Improving speaking skill for 10th grade students at Do Luong 1 high school through communicative activities Master thesis in education

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MINISTRY OF EDUCATION AND TRAINING VINH UNIVERSITY LÂM THỊ HƯƠNG IMPROVING SPEAKING SKILL FOR 10TH GRADE STUDENTS AT DO LUONG 1 HIGH SCHOOL THROUGH COMMUNICATIVE ACTIVITIES MASTER THESIS IN EDUCATION Nghe An - 2014 MINISTRY OF EDUCATION AND TRAINING VINH UNIVERSITY LÂM THỊ HƯƠNG IMPROVING SPEAKING SKILL FOR 10TH GRADE STUDENTS AT DO LUONG 1 HIGH SCHOOL THROUGH COMMUNICATIVE ACTIVITIES Major: Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) Code: 60.140.111 MASTER THESIS IN EDUCATION SUPERVISOR: TRẦN BÁ TIẾN, 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 Lam Thi Huong AcknowleDgementS Firstly, I would like to express my sincerest gratitude to my supervisor Dr Tran Ba Tien who has helped me with his precious knowledge, assistance, and support during the process of writing. i Secondly, I truly wish to thank the teachers at Do Luong 1 High School where my investigation was carried out for their useful materials, valuable advice and great cooperation. In addition, I also like to send my special thanks to all students at Do Luong 1 for their willingness to answer my questionnaires. Last but not least, my sincere thanks are due to my dear family and my friends who always stand for me with their consideration and encouragements. ABSTRACT This research is concerned about the difficulties encountered in teaching English and some communicative activities are suggested to improve speaking skill for the 10th grader students at Do Luong 1. Survey questionnaires, interview and class ii observation for teachers and students are employed to find the answers to the questions. From the results of the study, the researcher gets a view on specific situation of using communicative activities to improve speaking skill for 10th graders at Do Luong 1 high school. The study has found out some difficulties that the teachers and students are facing in their speaking lessons. In addition to, the researcher also suggest some recommendations in applying communicative activities to develop speaking skill successfully for their 10th graders. The author hopes that the study will help teachers to overcome the difficulties in teaching and learning English speaking skill at Do Luong 1 high school as well as a reference for those who are interested in this matter. TABLE OF CONTENTS STATEMENT OF AUTHORSHIP............................................................................0 Acknowlegement............................................................................................ii ABSTRACT.............................................................................................................iii iii LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS.................................................................................viii CHAPTER 1. INTRODUCTION..............................................................................1 1.1. Rationale.............................................................................................................1 1.2. Objectives of the study........................................................................................2 1.3. Research questions................................................................................................2 1.3.1. What is the real situation of teaching and learning speaking skill of the 10th graders at Do L uong 1 high School, Doluong District, Nghe An Province ?..................2 1.3.2. How are communicative activities applied in speaking lessons for the 10th graders at Do Luong 1 high school?...........................................................................2 1.3.3. What are suggested class communicative activities to improve for the 10th graders’ speaking skill in Do Luong 1 high school?.................................................2 1.4. Scope of the study..............................................................................................2 1.5. The design of the study.....................................................................................2 CHAPTER 2. THEORETICAL BACKGROUND....................................................4 2.1 The nature of language skills...............................................................................4 2.2 Speaking skill.......................................................................................................4 2.2.1 The definitions of speaking skill......................................................................4 2.2.2 The importance of teaching speaking................................................................5 2.2.3 Principles for teaching speaking skill..................................................................6 2.2.4 Stages for teaching speaking skill.....................................................................7 2.2.5 Problems with speaking activities.....................................................................8 2.3 Communicative language teaching aproach........................................................9 2.3.1 Concepts of CLT...............................................................................................9 2.3.2 Characteristics of CLT....................................................................................10 2.4. Communicative activities..................................................................................11 2.4.1. Aims of communicative activities..................................................................11 2.4.2 Characteristics of communicative activities....................................................11 2.4.3 Types of oral communicative activities...........................................................12 2.4.4 Roles of communicative activities in language teaching and learning...........17 2.4.5 Requirements of communicative activities......................................................21 CHAPTER 3. METHODOLOGY...........................................................................23 iv 3.1. Research setting................................................................................................23 3.1.1 An overview of Do Luong 1 high school......................................................23 3.1.2.The teachers....................................................................................................23 3.1.3. The students...................................................................................................24 3.1.4 The syllabus...................................................................................................24 3.1.5 The current situation of teaching and learning speaking skill at Do Luong 1. ................................................................................................................................. 25 3.2 Research method...............................................................................................26 3.2.1 Methods.........................................................................................................26 3.2.2 Data collection instruments.............................................................................27 3.2.2.1 Survey questionnaire....................................................................................27 3.2.2.2 Classroom observation.................................................................................27 3.2.2.3 Interviews.....................................................................................................27 3.3 Procedures..........................................................................................................28 CHAPTER 4. FIDINGS AND DISCUSSION.........................................................29 4.1 Data analysis......................................................................................................29 4.1.1 Results of students’ survey questionnaire.......................................................29 4.1.1.1. Students’ background of learning English...................................................29 4.1.1.2 Students’ reasons for learning English.........................................................30 4.1.1.3 Students’ attitudes towards learning speaking skill......................................31 4.1.1.4 Factors that make the students difficult to speak..........................................32 4.1.1.5 Students’ attitudes towards communicative activities..................................34 4.1.1.6 Students’ difficulties in practising communicative activities.......................35 4.1.2 Results of teachers’ survey questionnaire.......................................................35 4.1.2.1 Teachers’ attitudes towards teaching English speaking skills......................36 4.1.2.2 Teachers’ attitudes towards communicative activities.................................38 4.1.2.3 Teachers’ implementation of CAs................................................................40 4.1.2.4 Teachers’ assessments on the contribution of CAs......................................41 4.1.2.4 Teachers’ role in designing and managing CAs in classrooms....................42 4.1.2.5 Teachers’ difficulties in applying communicative activities........................44 4.2 Findings and discussion.....................................................................................45 v 4.2.1 Findings from classroom observation.............................................................45 4.2.2 Findings from survey questionnaire................................................................47 4.2.2.1 Teachers’ problems......................................................................................47 4.2.2.2 Students’ problems.......................................................................................48 4.3 Conclusion.........................................................................................................48 CHAPTER 5. IMPLICATIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS............................49 5.1 Some kinds of effective communicative activities.............................................49 5.1.1 Using songs.....................................................................................................49 5.1.2 Communicative games....................................................................................50 5.1.3 Ask and answer...............................................................................................51 5.1.4 Role play.........................................................................................................52 5.1.5 Class discussion..............................................................................................54 5.1.6 Problem-solving activity.................................................................................55 5.2 Some considerations and suggestions on using communicative activities.........55 CONCLUSION........................................................................................................57 REFERENCES........................................................................................................60 APPENDIX ............................................................................................................. 62 LIST OF FIGURES AND TABLES Figure 1: Students’ time of learning English............................................................29 Figure 2: Students’ reasons for learning English.....................................................30 vi Figure 3: Students’ interest in speaking English......................................................31 Table 1: Students’ frequency of speaking English...................................................31 Figure 4: Reasons for speaking of students in class.................................................32 Table 2: Factors that make the students difficult to speak........................................33 Table 3: Kinds of communicative activities that students like to take part in..........34 Table 4: Students’ difficulties in practising communicative activities.....................35 Figure 5: Teachers' attitude towards the role of speaking skill................................36 Figure 6: Teachers' attitude towards students' speaking ability................................37 Figure 7:The reasons why students are afraid of speaking from the view of teachers ................................................................................................................................. 37 Figure 8: Teachers' attitudes towards CAs in the textbook English 10...................38 Figure 9: Teachers' time to use CAs........................................................................39 Figure 10: Teachers' kinds of CAs applied in speaking lesson........................................39 Table 5: Teachers’ perception towards the aims of CAs..........................................40 Table 6: Teachers’ feedbacks on the lessons without CAs.......................................41 Figure 11: Teachers' opinions about the benefits of CAs.........................................42 Table 7: Roles of the teachers during the CAs.........................................................43 Table 8: Teachers’ opinion of the ways to promote CAs.........................................44 Table 9: Teachers’ difficulties in applying communicative activities......................44 LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS CAs: Communicative Activities vii CLT: Communicative Language Teaching viii Chapter 1 INTRODUCTION 1.1. Rationale English has become an international communicative language in the world. It has been used widely in many different fields such as economics, politics, culture, science, technology, education and tourism. It can not be denied that English is one of the most important means of communication. Therefore, teaching and learning English is more and more essential. In Vietnam, English has become a compulsory subject in the syllabus of many schools, colleges and universities. It has been taught and learned throughout the country. However, the fact is that the teaching and learning of English has not been effective yet, especially speaking skill. At Do Luong1 high school, many students are not interested in speaking lessons as well as they can not speak English well after leaving school even though they have learnt English for a long time. Moreover, the teachers of English find it difficult to encourage their students to speak English naturally in the process of teaching speaking skill. To meet the demand of learners of English, teachers of English at Do Luong 1 have been trying to find out the most suitable and effective method of teaching English. They have always tried to catch up with the world’s latest frameworks of English Language Teaching. As in other schools, teachers of English at Do Luong 1 are now using Communicative Approach to teach English to students. They hope to provide students with a means of communication, namely English that is vital for them to be successful in their job and to fulfill their social demands in the time of globalization. Therefore, it is really essential to know whether the communicative activities have the good effects on teaching speaking skill to the 10th graders at Do Luong 1 high school. With the aim to access the method on teaching speaking skill through the communicative activities, the writer would like to choose the topic “ Improving 1 speaking skill through communicative activities” to find out the answer, and further, to help improve the teaching of speaking skill at her school. 1.2. Objectives of the study According to the importance of the participation of the students in speaking lessons, this study aims at studying on communicative activities in the 10th graders’ English speaking classes at Do Luong 1 high school. These are the objectives of the study : - To investigate the real situation of applying communicative activities in teaching speaking skill for 10th graders at Do Luong 1 high School, Do Luong District, Nghe An Province. - To give some recommendations to improve the students’ speaking skill through communicative activities 1.3. Research questions 1.3.1. What is the real situation of teaching and learning speaking skill of the 10 th graders at Do Luong 1 high School, Do Luong District, Nghe An Province ? 1.3.2. How are communicative activities applied in speaking lessons for the 10th graders at Do Luong 1 high school? 1.3.3. What are suggested class communicative activities to improve for the 10th graders’ speaking skill in Do Luong 1 high school? 1.4. Scope of the study Although there are many different ways to motivate students to learn English, all these issues can not be fully covered in this paper. Due to the limited time and the length of a minor thesis, the researcher only focuses on exploiting communicative activities as a way of improving grade 10th students at Do Luong 1 high school. Besides, the target that the study investigates and serves is just 105 students from 3 classes of grade 10 at this school. 1.5. The design of the study The study contains five chapters: 2 Chapter 1: Introduction This chapter presents the rationale, objectives , research questions, scope and organization of the study. Chapter 2: Literature review This chapter introduces a historical overview of the literature. The first is about CLT method . The next is about speaking skill. The final is about the review of communicative activities. Chapter 3: Methodology To realize the aims of the study, quantitative and qualitative methods have been used. The data collected for the study came from two sources: the 10 th graders respondents and the teacher-respondents at Do Luong 1 high school, Nghe An province. Two questionnaires, one for students and the other for teachers, and an interview of teachers was used to collect information and evidence for the study. All the comments, remarks, recommendations and conclusions provided in the study are based on the data analysis. The data takes from the survey questionnaires for students and teachers is analyzed and categorized. The findings are used as the cornerstone for the recommendations . The researcher gave out some communicative activities adapted from the tasks in Tieng Anh 10 textbook as samples for the secondary teachers to consider. Additionally, this chapter will present the author’s suggestions on mentioned problems and summarize all the main points raised in the paper, the limitations of the study and some suggestions for further studies. Chapter 4 : Findings and discussions- shows major findings and discussions. Chapter 5: Implications and recommendations - offers recommendations for motivating students to speak English through communicative activities. Conclusion - is a summary of the study in which limitations of the study and suggestions for further research are presented. 3 Chapter 2 THEORETICAL BACKGROUND 2.1 The nature of language skills Based on the purpose of analysis and instruction, language is divided into different skill areas. On the teaching point of view, language skills consist mainly of four macro-skills: listening, reading, speaking and writing. Those four skills have supportive relationship. Among the four skills, listening and reading are perceptive skills while speaking and writing are productive skills (Byrne, 1991, p.8). They are also divided according to the manners by which they are formed. The skills that are related to articulate organs are called oral skills that include listening and speaking. The ones in connection with manual script is named literacy skills that consist of reading and writing. Speaking plays an essential role of the four skills. Byrne (1991, p.9) proves that this oral skill in communication is complementary. If one man is good at speaking skill, other skills will be much supported. To sum up, all the above skills are important for learners. Whenever they acquire those skills they can have confidence in speaking and using a foreign language. However, it should be emphasized that speaking skill can never be separated with other skills (listening, reading and writing). All of them are integrated and supportive to each other. 2.2 Speaking skill 2.2.1 The definitions of speaking skill Speaking can be seen as the key to human communication. It is a crucial part of foreign language learning and teaching. There are many definitions of speaking. Speaking is “the process of building and sharing meaning through the use of verbal and non-verbal symbols, in a variety contexts” (Chaney, 1998, p.13). Another definition is proposed by Nunan (1995) which states that speaking is the ability in using oral language to explore ideas, intentions, thoughts and feelings to other 4 people as a way to make the message clearly delivered and well understood by the hearer. Byrne (1991, p.8) describes speaking as “a two-way process between the speaker(s) and the listener(s) involving the productive skill of speaking and the receptive skill of understanding.” It can be transferred from his idea that both speaker and listener have the function in the interaction. The message has to be encoded by the speaker in order to convey it in appropriate language, while the listener has to decode the message. Sharing this point of view Thornbury (2005) reveals that “speaking can be typified as an activity involving two or more people, in which the participants are both hearers and speakers having to react to what they hear and make their contribution.” The communication purpose can be broken when both participants do not have intention to make their contribution to the conversation. In short, speaking can be seen as the way people interact and share information. By mastering speaking skills, students can improve the communicative competence that helps them much in the process of language acquisition. 2.2.2 The importance of teaching speaking It is necessary for learners to speak with confidence to carry out many of the most basic transactions. Speaking is particularly useful for learning. In language teaching and learning, this skill is a medium through which much language is learned. According to Kayi (2006, p.8), communicative abilities in a second language contributes clearly and efficiently to the success of the learners in school and social environment. Most of us speak more than we write in our daily lives. According to Wilkin (1979), speaking when compared with writing is the essential form of language and writing is ranked second after it and derived from it. “It is the vehicle of social solidarity, of social ranking, of professional advancement and of business” (Bygate, 1987, p.7) assumes about the role of speaking. 5 According to Nunan’s opinions about language learners: “mastering the art of speaking is the single most important aspect of learning a second language or a foreign language, and success is measured in term of ability to carry out a conversation in the language” (Nunan,1991, p.39). It is clear that speaking is a very important skill among the four basic ones. Therefore, teachers need to motivate students more often in learning speaking lessons. 2.2.3 Principles for teaching speaking skill The goal of teaching speaking skills is communicative ability. Therefore, teachers ought to be concerned about the principles for teaching speaking skill to adapt appropriate communicative activities. According to Brown (1994), there are seven principles for teaching speaking skill.  Principle 1: Focus on both fluency and accuracy depending on your objective. This principle suggests that teachers should be sure about their tasks that have linguistic objective and always create opportunities to help students perceive and use the building blocks of language.  Principle 2: Provide intrinsically motivating techniques. According to Brown, teachers have to appeal to students’ ultimate goals and interests to their need for knowledge, for status, for achieving competence and autonomy and help them to see how the activity will benefit them.  Principle 3: Encourage the use of authentic language in meaningful contexts. Authentic contexts and meaningful interaction may require teachers a lot energy and creativity. However, with the help of a storehouse of teacher resource materials it can be done.  Principle 4: Provide appropriate feedback and correction. Teachers have responsibility to make the decision about how to react and when to react to the students’ performance and inject kinds of corrective feedback that are appropriate for the moment.  Principle 5: Capitalize on the natural link between speaking and listening. 6 Speaking and listening are skills which reinforce each other. In other words, they are closely intertwined. Skills in producing language are often initiated through comprehension.  Principle 6: Give students opportunities to initiate oral communication. Students are given opportunities to show oral communicative competence that reflects their ability to initiate conversations, to nominate topics, to ask questions, to control the conversations, and to change the subject.  Principle 7: Encourage the development of speaking strategy. This strategy is shown through students’ communicative competence such as asking for clarification, asking someone to repeat something. 2.2.4 Stages for teaching speaking skill It is suggested that speaking lesson should have three stages: pre-speaking, while- speaking, and post-speaking. The Pre-speaking Stage This is the stage of the preparations for the students to get familiar to the topic with some activities such as chatting, games, network, brainstorming, discussion tasks, vocabulary tasks or pre-speaking questions. Furthermore, this is the step which teachers motivate students and raise the interest in the lesson. In addition, before delivering the activities for this stage, the teacher needs to identify the objective of the lesson, the situation of teaching and learning, and the students’ need as well. a. The While-speaking Stage: This stage is often called controlled speaking. Teachers can design the activities basing on the tasks in the textbook or adapt some more activities to increase the communicative factor at this stage. Students are supposed to do the tasks in pair or group work. This stage aims to develop students’ speaking skill by doing the controlled tasks and activities themselves. The tasks and activities also supply opportunity for students to practice the accuracy and fluency. Teacher needs 7 to monitor the activities and provide help for the weak students who have difficulty completing the task at this stage. b. The Post-speaking Stage: This is the freer speaking stage. Students are required to use the target language that they have learnt and practiced, and their language knowledge to produce their speaking communicatively. What they produce reflects the result of their practice stage, their interests or views. At this stage, the teacher plays the role as observer, assessor who provides appropriate feedback to students. Basically, a speaking lesson should follow these stages orderly. Nevertheless, the procedure of a speaking lesson may flexible due to each lesson, time constraint, objectives of the lesson, types of students and materials in use. However, teacher needs to have an overview of the lesson to assess how far their students achieve after the lesson. 2.2.5 Problems with speaking activities Speaking skill is one of the difficult skills and causes some obstacles and problems for both the teachers in teaching and the students in learning. Ur (1996) points out the problems that the students often meet in learning speaking skill as follows:  Inhibition: Speaking skill, is different from other skill reading, writing and listening, focuses on some degree of real time to exposure to an audience. The learners often have inhibition in trying to say things in a foreign language without the mother tongue. Moreover, the worries about making mistakes, losing face, or being simply shy, reserved and timid prevent them from attracting in the speaking lesson in the classroom.  Nothing to say: In class, the students are often silent when they are ordered the speaking activity, because they complain that they can not think of anything to say, or that they have no motive to express themselves beyond the guilty feeling.  Lows or uneven participation: The students’ shyness and time limit prevent the students from the participation of the speaking activities. When working in large 8 groups, one participant can talk at a time and this means that, each one will have only very little talking time. This problem is compound by the tendency of some learners to dominate, while others speak very little or not at all. 2.3 Communicative language teaching approach 2.3.1 Concepts of CLT There are different views about CLT Richards points out that CLT can be understood as a set of principles about the goal of language teaching, how learners learn a language, the kind of classroom activities that best facilitate learning, and the role of teachers and learners in the classroom. According to Hymes (1972), he promotes the theory about language as communication with the target to develop “communicative competence” for students, which is later considered to be the goal of language teaching, the backbone of the communicative language teaching approach. Nunan (1991, p.194) claimed that: “CLT views language as a system for the expression of meaning. Activities involve oral communication, carrying out meaning tasks and using language, which is meaningful to the learners. Objectives reflect the needs of the learners; they include functional skills as well as linguistic objectives. The learner’s role is as a negotiator and integrator. The teacher’s role is as a facilitator of the communication process. Materials promote communicative language use; they are task-based and authentic”. According to Bock (2000), CLT is tailored to get at meaning and learners negotiate meaning in class. Meaning is considered as what is communicated. The negotiation of meaning can be implicated through pair work, group work in problem-solving tasks. He also states, “Authentic materials, functional tasks, and group and pair work are significant aspects of CLT”. In conclusion, above definitions of CLT claim that the goal of teaching language is to develop learners’ communicative competence that involves the ability to use the language appropriately to a social context. These components can 9 be seen as linguistic competence, sociolinguistic competence, discourse competence, and strategic competence. 2.3.2 Characteristics of CLT According to Brown (2000, p.266), there are four interconnected characteristics of CLT as follows: - Classroom goals focus on all of the components of communicative competence and not restricted to grammatical or linguistic competence. - Language techniques are designed to engage learners in the pragmatic, authentic, functional use of language for meaningful purposes. Organizational language forms are not the central focus but rather aspects of language that enable the learner to accomplish those purposes. - Fluency and accuracy are seen as complementary principles underlying communicative techniques. At times, fluency may have to take on more importance than accuracy in order to keep learners meaningfully engaged in language use. - In the communicative classroom, students ultimately have to use the language productively and receptively, in unrehearsed contexts. Nunan (1991, p.279) also pointed out five common characteristics of CLT classrooms: - An emphasis on learning to communicate through interaction in the target language. - The introduction of authentic texts into the learning situation. - The provision of opportunities for learners to focus, not only on language but also on the learning process itself. - An enhancement of the learner’s own personal experiences as important contributing elements to classroom learning. - An attempt to link classroom language learning to language activation outside the classroom. In general, the above characteristics of communicative approach are very necessary and important in helping the students to communicate, interact and 10
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