Tài liệu Evaluating and editing the currently used textbook english of civil engineering for the fourth-year sudents of construction at haiphong private university

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haiphong private university Department of foreign languages ISO 9001: 2008 Scientific research EVALUATING AND EDITING THE CURRENTLY USED TEXTBOOK “ENGLISH OF CIVIL ENGINEERING” FOR THE FOURTH-YEAR STUDENTS OF CONSTRUCTION AT HAIPHONG PRIVATE UNIVERSITY (Đánh giá và chỉ nh sửa giáo trình “English of Civil Engineering” cho sinh viên ngành Xây dựng năm thứ tư của trường Đại học Dân lập Hải Phòng) By: Nguyễn Thị Phương Thu, M.A. HAIPHONG 2010 1 Acknowledgement During the process of completing this study I was really lucky to receive great encouragement, support, and assistance. Firstly, I benefited much from talks and discussions with my colleagues so let me thank all of them for what they have directly or indirectly contributed. Secondly, it is also my pleasure to express my special thanks to all the last-year students of Construction Department at Haiphong Private University who enthusiastically took part in answering the questionnaires and helped me collect the results of the surveys. Haiphong, December 2010 Nguyen Thi Phuong Thu 2 Table of contents Acknowledgements........................................................................................................................... .i Table of contents............................................................................................................................... ii 1 Rationale............................................................................................................................................................. 2 2 Objectives of the study............................................................................................................................ 2 3 Methods of the study.................................................................................................................................3 Chapter one: Literature review.................................................................................................................................4 1.1 Textbooks, course books and materials............................................................................................4 1.2 The role of materials in a language program.................................................................................4 1.3 Materials evaluation....................................................................................................................................5 1.3.1 Definition of materials evaluation...................................................................................5 1.3.2 Types of materials evaluation.......................................................................................... 5 1.3.3 Criteria for materials evaluation.......................................................................................6 1.4 Materials adaptation................................................................................................................................... 7 Chapter two: An investigation into the situation of the Current teaching and learning English of Construction at Haiphong Private University...................... 8 2.1 An overview of the teaching staff and the teaching of ESP at HPU................................. 8 2.2 An overview of the current students of Construction at HPU.............................................. 8 2.3 Materials currently used for the ESP course and general evaluation................................ 8 3 Chapter three: Data collection, findings and discussions....................................................................... 10 3.1 Data collection.............................................................................................................................................. 10 3.1.1 Survey research.........................................................................................................................10 31.1.1 Defining target students................................................................................... 10 3.1.1.2 Questionnaire....................................................................................................... 11 3.1.2 Formal interviews and class observation................................................................... 11 3.2 Preliminary results and analysis.......................................................................................................... 11 3.2.1 Analysis of the survey questionnaires for the students....................................... 11 3.2.1.1 The students’ evaluation on their study of General English ...... 11 3.2.1.2 The students’ evaluation on their study of English for Specific Purposes................................................................................................................ 12 3.2.1.3 The students’ expectation from an ESP course.................................. 13 3.2.1.4 The students’ evaluation on the teacher’s teaching methods... 14 3.2.1.5 The students’ evaluation on content and methodology of current textbook.................................................................................................................. 14 3.2.1.6 The students’ evaluation on the design of the current textbook.......................................................................................................... ....................... 15 3.2.1.7 The students’ evaluation on the timetable and the effectiveness of the textbook............................................................................................ ........................ 16 3.2.1.8 The students’ proposed changes to the current textbook............ 17 3.2.2 Analysis of the survey questionnaire for the ESP teachers.... ........................17 3.2.2.1 The teachers’ evaluation on the students’ general English level................................................................................................................ ........................ 18 4 3.2.2.2 The teachers’ ideas on the students’ biggest challenge in their ESP course................................................................................................. ........................ 19 3.2.2.3 The teachers’ expectation from the students after the ESP course................................................................................................. ........... ........................ 20 3.2.2.4 The teachers’ method to make the students interested before a lesson............................................................................... ........... ........................ 20 3.2.2.5 The teachers’ evaluation on the design of the course book..... ...20 3.2.2.6 The teachers’ evaluation on the effectiveness of the current textbook....................................................................... ........... ............................ 20 3.3 Summary............................................................. ........... ............................................................................. 21 Chapter four: An analysis on the newly-edited textbook...................................................................... 22 4.1 Need analysis.................................................... ........... ........................................................................ .....22 4.2 The outline of the newly-edited textbook.. ........................................................................ .... 22 Chapter five: An evaluation on the newly-edited textbook............................................................ ... 25 5.1 Questionnaires........................................................................................................................................... 25 5.2 An analysis of the findings................................................................................................................ 25 5.21. Students’ ideas on the new textbook...................................................................... 25 Question 1: How much do you like the new book? .........................................25 Question 2: What do you like in the new book? ...............................................26 Question 3: How much does the new book interest you to learn? ....... 26 Question 4: How much effective is the new textbook in helping you learn the subject? .................................................................................................. 27 5.2.2 Teachers’ ideas on the new textbook................................................................ ... 27 Question 1: How much do you like the new book? ..................................... 28 Question 2: What do you like about the new textbook? ........................... 28 Question 3: How much effective is the new textbook in helping the students learn the subject? ....................................................................................... 28 Question 4: What are your ideas to better the new book?........... 28 5.3 Summary.................................................................................................................................................. 29 5 References..................................................................................................................................................... 31 Appendix 1............................................................................................................................................................ i Appendix 2........................................................................................................................................................... vi Appendix 3.......................................................................................................................................................... viii Appendix 4........................................................................................................................................................................ ix 6 List of tables and charts I. List of tables Table 1: The students’ evaluation on their study of general English Table 2: The students’ evaluation on their study of English for Specific Purposes Table 3: The students’ evaluation on the teacher’s teaching methods Table 4: The students’ evaluation on the design of the current textbook Table 5: The teachers’ evaluation on the students’ biggest challenge in their ESP course Table 6: The teachers’ evaluation on the design of the current textbook Table 7: How much effective the new textbook is in helping students learn the subject Table 8: How much the teachers like the new textbook II. List of charts Chart 1: The students' expectation from an ESP course Chart 2: The students’ evaluation on content and methodology of the current textbook Chart 3: What the student like most about the current textbook Chart 4: The students’ evaluation on the timetable and the effectiveness of the current textbook Chart 5: The students’ proposed changes to the current textbook Chart 6: The teachers’ evaluation on the students’ general English level Chart 7: The teachers’ expectation from the students after the ESP course Chart 8: The teachers’ method to make the students interested before a lesson Chart 9: The teachers’ evaluation on the effectiveness of the current textbook Chart 10: How much the students like the new textbook Chart 11: What the students like about the new textbook Chart 12: How much the new textbook interests the students to learn Chart 13: What the teachers like about the new textbook Chart 14: How much effective the new textbook is in helping the students learn the subject 7 1. Rationale The world has witnessed the increasing development of English teaching and learning for many years since the global integration, especially since English was used as the common language worldwide. The trend to communicate in English has a great effect on many countries including Vietnam because it has become a fact that being fluent in English greatly contributes to one’s success in applying for a good job. Like at many other universities nationwide, at Haiphong Private University learning general English for several terms has been regarded compulsory for all the non-major students right after they enter school. In addition, when these students begin their lastyear study they have to attend a course of English for Specific Purpose (ESP) in which the learning time is equivalent to 60 periods of forty-five minutes. This is the next step which they have to take to be successful in their job hunting later. Having been experienced in teaching English for the students of Construction Department at HPU for over the past many years, the author of this research has realized that the ESP textbook, which is currently used, has both advantages and disadvantages. In particular, when being asked for ideas on its quality in general, both teacher and student expressed different opinions in which the positive ones towards the current textbook did not outnumber the negative ones. From this fact, she feels it is the very current textbook which needs evaluating then editing. Hopefully, the new book will partly make a positive change in the ESP learning of the students of Construction at HPU in the future to come. 2. Objectives of the study The study is carried out with the aims at: -looking into the students’ English background -finding out the difficulties met by the students when learning with the current materials -evaluating the currently-adopted textbook English of Civil Engineering from the viewpoints of both ESP teachers of Department of Foreign Languages and lastyear students of Construction at Haiphong Private University. -setting criteria for editing the book -editing the current textbook. -assessing the newly-edited book 8 3. Methodologies To successfully complete the study, the following methods are employed: - Survey questionnaires designed for both ESP teachers and last-year students of Construction at Haiphong Private University who have experienced in using the book. - Formal interviews with those teachers and students regarding their experience in teaching and learning the textbook. - Direct class observations. Among the above methods, survey questionnaire is the major instrument for data collection whereas the interviews and direct class observation serve as supplementary techniques with a view to getting more information for any further confirmation of the evaluation findings. 9 Chapter one Literature review 1.1 Textbook, course book and materials The commonly used terms in English Language Teaching are textbook, course book and materials which are defined differently by different authors. Generally, textbook is defined as a teaching tool which presents the subject matter set by the curriculum. A university textbook is required to contain the complete overview of the subject, including the theories, as well as to be of a more permanent character. Therefore, a textbook is closely related to the fixed curriculum and it functions as the basis in the teaching and learning process. According to Tomlinson (1998, p.xi), materials is understood in a broad sense because it covers both textbook and course book, “materials is anything which is used to help teach language learners”. It can be “in the form of a textbook, a workbook, a cassette, a CD-Rom, a video, a photocopied handout, a newspaper: anything which presents or informs about the language being learned.” The term “course book” can be understood as “a textbook which provides the core materials for a course.” A course book is specifically selected by a teacher to suit the teaching and learning purposes in a certain teaching context, in other words, a particular course. A course book may be accompanied by other supplementary materials. However, the three terms textbook, course book and materials can be used interchangeably; therefore, in the study, “English of Civil Engineering” can be referred to as the above mentioned terms. 1.2. The roles of materials in a language program When discussing the roles of materials in a language classrooms, different authors express different attitudes, either positive or negative. Particularly, Littlejohn (in Hutchinson & Torres, 1994, p.316), a representative for the group of authors who have negative attitudes towards the role of textbooks in a language program, claims that textbooks “reduce the teacher’s role to one of managing or overseeing preplanned events”. However, there are still quite a number of scholars recognizing the importance of textbooks. A textbook can serve different purposes for teachers: as a core resource, a source of supplementary materials, an inspiration for classroom activities and even the curriculum itself (Garinger, 2002). Richards and Rodgers (cited 10 in Nunan, 1991) view instructional materials as detailed specifications of content, and guidance to teachers on both the intensity of coverage and the amount of attention demanded by particular content or pedagogical tasks. Richards (2001, p.66) explains that materials provide a basis for the content of the lesson, the appropriate proportion of skills taught, and the type of language practice students take part in. Besides, useful teaching materials provide great assistance to inexperienced teachers or poorly trained teachers (Nunan, 1991, in McGrath, 2002, p.11). It is obvious that in many cases, teachers and students rely much on textbooks and the textbooks control the content, method as well as procedure of learning and teaching. Therefore, to some extent, materials are the center of instruction and one of the most important factors influencing what happens in the classrooms. 1.3 Materials evaluation 1.3.1 Definition of materials evaluation In his overview, Hutchinson (1987, p.96) claims that “evaluation is a matter of judging the fitness of something for a particular purpose”. And by extension, materials evaluation is a matter of judging the fitness of materials against specific teaching and learning goals. More specifically, Tomlinson. (1998, p.xi) defines materials evaluation as “the systemic appraisal of the value of materials in relation to their objectives and to the objectives of the learners using them”. The focus of materials evaluation in this point of view is put on measuring the value of materials in a systemic approach to work out whether or not the language points of the materials are potentially suitable to the learners and whether the materials can meet the demands of learners. Obviously, with his learner-centered approach, the learners’ opinion plays an important part in the process of evaluating the materials. Additionally, St. John (1998, p.28) states that “evaluation is a whole process which begins with determining what information to gather and ends with bringing about the change in current activities or influencing future ones”. From many opinions of different researchers regarding the definition of materials evaluation, it is viewed as a process of deciding whether the materials is suitable to the teaching and learning objectives based on collected data and suggesting actions to make changes. 1.3.2 Types of materials evaluation In the viewpoint of Tomlinson (1998, p.xi), evaluation can be “pre – use” and focused on “prediction of potential value”, it can be “whist – use” and focused on awareness and description of what the learners are actually doing whilst the materials 11 are being used”, and it can be “post – use” and focused on analysis of what happened as a result of using the materials. McGrath (2002, p.14) defines classifying materials evaluation as a cyclical process including pre-use, in-use and post-use evaluation. According to him, pre-use evaluation establishes potential suits, in-use evaluation gathers data on planning decisions, implementation and response and this may stimulate preliminary reconsiderations and post-use evaluation, considered “the most reliable when it draws on the experiences of several teachers and several groups of learners” by McGrath (2002, p.15), uses data on in-course use and data on effects to assess the suitability of selection. This study focuses on post – use evaluation to find out the value of the currently used materials “English of Civil Engineering” by basing on the teaching and learning experience of ESP teachers and last-year students of Construction at Haiphong Private University. 1.3.3 Criteria of materials evaluation There are two types of criteria including general (i.e. the essential features of any good teaching – learning material) and specific (or context-related) criteria (1996, in McGrath, 2002, p.31). More specifically, Tomlinson (1999, in McGrath, 2002, p.32) suggests the four categories including media – specific criteria which relate to the particular means used, content – specific criteria which relate to the nature of the materials, age – specific criteria, or in other words, the suitability of the materials and lastly local criteria which means the appropriateness of the materials for the particular environment in which it is to be used. Hutchinson (1987, p.99-104) suggests a very detailed evaluation checklist with five main criteria regarding audience, aims, content, methodology and other criteria. According to Hutchinson (1987), the criterion of audience refers to the target learners’ background including ages, gender, nationality, major, interests, etc., aims refer to the purpose of learners’ course and materials, content refers to language points, proportion of work on each macro and micro-skill, text-types and the subject matters, methodology is concerned with learners’ expectations from the course, kinds of tasks, teaching techniques and the aids available for use, and other criteria include price range and the possibly available quantities of the materials. The evaluation checklist in the study is mainly based on the above five criteria with some suitable adjustments so as to fit the research setting. 12 1.4 Materials adaptation Probably the most expected activity after materials evaluation is adaptation in order to make the materials more appropriate to the circumstances in which it is being used. McDonough and Shaw (1993, p.85, in McGrath, 2002, p.64) put it “to maximize the appropriacy of teaching materials in context” and to supplement for the inappropriateness of the materials such as “lack of authenticity, out-of-datedness, linguistics inaccuracies, etc.” (Madsen & Bowen, 1978, in McGrath, 2002, p.64). Tomlinson (1998, p. xi) defines materials adaptation as an act of “making changes to materials in order to improve them or to make them more suitable for a particular type of learner. Adaptation can include reducing, adding, omitting, modifying and supplementing. Most teachers adapt materials every time they use a textbook in order to maximize the value of the book for their particular learners”. When evaluating materials various techniques can be adopted such as “supplementing, editing, expanding, personalizing, simplifying, modernizing, localizing or modifying cultural/ situational content” (Madsen and Bowen, 1978, in McGrath, 2002, p.64) or “retaining, rejecting, re-ordering and modification”. (Ellis,1986, p.47, in McGrath, 2002, p. 64) 13 Chapter two An investigation into the situation of the Current teaching and learning English of Construction at Haiphong Private University To succeed in assessing and editing the currently used textbook for the last-year students of Construction, it is best to have a clear understanding of the current teaching and learning situation at HPU, especially the current teaching and learning of English of Construction first. Below will be some brief information about the students’ background in English, the materials used, and the materials evaluation in general. 2.1 An overview of the teaching staff and the teaching of ESP at HPU After nearly fifteen years since the foundation in 1997, Haiphong Private University now has more than three hundred well-qualified teachers for more than ten departments. Of the Department of Foreign languages, the group of teachers of English is the greatest in which we are divided into two subgroups: English for the major students and non-major ones. Generally speaking, we were all experienced teachers who always make greatest effort to update the teaching methods so as to meet the needs of teaching and learning here, and more importantly meet the requirements of society. 2.2 An overview of the current students of Construction at HPU Like other students learning at HPU, every student of Construction Department has four years’ time learning before he or she graduates. Among the different compulsory subjects during their study time, English of General English takes up three first terms with the English of Construction in the term following. This English lasts for 60 periods of forty five minutes. The objective is to develop their communication skills in which reading and writing are put most emphasis on. 2.3 Materials currently used for the ESP course and general evaluation English of Construction is learnt by the students of Construction Department when they begin their last-year study. The currently-used textbook which was compiled by Mrs. Nguyen Thi Phi Nga, M.A. is “English of Civil Engineering”. The lessons used to be extracted from different textbooks by prestigious authors of both foreign countries and Vietnam like James Cumming, Vu Trong Cau, etc., and especially the book was compiled by a quite experienced teacher who used to teach such group of 14 students for many years. For those reasons, the textbook can be said quite reliable. However, beside all the advantages that the book brings to the teaching and learning at HPU, it cannot avoid some short-comings. First, in terms of design, the book is said to be not effective in arousing the students’ interest. Second, in terms of content, the book lacks grammatical explanations, vocabulary explanations, and most importantly, practicing exercises. Last but not least, the language used in each lesson is believed to be rather difficult by the students at Haiphong Private University. 15 Chapter three data collection, findings and discussions This chapter will be dedicated to introducing the methods the author used to carry out the study, namely survey questionnaire and interview. Afterwards, what has been found from the data will be analyzed and this will take up most of the section. 3.1 Data collection Data for the research will be collected from some main sources such as surveys designed for the ESP teachers and students, and formal interviews and observations conducted right in the classroom. The process of doing this research is composed of various steps like determining the purpose of the study, raising research questions, defining participants, collecting data, analyzing the data. 31.1.1 Defining target students The second step in the study is to define a population. Which group will form a population and how many participants there will be depends on the purpose of the study. Since the subject matter is the English for Construction students at HPU, 436 survey questionnaires were given to 210 last-year Construction students of K10, 210 last-year Construction students of K11 and 8 ESP teachers at Haiphong Private University after they had finished the first term of the school year 2009-2010. The 8 teachers are those who have been experienced in teaching ESP for a certain number of years. In particular, they have all completed master courses. Though being young at age, the teachers have been adequately qualified to teach and evaluate the materials; therefore, their answers to the questionnaires are reasonably reliable. The 420 students directly received the survey questionnaires from the author and it was the very author who explained their questions in the questionnaires. They are the last-year students of Construction who were to study English of Construction after they had accomplished three terms of General English in their first and second school years. All of the students invited to take part in the survey come from classes XD1001, XD1002, XD1003, CD1001, XD1101, XD1102, XD,1103, and CD1101. 16 3.1.1.2 Questionnaire Being the first tool to collect data for this research, survey questionnaires were designed separately for the ESP teachers and Construction students of Haiphong Private University. The first questionnaire for 210 Construction students of K10 included eight sections in which questions were about the students’ background in English, their attitude towards the ESP lessons at HPU, their attitude towards the current textbook (both its design and content), what they really expected from an ESP course, and how they proposed changes for the book. The second questionnaire was for the 8 invited teachers who expressed their own ideas on some similar questions about the learning of the students and the materials used at the university. The third and fourth questionnaires were delivered to the next 210 Construction students of K11 and the same 8 teachers of ESP. They answered the questions on the newly-edited textbook. 3.1.2 Formal interviews and class observation Survey questionnaire has been known to be cost-effective and time-saving. Furthermore, it serves as the key research method for data collection; however, to get firm conclusion from the questionnaire results, the author observed the classrooms and conducted formal interviews with the teachers and the students of classes XD1001, XD1002, XD1003, CD1001, XD1101, XD1102, XD1103, CD1101. These supplementary techniques could help to make sure that what had been found was of great reliability. 3.2 Preliminary results and analysis. Right after the surveys were conducted, the data were also collected to be analyzed. Below will be the analysis of the findings. 3.2.1 Analysis of the survey questionnaires for the students All the questions for the surveys were carefully designed so that the teacher could have a better understanding of their ability in English, their attitudes towards the current textbook, their results after they learnt with the book and their expectation from an ESP course. 17 3.2.1.1 The students’ evaluation on their study of General English The first section of the questionnaire for the students was to investigate how they could use general English. It is clearly shown in the table below: Option a b c d 1 10% 25% 47% 12% 2 63% 15% 22% 0% 3 11% 29% 23% 37% 4 31% 16% 39% 14% 5 13% 25% 37% 25% Question Table 1: Students’ evaluation on their study of general English By looking at the table, it can be understood that the majority of the student (63%) found learning English very challenging. This is because of several reasons in which their late starting point of learning could partly account for. 47% of the students when being asked said that they started learning English quite late, some (about 12%) started only when they entered university. To answer the question “What has been your biggest difficulty in learning English”, 30% confessed that due to so many grammatical rules of English, they had trouble in learning the subject, 23% and 37% found speaking and listening the most difficult respectively. For those reasons, most of the students, more than 60% assessed their English as of low level. Therefore, they expected to improve their English after the first three terms of general English: 31% expected to improve their grammar understanding, 16% reading skill, 39% communication skill (speaking and listening) in everyday conversations, and just only 14% writing skill. 3.2.1.2 The students’ evaluation on their study of ESP Option Question a b c d 1 57% 26% 14% 3% 2 75% 19% 24% 2% 3 31% 29% 13% 19% 4 5% 23% 53% 27% 5 26% 52% 18% 4% 6 11% 29% 47% 13% 7 4% 33% 44% 17% Table 2: The students’ evaluation on their study of English for Specific Purposes 18 The collected data from Table 2 demonstrate that most students (83%) realized the importance of attending an ESP course after some courses of general English. They agreed that it is either very important or of certain degree of importance. A very small number of the students (3%) denied this and it might be explained by their fear of the learning difficulty or their reluctance to learn such a difficult subject. Though important they encountered great difficulties in the classroom, 158 (75%) students had great difficulties to get improvement in their English whereas 2% took this subject easy. Thus, after the ESP course, most of them were still not very confident with what they had been taught. 27 % of them complained that their basic grammar understanding and vocabulary using were of low level. Accordingly, the proportions of the students who could not deny that their abilities to read or write a simple text of Construction English were very not good, 47% and 44% respectively. 3.2.1.3 The students’ expectation from an ESP course Better their grammatical uses: 10% Enlarge their vocabulary: 12% Develop their reading and writing skills: 78% Chart 1: The students' expectation from an ESP course When the question “What do you expect from an ESP course?” was addressed to the students, 78% hoped the course would help them develop their reading and writing skills. This means they wished to able to work with simple texts of the subject matter after graduation. The number of those who wanted to enlarge their vocabulary is small, just only 12%, and better their grammatical uses 10%. This reflects most students’ understanding of the objectives of the course. 19 3.2.1.4 The students’ evaluation on the teacher’s teaching methods Option a b c d 1 40% 48% 9% 3% 2 59% 32% 8% 1% Question Table 3: The students’ evaluation on the teacher’s teaching methods The author got different ideas from the answers by the students about the teacher’s teaching methods. Honestly, most of the students (88%) liked or rather liked the way the teacher began every lesson. In addition, they emphasized the importance of their teacher’s job. Just a small percentage of them (3%) stated that they didn’t like it at all. This can be deduced that the teacher’s teaching methods were mostly accepted in the English classroom and as a result, her teaching was reasonably effective in making nearly all of her students understand the purpose of each lesson. Only 2 students (1%) said they didn’t understand it at all. 3.2.1.5 The students’ evaluation on content and methodology of current textbook 100 89% 88% 86% 80 67% 60 50% a b 40 20 51% 48% 33% 11% 0% 5% 7% 12% 23% 29% 24% 8% 25% 24% 9% 6% 0 Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q5 Q6 Q7 Chart 2: The students’ evaluation on content and methodology of current textbook The summary of data about the content and methodologies of the currently-used text book have signaled that most of the students liked the topics and thought the topics in the book are of great importance. The percentages of those who highly appreciated the book through the two questions “How can rate the topics of the lessons in the book?” and “Are the topics important for the learning of English of Construction?” are almost equal, 89% and 88%. However, when being questioned about the methodology of the book, 50% of the participants said the skills allocation is not reasonable, and 51% 20 c
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