant guidance has inspired me all through the study. Without her help and careful guidance, this thesis would not have been possible. Second, I am greatly thankful to Dr. Tran Ba Tien and all teachers of English Department from whom I have received a lot of useful knowledge during the years I studied here. I would also like to express my sincerest gratitude to all teachers at Newstar International Language Center where the investigation was carried out for their endless enthusiasm, valuable advice and great cooperation. Also, I would like to send my special thanks to all students at Newstar international language center for their willingness to participate in my study and their valuable input. I wish to express my heartfelt thanks to all of the friends in my class for their support and encouragement during the time this paper was written. Last but not least, I owe a great debt of gratitude to my beloved family who have constantly supported me in various ways. ii ABSTRACT This paper investigated the perceptions of teachers and students of communicative activities in teaching and learning at Newstar International Language Center in Vinh City. The participants of this research consist of two groups: teachers and students. The first group includes 40 teachers, and the second group comprises of 100 students chosen from 6 classes at Newstar International Language Center. The methods for investigation in the study included student and teacher questionnaire, interview, and classroom observation. The results of the study show that most of the teachers and students had positive attitudes and motivation to the use of communicative activities in learning and teaching grammar. Many of the English teachers at Newstar international language center recognized the importance of communicative activities in communicative language teaching because they could help students have natural learning and communication, and become more self-reliant. Furthermore, it is found that if no communicative activities were made use of, grammar lesson for students in the center were less successful. In most of English classes observed, the communicative activities facilitated teaching and learning grammar. Besides, the results also indicate some of difficulties and objective causes that hindered the teachers and students from using of communicative activities in teaching English grammar. Based on the findings of the study, suggestions were made to enhance the use of communicative activities in teaching and learning grammar effectively. iii TABLE OF CONTENTS Page STATEMENT OF AUTHOR.................................................................................. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS.................................................................................... ABSTRACT............................................................................................................ TABLE OF CONTENTS....................................................................................... LIST OF ABBREVIATION................................................................................. LIST OF TABLES................................................................................................ LIST OF FIGURES................................................................................................ CHAPTER 1. INTRODUCTION........................................................................... 1.1. RATIONALE..................................................................................................... 1.2. PURPOSES OF THE STUDY............................................................................ 1.4. SCOPE OF THE STUDY................................................................................... 1.5. ORGANIZATIONS OF THE STUDY............................................................... CHAPTER 2. LITERATURE REVIEW............................................................... 2.1. Introduction......................................................................................................... 2.2. Definitions of Key Terms................................................................................... 2.2.1. What is Grammar Teaching?........................................................................... 2.2.2. Issues in Teaching Grammar............................................................................ 2.2.3. Goals and Techniques for Teaching Grammar................................................. 2.2.4. Principles for Grammar Teaching.................................................................... 2.2.4.1. The Given-to-New Principle......................................................................... 2.2.4.2. The Awareness Principle............................................................................. 2.2.4.3. The Real-Operating Conditions Principle................................................... 2.2.5. Approaches and Procedures for Teaching Grammar...................................... 2.2.5.1. Two Core Approaches in Grammar Presentation........................................ 2.3. Communicative Activities (CAs)..................................................................... 2.3.1. Definition of CAs........................................................................................... 2.3.2. Communicative Activities and the Use of Real Context................................ iv 2.3.3. Advantages and Disadvantages of Using Communicative Activities............. 2.3.3.1. Advantages of CAs..................................................................................... 2.3.3.2. Disadvantages of CAs................................................................................. 2.3.4. Characteristics of CAs................................................................................... 2.3.5. Examples of Communicative Activities......................................................... 2.3.6. Types of Classroom CAs............................................................................... 2.3.6.1. Classification of Littlewood........................................................................ 2.3.6.2. Classification of Harmer............................................................................. 2.3.7. Using CAs to Teach English Grammar.......................................................... 2.3.7.1. The PPP pattern........................................................................................... 2.3.7.2. Deep-End Approach.................................................................................... 2.3.8. Prior Studies................................................................................................... 2.4. Summary........................................................................................................... CHAPTER 3. RESEARCH METHODOLOGY................................................ 3.1. Introduction....................................................................................................... 3.2. Aims of the Research........................................................................................ 3.3. Participants....................................................................................................... 3.4. Data Collection................................................................................................. 3.4.1. Questionnaire................................................................................................. 3.4.2. Class Observation.......................................................................................... 3.4.3. Interview........................................................................................................ 3.5. Data Analysis.................................................................................................... 3.6. Summary........................................................................................................... CHAPTER 4. FINDINGS AND DISCUSSION.................................................. 4.1. Introduction....................................................................................................... 4.2. Teachers’ and Students’ Perceptions of Using Communicative Activities (CAs) in Teaching and Learning Grammar.............................................................. 4.3. Teachers’ Implementation of CAs.................................................................... 4.3.1. Sources of CAs Used in Grammar Lessons................................................... v 4.3.2. Types of Communicative Activities Used to Teach English Grammar.......... 4.3.3. Roles of the Teachers in Communicative Activities...................................... 4.5. Teachers’ Procedure to Make Grammar Lessons Become more Communicative and Effective.................................................................................. 4.6. Summary........................................................................................................... CHAPTER 5: CONCLUSION, IMPLICATIONS, LIMITATIONS AND SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER RESEARCH.................................... 5.1. Conclusion........................................................................................................ 5.2. Implications for Teachers.................................................................................. 5.3. Implications for Students................................................................................. 5.4. Limitations....................................................................................................... 5.5. Suggestions for Further Research..................................................................... APPENDICES........................................................................................................ Appendix 1: Questionnaire for Teachers................................................................. Appendix 2: Questionnaire for Students.................................................................. Appendix 3: Questions for Teacher Interview........................................................ Appendix 4: Questions for Student Interview......................................................... Appendix 5: Observation Sheet............................................................................... vi LIST OF ABBREVIATION CAs: Communicative Activities vii LIST OF TABLES Page Table 4.2.4: Teachers’ perceptions towards the aims of CAs.................................. Table 4.3.1: Sources of CAs used in grammar lessons............................................ Table 4.3.3: Roles of the teachers during the CAs................................................... Table 4.5: Ways to promote CAs............................................................................. viii LIST OF FIGURES Page Figure 4.2.1: Teachers and students' perceptions of the importance of CAs in English teaching and learning.................................................................................. Figure 4.2.2: Grammar lessons without CAs in comparison with those with the........... Figure 4.2.3: CAs help students to perceive the grammar point after the lesson ................................................................................................................................. Figure 4.2.5: Students' perceptions towards their more active participation in the grammar lesson with CAs ................................................................................. Figure 4.3.2: Teachers' favourite communicative activities..................................... Figure 4.4: Teachers' difficulties in implementing CAs........................................... ix CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION 1.1. Rationale Due to the fast development of the society, the increasing living standard and the unceasing demand for broader international cooperation, the communication among different nations is necessary day after day. Communicative competence has become the major goal of the curricula innovation which has been a burning issue in education in recent years. For a long time, the teaching and learning of English in Vietnam has rotated around teaching grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation with little concern about communicative competence. Such emphasis on linguistic materials has been the reason for many communication breakdowns between Vietnamese and foreigners, especially English-used communication. Grammar is central to the teaching and learning of languages. It is also one of the more difficult aspects of language to teach as well (Sarwani, 2014). As teachers, we need to help learners see that effective communication involves achieving harmony between functional interpretation and formal appropriacy (Halliday, 1985) by giving them tasks that dramatize the relationship between grammatical items and the discoursal contexts in which they occur. In genuine communication beyond the classroom, grammar and context are often so closely related that appropriate grammatical choices can only be made with reference to the context and purpose of the communication. If learners are not given opportunities to explore grammar in context, it will be difficult for them to see how and why alternative forms exist to express different communicative meanings. For example, getting learners to read a set of sentences in the active voice, and then transform these into passives following a model, is a standard way of introducing the passive voice. However, it needs to be supplemented by tasks which give learners opportunities to explore when it is communicatively appropriate to use the passive rather than the active voice. 1 As a teacher at Newstar International Language Centre, I have a lot of opportunities to teach English grammar structures. I find that we need an approach through which learn how to form structures correctly, and also how to use them to communicate meaning. All of the above reasons have inspired me to choose “A Study on the Use of Communicative Activities in Teaching Grammar at Newstar International Language Center in Vinh City”. 1.2. Purposes of the study The main purposes of the study are: - To raise teachers' awareness of the importance of teaching grammar using communicative activities. - To find out the challenges that teachers and students face in using communicative activities. - To work out common communicative activities used by teachers in helping their students generate ideas in grammatical lessons. - To help teachers find out effective communicative activities to provide necessary ideas for their students in learning grammar. 1.3. Research questions In order to meet the aim of the study, the following research questions are generated: - What are teachers’ and students’ perceptions of using communicative activities in teaching and learning grammar? - How are communicative activities used in grammar lessons? - What difficulties do teacher and students face in using communicative activities in grammar lessons? 1.4. Scope of the study This study was carried out at Newstar International Language Centre. The study mainly focuses on teachers and students' perceptions of teaching and learning 2 grammar using communicative activities as well as their difficulties in using the activities. 1.5. Organizations of the study The study consists of the following parts: Chapter I. Introduction This part introduces the rationale for carrying the study, purposes, scope, and organization of the study. Chapter II. Literature Review Theoretical background related to the topic and surveys of articles, books and other resources relevant to a particular the study topic will be presented in this chapter. This part will also provide description, summary, and critical evaluation of each work quoted. Chapter III. Methodology This part presents the detailed procedure of the study: the methodology, population selection, data collection and analysis. Chapter IV. Findings and Discussion This part deals with the findings drawn out from the analysis of data. The findings and discussion are based on describing the data collected through research instruments. Chapter V. Conclusion, implications, limitations, and suggestions for further study Main points and contents of the study will be summarized based on the results of the study. The implications of the study and the recommendation for further research will be presented. 3 CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE REVIEW 2.1. Introduction This chapter presents some definitions of key terms and an overview of communicative activities. It also reviews previous studies related to the study and points out the gaps in the literature. 2.2. Definitions of Key Terms Grammar is the way we put words together to make correct sentences and convey meaning in any language. Grammar does not only deal with sentences but also with smaller units from phrases down to individual words. This is easy to understand when considering the correct use of "he ran a race" versus the incorrect use of "he runned a race". Grammar can also include the changing of spelling and pronunciation in different situations. Grammatical structures deal with specific instances in a language, such as tenses or gender. These structures provide in-depth information and lend nuances and time value to a language. In English, the grammatical concept of gender does not exist as opposed to Italian, German and French which have specific rules concerning grammar and gender (Piccolo, 2013). 2.2.1. What is Grammar Teaching? Traditionally, grammar teaching is considered as the presentation and practice of discrete grammar patterns. As illustrated by Cook (1994), the mainstay of grammar teaching has been the technique of grammatical explanation. That is to say language teacher explains the rules to the learners and give them examples of it in order that they first get a conscious understanding of it and then start to use it. On this issue, Ur (1996), gave explanations for presenting and explaining grammar (cited in Ellis, 2006). It is certainly true that grammar teaching can include presentation and practice of grammatical patterns. Nevertheless, teaching grammar is not always defined in this way. Ellis (2006) mentioned two typical kinds of grammar teaching. First, some grammar 4 lessons may include presentation by itself (i.e., without any practice) whereas other may entail only practice ( i.e., no presentation). Second, students can be involved in discovering grammatical rules for themselves (i.e.,no presentation and no practice). The definition of grammar teaching that informs this study is a broad one: “Grammar teaching involves any instructional technique that draws learners’ attention to some specific grammatical form in such a way that it helps them either to understand it metalinguistically and/ or process it in comprehension and/ or production so that they can internalize it” (Ellis, 2006, p.84). 2.2.2. Issues in Teaching Grammar Grammar is central to the teaching and learning of languages. It is also one of the more difficult aspects of language to teach well (Byrd, 1998). Many people, including language teachers, hear the word "grammar" and think of a fixed set of word forms and rules of usage. They associate "good" grammar with the prestige forms of the language, such as those used in writing and in formal oral presentations, and "bad" or "no" grammar with the language used in everyday conversation or used by speakers of non-prestige forms. Language teachers who adopt this definition focus on grammar as a set of forms and rules. They teach grammar by explaining the forms and rules and then drilling students on them. This results in bored, disaffected students who can produce correct forms on exercises and tests, but consistently make errors when they try to use the language in context. Other language teachers, influenced by recent theoretical work on the difference between language learning and language acquisition, tend not to teach grammar at all. Believing that children acquire their first language without overt grammar instruction, they expect students to learn their second language the same way. They assume that students will absorb grammar rules as they hear, read, and use the language in communication activities. This approach does not allow students to use one of the major tools they have as learners: their active 5 understanding of what grammar is and how it works in the language they already know. The communicative competence model balances these extremes. The model recognizes that overt grammar instruction helps students acquire the language more efficiently, but it incorporates grammar teaching and learning into the larger context of teaching students to use the language. Instructors using this model teach students the grammar they need to know to accomplish defined communication tasks. There raised a question of importance of teaching grammar in classroom. Some teachers assume that grammar is really vital in teaching English. However, others claim that teaching grammar is not necessary in a classroom setting. In fact, there are a large number of teachers who are aware of the value of grammar and that it should not be over-emphasized. Also, there is an argument over the success of communication. Many people think that if there is no grammar, communication will fail and there will, as a matter of fact, no interaction. Meanwhile, others believe that with an ungrammatical sentence, the communication may even succeed. Nevertheless, the knowledge of grammar can help students to communicate appropriately, which is the goal that the learners of English aim at. 2.2.3. Goals and Techniques for Teaching Grammar The goal of grammar instruction is to enable students to carry out their communication purposes. This goal has three implications (Byrd, 1998):  Students need overt instruction that connects grammar points with larger communication contexts.  Students do not need to master every aspect of each grammar point, only those that are relevant to the immediate communication task.  Error correction is not always the instructor's first responsibility. 2.2.4. Principles for Grammar Teaching The three principles that we describe below are informed by one general principle (R. Batstone and R. Ellis, 2009) 6 Effective grammar instruction must complement the processes of L2 acquisition. In discussing the three principles, we will draw on work by a number of researchers in second language acquisition (SLA), especially (but not exclusively) in work undertaken within a cognitive, information-processing framework. 2.2.4.1. The Given-to-New Principle The notion that there is a principled relationship of one sort or another between given and new information is far from new. In discourse analysis, for example, it is argued that effective communication is enhanced when new information is preceded by relevant information which is already known to the hearer (Cook, 1989, p. 64– 67). Clark and Clark (1977, p. 92) discussed this as the ‘Given-New Contract’, pointing out that grammatical choices (such as whether to use active or passive voice) are frequently motivated by determining what the hearer can reasonably be expected to know. The Given-to-New contract focuses on language use. However, our concern is with the ways in which given and new information are aligned in the interests of language acquisition, which we refer to as the Given-to-New Principle. This principle refers to the idea that the process of making new form/function connections involves the exploitation of what the learners already know about the world – as part of their ‘given’ schematic knowledge. This knowledge is used as a resource in order to help them perceive something new: how a meaning they are already familiar with is expressed by a particular grammatical form. This may involve learning to see how a given meaning is signalled by a form with which they are unfamiliar, or how a form they have already used in relation to one meaning (such as the present progressive tense for actions ‘as we speak’) can also be used to signal other meanings (such as using the present progressive to talk about planned future events). Batstone (2002a,b) has argued that the significance of the Given-toNew Principle is underrated in communicative approaches to language teaching. Language teaching textbooks frequently introduce new grammatical items and their meanings through setting up a context of some sort, for example by using 7 pictures and/or scripted dialogues, in order to establish the appropriate meaning. Superficially, at least, these contexts set the scene for subsequent explicit explanation and practice of the grammatical form. However, it is much less common for textbooks to provide clear principles for guiding learners from the former (the meaning) to the latter (the form). By way of example of the kinds of problem that arise in some materials, we will consider a sample activity from a popular textbook, Headway Intermediate (Soars and Soars, 1986). The task presents the distinction in meaning between two future forms: the going to form to talk about planned future action, and the will form to signal a spontaneous decision. The learners are presented with a dialogue between Peter and Anne which reads as follows: Peter: I’m just going to the shops. Do you want anything? Anne: No, I don’t think so. Oh hang on. We haven’t got any sugar left. Peter: It’s all right. It’s on the list. I’m going to buy some. Anne: What about bread? Peter: OK. I’ll go to the baker and buy a loaf. (Soars and Soars, 1986, p. 24). This is followed by a section headed ‘Grammar Question’: – Why does Peter say: I’m going to buy some (sugar); but I’ll go to the baker. – What’s the difference between ‘will’ and ‘going to’ to express a future intention? Alongside the dialogue and the grammar question, the learners are also shown a picture of a handwritten piece of paper. It is headed ‘shopping list’, and it consists of the following list of items: ‘sugar, tea, coffee, cheese, biscuits, cornflakes, tin of beans, yoghurt’. In principle, at least, it is possible to see how the Given-to-New Principle might work here. If the learners already have a schema for shopping lists, they will 8 have the related concept of planned future action as a ‘given’. The dialogue seeks to make these concepts salient by providing certain textual cues. The notion of spontaneity (necessary for making sense of the ‘will’ form) is cued by its contrast with the plan to buy sugar: bread is not on the list, and so is not planned but a spurof-the moment decision. The notion of planned future action is cued by Peter’s comment that bread is ‘on his list’, suggesting that he had already thought about it. But if we turn to consider how salient this procedure might be from the learners’ perspective, it is not at all clear that the ‘given’ meanings here are sufficiently well established. The only indication in the dialogue that will is being used to make a spontaneous decision is a cue (‘what about bread? OK I’ll ....’). This is so implicit that it is hard to see how the learners could possibly interpret it appropriately (in discourse the phrase ‘OK’ is highly ambiguous and can mean a variety of different things). The cue for signalling planned action is certainly more explicit than this (‘‘It’s on the list. I’m going to buy some”), but even here the learners only get a single example from which to draw the requisite inference. It is very hard, in short, to see how the learners can easily pick out the appropriate given meanings here, and they could be forgiven for drawing entirely the wrong kind of conclusion (even a seemingly absurd hypothesis, along the lines that will is used to talk about bread but that going to is used to talk about sugar, is not beyond the realms of possibility!). How might this problem be remedied? What would be required, perhaps, is a text where the cues to prompt the given meanings are much more explicit. So for instance, we might cue the notion of spontaneity by amending the last part of the dialogue as follows: Anne: What about bread? Peter: Oh my goodness! I never thought about that. OK, yes, definitely, I’ll go to the baker and I’ll buy a loaf. It might be objected that the kind of text which would result from this sort of additional cueing would be very inauthentic, peppered with cumbersome phrases 9 with a decidedly uncommunicative quality. But processing language using the Given-to-New Principle frequently involves paying attention to linguistic cues which would be regarded as redundant from a communicative perspective, but which nonetheless provide an essen tial pathway towards making new discoveries about language. Contrivance, we would argue, is often essential to ensure the operation of the Given-to-New-Principle. See Cook (2001) for additional arguments in favour of contrived grammar teaching materials. There are other ways in which learners can exploit the Given-to-New Principle. Van Patten (1996, 2004) and others propose an approach to grammar teaching known as Processing Instruction. Processing Instruction prompts learners to make new connections between form and meaning whilst preventing them from taking short cuts which by-pass the grammar. Because the sentences are constructed to avoid the use of lexical cues, it is argued that Processing Instruction effectively ‘forces’ learners to process the grammar more deeply than they otherwise would through input that has been especially structured to provide exemplars of the target feature. Various types of processing instruction activities are examined in the literature, but the type we will examine here consists of sentence-level activities such as those that involve identifying the roles of noun phrases, i.e. who is the agent or instigator of an action and who is the patient or experiencer of an action (see the review in Van Patten, 1996, pp. 71–81). A typical procedure for this type of activity involves providing a series of sentences targeting a specific syntactic structure known to be problematic for learners. The learners are invited to inspect the sentences in relation to various pictorial representations of the events they refer to, and then to make decisions about which sentence is best represented by which picture. Imagine, then, that the learners are given the sentence ‘The dog was bitten by a snake’. They are asked to examine this sentence and to decide which of two accompanying pictures most accurately represents it. Picture one shows a dog with a snake in its mouth, whilst picture two shows a snake with its jaws round the neck 10
- Xem thêm -