An investigation into the use of group work in teaching speaking skill to the 11th graders at Bo Trach 1 high school

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MINISTRY OF EDUCATION AND TRAINING VINH UNIVERSITY -----------—o0o–------------ TRỊNH LINH GIANG AN INVESTIGATION INTO THE USE OF GROUP WORK IN TEACHING SPEAKING SKILL TO THE 11th GRADERS AT BO TRACH 1 HIGH SCHOOL MASTER’S THESIS IN EDUCATION MINISTRY OF EDUCATION AND TRAINING VINH UNIVERSITY -----------—o0o–------------ TRỊNH LINH GIANG AN INVESTIGATION INTO THE USE OF GROUP WORK IN TEACHING SPEAKING SKILL TO THE 11th GRADERS AT BO TRACH 1 HIGH SCHOOL Major: Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) Code: 60.14.01.11 MASTER’S THESIS IN EDUCATION Suppervior: Ngô Đình Phương, Assoc. Prof., Ph.D NGHỆ AN, 2014 STATEMENT OF AUTHORSHIP I hereby acknowledge that this study is my own work. The data and findings discussed in the thesis are true, used with permission, and have not been published elsewhere. Author Trịnh Linh Giang i ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I would like to acknowledge the assistance I received from a number of people in the course of carrying out the research paper. I highly treasure the important role they played in making the completion of this minor thesis a success. In the first place, I would like to express my deep gratitude to my supervisor Prof.Dr. NGÔ ĐÌNH PHƯƠNG, Head of Post-Graduate Studies Department of Vinh University, for he close guidance, criticism, and he generous help in the process of completing my thesis. I am also greatly indebted to all the teachers and students at Bo Trach 1 high school where the investigation was carried out for their endless enthusiasm, valuable advice and great cooperation. Finally, I wish to thank my family and all my friends for their support during my completion of this study. ii ABSTRACT For some recent years, English has played more and more important part in Vietnam, therefore, it has been taught in schools as a compulsory subject. So far, there have been remarkable changes in the way of teaching and learning English. However, English teaching in general and teaching speaking in particular still is far from satisfactory. How to motivate students to speak is really necessary, and is a big question to almost teachers in Vietnam now. It is also the question that has inspired me to investigate the use of group work in teaching speaking skill to the 11th graders at high school. The research approach undertaken by this study is mostly quantitative. Two data collections instruments are used: students’ and teachers’ questionnaire surveys; students’ and teachers’ interviews. Both qualitative and quantitative methods were employed to create a realistic and detailed description of the real teaching context and the attitudes, assessments of teachers and students involved. This research investigated the difficulties in using group work activities in English speaking lessons at Bo Trach 1 high school – Quang Binh province. At the end of the thesis, some suggestions for conducting group work have been given. Some newly arising problems were also pointed out for further research. iii TABLE OF CONTENT Content STATEMENT OF AUTHORSHIP ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ABSTRACT TABLE OF CONTENTS LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS LISTS OF TABLES CHAPTER 1. INTRODUCTION 1. Rationale 2. Aim and objectives of the study 3. Scope of the study 4. Research questions 5. Organization of the study CHAPTER 2. LITERATURE REVIEW 2.1. Previous Studies Related to the Topic 2.2. Communicative language teaching(CLT) Page i ii iii iv viii ix 1 1 2 2 3 3 4 4 6 2.2.1. Definitions of CLT 6 2.2.2. Characteristics of CLT 8 2.2.3. Principles of CLT 11 2.3. Speaking skill 2.3.1. Definitions of speaking 2.3.2. The importance of speaking skill 2.3.3. The nature of speaking 2.3.4. What is “teaching speaking”? 2.4. Teaching and learning speaking skill 2.4.2. Characteristics of a successful speaking activity 2.4.3. Principles for teaching speaking in CLT 2.4.4. Approaches to teaching speaking 14 14 15 17 19 19 21 23 23 2.5. Group work activities in language teaching and learning 2.5.1. Definitions of group work 2.5.2. Types of group work 2.5.3. Group size 2.5.4. Some common activities for group work 2.5.5. The advantages of using group work activities in teaching 25 25 26 27 27 30 speaking skill iv 2.5.6. Some problems in utilizing group work 2.5.6.1. Time 30 30 2.5.6.2. Class organization and management. 31 2.5.6.3. Student-related difficulties. 31 2.5.7. Factors that affect the success of group work 32 2.5.8. The role of the teacher and the role of each student in group work 33 activities 2.5.8.1. The role of teacher 33 2.5.8.2. The role of student 34 2.5.9. How to organize group work activities effectively 35 2.5.9.1. General strategies for successful group work activities 35 2.5.9.2. Preparation for group work 38 2.5.9.3. Steps of organizing group work 40 CHAPTER 3. RESEARCH METHODOLOGY 3.1 Research design 3.2 Research methods 3.2.1 The teaching and learning situation in Bo Trach 1 high school 3.2.2 Participants 3.2.3 Methods and procedure of the study 3.2.4. The questionnaires 3.2.5. Interviews CHAPTER 4. FINDINGS AND DISCUSSTIONS 4.1. Result from students’ questionnaire, interview 4.1.1. The attitude of the students toward working in group work 4.1.2. The students’ difficulties in using group work activities 4.1.3. Students’ desires for the group work activities in English 43 43 43 43 44 44 44 45 46 46 46 51 55 speaking classes. 4.2. Results from teachers’ survey questionnaires 4.2.1. Teachers’ opinions about Communicative Language Teaching 4.2.2. Teachers’ attitudes towards group work activities in English 58 58 58 speaking lessons 4.2.3. Teachers’ difficulties in using group work activities in English 60 v speaking lessons 4.2.4. Teachers’ techniques in group work activities in English 63 speaking lessons 4.3. Discussions 4.3.1. Teachers’ problems 4.3.2. Students’ problems 4.3.3. Other problems 4.4. Recommendations 4.4.1. To teachers 4.4.2. To students 4.4.3. To administrators 4.4. Summary CHAPTER 5. CONCLUSION 5.1.Conclusion 5.2. Limitations of the study 5.3. Suggestions for the further study REFERENCES APPENDICES 66 66 74 68 70 70 73 74 74 75 75 76 76 77 81 vi LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS CLT: Communicative Language Teaching %: Percent GW: Group work vii viii LISTS OF TABLES Figures: Figure 4.1: Students’ perceived importance of group work activities in English speaking lesson.......................................................................................................53 Figure 4.2. Students’ opinions about teachers’ frequency of using group work activities.................................................................................................................54 Figure 4.3. Students’ attitude towards group work activities.................................55 Figure 4.4. The frequency of difficulties.................................................................58 Figure 4.5. Factors preventing students’ speaking skill in group work activities. . .58 Figure 4.6. Students’ difficulties in group work activities.......................................60 Figure 4.7. The students’ discouragements in participating group works activities ................................................................................................................................ 61 Figure 4.8. Forming students’ desire in groups......................................................62 Figure 4.9. Students’ opinions about ways improve the effectiveness of group work activities in English speaking lessons......................................................................64 Figure 4.10. Teachers’ current methods.................................................................65 Figure 4.11. Teachers’ frequency of using group work activities in English speaking lessons.....................................................................................................66 Figure 4.12. Teachers’ perceived importance of group work activities in English speaking classes......................................................................................................67 Figure 4.13. Number of students in each class........................................................68 ix Figure 4.14. Teachers’ difficulties in organizing group work activities..................68 Figure 4.15. Factors preventing students’ group work activities participation......69 Figure 4.16. Teachers’ opinions about group work activities in the stages of English speaking lesson..........................................................................................70 Figure 1.17. Things teachers often do when the students work in groups...............72 Figure 4.18. Teachers’ solutions to improve the effectiveness of group work activities in English speaking classes......................................................................72 Tables: Table 4.1. Forming students in groups....................................................................49 Table 4.2. Students’ opinions on the benefits of using group work activities..........50 Table 4.3.Activities students wished teachers to select for group work...................56 Table 4.4. Activities teachers often selected for group work...................................64 x xi CHAPTER I. INTRODUCTION 1.1. Rationale: Nowadays, English has become an international language and a compulsory subject at schools in Viet Nam. Especially, since Viet Nam became the 150th official member of WTO in 2007, the importance of English cannot be denied. English makes all different countries in the world closer. It has become the vital device for communication in all fields of the world. Therefore, the quality of teaching and learning English has been viewed as one of the most important aims with educators in Viet Nam. The greatest purpose of studying English is to master in communicating this language. There are four skills in teaching and learning a language: listening, speaking, reading and writing, but out of the four skills, speaking is considered as the most essential skill to achieve that purpose. However, in fact, most of the students remain weak in their oral ability. They can easily write and read English, but find it hard to communicate with English speaking people in real-life conversations. To have students concentrate on learning speaking is easy. What is the reason that they do not? This can be blamed on some reasons: the traditional approach-grammar translation method, the students’ characteristics of being quiet and shy, or the lack of oral communicative activities in the textbooks. The students at Bo Trach 1 High School are incapable of expressing their thoughts in English, even uninterested, or they are not really aware of the importance of speaking English. Group work creates more chances for students to work with each other by exchanging their ideas and, therefore, learning so many things from their partners. Working in group makes students confident and creative in learning English. It also helps students overcome shyness. Group work brings advantages not only for the learners but also for the teachers. Therefore, this study attempts to clarify certain issues from the perspective of implementing group work activities in teaching 1 speaking skill at Bo Trach 1 High School and analyze the factors which motivate the development of the speaking skill of students. Besides, one of the most important reasons for choosing this study is that the author likes teaching speaking skill. By doing the study, I can know more about the challenges in teaching and learning English so that I can find relevant methods along with group work activities to improve my own teaching. Because of the above reasons, I decided to conduct a study on: “An investigation into the use of group work in teaching speaking skill to the 11 th graders at Bo Trach 1 High school”. 1.2. Aims and objectives of the study: The main purpose of this study is attempts to clarify the reality of implementing group work activities in English speaking lesson and find out solutions to improve the situations at Bo Trach 1 High school, Quang Binh province. To achieve the research goals, I investigate the teachers’ and learners’ reality towards speaking skill and then put the focus on the current difficulties in the application of group work activities. Then I also make some recommendations for the teachers of English as reference in their teaching speaking skills with a view to help students improve their speaking competence. The specific objectives of the study are: - To investigate the current situation of using group work activities in teaching speaking skill at Bo Trach 1 high school. - To identify the problems and suggested solutions in implementing group work activities in teaching speaking skill. 1.3. Scope of the study: Detecting problems in the applying group work activities to improve speaking skill of students at Bo Trach 1 High school in Quang Binh province and providing some proposed solutions for speaking skill development. 2 1.4. Research questions: -What challenges do teachers and students cope with using group work activities in teaching speaking skill? -What are suggested solutions in implementing group work activities in teaching speaking skill at Bo Trach 1 High school? 1.5. Organization of research: Apart from acknowledgements, abstract, table of contents and appendices, this thesis is structured in five main chapters: Chapter I. Introduction Rationale, Aims of the Study, Scope of the Study, Research Questions, Methods and Procedures of the Research and Organization of the Study. Chapter II. Literature Review and theoretical background gives the theoretical background of speaking skill, teaching speaking skill, group work. Chapter III: Methodology includes the description of Bo Trach 1 high school context, the study (the instruments, the participants and the research questions). Chapter IV. Findings and discussion describes the data of the questionnaires, observation and interviews, then gives some findings through the data analysis. Chapter V. Conclusion suggests some solutions to the current problems, some limitations and recommendations for further study. 3 CHAPTER II: LITERATURE REVIEW AND THEORETICAL BACKGROUND Theoretical background relative to the topic and surveys of articles, books and other resources relevant to a particular the study topic will be presented. This part will also provide description, summary, and critical evaluation of each work quoted. 2.1. Previous Studies Related to the Topic: Today’s world requires that the goal of teaching speaking should improve students’ communicative skills, because, only in that way, learners can express themselves and learn how to follow the social and cultural rules appropriate in each communicative circumstance. Therefore, in order to improve learners’ English skills, group work activity has been viewed as one of the effective methods. Because of its important roles, group work activity has received a lot of attention from experts as well as methodologists in the world and in Vietnam. One of the major early books on group work activities in teaching and learning English skill, such as Larry K.Michaelsen, L.Dee Fink and Arletta Knight, did, focus on designing effective group activities, Designing Effective Group Activities: Lessons for Classroom Teaching and Faculty Development published by the Professional and Organizational Development Network in Higher Education, volume 16, 1997. In this book, the author said that the primary objective of this article was to provide readers with guidance for designing effective group assignment and activities for classes and workshop. In doing so, they examined the forces that foster social loafing in learning group and identify four key variables that must be managed in order to create a group environment that is conductive for broad based member participation and learning. They then discussed the impact of various types of activities and designed to evaluate the effectiveness of group assignments in a wide variety of instructional setting and subject areas. 4 Another book written by Nancy Frey, Douglas Fisher, Sandi Everlove was Productive Group Work: How to Engage Students, Build Teamwork, and Promote Understanding, republished by ASCD in 2009. In this book, educators Nancy Frey, Douglas Fisher, and Sandi Everlove show readers how to make all group work productive group work: with all students engaged in the academic content and with each other, building valuable social skills, consolidating and extending their knowledge, and increasing their readiness for independent learning. The key to getting the most out of group work is to match research-based principles of group work with practical action. Classroom examples across grade levels and disciplines illustrate how to: Create interdependence and positive interaction; Model and guide group work; Design challenging and engaging group tasks; Ensure group and individual accountability; Assess and monitor students' developing understanding (and show them how to do the same); Foster essential interpersonal skills, such as thinking with clarity, listening, giving useful feedback, and considering different points of view. The authors also address the most frequently asked questions about group work, including the best ways to form groups, accommodate mixed readiness levels, and introduce collaborative learning routines into the classroom. Throughout, they build a case that productive group work is both an essential part of a gradual release of responsibility instructional model and a necessary part of good teaching practice. Another research conducted by Nguyễn Thu Hương (2006) was about A study on the use of pair work and group work activities in English speaking lessons for the first year students at National Economics University. She mentioned the difficulties from teachers and students. Then she also suggested some solutions to those problems. Nguyễn Thị Thùy Chung (2008) carried out a research on how group work is used in speaking lesson of the first year major students of English at Vietnam University of commerce. An action research was planned and implemented with such data collection instruments as classroom observation, questionnaire and 5 document analysis. This study set out to investigate the types of motivation possessed by students in speaking lessons at Vietnam University of commerce. It, then, suggested some recommendations for teachers to motivate students in speaking skill. In summary, it can be seen from the above review that researchers focused on using group work activities. However, there are not many researchers have conducted research on group work activities. Therefore, the author has decided to conduct the research: “An investigation into the use of group work in teaching speaking skill to the 11th graders at Bo Trach 1 High school”. 2.2. Communicative Language Teaching: It is known that the history of language teaching has shown the change on methods, which have reflected recognition of changes in the sort of proficiency learners needs. It is difficult to say which teaching method is the most effective among the approaches and methods in learning and teaching language. In my study, I focus on CLT which is considered as one of the most effective approaches to teach speaking skill with the implementing group work activities. The origin of Communicative Language Teaching was found in the changes in the British language teaching tradition dating from late 1960s (Richards & Rodgers, 1996). CLT marks the beginning of a great innovation within language teaching because of its superior principles, which are widely accepted nowadays. In recent years, Communicate Language Teaching (CLT) has been seen as a major influence on teaching and learning in many parts of the world. CLT emphasizes the development of learners’ ability and willingness to use the target language appropriately and accurately for the purposes of effective communication (Sheils, 1993). So, CLT has extended in scope and strongly influenced on language teaching practice in Asia, especially, in Vietnam. 2.2.1. Definitions of CLT: Perhaps the majority of language teachers today, when asked to identify the methodology. They employ in the classroom, identify “communicative” as the 6
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