Integrating L1 to TESL

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    Target Situation Analysis for integrating L1 to a Sri Lankan TESL environment

    Rohini Chandrica Widyalankara

    Observing and evaluating current pedagogical practices to identify a systemic, rational mode of

    integrating L1 to the TESL environment under Pre research task I, a classroom observation,

    identified the pragmatism of restricting the area of integration to vocabulary enhancement.

    Pre research task II selected the participants for the main research through classifying three L2

    proficiency groups: low, intermediate and high, through prior performance data and selected

    participants using stratified random sampling procedures. The Pilot Studies conducted research

    and analyzed contrasting descriptive statistics to ascertain whether the ability to infer lexical

    meaning, dictionary skills vary across the three proficiency groups. Findings were examined to

    ascertain whether judicious integration of L1 is viable and pragmatic across all three

    proficiency groups.

    In sum this chapter identified the impetus for judicious integration of L1 through classroom

    observation, shortlisted participants for the main research and the research based components of

    the target situation analysis identified and formulated the foreground for the main research which

    examines, across the three identified proficiency groups, the effects of the provision of two gloss

    conditions, English, and Sinhala glosses, which are independent variables in contrast with the

    control No gloss condition on text comprehension.

    2.1 Stage I - Pre research tasks

    2.1.1 Pre research task I- Need for L1 translations in an ESL classroom

    Research method - Classroom observation

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    Objective - to identify whether there is a need for L1 translations in an ESL classroom and

    whether adequate resources to obtain the right meaning of difficult English words are available

    outside the classroom.

    Research questions-

    1.Do teachers use L1in an ESL classroom?

    2. How often do learners check the English-Sinhala dictionary by Malalasekara,

    or any other English-Sinhalese dictionary for the Sinhala meaning of a difficult English word?

    3. If vocabulary items go uncomprehended are the resources available outside the

    classroom adequate to obtain theright meaning?

    Research method: classroom observation and short interviews

    Participants 50 intermediate proficiency learners

    Procedure the researcher observed a classroom teaching session and collected data from the

    participants through interviews.

    Results -

    Research questions-

    1.Do teachers use L1 to accelerate vocabulary comprehension?

    Observation The researcher followed the research procedure classroom observation to identify

    techniques used by facilitators to integrate L1 into the ESL classroom. According to the

    researchers contention the observed practice is one of the most suitable methods which can be

    used at undergraduate level. This method was defined as judicious integration of L1 in the ESL

    classroom.

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    During the lesson prior to testing presentations the facilitator1, stated, If you do not prepare

    beforehand for the presentations the examiners will know that you are bluffing. Realizing that

    some of the weaker students would not understand bluffing, the L1 translation in Sinhala was

    immediately provided,

    Do you know what bluffing is? Its /pacha gahanawa/

    It was observed that a facilitator who possessed high exposure to teaching English to the students

    of the Department of English, where English is L1, used a different judicious approach when

    required to teach ESL.

    Though colloquial in usage /pacha gahanawa/provided an effective definition which was clear,

    short and familiar. This usage activated the necessary schemata and accelerated comprehension,

    the symptomatic result being the shy, embarrassed expressions on the faces of the students.

    2. How often do learners check the English-Sinhala dictionary by Malalasekara, or any other

    English-Sinhalese dictionary for the Sinhala meaning of a difficult English word?

    Table 12: Frequency of consulting a bilingual dictionary

    Statistics collected through short interviews bear evidence that the majority of learners consulted

    English-Sinhala dictionaries.

    3. If vocabulary items go uncomprehended, are there adequate resources to obtain the right

    meaning outside the locale of the classroom?

    1Professor Manique Gunesekera

    Response # of respondents / 50

    Almost always 33

    Often 9

    Not very often 8

    Almost never 0

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    The researcher referred to the English-Sinhalese dictionary (Malalasekara, 1958, revised version

    2001) and the Oxford Advanced Learner Dictionary for the meaning ofbluff.

    bluff- Talking in a rough, kind manner. Innocent, rough behaviour. False threats.

    Showing false cleverness. A steep incline/ hill.* 2 (Malalasekara, 1958)

    bluff False pretension to obtain favours. Deceiving through falsehood.

    bluffA very steep incline. Telling something to the face. A precipice. An abyss*

    (Malalasekara, Revised version 2001).

    The Oxford Advanced Learner Dictionary bluff

    a.Making believe that you will do something when you really have no intention of doing it.b. You show that you know something when, in fact, you do not know it.

    Analysis

    84% of the interviewees often or almost always refer to an English-Sinhalese dictionary for the

    meaning of a difficult English word. The most popular source used was a bilingual dictionary by

    Malalasekara (1958, Revised version 2001).The Malalasekara dictionary contained only the

    probable meanings to the word bluff. It did not provide contexts as in the Oxford dictionary. The

    contrasting meanings provided are assumed to result in confusion and lead to selecting the wrong

    meaning. Whereas /pacha gahanawa/used by the facilitator not only activated the associating

    schemata immediately, it also provided a concise Sinhala equivalent to the glosses provided in

    the Oxford dictionary.

    Analyzing the findings of pre research task I the researcher assumes the following:

    The majority of ESL learners does not possess good inferring abilities and seeks thehelp of a bilingual dictionary instead of a monolingual one.

    The multi meanings provided would hinder identification of the appropriate meaning incontext.

    The selection of the wrong meaning will result inErroneous input erroneous intake fossilization of wrong

    schemata

    Based on these assumptions this research identifies the natural order of self meaning

    identification the learners would follow if the meaning of bluff was not provided by the

    facilitator: infer, refer to the dictionary for clarification of inferred meaning or to obtain the

    2Translations which retains the linguistic quality of the Sinhala glosses.

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    meaning. This order of self meaning identification is supported by Koren (1999) who states that

    in order for the learners to understand the meaning of a word they have to either infer it from

    context or from its structure, or look up the word in a dictionary. Thus the study conceptualizes

    the following model to illustrate natural order of self meaning identification followed by ESL

    learners when encountering difficult English words.

    Figure 2: Natural order of self meaning identification followed by ESL learners

    when encountering difficult English words.

    Success Arrives at a meaning

    but is in doubt

    Failure

    Refers to dictionary

    for clarification

    Refers to dictionary

    for meaning

    Clarifies

    as correct

    Confusion due to

    multiple meanings

    SuccessFailure to

    identify the

    correctmeaning

    Failure to

    identify

    thecorrect

    meaning

    Success

    Fossilization of wrong meaning

    Learner encounters difficult English word

    Attempts to infer the meaningStep 1

    Step 2

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    2.1.2 Pre research task II: Needs analysis and group divisions

    Objective - to short list the participants through needs analysis procedures and group divisions

    through stratified random sampling procedures for the research components.

    .Research questions-

    (1)Does the undergraduate population reflect a need for vocabulary

    enhancement through judicious integration of L1?

    (2)Is there a relationship between their lexical knowledge and

    a) Ability to produce a body of written text in the form of an essay?b)

    ESL proficiency?

    (3) Which population (Arts/Science) is more in need of vocabulary enhancement?

    Research method: Proficiency identification test in the form of a needs analysis.

    Participants: a random sample of 100 final year students ( Arts-50, Science 50) who applied for

    the English for final years programme conducted under the IRQUE project at the ELTU,

    University of Kelaniya, 2005.

    Instrument a question paper consisting of the following:

    1) A comprehension passage

    Target question Write the meanings of the 5 given words (tested the meaning inferring

    skills of the participants)

    2) Composition Write a short essay

    Procedure a random sample of 100 answer scrip