Developing English Learners' Listening - Speaking Skill

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A research by Al-Mohanna & Ayedh Dhawi Mohammed

Transcript of Developing English Learners' Listening - Speaking Skill

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    _______________________________________________________________ Report Information from ProQuest27 January 2014 22:59_______________________________________________________________

  • Document 1 of 1 DEVELOPING ENGLISH LEARNERS' LISTENING-SPEAKING SKILLS INTERACTIVELY: ANANALYTIC STUDY IN THE SAUDI ARABIAN CONTEXT Author: Al-Mohanna, Ayedh Dhawi Mohammed Publication info: International Journal of Arts & Sciences 4.10 (2011): 77-105.ProQuest document link Full text: Headnote This study looks at the current status of teaching listening and speaking skills to Saudi EFL learners. The focusof the study is a group of EFL teachers and their classroom teaching practices in Saudi state schools in Riyadhcity, the capital of Saudi Arabia. After considering the teachers' practices, these are placed in relation to therelevant literature. This is to find our way in developing language listening and speaking skills interactively in theSaudi Arabian context. The study adopts the qualitative inquiry approach to look at people in natural settingswith classroom observation employed as an instrument for collecting data. A closer examination of data revealsthat the EFL classroom communication is extremely centred on the teacher. The EFL teachers initiate the talk,ask questions, decide who is going to participate and evaluate the answers. They are in control of the periodfrom beginning to end. The students are left with limited or non-communicative options. Keywords: EFL, Listening, Speaking, Interaction, Discourse. INTRODUCTION The practice of teaching English in the Saudi Arabian state schools is usually determined by the textbook or theseries of textbooks being used. Practices ranged from the traditional Grammar- Translation method to theCommunicative, currently claimed to be used in ELT classrooms. The current series of textbooks used in theSaudi Arabian state schools adopt the Communicative Approach which is also referred to as the Functional-Notional Approach. These textbooks are designated by the Ministry of Education, which supervises LanguageTeaching in Saudi Arabia. The intermediate-level textbooks, which are the focus of this study, are called 'Say ItIn English'. In each year of the intermediate level, the materials consist of two pupil's books, two workbooks andtwo teacher's books; that is one book for each semester of the academic year. Each pupil's book contains eightunits. Each unit is divided into four forty five-minute lessons. The Communicative Approach, on which English curricula in Saudi Arabia are based, stresses the importanceof all the language skills with more emphasis on listening-speaking. The ultimate goal of adopting theCommunicative Approach in the language classroom is to help students become "communicatively competent"(Larsen-Freeman 1986, p.131). To achieve this goal, students have to master certain aspects of the learnedlanguage. Larsen-Freeman (Ibid, p. 131) draws our attention to the following, which I will present in list form: * Students need knowledge of linguistic forms, meanings and functions. * They need to know that many different forms can be used to perform a function and also that a single form canoften serve a variety of functions. * They must be able to choose the most appropriate form given the social context and the roles of theinterlocutors, and * They must also be able to manage the process of negotiating meaning with their interlocutors. If this is expected from language learners in the communicative classroom, what will be their role as well as thatof their teachers? Inside the language classroom, the teacher plays different roles depending on the needs of the learners and theaims of the instructional materials. In the communicative classroom, as Breen and Candlin (1980) argue, thelanguage teacher works as an organiser of resources, is a resource himself, and is a guide for classroomprocedures and activities. The teacher is there to facilitate the communicative process between all participants
  • and between these participants and the various activities in the text, and to act as an independent participantwithin the learning- teaching group. As for the language learners, Breen and Candlin (Ibid, p. 101) describe their roles as: "The role of the learner as negotiator -between the self, the learning process, and the object of learning -emerges from and interacts with the role of joint negotiator with the group and within the classroom proceduresand activities which the group undertakes. The implication for the learner is that he should contribute as muchas he gains, and thereby learn in an interdependent way. In expression and negotiation, the learner adopts thedual role of being, first a potential teacher for other learners and, second, an informant to the teacherconcerning his own learning process. In this latter role, the learner can offer the teacher and other learners asource for new direction in the learning teaching process of the group." With reference to the Saudi Arabian context, the involvement of young learners in the negotiation processneeds to be practiced gradually due to their limited and humble knowledge of the language, as they are firstintroduced to it at the age of 11; therefore, the expected participation of more competent peers should begradually encouraged by giving enough time for those competent ones to reach their level of potentialdevelopment. However, the main aim of this study is to investigate the current status of ELT, with special focus on listening-speaking skills, in the Saudi state intermediate schools. It is also to shed light on the roles that teachers andstudents play in the language classroom. This is an attempt to provide information to help in developing andimproving Saudi EFL students' listening-speaking skills interactively which, in turn, would make themcommunicatively competent. STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM Worldwide there are millions of people who can neither read nor write, yet they cope with their environment.They know how to listen and how to talk. In a broader sense they communicate with their community and thatallows them to learn, share and transmit culture. The ability to listen and speak effectively and interactively oftenmakes the crucial difference between success and failure. In Saudi Arabia, students in state schools receiveseven years of formal English teaching (one year at elementary school, three years at intermediate school andthree years at secondary school). They, however, graduate from secondary school at a very low level in Englishlistening-speaking ability. This phenomenon was the impetus to undertake this study in an attempt to provideinformation that would help improve teaching listening-speaking skills for EFL students in the Saudi Arabiancontext. The following questions formulate the problem: 1. What is the nature of interaction and discourse between English language teachers and students? 2. What roles do English language teachers and students play in the classroom? 3. How can we improve listening and speaking skills among Saudi English language learners? PURPOSE OF THE STUDY The main purpose of this study is to develop Saudi students' English listening and speaking skills. To achievethis purpose, the study investigates the classroom practices of English language teachers and students withspecial focus on listening and speaking skills. SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY This study derives its significance from the importance of listening and speaking skills in learning a language asthey are considered primary language functions. Furthermore, it is a field study, which observes naturalsettings. It seeks to evaluate the actual status of teaching listening and speaking skills in the Saudi Englishlanguage classrooms. In addition, its findings would help present suggestions and recommendations forimproving the teaching of these important skills. LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY This study is limited to: - Riyadh city.

  • - Intermediate stage. - Male English language teachers and students. Before we proceed further in our investigation, it is worthwhile to touch upon the importance of spoken languagein the learning process. This will be the concern of the following section. THE IMPORTANCE OF SPOKEN LANGUAGE IN THE LEARNING PROCESS The importance of spoken language in the learning process is receiving increasing attention from educators.This applies to first language acquisition although children live the learning experience from birth. Brown et al.(1984, p. 5) argue that all languages, even the first language, are learned with some direct teaching of thespoken component. They state: "For many years it was assumed that native English speaking children would naturally acquire the spoken formof the language. Since it is demonstrable that normal children at five, or ten or fifteen do indeed speak Englishand do show progressively greater command of English as they grow older, it seems reasonable to supposethat if they're simply left to grow up in an English-speaking environment they will naturally acquire competencein using the spoken language. ... People concerned with the role of language in education have pointed out thatnot all children acquire the sort of spoken language which is highly valued within the educational system." In school, children use language not only for communication but also for learning. Shafer et al. (1983, p.2) pointout the significance of spoken language in learning as: It "is a way of representing the conscious world toourselves and to others. It has become increasingly clear that success in school is a product of learning thelanguage of the schools. ... Interaction through talk at home and in school is essential in bringing about orallanguage fluency and ultimately literacy." Browne (1996, p. 10)