AN INVESTIGATION INTO THE APPLICABILITY OF CRITICAL STRATEGY IN GROUP WORK TO THE TEACHING OF SPEAKING SKILLS FOR THE SECOND YEAR STUDENTS AT ENGLISH DEPARTMENT OF HONG DUC UNIVERSITY

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VIETNAM NATIONAL UNIVERSITY, HANOI UNIVERSITY OF LANGUAGES AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES FACULTY OF POST-GRADUATE STUDIES ------ NGUYỄN THỊ HỒNG HẠNH M.A. MINOR PROGRAM THESIS AN INVESTIGATION INTO THE APPLICABILITY OF CRITICAL STRATEGY IN GROUP WORK TO THE TEACHING OF SPEAKING SKILLS FOR THE SECOND YEAR STUDENTS AT ENGLISH DEPARTMENT OF HONG DUC UNIVERSITY ( Nghiên cứu khả năng ứng dụng chiến lược phản biện theo nhóm vào giảng dạy kỹ năng nói cho sinh viên năm thứ hai khoa Tiếng Anh trường Đại Học Hồng Đức tỉnh Thanh Hoá ) Field : English Language Teaching Methodology Code : 60.14.10 HA NOI - 2011 VIETNAM NATIONAL UNIVERSITY, HANOI UNIVERSITY OF LANGUAGES AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES FACULTY OF POST-GRADUATE STUDIES ------ NGUYỄN THỊ HỒNG HẠNH M.A. MINOR PROGRAM THESIS AN INVESTIGATION INTO THE APPLICABILITY OF CRITICAL STRATEGY IN GROUP WORK TO THE TEACHING OF SPEAKING SKILLS FOR THE SECOND YEAR STUDENTS AT ENGLISH DEPARTMENT OF HONG DUC UNIVERSITY ( Nghiên cứu khả năng ứng dụng chiến lược phản biện theo nhóm vào giảng dạy kỹ năng nói cho sinh viên năm thứ hai khoa Tiếng Anh trường Đại Học Hồng Đức tỉnh Thanh Hoá ) Field : English Language Teaching Methodology Code : 60.14.10 Supervisor : Nguyễn Bàng, M.A HA NOI - 2011 iv TABLE OF CONTENTS page DECLARATION .......................................................................................................... i ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS .......................................................................................... ii ABSTRACT ................................................................................................................. iii TABLE OF CONTENTS ............................................................................................. iv LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS ....................................................................................... vii LIST OF CHARTS AND TABLES ............................................................................ viii PART A: INTRODUCTION ...................................................................................... 1 1. Rationale of the Study ............................................................................................ 1 2. Aims of the Study ................................................................................................... 2 3. Research Questions of the Study ............................................................................ 3 4. Scope of the Study .................................................................................................. 3 5. Methods of the Study .............................................................................................. 3 6. Design of the Study ................................................................................................ 3 PART B: DEVELOPMENT ....................................................................................... 4 CHAPTER 1: LITERATURE REVIEW .................................................................... 4 1.1 Introduction ........................................................................................................... 4 1.2 An Overview of Speaking .................................................................................... 4 1.2.1 Definitions of Speaking .................................................................................. 4 1.2.2 The Importance of Speaking in Language Teaching and Learning ................ 5 1.2.3 The Principles for Teaching Speaking ............................................................ 6 1.2.4 The Communicative Approach to Teaching Speaking .................................. 7 1.2.4.1 CLT and Teaching Speaking in the Classroom Context 7 1.2.4.2 Speaking Activities ................................................................................... 8 1.2.4.3 Problems with Speaking Activities ........................................................... 8 1.3 The Critical Strategy (CS) in Teaching Speaking ................................................ 9 1.3.1 What is the Critical Strategy ? ........................................................................ 9 1.3.2 The Importance of CS to the Development of Students' Speaking Skills ...... 9 1.3.3 Teaching Critical Strategies Used in the Speaking Lessons ........................... 11 v 1.3.3.1 Oral Presentation ...................................................................................... 11 1.3.3.2 Group Discussion ...................................................................................... 12 1.3.3.3 Seminar ..................................................................................................... 13 1.3.4 Factors Affecting CS Application in Group Work ......................................... 13 1.3.4.1 Student Variables ...................................................................................... 14 1.3.4.2 Teacher Variables ..................................................................................... 15 1.3.4.3 Language Environment and Course Book ................................................ 16 1.3.4.4 Tests and Evaluations ............................................................................... 16 1.4 Summary ............................................................................................................... 16 CHAPTER 2: THE STUDY ......................................................................................... 17 2.1 Introduction ........................................................................................................... 17 2.2 The Context of the Study ...................................................................................... 17 2.3 The Research Methodology .................................................................................. 18 2.3.1 Selecting Population ....................................................................................... 18 2.3.2 The Instrumentation ........................................................................................ 19 2.3.2.1 The Questionnaires ................................................................................... 19 2.3.2.2 The Classroom Observations .................................................................... 20 2.4 Data Analysis ........................................................................................................ 20 2.4.1 Data Analysis of the Survey Questionnaires .................................................. 20 2.4.1.1 Data Analysis of the Teachers' Survey Questionnaire .............................. 20 2.4.1.2 Data Analysis of the Students' Survey Questionnaire............................... 27 2.4.2 Data Analysis of the Class Observations......................................................... 36 2.5 Summary ............................................................................................................... 37 CHAPTER 3: MAJOR FINDINGS AND DISCUSSION 33 3.1 Introduction ............................................................................................................ 38 3.2 The Teachers' and Students' Beliefs and Attitudes ................................................ 38 towards CS Application in Group Work 3.3 The Teachers' Situation of Applying CS in Group ............................................... 38 Work in the Speaking Lessons 3.4 The Challenges when Applying CS in Teaching Speaking Skills ........................ 39 3.5 The Modifications for Applying CS in Group Work Possible ............................. 40 vi 3.6 Summary ............................................................................................................... 41 PART C: CONCLUSION ........................................................................................... 42 1 Conclusion ............................................................................................................... 42 2 Limitations of the Study .......................................................................................... 43 3 Recommendations for Further Study ....................................................................... 43 REFERENCES ............................................................................................................. 44 APPENDICES .............................................................................................................. I Appendix 1: Survey Questionnaire for Teachers ........................................................ I Appendix 2: Survey Questionnaire for Students ........................................................ V Appendix 3: Classroom Observation Sheet ................................................................ X vii LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS CA: Communicative Approach CLT: Communicative Language Teaching CS: Critical Strategy DLSD: Division of Language Skills Development FLD: Foreign Language Department HDU: Hong Duc University No: Number of responses SLA: Second Language Acquisition viii LIST OF CHARTS AND TABLES CHARTS Chart 1: Teachers' beliefs and attitudes towards the role of CS in group work to the students' speaking skills development Chart 2: The teachers' beliefs and attitudes of the topics in the current course books to CS application in group work Chart 3: The teachers' techniques used most Chart 4: The students' beliefs and attitudes towards speaking skills Chart 5: The students' beliefs and attitudes towards CS in group work Chart 6: The students' preferences for speaking topics TABLES Table 1: Teachers' ideas of CS Table 2: The teachers' beliefs and attitudes of the students' English proficiency CS application in group work Table 3: The teachers' frequency of applying CS in group work Table 4: Types of techniques and activities used by the teachers Table 5: The difficulties affirmed by teachers Table 6: Solutions suggested by teachers Table 7: The students' beliefs about their English proficiency Table 8: The students' profits gained from CS in group work Table 9: The students' preferences for the techniques the teachers used Table 10: The students' difficulties in preparing the contents of the topics or the tasks Table 11: The students' difficulties in delivering presentations Table 12: The students' suggestions for their difficulties Table 13: The students' suggestions for teachers to 1 PART A: INTRODUCTION 1. Rationale of the study It is recognized that in recent years, in the field of second language acquisition (SLA), researchers have been more interested in studying the learning process than the learning product and in the development of communicative competence than that of linguistic competence ( Chen, 1990). For this tendency, the present study is intended to investigate into the applicability of critical strategy in groups in the speaking lessons for Englishmajor students at Hong Duc University based on the following reasons: Firstly, there is an urgent need to improve students' communicative competence in addition to lexical and grammatical knowledge. In fact, we are living in the twenty-first century with the dominance of English all over the world in such important areas as aviation, business, commerce, technology, science, international relations and diplomacy. In accordance with the open policies to integrate into the world community, the large number of companies from different countries investing into several fields in Vietnam. Therefore, the necessity for English has been increasing very rapidly, in particular English speaking skills has become a common requirement for jobs, and is considered to be a "ladder" to a successful career. Being aware of that, in the past years, the teaching staff of English at Hong Duc University (HDU) has been trying hard to define suitable methods and to compile appropriate materials for language teaching and learning in which speaking skills is treated as the most important of the four language skills but has not been successful in producing sufficient, fluent foreign language speakers. One of the main reasons is the lack of frequent practice from students. To enhance students' speaking skills development, teachers need to create more opportunities for the students to practice and learn from their own strengths and weaknesses as well as their peers' weaknesses and strengths. Among suggested solutions, CS in groups can be of great help because it is the interaction in the classroom among students to express their opinions on the topics. Moreover, through these activities students will learn the way to co-operate in the group or team that is very important in the real world and positive social relation in the community. Secondly, opponent strategy in groups is one of the teaching techniques designed in the communicative approach which emerges as the latest development because of its 2 superiority. In the view of this approach, the learner is considered the center of the learning process, the teacher servers as a facilitator, allowing students to be in charge of their own learning. Breen, M. and Candlin, C.N. (1980) stated that learners should be active in groups as well as in classroom activities to enhance their interactive learning to be communicatively competent. However, there is a fact that not all learners are participants in the speaking lessons because of shyness, lacking motivation or poor knowledge of pronunciation and vocabulary. Thus, in order to involve all learners in class activities, it is the teachers' business to design and apply techniques to increase students' participation in class activities and makes them more active. CS in groups is one of the feasible methods to motivate students to participate heartily in speaking activities in the class. Finally, the paper is implemented to investigate the effectiveness of applying this technique and from that discovering its strong and weak points to set up the most relevant ones in terms of contents. The results obtained based on the theoretical background and the present use of it at the Foreign Language Department, HDU would help students to raise their speaking skills as well as improve teachers' teaching methodologies in relation with the process of renovation for teaching at the Foreign Language Department, HDU currently. 2. Aims of the Study The research focuses on investigating the practice of the critical strategy used by the teachers at English Department of Hong Duc University and giving some suggestions for applying CS to enhance the students' speaking skills. The specific aims of the research are as follows: - To investigate the teachers' and the students' beliefs and attitudes towards the application of the critical strategy in groups in the speaking lessons . - To find out the reality of teaching and learning CS in groups in the speaking lessons - To find out the teachers' challenges when applying the critical strategy in groups in the speaking lessons. - To give some possible suggestions for using the critical strategy in groups to enhance students' speaking skills. 3 3. Research questions of the Study Regarding to the aims of the research, , the following research questions are put forward: 1. What are the teachers' and students' beliefs and attitudes towards the application of the critical strategy in groups in the speaking lessons ? 2. How is Critical Strategy applied in the speaking lessons? 3. What are the challenges underlying the application of the critical strategy in teaching speaking to the English second year students? 4. What modifications are necessary to make the critical strategy possible ? 4. Scope of the Study There has existed a variety of strategies to the teaching of speaking skills at English Department of HDU, but the study only focuses on investigating the applicability of the CS in groups to the teaching of speaking skills for the second-year students there. 5. Methods of the Study The major method used in this study was survey. Firstly, two survey questionnaires were administered to the teachers and the students. Secondly, based on the obtained results from the questionnaires, the class observations were carried out in class k12. These were to find out the reality of applying CS in groups in the speaking lessons including the techniques and activities used, the atmosphere of the classroom, the students' attitudes to the lessons and their interactions during the lessons. 6. Design of the Study The study is divided into three parts: Part 1 is the introduction including the rationale, the aims, the research questions, the scope and methods of the study; Part 2 is the development, which consists of three chapters: chapter 1 is the literature on knowledge of speaking skills, of the Critical Strategy (CS) and offactors affecting the application of CS in the teaching of speaking; Chapter 2 is the study, which presents the actual procedure of the study including the setting, subjects, sample, instrumentation, data collection and data analysis; chapter 3 is the major findings and discussion.; Part 3 is the conclusion, which contains the main points discussed in the paper, some limitations of the study and future research will be presented. 4 PART B: DEVELOPMENT CHAPTER 1: LITERATURE REVIEW 1.1 Introduction This chapter is concerned with some of issues in the theories of the speaking skills and of the Critical Strategy. This review of related literature focuses on the two following sections: (1) theoretical background of speaking skills; (2) theoretical background of CS. 1.2 An overview of speaking skills 1.2.1 Definitions of Speaking In English study, speaking can be considered as a major component or an inseparable part of any language learning process. Therefore, speaking has been the object of numerous studies with varieties of definitions. Speaking, according to Donough and Shaw (1993), is a skill which enables people to produce utterances when communicating to achieve a particular end. Savignon (1991) also states that language generated by the learners, hence speaking is a productive skill referring to produce systematic verbal utterances to convey meaning. The fact that a wide range of appropriate expressions is needed to fulfill particular purposes in communication, Brown (1994: 45) and Burns & Joyce (1997: 29) share the same ideas that speaking is an inter-active process of constructing meaning that involves producing and receiving and processing information. Likewise, Byrne (1991:9) proves that oral skills in communication are complementary. In most of the process of communication, the roles of speakers and listeners are interchanged, information gaps between them are created, and then closed with the effort from both sides. Thus, speaking is comprehended as a two-way process between speaker and listener involving the productive skills of communication. In another expression, Richard and Rodgers (1986:165) define speaking as "the range of exercise types and activities with a communication approach is unlimited, provided that such exercises and activities enable learners to attain the communicative objectives of the curriculum, engage learners in communication and require the use of such communicative 5 processes as information sharing, negotiation of meaning, and interaction”. They think that teachers who take account of communication as the goal of foreign language teaching can select, organize, design oral tasks or activities related to negotiation and exchange of feedback among students in the classroom more communicative and effectively. In conclusion, although there has existed the definitional diversity of speaking from different linguistics, they are all agreed that speaking is fundamental to human communication and one of the macro skills that foreign language students should be helped to develop their communicative purposes. 1.2.2 The importance of speaking in language teaching and learning Pattison (1992) confirms that when people know or learn a language, they mean being able to speak the language, thus of the four language skills, speaking as a productive skill (Bryne, 1991:8) plays a very important role in the language acquisition process. Speaking, according to Donough and Shaw (1993), is a skill which enables people to produce utterances when communicating to achieve a particular end. Thus, it is said that speaking skills helps learners enhance their acquisition and appropriate production of the language in each different purpose of communication. Furthermore, in language teaching, speaking not only helps students to communicate well, exchange information and culture with others but also helps them to read better, to listen more effectively and write more accurately. As Bygate, M. (1987:5) stresses that speaking “is also a medium through which much language is learnt, and which for many is particularly conductive for learning”. It means that, in speaking lessons, learners are not only exposed to new language in the real contexts of the daily life and are advised to draw out new forms with the help from teachers but also they learn from themselves grammatical or other kinds of rules by discovering or inducing them from the contexts and their experience of using the language. Therefore, it is often seen that speaking is a good source of motivation for most students in foreign language learning. For the ideas above, it is believed that speaking is an essential skill to the most primary medium for output in language learning process, not only as productive skill but also to the development of students' language competence and learning motivation. 6 1.2.3 The principles of teaching speaking Encouraging students to take part in speaking activities in the classroom is not easy for foreign language teachers. This requires their awareness of learners' level of language knowledge. Kathleen M. Bailey (2005:124) lists three principles for teaching speaking to advanced learners: (i) help learners to combine fluency and accuracy; (ii) encourage learners to take reasonable risks in speaking; (iii) provide opportunities for learners to notice the gap. The first one refers to how to work on both fluency and accuracy at the same time since the learners with a truly proficient ability of language are not only able to speak English spontaneously at a normal conversational rate, but also to maintain their accuracy. The second one, as explained by M.Beily (2005:125) encourages learners to take reasonable risks in English. Advanced students have a functional range of vocabulary and can generally make themselves understood and get their needs met. They have mastered many English grammar patterns and sometimes they get comfortable with their level of proficiency and seem to stop trying to improve their English. Therefore, it is a teacher who stretches learners' proficiency by encouraging them to try new things and take reasonable risks in speaking English. The third one means that learners should be given opportunities to "notice the gap". It refers to the learners realizing that the way they are saying something in the target language differs from the way native or proficient speakers say it. This awareness can be about individual words, grammar rules, idioms, appropriate phrases, pronunciation-any component of the language they are learning. We as teachers can do to help learners become more self-aware by a variety of tasks and materials for speaking activities. These principles are good orientations for teaching speaking skills. It is hoped that language teachers can help their students by drawing suitable strategies to practice speaking skills in the classroom more effectively. 7 1.2.4 The communicative approach to teaching speaking 1.2.4.1 CLT and teaching speaking in the classroom contexts In the past several years, although there has existed a variety of approaches for language teaching, CLT is always the popular approach and has strongly influenced on the language teaching in Vietnam, especially in teaching speaking skills to advanced students. CLT marks the beginning of a major innovation within the language teaching which is widely accepted nowadays. It emphasizes that the goal of the language learning is to develop communicative competence that consists of grammatical competence, sociolinguistic competence, discourse competence and strategic competence (Canale and Swaine, 1980). In fact, CLT is a broad approach and can guide the real teaching in classroom contexts because of the main principles: (i) Teaching is learner-centered and responsive to the needs and interests; (ii) The target language is acquired through interactive communicative use that encourages the negotiation of meaning; (iii) There is exposure to examples of authentic language from the target language community (Brufit,1984). However, the reality of oral communication practice inside the classroom is different from that of communication in the real world. Therefore, understanding the characteristics of classroom oral communication practice is very vital for teachers to design effective speaking activities. Pattison (1987) points out its characteristics: (i) The content or topic is highly predictable and decided by teachers, textbooks, tapes, etc. The meaning of what they say may not always be clear to the speakers; (ii) Learners speak in order to practice speaking, to follow teachers' instructions or demands and to get good marks; (iii) The extrinsic motivation is satisfied as the foreign language is practiced, as teachers accept or correct what is said, as teachers give marks to learners; (iv) Participants are often a large group in which not everyone is facing the speakers or interested in what they say except for the teacher; (v) Language in classroom communication is often solved by translation. The characteristics of classroom oral communication practice help teachers understand the constraints of speaking activities designed in the line of CA and make them more aware of the complexity of speaking practice in the classroom to plan out appropriate solutions. 8 1.2.4.2 Speaking activities Based on the theory and characteristics of CLT, Littlewood (1981) lists two main types of communicative activities which he calls: "functional communication activities and social interaction activities". The main purpose of the former encourages learners to use the language they know to get meaning across as effectively as possible such as tasks that learners note similarities or differences in sets of pictures, discover missing feature in a map or picture, or know how to complete a map, follow directions, and solve problems from shared cues. The latter activities including conversation and discussion sessions, dialogues and role-plays, simulations, improvisations and debates emphasize on social as well as functional aspects of communication. To advanced learners who have a large range of vocabulary and grammar, a variety of tasks and activities designed in line of CA including information sharing, negotiation of meaning, and interaction are necessary because they can help teachers stimulate learners' natural oral communication in the classroom. 1.2.4.3 Problems with speaking activities It is acknowledged that enables the learners to participate in communicative speaking activities in the classroom is not easy. In order to do that well, according to Ur (1996:121), teachers come across the problems, for instance, students' inhibition about saying something in the target language because they are worried about making mistakes, fearful of criticism or losing face, or simply shy of the attention that their speech attracts; learners' poor ideas to express themselves beyond the guilty feeling that they should speak; uneven or low participation of learners in communicative activities in groups because each one has only very little time for talking or the tendency of some learners to dominate the group while others speak very little or not at all; or mother-tongue use in discussion because learners feel less "exposed" if they are speaking their mother, particularly unusual topics. The above mentioned problems create a lot of difficulties for teachers to organize communicative activities in the classroom. Therefore, it is said that teachers have to overcome those to design and carry out successful speaking activities in the classroom. 9 1.3 The Critical Strategy (CS) in teaching speaking 1.3.1 What is the Critical Strategy ? According to Richards, J.C & Schmidt, R. (2002:515) "strategy is procedures used in learning, thinking, etc which serve as a way of reaching a goal". A teaching strategy is a conscious plan comprising of a wide range of selected skills and techniques, which are targeted at the achievement of an objective. Thus a critical teaching strategy is a one for the classroom that is used to increase motivation and retention, to help students develop a positive image of self and others, to provide a vehicle for critical thinking and problemsolving, and to encourage collaborative social skills. In other words, encouraging students to have critical thinking in the learning process is the goal of this strategy. In a seminal study on critical thinking and education in 1941, Edward Glaser defines critical thinking as the ability to think critically that involves three things: (i) an attitude of being disposed to consider in a thoughtful way the problems and subjects that come within the range of one's experiences, (ii) knowledge of the methods of logical inquiry and reasoning, and (iii) some skills in applying those methods. Thus, it is said that critical thinking is the mode of thinking about any subjects, contents, or problems in which learners improve the quality of their thinking in learning how to analyze the logical structure of texts clearly and rationally in reflective and independent thinking. It is obvious that critical strategy enhances students' language skills, engages in reflective and independent thinking and being able to think clearly and rationally. Thinking clearly and systematically in analyzing an issue can improve the way learners express their ideas and their comprehension abilities. Therefore, the critical strategies relevant to learners' level will develop their language skills, especially spoken language. 1.3.2 The importance of CS to the development of students' speaking skills CS in groups is one of the teaching techniques designed in the CA which emerges as the latest development because of its superiority. Thus, effective application of this technique can enhance learners' practical abilities, and achieve a gratifying teaching result. It is said to be a great challenge for teachers to conduct CS in English speaking teaching, but CS 10 actually realizes the students-centered teaching mode and brings about a lot of benefits for teaching in general, and for the development of students' speaking skills in particular. First and foremost, it encourages students to practice speaking more. Based on the principles and theories of CA, teachers create various kinds of tasks like role-play, simulation and group discussion or presentation and so on to increase the intellectual and emotional participation or involvement of the individual students in solving a particular problem. These activities make teaching process communicative, which can motivate students’ passion and enhance “the interactive communication” in the classroom. In addition, when they come together in groups with a given topic or task, each of them is responsible for their own study that is very important to achieve general goals of the group. Therefore she feels that she is making useful contribution to the group and that is significant because it helps build up interest, self-confidence in expressing her ideas in front of the class or interact with the others in the target language. Furthermore, CS improves students' practical speaking skills. It is true that teaching speaking to students means helping them have good communicative skills when leaving school. To achieve this, CS is considered as one of the most effective techniques since it focuses on practicality and feasibility, whose terminal objective is to cultivate students’ language skills and practical communicative competence. In a speaking lesson with CS, students practice the language they have learnt in meaningful ways such as skills to express wishes, ideas or opinions, negotiate or solve problems, or establish and maintain social relationships, or interrupt the others in the polite ways through the real life situations related to the target language community. More particularly, through interacting with the classmates, students will get a lot of experience to communicate well outside classroom. Finally, CS enhances language and presentation skills. Thinking clearly and systematically can improve the way learners express their ideas. In learning how to analyze the logical structure of texts, critical thinking also improves learners' comprehension abilities. The benefits from CS indicate that it is a feasible teaching technique to foster students' spoken language as well as practical communicative skills. 11 1.3.3 Teaching critical strategies used in the speaking Lessons As mentioned above, CS plays a significant role in teaching speaking and is one useful tool to improve students' speaking skills. Therefore, employing a number of specific techniques can enhance the effectiveness of classroom communication, which are oral presentation, group discussion and seminar. 1.3.3.1 Oral presentation Emden & Becker (2004: 1) state that the “ability to speak well enough to interest, influence or persuade other people is a major asset for whatever they want to do in the future and it may change them in ways that they did not expect”. Their idea is true as oral presentation skills can bring about distinct advantages in teaching speaking: (i) It helps students develop the skills of spoken interaction through which teachers can discover whether communication takes place; (ii) It helps teachers obtain feedback about the students' improvements related to the aspects of spoken language and intervene with appropriate remedies. Also, students can get feedback on their performance immediately that is particular good for them to find out a more effective speaking learning strategy; (iii) It helps students have critical thinking about everything, produce a well-organized oral report, which accordingly will help to develop their language proficiency. In this technique, students are divided into different groups of 3-4 students to cover a topic or task given that is required thorough preparation at home before they actually report to the class. When this process takes place, each member of the group will take turns to make oral presentations related to a two-minute talk on different parts of the topic and all class members will be active listeners. As such, the activity may go on in the form of a discussion and teacher will act as an observer and a 'referee' at the same time because s/he may intervene when practical help is needed to reach a final agreement on the topic discussed. For the mentioned above points, it is noted that oral presentation including informative presentations, an instructional presentation, arousing presentations, a persuasive presentation, a decision-making presentation, as Randall P. Whatley lists (see http: // www.cs.wisc.edu/%7Emarkhill/conference-talk.html) is a helpful strategy to improve students' speaking skills and thereby develops their personal confidence. 12 1.3.3.2 Group discussion Group work is commonly the choice of teachers because large classes do not allow them to create enough opportunities for all learners to participate in classroom communicative activities at the same time. According to Brown (1994), group work offers various advantages: (i) It generates interactive language; (ii) It offers an embracing affective climate; (iii) It promotes learners responsibility and autonomy; (iv) It is a step toward individualizing instruction. Besides, it is agreed that group work also contains some certain disadvantages such as the teacher is no longer in control of the class; students will use their mother tongue; students' errors will be reinforced in small groups; teacher can not monitor all groups once; and some learners may prefer to work alone (Brown, 1994). However, according to Brown, group work can be conducted successfully if teacher takes into consideration various factors like the way to group students, abilities, personal characteristics, etc. S/he also has to make sure that every student has got chance to speak and does not interfere much with their talk. Moreover, an appropriate task including games, role-play and simulation, drama, project, interview brainstorming, information gap, jig saw, problem solving, decision making, and opinion exchange whose topics refer to daily life is also very important to promote successful group discussion. In a group discussion, the class is divided into small groups of 3-4 students to work together and all the groups work at the same time. Students are left free to interact among themselves with minimum dose of intervention from the teacher. While students are working in groups, teacher may move around listening, giving help when it is really necessary. Then groups can interact to exchange information and ideas, come discussion and some general consensus made by big group and finally teacher sums up discussion. In short, group discussion as a communicative activity should be used to encourage meaningful interaction among students and motivate them to express their opinions and attitudes by a persuasive argument or convincing, evidence in the target language. 13 1.3.3.3 Seminars It is believed that seminar can be used very effectively in language teaching in general, and in teaching speaking in particular. According to Furnneaux et al (1991, quoted in Jordan, 1997:196), there are four main types of seminar with some overlap among them: (i) student group work: eg . a problem-solving exercise; (ii) the lesson: nominated students go over prepared answers to case studies; (iii) discussion: eg. of materials previously read by the whole group; (iv) presentation: e.g. class members reporting on reading they had done. Seminar skills expose to a variety of language functions as strategies: disagreeing, agreeing, persuading, starting a criticism, giving an example, asking questions, interrupting and so on, which require an extensive practice of communicative skills. In speaking practice with seminar in the classroom, students are asked to prepare brief papers related to a list of issues suggested by teacher at home depending on the time available for the activity. They are also free to join in any groups they choose, but they have to make oral presentations and then involve in extensive interaction through discussions, questions and answers, etc The role of teacher as a facilitator or a guide who provides materials or suggest reference sources to help students find out information and data for the topic chosen. The assessment for students' presentations based on knowledge of subject content, capacity for analysis, synthesis, their own opinions in English and creative thinking through a well ordered presentation and ability to express. The success of the seminar depends on several factors, but the contents of the topics chosen, which decide to the degree of students' participation and interest, are more important above. Seminar is the most complex form of CS. It not only requires a high level of students' spoken skills and their language knowledge but also requires more time for preparation than the other strategies. However, it may be very effective to help students have fluent and logic speaking skills. 1.3.4 Factors affecting CS Application in group work in the speaking lessons. Making a success of speaking teaching not only depends on the useful strategies but also comes from the factors affecting their application, which are student variables, teacher variables, language environment and course book, tests and evaluations.
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