Designing a task-based syllabus of English for electrical engineering at industrial University of Vinh

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MINISTRY OF EDUCATION AND TRAINING VINH UNIVERSITY TRAN THI VAN DESIGNING A TASK-BASED SYLLABUS OF ENGLISH FOR ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING AT INDUSTRIAL UNIVERSITY OF VINH MASTER’S THESIS IN EDUCATION NGHE AN, 2014 0 MINISTRY OF EDUCATION AND TRAINING VINH UNIVERSITY TRAN THI VAN DESIGNING A TASK-BASED SYLLABUS OF ENGLISH FOR ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING AT INDUSTRIAL UNIVERSITY OF VINH Major: Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) Code: 60140111 MASTER’S THESIS IN EDUCATION Supervisor: Tran Ba Tien, Ph.D. Nghe An, 2014 STATEMENT OF AUTHORSHIP I hereby 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 Tran Thi Van i ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS First of all, I would like to express my deep gratitude to Dr. Tran Ba Tien, who directly instructed and helped me carry out the study. His detailed feedback and insight, his kindness and enthusiasm have encouraged me over the time of conducting the study. Next, I would like to show my special thankfulness to Ms. Nguyen Thi Hue (Teacher of English at Industrial University of Vinh) who provided valuable comments in the building the foundations for the current study. Then, I would really thank my classmates Ms. Nguyen Thi Kieu Van and Ms. Nguyen Thi Anh Hong for their friendliness, generous assistance which contributed significantly to the result of the study Moreover, I am also grateful to the electric technicians, engineers working in some companies in Nghe An and some teachers who helped me to answer the questionnaire as well as interview questions enthusiastically. Last but not least, I would like to devote my special thanks to my dear family, my dear husband, my dear children for their love and encouragement during the process of the study. ii TABLE OF CONTENT STATEMENT OF AUTHORSHIP............................................................................ ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS....................................................................................... STUDY......................................................................................................................... ABSTRACT ............................................................................................................... LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS .................................................................................. LIST OF TABLES ...................................................................................................viii LIST OF FIGURES................................................................................................... Chapter 1 INTRODUCTION...................................................................................... 1.1. Rationale............................................................................................................. 1.2. The aims and objectives of the study................................................................... 1.3. Research questions.............................................................................................. 1.4. Scope of the study............................................................................................... 1.5. Design of the study.............................................................................................. Chapter 2: LITERATURE REVIEW AND THEORETICAL BACKGROUND ....................................................................................................... 2.1. Previous studies related to the research............................................................... 2.2. English for specific purposes (ESP).................................................................... 2.2.1. Definition of ESP............................................................................................ 2.2.2. What is electrical engineering?........................................................................ 2.2.3. What is English for electrical engineering?....................................................... 2.3. Syllabus............................................................................................................... 2.3.1. Definitions of syllabus..................................................................................... 2.3.2. Types of syllabus............................................................................................ 2.4. Task –based syllabus........................................................................................... 2.4.1. What is task-based syllabus?............................................................................ 2.4.2. The advantages of Task-based language learning............................................ 2.5. Approaches to syllabus design.......................................................................... iii 2.5.1. Language - centered approach....................................................................... 2.5.2. Skills- centered approach............................................................................... 2.5.3. Learning- centered approach.......................................................................... 2.6. Principles of Syllabus design............................................................................. 2.6.1. Situational analysis........................................................................................ 2.6.2. Needs Analysis............................................................................................. 2.6.3. Goals and objectives of the ESP course.......................................................... Chapter 3: NEEDS ANALYSIS AND METHODOLOGY..................................... 3. 1. Situational analysis........................................................................................... 3.1. 1. Institutional factors....................................................................................... 3. 1.2. Teacher factors............................................................................................. 3.1.3. Learner factors.............................................................................................. 3.1.4. English Courses at IUV................................................................................. 3.2. The Study.......................................................................................................... 3.2.1. Research approach........................................................................................ 3.2.2. Participants................................................................................................... 3.2. 3. Instruments for data collection...................................................................... 3.3. Data analysis..................................................................................................... 3.4. Procedure........................................................................................................... Chapter 4: FINDINGS ANG DISCUSSION........................................................... 4.1. The findings....................................................................................................... 4.1.1. Needs on designing a task-based syllabus perceived by the respondents........... 4.1.2. The expectation of the task-based syllabus in terms of objectives..................... 4.1.3. The overview of the use of English in electrical field...................................... 4.1.4. The view on tasks needed to be included in the syllabus.................................. 4.1.5. Topic selections needed to be included in the syllabus.................................... 4.1.6. The elements needed to be in the syllabus....................................................... 4.1.7. The teachers’ view on Grammar and structures needed to be included in the syllabus .............................................................................................................................. iv 4.2. Suggested ESP Syllabus for Electric Learners at IUV....................................... 4.2.1. Objective and subjective needs...................................................................... 4.2.2. Problematizing and situation.......................................................................... 4.2.3. Goals and objectives...................................................................................... 4.2.4. Outline for Course Content (Specifications/Course Content)........................... 4.2.5. Evaluation.................................................................................................... Chapter 5: CONCLUSION AND IMPLICATION................................................. 5.1. Conclusion......................................................................................................... 5.3. Implications....................................................................................................... 5.4. Limitations........................................................................................................ 5.5. Suggested for further research........................................................................... REFERENCE............................................................................................................. APPENDIX.................................................................................................................. v ABSTRACT This study attempted to design a task-based syllabus for Electrical Engineering at Industrial University of Vinh. The aims of the study are to explore students’needs in learning ESP of electrical students at IUV, to select appropriate topics and tasks in an ESP syllabus; and find out some elements for a suggested syllabus that meet the learners’ needs and purposes of learning ESP. Finally, based on the finding, the suggested syllabus and two ESP sample lessons were designed. The subjects for this study consist of 100 electrical students, 20 ex-students and 20 teachers of English. The data were mainly collected through questionnaires and interviews. The data collected were analyzed according to statistical frequency and percentage. The research findings indicated that the students’ needs in the ESP course, such as purposes of learning, expectation of the course, language skill, preferences of topics and so on were pointed out. In addition, the results from the study also revealed the tasks; sources of materials and common topics needed to teach in the ESP course and language functions and language forms are included in the syllabus. vi LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS 1. ESP : English for Specific Purposes 2. GE : General English 3. IUV : Industrial University of Vinh 4. IUH : Industrial University of Ho Chi Minh City 5. LSA : Learning situation analysis 6. TBL : Task-based learning 7. SLA : Second-language acquisition 8. TSA : Target situation analysis vii LIST OF TABLES TABLE 4.1. ..........THE IMPORTANCE OF USING ENGLISH IN ELECTRICAL FIELD.................................................................................................37 TABLE 4.2. ...STUDENTS’ VIEW ON FREQUENCY TASKS NEEDED IN THE SYLLABUS........................................................................................41 TABLE 4. 3. ....EX-STUDENTS’ VIEW ON FREQUENCY TASKS NEEDED IN THE SYLLABUS................................................................................42 TABLE 4. 4. ..TEACHERS’ VIEW ON FREQUENCY TASKS NEEDED IN THE SYLLABUS........................................................................................43 TABLE 4.5. .....STUDENTS’ VIEW ON TOPICS NEEDED IN THE SYLLABUS. ............................................................................................................. 44 TABLE 4.6. ....................EX-STUDENTS’ VIEW ON TOPICS NEEDED IN THE SYLLABUS........................................................................................45 TABLE 4.7. .....TEACHERS’ VIEW ON TOPICS NEEDED IN THE SYLLABUS. ............................................................................................................. 46 TABLE 4.8. THE VIEW ON GRAMMAR AND STRUCTURES NEEDED TO BE INCLUDED IN THE SYLLABUS.....................................................51 Table 4.9. Suggested esp syllabus for electric learners at iuv...............................56 viii LIST OF FIGURES FIGURE 4.1. ........STUDENTS’ VIEW ON THE NECESSITY OF DESIGNING A TASK-BASED SYLLABUS FOR ELECTRICAL STUDENTS........ FIGURE 4.2. ...........................EX-STUDENTS’ VIEW ON THE NECESSITY OF DESIGNING A TASK-BASED SYLLABUS FOR ELECTRICAL STUDENTS............................................................... FIGURE 4.3. .......TEACHERS’ VIEW ON THE NECESSITY OF DESIGNING A TASK-BASED SYLLABUS FOR ELECTRICAL STUDENTS........ FIGURE 4.4. ..................STUDENTS’ EXPECTATION ABOUT A SUGGESTED SYLLABUS........................................................................................ FIGURE 4.5....................EX-STUDENTS’ RANKING THE OBJECTIVE OF THE SYLLABUS........................................................................................ FIGURE 4.6. ........................TEACHERS’ RANKING THE OBJECTIVE OF THE SYLLABUS........................................................................................ FIGURE 4.7. .................THE STUDENTS’ DIFFICULTIES IN USING ENGLISH SKILLS............................................................................................... FIGURE 4.8............THE EX-STUDENTS’ DIFFICULTIES IN USING ENGLISH SKILL................................................................................................. FIGURE 4.9. ...............STUDENTS’ VIEW ON ELEMENTS NEEDED TO BE IN THE SYLLABUS............................................................................... FIGURE 4.10. EX-STUDENTS’ VIEW ON ELEMENTS NEEDED TO BE IN THE SYLLABUS.......................................................................... Figure 4.11. Teachers’ View On Elements Needed To Be In The Syllabus............ ix Chapter 1 INTRODUCTION 1.1. Rationale English has been the most popular international language for ages. Specially, in the new era of high technology and communication, English is playing a more and more important role and having a strong impact on many fields of the society. Moreover, the economic open-door policy pursued by the government of Vietnam has increased a demand for studying English. Every day an increasing number of people learn and use English for different purposes. Due to the demand of scientific technological development, economic integration into the world, English has been very necessary for students studying in various departments at universities. Furthermore, the boom of foreign investment in industrial field has created more and more opportunities for students, especially technical students, to work in foreign companies after graduating. Graduated students must be equipped with work skills and basic knowledge of English for Specific Purposes (ESP) so that they can use English in their job effectively. Industrial University of Vinh (IUV) was established in 2009, It was first a branch of Industrial University of Ho Chi Minh City (IUH), a repute university with 6 branches in the country. And the university is now separated in to an independent university. So together with the growing demand for learning English, English is a compulsory subject for all courses including General English (GE) and English for specific purpose (ESP). With more than 6 years of experiences in teaching English for Electrical Engineering at IUV, I found that students have coped with significantly difficulties in studying ESP because of following reasons. Firstly, their English level is low and many of them lack skills which they weren’t taught at high school. So it is very hard for them to study ESP. Secondly, there is a problem of syllabus design at IUV. There have not been ESP syllabuses in general and ESP syllabus for Electrical Engineering in particular. The university chooses the textbook “English for Electrical Engineering, Dang Quoc Tan (2006)” to use as the only text book for 1 ESP course. This kind of material seems to be difficult for the students because there are too many technological words and grammar structures. Besides, some topics are not suitable for students’ level and not relevant to students’ needs in their future jobs. All these reasons make me always think about how to get an appropriate syllabus for electrical students which can help them practice English in their future job and they can meet the requirements of the society after they graduate. So I think that the shortage of an appropriate syllabus for electrical students at the IUV is a big and urgent question waiting to be answered. And it is of great necessity and significance to both teachers who are teaching ESP and electrical students. That is the reason why I have decided to carry out the study entitled: “Designing a task - based syllabus of English for Electrical Engineering at Industrial University of Vinh”. Hopefully, my devotion and efforts will make a contribution to the English teaching and learning of the teachers and students at IUV. 1.2. The aims and objectives of the study The aim of the study is to design an appropriate task - based syllabus of English for Electrical Engineering at Industrial University of Vinh. To achieve this aim, three objectives are set to be obtained: - To investigate and analyze students’needs in learning ESP of electrical students at IUV. - To find out the real tasks which the electrical students need in order to decide a task- based syllabus to motivate students in learning ESP at IUV. - To provide some sample units and some suggestions in teaching English for Electrical Engineering to improve the quality of ESP teaching and learning at IUV. 1.3. Research questions The study tries to answer the following questions: 1. What are the needs of learning ESP to electrical students at Industrial University of Vinh? 2. What should be included in a task- based ESP syllabus for electrical students to meet their needs? 2 1.4. Scope of the study This study focuses on exploring the needs of electrical students in learning ESP and then designing an appropriate ESP task- based syllabus for electrical students at IUV. Due to the limitation of time, the author only fulfilled the study among twenty teachers of English, twenty graduated Electrical students and one hundred Electrical students at IUV. 1.5. Design of the study: This research comprises five chapters Chapter 1: Introduction – this chapter provides the rationale of the problem tackling with the topic, the background and the aim of the study, the scope and the research questions Chapter 2: Literature review and theory background- this chapter provides a review of the previous studies related to the thesis and provides some theoretical concepts for the study. Chapter 3: Analysis needs and methodology - This chapter introduces the needs analysis, research methodology, subject of the study, instrumentation, procedures for conducting the study, data collection and data analysis. Chapter 4: Findings and discussions - This chapter presents the results and discussions developed after the needs are analyzed. Chapter 5: Conclusion and implications - This chapter presents some discussion, the conclusions, the implications and the limitations of the study. 3 Chapter 2 LITERATURE REVIEW AND THEORETICAL BACKGROUND This chapter focuses on the literature review and theoretical background of the study. It includes a number of important theoretical terms related to ESP syllabus, needs analysis, principles for syllabus design and previous studies related to the research will also be mentioned. 2.1. Previous studies related to the research. ESP syllabus design is a popular term that has attracted many researchers recently. Helen Basturkmen (2010) studied in ESP course development for the Police and for Medical Doctors. In English for Thesis Writing, Cooley and Lewkowicz (1995, 1997) showed supervisors reported students had difficulties with surface-level grammar. Hutchingson and Water (1986) considered the matching learners need to aims in ESP course design. Chen (2006) considered the process of designing ESP program for learners of various institutions. In Vietnam, just like the other developing countries, the demand for ESP courses rapidly increased. So far, there have been great deals of studies related to the ESP designing syllabus and teaching ESP at colleges. Chi (2008) explored the Learners’ needs of ESP electronic students at Hue University. Phuong (2010) designed a syllabus for an extensive speaking course for reception staff in Hue. Chung (2011) designed an ESP speaking syllabus for the second year students of business administration at Industrial University of Ho Chi Minh City, Nghe An branch. Le (2010) designed sample units of English for Mechanical Engineering for students at Hue College of Agriculture and forestry. Thanh (2008) explored the impact of task-based learning on motivating non- English majors to acquire vocabulary in Can Tho University. 4 2.2. English for specific purposes (ESP) 2.2.1. Definition of ESP ESP has been defined by different researchers. Dudley-Evans gave an extended definition of ESP in terms of 'absolute' and 'variable' characteristics as below. Absolute characteristics  ESP is defined to meet specific needs of the learners  ESP makes use of underlying methodology and activities of the discipline it serves  ESP is centered on the language appropriate to these activities in terms of grammar, lexis, register, study skills, discourse and genre. Variable characteristic  ESP may be related to or designed for specific disciplines  ESP may use, in specific teaching situations, a different methodology from that of general English  ESP is likely to be designed for adult learners, either at a tertiary level institution or in a professional work situation. It could, however, be for learners at secondary school level  ESP is generally designed for intermediate or advanced students  Most ESP courses assume some basic knowledge of the language systems Dudley – Evans and St John (1998, p. 5) It is possible to see that ESP is not necessarily related to a specific discipline. Furthermore, ESP courses are based on learners’ needs. Sharing the same opinion, Hutchinson and Waters (1986, p. 9) define that "ESP is an approach to language teaching in which all decisions as to content and method are based on the learner's reason for learning". From the ESP definitions, the main ESP characteristics are focus on learners’ needs. Thus the aim of ESP teaching is to help students use English effectively that they will meet in real situations in their future professions or need for their further education. 5 Hutchinson and Waters regard ESP as “an approach to language teaching in which all decisions as to content and method are based on the learners’ reason for learning” (Hutchinson and Waters, 1987, p.17). ESP must be seen as an approach not as a product and is directed by specific and apparent reasons for learning ESP. Students' goal of 1earning a second 1anguage might acquire not only general linguistics competencies but also academic and job-related skills. 2.2.2. What is electrical engineering? Electrical engineering is a field of engineering that generally deals with the study and application of electricity, electronics and electromagnetism (Wikipedia). It now covers a range of subtopics including power, electronics, control systems, signal processing and telecommunication. 2.2.3. What is English for electrical engineering? English for electrical engineering is an application of ESP according to learners’ language needs for their study and work during and after graduation. English for electrical engineering is a branch of English for Specific Purposes - an approach to language learning, which is based on the learner’s need (Hutchinson and Waters, 1987, p. 19). The needs of learners of English for electrical engineering are to use English for their communication in real life and their professional knowledge development. It means that learning English for electrical engineering aims to listen, speak, read, and write documents relating to electric power in English. Therefore, English for electrical engineering has become a language tool, which helps the workers, engineers, electrical experts, managers, and electrical students to obtain, access and exchange information with other people in English. 2.3. Syllabus 2.3.1. Definitions of syllabus There are different opinions about syllabus definitions Hutchinson and Waters (1987: 80) defined syllabus as follow: “At its simplest level a syllabus can be described as a statement of what is to be learnt. It reflects 6 language and linguistic performance. This is rather traditional interpretation of syllabus focusing on outcomes than process.” According to Widdowson (1983, p. 26) “a syllabus is simply a framework within which activities can be carried out: a teaching device to facilitate learning. It only becomes a threat to pedagogy when it is regarded as absolute rules for determining what is to be learnt rather than points of reference from which bearing can be taken”. And Yalden (1983, p. 14) defined syllabus that “ The syllabus is now seen as an instrument by which the teachers, with the help of the syllabus designers, can achieve a degree of “fit” between the needs and aims of the learners(as social being and as individual) and the activities which will take place in the classroom” And there are several conflict views on just what is that distinguishes syllabus design from curriculum development. There is also some disagreement about the nature of syllabus: “Curriculum is a very general concept which involves consideration of the whole complex of philosophical, social and administrative factors which contribute the planning of an educational program. Syllabus, on the other hand, refers to that subpart of curriculum which is concerned with a specification of what units will be taught (as distinct from how they will be taught, which is a matter for methodology)” (Allen, 1983, p. 61) In short, syllabus is considered as a framework for both teachers and learners to follow to gain the specific goals. 2.3.2. Types of syllabus According to Hutchinson and Waters (1987), Richards (1990) and Nunan (1991) types of syllabuses can be listed as follows: Structural syllabus: the content of language teaching is a collection of the form and the structures; usually grammatical; of the language being taught. Functional/notional syllabus: the content of teaching is a collection of the functions that are performed when language is used to express. Situational syllabus: the content of teaching is a collection of real or imaginary situations in which language occurs or is used. It presents a set of 7 everyday situations or settings. The primary purpose of a situational language teaching syllabus is to teach the language that occurs in the situations. Skill - based syllabus: the content of teaching is a collection of specific abilities that may play a part in using language. Skills are things that people must be able to do to be competent in a language, relatively independently of the situation or setting in which the language use can occur. The primary purpose of skill-based instruction is to learn the specific language skill. Content- based syllabus: focuses on subjects in a school curriculum such as science or social studies. The primary purpose of instruction is to teach some contents or information using the language that the students are also learning. Task-based syllabus: The content of the language teaching is a series of complex and purposeful task that the students want or need to perform with the language they are learning. The tasks are defined as activities with a purpose other than language learning. Theme/ topic – based syllabus: uses topics or themes as its starting points such as health, food, clothing. 2.4. Task –based syllabus 2.4.1. What is task-based syllabus? In Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching & Applied Linguistics, taskbased syllabus, along with procedural syllabus, is defined as follows: “…a SYLLABUS which is organized around TASK, rather than in terms of grammar or vocabulary. For example the syllabus may suggest a variety of different kinds of tasks which the learners are expected to obtain information; drawing maps based on oral instructions; performing actions based on commands given in the target language; giving orders and instructions to others, etc. It has been argued that this is a more effective way of learning a language since it provides a purpose for the use and learning of a language other than simply learning language items for their own sake.” (Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching & Applied Linguistics (2001, p.469) 8 Richards (2001, p. 20) notes that the task- based syllabus is organized around different tasks and activities that the learners would carry out in target language. He indicates the definition of a task which is an activity or goal that is carried out using language such as finding a solution to a puzzle, reading a map and giving direction, or reading a set of instructions and assembling a toy. Added to that, Skehan (1996) states: “tasks are activities which have meaning as their primary focus. Success in tasks is evaluated in terms of achievement of an outcome, and tasks generally bear some resemblance to real – life language use.” The main organizing principle of task-based syllabuses is activities or tasks. The procedural or task-based syllabuses consist of a set of tasks or activities ordered according to cognitive difficulty. According to Robinson (1991, p. 39), “class time is devoted to performance of the tasks and attention is only consciously directed to language if this is necessary for completion of the task”. A major concern is that students understand the task and what they are doing, and do not act in a mechanical way. Richards (2001) holds that all teaching makes use of tasks of different kinds. A task based syllabus, however, is one based on tasks that have been specially designed to facilitate second language learning and on which tasks or activities are the basic unit of the syllabus. While carrying out the tasks, learners are said to receive comprehensible input and modified output, processes believed central to second language acquisition. Long and Crookes (1992, p. 43) assert that tasks “provide a vehicle for the presentation of appropriate target language samples to learner – input which they will inevitably reshape via application of general cognitive processing capacities and for the delivery of comprehension and production opportunities of negotiable difficulty.” Jack C. Richards (2001) clarifies the basic claims for a task – based syllabus is:  Tasks are activities that drive the second language acquisition process.  Grammar teaching is not central with this approach because learners will acquire grammar as a by – product of carrying out tasks. 9
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