Implementing Curriculum Changes in the Classroom
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Much research on curriculum development has been done in different fields of education. It has uncovered both successes and failures. Research on educational innovations reveals many problems which result in non-implementation of planned innovations. These include the problems of inadequate knowledge of implementation, and lack of awareness of the limitations of teachers and school administration, etc. (Pink 1989; Fullan 1992; Fullan and Hargreaves 1991). Recently, the literature in the field of ELT has reported innovations in the implementation of new teacher roles, new practices, new materials, etc. Most principles for innovation are derived from English-speaking countries and transferred throughout the world. For instance, the learner-centred, communicative approach which originated in British ELT has been recommended almost everywhere. Although some reports mention the success of such innovations, others have concluded that many problematic implementation issues emerge from a direct transfer, after it has been put into use worldwide, such as in China (Burnaby and Son 1989; Anderson 1993; Hui 1997), Indonesia (Tomlinson 1990), Greece (Karavas-Doukas 1995), Hong-Kong (Carless 1998), and Libya (Orafi 2008), etc.
However, the knowledge and understanding of what is involved in effecting innovation in many projects has been investigated mostly by their change agents. Many ELT innovation projects reported in the professional literature are designed and examined by their authors as leading change agents, not by end users, i.e. teachers (e.g. Gray 1990; Jarvis 1992; Tomlinson 1990; Barmada 1994; Guariento 1997; Markee 1997, etc.). In those projects, the authors/reporters design, introduce, and monitor the process of implementation.
To finding out how best to teach the four skills of listening, speaking, reading, and writing as well as grammar and vocabulary. The development of so many methods has been a response, according to Richards and Rodgers (2001:7-9), to the changes in the kind of proficiency (e.g. oral vs. written) that learners are thought to need. In the 1970's, in particular, there was a major shift to learners' need for communicating in a second language away from a focus on grammar and translation. This shift was crucial, especially for foreign language learners who leave school unable to use their foreign language in actual communication. So, FL countries adopted this shift to communication to satisfy their students' needs for fluency. As English became a lingua franca by the 1990s it was seen as necessary to teach it for communication as it became the mostly taught foreign language worldwide (Gebhard, 2006; Carrick, 2007).
The teaching of English as a second (ESL) or as a foreign language (EFL) started to become important after World War II. A great demand for English courses by immigrants, refugees, and foreign students took place in the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States, and Australia (Richards, 2001:23). When English was introduced in schools, it was first introduced at the secondary level in 1950s. But, since the application of the Communicative Approach/Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) in national curricula after the publication of Wilkins's book Notional Syllabuses (1976) educationalists/researchers in many countries have observed that students can not communicate as well as expected after leaving secondary school, with eight years of English, as they start their university study (e.g. Al-Mutawa, 1994; Tang, 2002). According to Al-Mutawa and Kailani (1998:I) English language has enjoyed a considerable role in the fields of business, industry, technology, politics, education, medicine and many other professional fields. According to Saleh, more attention is required from EFL teachers to students EFL teachers on teaching them how to communicate in the target language effectively. This requires that the traditional methods, the classroom learning activities and the learning environment have to be changed to correspond with the latest developments and changes in views on ELT represented by the communicative approach (2002:1). Because of the above reasons, English language syllabus of Libyan secondary schools has been changed lately as a response to these developments.
The new English programme in Libyan secondary education aims to enable students to: i) achieve a reasonable proficiency in listening and speaking English at a sensible speed, reading simple texts with comprehension and writing about a simple subject or incident; ii) develop their interest in learning English so that they can learn effectively by themselves; and iii) improve their knowledge and have access to foreign culture (UNESCO 2002 reported in Al-Buseifi 2003:4).
It has been investigated that some classroom teachers who teach EFL at secondary schools in Libya are traditional and not in harmony with the principles and objectives of the communicative approach upon which the new curriculum has been based. Teachers are faced with some difficulties in implementing the new curriculum. Therefore, some problems have been appeared, for example; teachers use their native language extensively and use only very little English during the lesson. Teachers talk a lot whereas students talk very little. Teachers need to be well trained. Class-time and size are not suitable. Appropriate materials and group-work activities are needed.
This study aims to investigate some EFL teachers in Libyan secondary schools to determine the extent of their effectiveness in achieving the desirable objectives of the new curriculum. It specifically investigates and describes the following:
- How far does the new curriculum filter down into EFL classrooms in Libyan secondary schools?
- What are the methods that Libyan secondary school teachers use in teaching English as a foreign language?
- How do Libyan teachers implement the new curriculum (CLT) in teaching EFL?
- What difficulties may face Libyan teachers in implementing the CLT approach?
- To what extent are Libyan teachers qualified in communicative language teaching?
Since the language curriculum of Libyan secondary schools has been changed lately and has been based on the communicative approach. The EFL teachers who teach this new curriculum should be based on the principles and objectives of the communicative approach. In fact, most Libyan EFL teachers got used to apply the Grammar Translation Method (GTM) with its traditional views and objectives, so they may encounter some difficulties when changing their method especially if they have not been previously trained. This topic is important to investigate because I have noted that it is still a controversial issue between researchers and teachers. The main emphasis is to know whether teachers are using the new curriculum in order to enhance the students' basic knowledge of English and competence to use English for communication. In other words, it is to investigate EFL teachers at Libyan secondary schools to find out whether they have changed their method in parallel with the change in the curriculum and how it is implemented. In order to achieve more understanding about these issues, this study attempts to discuss the curriculum innovation in Libya with reference to communicative language teaching which is implemented in the new curriculum. More attention is given to teachers, they are regarded as having the main role in any innovation.
This study is divided into five chapters. In the first chapter, there will be the introduction, the research hypothesis, the research question, the purpose and the significance of the research. Chapter two will be focused on the literature review which include; definition of innovation, its theory and its aim. Background of the context, EFL in Libya, CLT, its development, and its principles. Some factors related to the adoption of the new curriculum (CLT), e g; teacher's role, teacher student interaction, student-student interaction, teacher training, methods of teaching, materials and testing criteria. Third chapter will be the methodology. The methods of collecting data will be discussed, there will be a review of how data will be collected, who are the participants, how many, where, how, when, all these questions will be answered in this chapter. Chapter four will be about the results. The results will be discussed in chapter five. Conclusion and recommendations will be discussed in chapter six.
This study will provide an opportunity to enrich theory and practice of CLT in a non-native English speaking setting. It deals with an important issue in the field of teaching as a foreign language which is related to the teaching methods that is used by teachers. To achieve this purpose this research has been carried out.
It has been widely noted over many years that the low degree of success of educational innovations is mainly caused by the failure of the innovators who were unable to make use of the extensive theoretical literature on innovation (Havelock and Huberman 1977; Barmada 1994). They also did not adopt the appropriate innovation strategies (ibid.). Both White (1987) and Barmada (1994) identify two areas of expertise in which all innovators should be equipped: an understanding of innovation issues and expertise in the management of innovation.
The Meaning Of Curricular Innovation
It has been defined by Markee as following:
“Curricular innovation is a managed process of development whose principal products are teaching and/or testing materials, methodological skills, and pedagogical values that are perceived as new by potential adopters” (1997: 46). According to Hall and Hewings, teachers' roles are seen as implementers, and sometimes regarded as adopters, students are clients, and materials designers are suppliers (2001: 119).
Curriculum Innovation Versus Theory:
Vroom's expectancy theory (1964 in Morrison 1998) from business explains the instant effectiveness of the use of rewards and sanctions. Expectancy theory is based on the assumption that people will involve themselves in change if they expect it to bring about personal benefits (Morrison 1998:132). It is argued that the more benefits people perceive, the greater willingness they will have to be involved in the projects of change (ibid.). These perceived benefits, such as financial benefits, job security, and promotion opportunities, etc. are assumed to be an effective motivator to improve job performance. However, any change often requires additional time, energy, and finance, etc. If the adopters do not think the advantages of an innovation will outweigh its costs, it may not be easy to persuade them to accept it. From management theory point of view, and according to (Everard and Morris 1990), by addressing the “interrelated sensing systems”, we can understand how educational managers effect change. They are; policy making, development, controlling, liaising and doing (Markee 1997:49-51). Teachers do not see themselves having part in curriculum innovation, although the definition given above indicates that teachers have a primary role in innovation. This phenomena has been indicated by many researchers that “curricular innovation entails a mix of professional, academic, and administrative change” (e. g; Bowers 1983, 1987; Crocker 1984; Lee and VanPatten 1990; Straker-Cooke 1987; White 1988). “Managers must therefore enhance an organization's capacity to innovate through organization development” (Markee 1997: 51). It seems that teachers have many tasks particularly that related to their classrooms. Thus, all participants in language teaching should given part in innovation to be managed (ibid.).
The New Curriculum (Clt) In Efl Countries:
Attempts to introduce communicative language teaching (CLT) into EFL contexts on EFL countries' own initiatives and through international aid projects have encouraged many innovations in L2 education. In general, such innovations have had a low degree of success (Brindley & Hood, 1990), and implementing CLT worldwide has often faced difficulty (Anderson, 1993; Chick, 1996; Ellis, 1994, 1996; Gonzalez, 1985; Kirkpatrick, 1984; Sano, Takahashi, & Yoneyama, 1984; Shamin, 1996; Ting, 1987; Valdes & Jhones, 1991). Difficult as many EFL countries are still striving to introduce CLT hoping that it will improve their English teaching. Some researchers have strongly advocated the adoption of CLT in EFL countries and recognized the difficulties these countries face in adopting CLT (Li, 1984; Prabhu, 1987).
Burnaby and Sun (1989) report that teachers in China found it difficult to use CLT. These difficulties include the context of the wider curriculum, traditional methods, class sizes and schedules, resources and equipment, the low status of teachers who teach communicative rather than analytical skills, and English teachers' deficiencies in oral English and sociolinguistic and strategic competence. Anderson's (1993) study of CLT in China reported such hurdles as a lack of properly trained teachers, a lack of appropriate texts and materials, students' not being acclimatized to CLT, and difficulties in evaluating students taught by way of CLT.
Sano et al. (1994) point out that the Japanese students they studied generally did not feel a pushing need to use English, so that the goal of communicative competence seemed too distant for them. All these difficulties seem to apply to Libyan context too.
Karavas-Doukas (1995) gives a report in which the curriculum developers in Greece tried to implement the communicative approach to English teaching/learning using textbooks containing communicative components. However, Karavas-Doukas indicated that teachers' lack of understanding of the methodological principles underlying the new materials was one of the impeding factors that finally let to the non-implementation of this innovation. The Greek teachers had changed to new materials, but they tended to implement the intended communicative activities as controlled grammar practice exercises and did not create the opportunities of real communication in their classroom. They did not realize the new role of teachers and students associated with the CLT approach, so they still acted as knowledge-transmitters, rather than facilitators (ibid.).
Much research has been conducted discussing the communication problems encountered by Arab learners in most of the Arab countries; particularly in Libya. This fact has been clearly explained by many researchers, e. g. Abdul Haq (1982), Harrison, Prator and Tucker (1975), Abbad (1988), Wahba (1998), Saleh (2002) and Orafi (2008). The students in Jordan, for example, learn English in their home country where the native language is Arabic. The only way to learn English in Jordan is through formal instruction, i.e. in the classroom where language teachers are native speakers of Arabic. There are general screams about the extended degeneration of the standards of English proficiency of students among school teachers, university instructors and all who are involved with English language teaching.
The results of the studies conducted in Jordan lead to the conclusion that the goals set by the Ministry of Education are desirous and have not yet been reached (Rababah, 2005:181).
In Yamen, the situation is almost the same as in the other Arab countries. Abbad (1988) acknowledges the weakness of Yameni learners of English, and adds that “in spite of the low proficiency level in English of most applicants, they are accepted into the department.” This is what happens in most of the Arab university. English language departments accept high school graduates without understanding their proficiency level and whether or not they will be able to administrate a program of English studies.
Therefore, Arab learners of English find it difficult to communicate freely in the target language. This may be due to the learning environment which some umpire to be inappropriate for learning a foreign language. This is obvious in Jordan where the formal language of communication is Arabic (Rababah, 2005:182). What happen with other countries can be applied on Libyan context, because the situation is almost the same. According to Saleh (2002) and Orafi (2008), although the new curriculum is introduced in Libya since 2000, the students in Libya still cannot communicate in English or express themselves. They cannot speak English freely inside and outside schools as well. Therefore, they cannot use English in real life situation.
ELT In Libya:
In the 1980s the focus of English language teaching in Libya was on grammar and reading comprehension. Lessons were characterized by oral drills, memorization of vocabulary, and reading aloud. Arabic was widely used in English lessons by teachers and students. During the late 1980s, as a result of political tensions between Libya and the West, the teaching of English was banned from schools and universities across the country. In the 1990s, this status changed to the positive and new curriculum was introduced in 2000 (Orafi, 2008: 244). The new curriculum recommends that ″English be used as much as possible by the teacher and students in the classroom, as the aim is for the students to communicate effectively and fluently with each other and to make talking in English a regular activity″ (ibid:245). It was argued that learners learn a language through the process of communicating in it, and that communication that is meaningful to the learner provides a better opportunity for learning. New classroom techniques and activities were needed, new roles for teachers and learners in the classroom. Instead of making use of activities that demanded accurate repetition and memorization of sentences and grammatical patterns, activities that required learners to negotiate meaning and to interact meaningfully were required.
The purpose of education is seen as based on careers, examination passing and recall. Understanding, applying ideas, creativity, questioning is all devalued. The idea of school education as a way to unlock potential seems missing and the students appear to appreciate that (Orafi 2008). The teachers' role is largely that of transmitting information in an efficient and effective manner to their students. The teachers have little insight in the role of their subjects in the development of students. They are ruled by the demands of society, with its dependence on examination success for gaining access to over crowed and want more time for students to be able to think. However, they have little clear idea of the nature and role of understanding and the idea of seeing their subject in terms of wider life is largely absent (Al-Buseifi, 2003). Although improving the educational system is a priority for the education authorities in Libya, the educational programmes still suffer from shortages in facilities such as computers, laboratories, and information networks, a lack of qualified teachers, and the use of traditional methods of teaching (Khalifa, 2002). This could be due to the fact that the central focus is on increasing the quantity of schools and institutes rather than improving the quality of teaching and learning outcomes.
The Situation In Libyan Secondary Schools
According to Orafi (2008), ‘the main problem at present of education in Libya is the quality of education. The need to build so much in order to educate so many in a short time creates the classical dilemma of quality of education versus quantity education'. In fact, this problem is not the problem of Libyan education only but is a problem common to many developing countries. Classrooms in Libyan secondary schools are regarded crowed. Most of classes are consisted of at least thirty students. Every student has his own seat from the beginning of the year to the end of it. It is difficult for teachers to go freely through the class. Also it is not easy to work in groups, and to deal with all the students. This problem has been discussed by Richards (1996:146) who states that;
…the majority of large class teachers created, within their large class, a smaller class of students in the front only. They seemed happy to teach this ‘smaller' class of students in the front and ignored the students at the back…
There is frequently not enough equipment and facilities at some schools (e.g. computers and laboratories). Classes are often large with an inadequate supply of teachers. ‘The examination system emphasises the rote recall of information and holds great power over the learners at key times of the year' (Orafi 2008:243).
English Textbooks In Libyan Secondary Schools (3rd Year)
The textbook comprises of; subject book, skills book and work book. The materials are organized into two semesters; 12 units per semester, with 22 lessons in each unit. The lessons are divided between the three student books as follows: subject book; 10 lessons per unit, skills book; 9 lessons per unit, and work book; 3 lessons per unit.
- Subject Book; the main purpose of this book is presenting information and related vocabulary. The main purpose of the reading and listening texts in the Subject Book is to impart knowledge about the subject concerned and present associated vocabulary. The final two lessons in the Subject Book present one or more pieces of writing.
- Skills Book; the main purpose of the Skills Book is presentation and practice in the four skills.
- Workbook; its purpose is written consolidation of grammar points from the Skills Book. Students are often referred back to the Skills Book to find examples or to check their answers. Occasionally, vocabulary items are also practiced in the Workbook, and there are sometimes pair work and role-play activities (Phillips & et al 2002).
- Implementing innovation as organizational development:
The concept of innovation as organizational development is well described in Markee's two-in-one innovation: primary innovation and secondary innovation (1997). Markee relates the dimension of organizational development to ‘secondary innovations' in contrast to ‘primary innovations', i.e. changes in teaching (and/or testing materials), methodological skills, and pedagogical vales (ibid: 53). In the dimension of primary innovations, innovation intending to introduce new materials, new teaching procedure, new teaching roles or technology, etc. will also involve changes in skills and values. Markee argues that primary innovations cannot be achieved without the implementation of secondary innovations. Markee exemplifies the notion of two-in-one innovations in a project conducted in an American university. This project not only introduced the task-based syllabus into classroom, but also implemented administrative and academic innovations for organizational development. For instance, by means of the development of communication channels (e.g. staff meetings, seminars, and orientations, etc.), participants at all levels obtained a complete understanding of the innovation. By means of the development of the teaching programs, teachers were well trained and became better informed. The outcomes showed that the administrative and academic development not only facilitated the implementation of the new syllabus, but also brought about organizational development. Development of the institutional change capacity is largely neglected due to ‘lack of awareness of the limitations of teacher and school administration or knowledge about how to implement the project' (Pink 1989 in Fullan 1992). Through the process of organizational development, the implementers, including the management and teachers, focus on the processes and contents of change, learning to develop the capacity to implement change as organizational development. Only when the management and teachers are assisted to build up their change capacity, is there an opportunity for ‘change as organizational development' (Morrison 1998).
5. The curriculum innovation and the role of the teacher
Rodgers in Richards (2001:104-105) discussing implementation of a communicative syllabus in Malaysia points out that:
While the curriculum innovation has been failed in some places, it has been succeeded in others (i.e. Malaysia). In Malaysia the situation is different and the new curriculum has been managed to achieve its goal, because in Malaysia all the concern parts are shared in innovation (Richards 2001: 104-105). It is clear that these parts should be included in any decision for innovation. In Libya no one of these has taken part in the innovation, except the decision makers (Orafi 2008 :245). In England according to Woods and Jeffrey (2002:25) teachers have seen their role reduced to a list of “competencies and performativities”. This has produced teacher uncertainly as their role as professional has been reduced to that of a technician. In Libya, the teacher is often seen in similar terms, teachers in Libya do not usually influence curriculum change; it is the responsibility of the government to do so. Teachers must merely understand the requirement of students, know the syllabus, and be able to use appropriate teaching methods. Another important responsibility of the teacher is to help students to process new material in meaningful ways in order to encourage its storage in long-term memory in such a way that it is understood and is related to previous knowledge. However, the aim is that the learner makes sense of life and can use and apply knowledge in meaningful ways (Hussein, 2006).
Orafi (2008) investigated teachers' practices and beliefs in relation to curriculum innovations in English language teaching in Libya. The study was conducted with five Libyan secondary school teachers using classroom observation and interviews. He concluded that there was a mismatch between the teachers' practice in the classroom and the principles of the curriculum because of the influence of their beliefs.
6. Methods of teaching EFL in Libyan secondary schools
English is taught with the sole aim of passing exams and moving to the next stage. The learning process is largely viewed as mechanical habit formation. That is, the teaching process is dominated by teacher questions, the selection of students to respond, and the demonstration of examples on the board for students to imitate and repeat chorally. Some Libyan teachers still doubt the value of communicative activities because they believe that vocabulary and grammar rules must be the starting point in learning any foreign language, unlike when acquiring a first language. They think that students should be provided with large amounts of vocabulary and grammar rules to be memorized, and then they can start thinking of introducing various activities to practice the language (Al-Buseifi, 2003). These beliefs reflect their practice in class, where traditional methods of teaching such as the grammar translation method and the audio-lingual method are dominant (Orafi, 2008). Because the new curriculum is based on the CLT, I should turn to give sight on the CLT approach:
7. Communicative Language Teaching
Communicative Language Teaching has had a major influence on language curriculum development. First, curriculum development has become much more complex. Whereas twenty or thirty years ago, the point of departure for curriculum development tended to be restricted to the identification of the learner's current level of proficiency, with the development of communicative language teaching and the insight that curricula should reflect learner's communicative needs and learning preferences. (Nunan 1996:20) Communication between student and student influences many ways. It can enhance or hinder learning. Students learn from communication through discussion or by talking about tasks. Communication can take place between a teacher and students. Therefore, appropriate communication skills are required, by keeping in mind the sensitivity to students, their level of understanding and judgement (Dillon and Maguire in Sussan 2005:105).
What Is Communicative Language Teaching?
CLT has been defined by Canale and Swain (1980:33) who point that:
With respect to teaching methodology, it is crucial that classroom activities reflect, in the most optimally direct manner, those communication activities that the learner is most likely to engage in… Furthermore, communication activities must be as meaningful as possible and be characterized (at increasing levels of difficulty) by aspects of genuine communication such as its basis in social interaction, the relative creativity and unpredictability of utterances, its purposefulness and goal-orientation, and its authenticity.
Communicative language teaching (CLT) is typically seen as an approach to language teaching (Richards and Rodgers2001). It is based on the theory that the main purpose of language use is communication. With the aim of developing learners' communicative competence (Hymes 1971). In other words, its goal is to make use of real-life situations that requires communication.
What Is Communicative Competence?
Communicative competence is defined as the capability to discuss and command apposite social behaviours, and it needs the active commitment of the learner in the construction of the target language (Canale and Swain 1980; Celce-Murcia et al 1995; Hymes 1972). Four dimensions of communicative competence are recognized; the knowledge of grammar and vocabulary (Linguistic competence); the capability to say the apposite thing in a confident social situation (sociolinguistic competence); the capability to begin, insert, add to, and extent a conversation, and the capability to do this in a regular and logical manner (discourse competence); the capability to communicate effectively and recover difficulties caused by communication collapse (strategic competence) (Richards and Rodgers 2001:160). Terms usually used to point to aspects of CLT contain ‘process oriented,' ‘task-based,' ‘group work and discussion' and ‘learner-centred' teaching. Communicative Language Teaching points to both processes and goals in classroom learning (Savignon, 2002:162). Berns (1990:104) states that in CLT;
Language teaching is based on a view of language as communication, that is, language is seen as a social tool which speakers use to make meaning; speakers communicate about something to someone for some purpose, either orally or in writing.
Obviously we can notice that CLT can be seen as a way of teaching in which the application of communicative activities and the foreign language attempts to advance students' competence of knowing and sharing different knowledge. It centres on the aspect that learning is assisted in a purposeful, real situation where activities are achieved with the teacher's directions. The definitions also hint that in order to carry out CLT successfully particularly in the EFL context; we are as EFL teachers need to improve our communicative competence, and need to have knowledge about the culture of the foreign language in order to teach the students. Our English proficiency, beliefs, attitudes will affect the implementation of CLT.
Background Of CLT
Communicative language teaching came into existence in the 1970's as a result of Hymes (1972), the work of the Council of Europe (Halliday 1975, the writings of Wilkins 1972, 1976, and Van EK & Alexander (1980). Wilkins's document (1975) where he defined notions i.e. concepts such as time and place, and communicative functions such as requesting or apologizing, which was developed into the book National Syllabuses (Wilkins, 1976), influenced the development of CLT (see Mitchell, 1994; Richards and Rodgers, 2001; Howatt and Widdowson, 2004). CLT's roots can ultimately be traced back to Chomsky's criticism of structural linguistic theory (1966). Chomsky's ideas about linguistic competence, the innate knowledge of the linguistic system of the language, called Audio Lingual Method (ALM) into question based on the idea that learners know more about the language than what they could have learned if they depended only on the input they are exposed to. Hymes (1972) view that communicative competence and socio-cultural context must also be considered in addition to linguistic competence formed the basis of CLT.
After World War II, changes in educational systems created the need for foreign language learning and the need to learn English for different purposes, such as further education or vocation (Mitchell, 1994). Foreign languages were first introduced to secondary schools in the 1960s and 1970s according to Mitchell. This created the need for new methods to suit the learners' needs for communication; old methods such as GTM and ALM merely focused on structural aspects of the language. To be able to communicate a learner needs what Hymes (1972) calls ‘communicative competence', where knowledge of language entails more than knowledge of its grammar and vocabulary; they also require knowledge of how to use the language appropriately in different situations. Canale and Swain (1980) tried to specify what communicative competence entails and suggested the four competencies: grammatical, discourse, sociolinguistic and strategic competence. Not only methods but syllabuses were also affected by the movement towards communication and there was also a realization that structural syllabuses were no longer adequate to achieve communicative competence. There was a need for a syllabus that would enable learners to communicate at an early stage. Wilkins (1972) came up with a functional-notional syllabus where grammar was taught through functions such as apologizing, requesting, etc. and notions such as time, frequency, etc. This was developed by Van Ek and Alexander (1980) in his Threshold Level English, designed to help beginner adult learners to achieve basic communicative competence by teaching vocabulary, grammar and other skills alongside their functional and notional use.
Original CLT, which was notional/functional, was not implemented as it should have been; focus was often put on linguistic accuracy at the expense of communicative fluency (Mitchell, 1994). Still, this form of CLT is widely used today as stated by applied linguists and educational writers (e.g. Berns, 1990; Thompson, 1996).The focus on the learner and the emphasis on communication have certainly made the pedagogy very popular, particularly among language teachers around the world, some of whom take pride in calling themselves “communicative language teachers.” (Kumaradivelu, 2006:132)
This form of CLT was later coined as weak CLT by Howatt: The weak version which has become more or less standard practice in the Last ten years, stresses the importance of providing learners with opportunities To use their English for communicative purpose and, characteristically, attempts to integrate such activities into a wider programme of language teaching. (1984:279)
Some Libyan teachers who tried to follow CLT in TEFL are often implemented this weak CLT (Saleh 2002:18). This weak CLT has been criticised by some researchers (Allwright, 1997; Mitchell, 1994), as the focus is on the process rather than on the products of teaching.
Theory Of Learning
The Communicative Approach in language teaching is started from a theory of language as communication. Its aim is to promote what Hymes (1972) points to as “communicative competence.” A more pedagogically influential analysis of communicative competence is found in Richards and Rodgers (2001:160), in which four dimensions of communicative competence are identified as, 'Grammatical competence,' Sociolinguistic competence', 'Discourse competence,' and 'Strategic competence.'
At the level of language theory, Communicative language teaching has a rich, theoretical base. Some of the characteristics of this communicative view of language follow:
- Language is a system for the expression of meaning.
- The primary function of language is to allow interaction and communication.
- The structure of language reflects its functional and communicative uses.
- The primary units of language are not merely its grammatical and structural features, but categories of functional and communicative meaning as exemplified in discourse. (Richards and Rodgers, 2001:160-161)
8. Factors influencing the implementation of the new curriculum (CLT)
In many instances, communicative language programs have incorporated educational philosophies based on humanistic psychology. Humanistic curriculum often puts high value on learners undertaking the responsibility for their own learning, playing a role in decision-making process, choosing and initiating activities, expressing feeling and opinions about their needs (Dubin and Olshtain, 2000:75).
Regarding the relationship between teachers and learners within the scope of communicative language teaching (CLT), it has been better described by (Corder,1977) as a co-operative enterprise with an open field and a caring manner. In a communicative classroom, the teacher's presence is only to ‘guide students' not to ‘tell them'. He may act as a facilitator, with learners activating according to their desires and inner capacities, not in a lock-step plan solely of the teacher's creation (Dubin and Olshtain, 2000:76). An attitude of co-operation and sharing is stressed, as well as group activities are emphasized. In operational terms, any communicative language program is normally based on the following principles:
I)-Great emphasis is put on students' use of the target language for communication. Learning tasks should be communicative and outcomes should be fully discussed. The importance of involving students in making decisions about their classes. Learners are seen supportive group within which they interact, help and evaluate each other. The teacher is seen as a facilitator who is more concerned with classroom atmosphere than with the adherence to the syllabus or the materials in use.
II)-The first language is used as a first aid when it is necessary for understanding the target language.
III)-Learners' errors are accepted as a natural part of the process of developing communicative skills.
From the above principles, we can clearly realize the nature and the atmosphere of the communicative approach classroom where the teacher has only a secondary role. The communicative approach has clearly made a significant contribution to TEFL. Syllabuses of the communicative approach are usually designed to include activities that present a lot of experience of real life situations. Such activities enable the teachers to give their students a complete picture of how language is actually used. In addition to that, they give the students the opportunity to be actively involved in real language communication. (Saleh, 2002:9)
The Socio-Cultural Factors
It is widely recognized that the educational process in any society is affected by the socio-cultural factors within this particular society (Coleman, 1996; Holliday, 1994; Shamim, 1996; Tudor, 2001). Teachers and students operate within a socio-cultural setting and their expectations are influenced by the norms that particular setting. When students and teachers come to a classroom they bring with them expectations about who does what inside the class, what to teach and how to teach.
Libyan students often assume that their role in the classroom is to sit quietly and to memorize the information imparted by the teacher. It is considered rude and impolite to interrupt the teacher or argue with the teacher. Students try to be quite as much as possible to show respect to their teacher (Al-Buseifi 2002:16).
Thus, teachers are often viewed as the sole authority in the classroom and therefore they should not be questioned or interrupted. Also, the perception of teachers in Libya requires them to appear to be knowledgeable, the inability to answer students' questions, for example, would be seen as a deficiency in the teacher as would any admission that they were not sure about particular aspects of the English language. This obligation of giving precise and accurate answers might force some teachers to focus on acquiring knowledge about the target language rather than developing their teaching skills. In addition, this responsibility might prevent Libyan teachers from adopting teaching methods which do not give them the sense of security to avoid any ambiguous questions asked by students while using these methods. Even further, teachers may actively discourage students from asking questions altogether. These social, and cultural factors play an important role in determining what goes on in Libyan classrooms which in turn, influence teachers and students as well.
The Role Of The Teacher
EFL teaching is qualitatively different from other types of teaching because special qualifications and training are required for the EFL teacher. The EFL teacher needs: a)- adequate knowledge of teaching methodology, b)- adequate knowledge of grammar, pronunciation and vocabulary, c)- adequate proficiency in all the areas of communicative competence, and d)- professional skill. The EFL teacher has a role during the teaching process. In many classroom situations, the success of the learning process relies greatly on the part of the teacher. If a teacher selects his/her materials carefully, plans his/her lesson perfectly, organizes his/her classroom activities properly and changes his/her teaching strategies and techniques occasionally, his/her task will be much easier and more successful (Saleh, 2002:11). Harmer, (1998:261) refers that:
well-prepared teachers will have good classroom management. They will be able to adopt a number of different roles, will be able to use different student groupings and will be able to maintain discipline.
The teacher is the most significant factor in determining the success of a new syllabus or materials. The attitudes of teachers and their abilities to adjust to new thinking in practical terms are crucial. Teachers tend to use the same traditional methods and techniques which they have received during their prior training. A period of sensitizing may be necessary for both teachers and students before new ideas can be introduced effectively (Dubin and Olshtain, 2000:31)The most important distinction to be drawn regarding the role that an EFL teacher can play in his/her classroom is between the roles of a controller and a facilitator, since these two concepts represent two opposite ends of a cline of control and freedom. A controller often dominates the learning process. He controls all classroom learning activities and ignores students' ideas and contributions, whereas a facilitator tends to facilitate the learning process by providing students with guidance and advice. A facilitator often aims to train students how to learn autonomously. The role of the teacher often changes to fit the nature of the lesson, the type of the classroom activity, the level of the learners and the specific objectives of the teaching/learning process (Harmer, 1998:235-240). The communicative approach teacher facilitates communication in the classroom. He also establishes situations likely to promote communication. He may also be a co-communicator engaging in communicative activities along with his students (Little-Wood,1998).
Teachers Language Inside Classroom
All theories of second language teaching emphasize the need for input (Ellis,1996:243).The language input maybe written or spoken, and may occur inside or outside the classroom. In classroom situation, the spoken input maybe provided through explanation, learning activities where students hear the language spoken by their classmates, or the language the teacher uses to manage the class. Since teachers are so often the dominant speakers in their classes, they are considered as a main source of language input and so the language they use may exert a significant influence on the learning process (Watson,1999:24). Teachers of English vary widely in their Attitudes towards the use of L1 in presenting their lessons. Some teachers tend to use it extensively while some others tend to limit its use only for specific stages and activities of the lesson. According to Willis, (1997) teachers of English are advised not to speak to their students in the mother tongue unless absolutely necessary. Since the language input is a main factor in learning a language, students should be exposed to L2 as much as possible. The more exposure to L2 students get, the more opportunities for them to learn (Atkinson, 1993:13). But this is not always the case, in many language classes, especially where the students have a common L1 as in the case of this study, the language of both the teacher and the students is usually a mixture of L1 and L2.
Teacher's Management Of Classroom Interaction
Johnson (1998:3) has defined interaction as the interrelationship between what teachers and second language students bring to classrooms and what actually occur during face-to-face communication within classrooms. In Libyan classrooms, there is only one method which is 'GTM'. No communication except teachers speak and students listen and copying in their notebooks. No way to other activities which can increase the communication patterns (Saleh 2002: 23). The term ‘interaction' refers to the different patterns of communication that exist between teachers and students in different classrooms. It includes also the ways in which the patterns of communication found in each classroom create opportunities for students to use language for classroom learning and for second language acquisition. Patterns of interaction in classrooms vary from one class to another influenced by local educational norms, methodological fashions that come and go, the level of the class, the learning objectives, and the current learning activity (Lynch,1996:108). EFL teachers should recognize how the patterns of communication are established and maintained in second language classrooms, and how their participation shape the ways in which they use language for classroom learning and their opportunities for second language acquisition.
Teachers are generally characterized as controlling most of what is said and done in classrooms. Teachers' control over the patterns of classroom communication is generally maintained through the ways in which they use language. In fact, teachers' control of the patterns of communication determines how, when where and with whom language is to be used in the classroom (Johnson, 1998:16).
One common strategy of teacher-student interactions is questioning patterns. Questioning patterns are said to be means by which teachers exert control over the interaction and not simply a means of eliciting information. There are two types of questions which may take place in classrooms. Display questions-questions to which the teacher knows the answer in advance- may limit learners' feedback to just few words. On the other hand, referential or real questions-questions which seek new information- offer more opportunities to language practice (Lynch, 1996:109). With real referential questions learners tend to give longer responses than when we ask them display questions (Prock, 1984).
When learners' classroom experience is one sided, as passive responders to questions and instructions, they can not practice taking the initiative in speaking. There is a risk if teachers generally use questions to test students' knowledge, rather than let them to tell what they want to say, that can discourse them from wanting to answer, even in the limited way. Lynch (1996:109) states that:
Most of the time we talk in the class hardly ever giving our students a chance to talk, except when occasionally ask them questions. Even on such occasions, because we insist on answers in full sentences and penalize them for their mistakes, they are always on the defensive.
Student-student interaction can develop social competence and encourage taking on the perspective of others. Barnes (1976) claims that when students work collaboratively in groups, they are more likely to engage in exploratory talk, and thus use more informal language and strategies of learning that are generally inhibited during teacher-directed instruction (Richards, 1997:113). One possible strategy for managing student-student interaction in language classrooms is through pair work & group work. Cooperative or collaborative learning essentially involves students learning from each other. But it is not the group configuration that makes cooperative learning distinctive; it is the way that students and teachers work together that is important. In cooperative learning, teachers teach students collaborative social skills so that they can work together more effectively (Larsen-Freeman, 2000:164).
Working in groups allow more opportunities for each student to practice. It also reduces the dominance of the teacher and so gives the students more control over their learning (Richards and Lockhart, 1994:153).
Since many educational innovation require teachers to change their classroom practices and adopt new ways of teaching, teachers' training is also regarded as an essential factor in the implementation process. As Malderez and Wedell (2007:xiii) emphasize 'the effective teaching of teachers is the key factor influencing the extent to which the effective implementation of new education policies and curriculum reforms takes place as intended.'
Carless (1999:23) argues that 'teachers need to acquire the skills and knowledge to implement something, particularly if it is slightly different to their existing methods.' The application level of the new curriculum requires that while teachers examine and assess the new curriculum, they need to be monitored and supported in a way that their practical understandings and knowledge of the new curriculum are enhanced. Carless (ibid) highlights the consequences of neglecting the training of teachers:
If teachers are not equipped to deal with the implications of a new approach, they are likely to revert to the security of their previous behaviour and the desired change may not take place. Without sufficient retraining, even teachers initially enthusiastic about an innovation can become frustrated by the problems in innovation and eventually turn against it (Carless 1999:23).
however, it should be noted that briefing teachers with short sessions about the innovation will be insufficient in equipping teachers with the necessary skills and knowledge for successful implementation of the new curriculum. As Adey and Hewitt (2004:156) mention that ″real change in practice will not arise from short programs of instruction, especially when those programs take place in a centre removed from the teachers' own classroom.″ Most Libyan teachers have not been trained. As Orafi (2008:245) claims that 'The training provided to support teachers in implementing the new curriculum was also limited….' Therefore, teachers in Libya can not implement the new curriculum as it is aimed. Many teachers training programs do not take the dynamics of change, and the potential obstacles encountering change into consideration (Shamim 1996:120). According to Shamim, this makes teachers unable to face the problems that follow their attempts to implement change in their classrooms and institutions.
The Role Of Instructional Materials
In Libyan secondary schools, teachers are using only the textbooks and applied GTM. They are using the blackboards to write new words and grammar rules. They are very seldom if not using tap-recording or some activities inside the classroom (Al-Buseifi 2003 :15). Richards and Rodgers (1986) consider three kinds of materials underlying the communicative approach that can be used to promote classroom interaction and language use. These materials are: text-based, task-based, and realia. Text-based materials refer to textbooks that include visual cues, taped cues, pictures and sentence fragments to initiate conversations. They also consist of different information needed to enact role plays and carry out other pair activities. Task-based materials include games, role plays, simulation and communication activities that support the CLT classes. Language based realia refer to the use of authentic materials in the classroom, such as signs, magazines, newspapers and advertisements. Authentic materials also include graphic and visual sources around which communicative activities can be built, such as maps, pictures, graphs, symbols and charts. Examples of such activities from the textbooks are: (describing pictures; comparing countries; solving problem; making conversations; reading and writing postcards…etc). Based on CLT, classroom activities are often designed to complete tasks that engage learners in communicative processes as information sharing, negotiation of meaning, and interaction (Richards and Rodgers, 2002:165). The need to choose and identify specific aspects of relevant and appropriate materials that require adoption for a particular group of learners is very important. The materials are seen as ″a way of influencing the quality of classroom interaction and language use″; the primary role of promoting communicative language use (ibid: 168). Richards (2001) points out that careful selection of the right textbook and materials is a pre-requisite for fulfilment of curriculum goals. For non-native speaking teachers, materials also provide accurate models of the target language. Cunningsworth (1995) states that materials can be a source of both spoken and written input. They also provide students with activities to practice the forms as well as to communicate meaningfully. Materials play an important role when teachers have limited teaching experience; they can serve as a sort of training, or at least a substitute for training.
In the case of inexperienced teachers, materials may also serve as a form of teacher training-they provide ideas on how to plan and teach lessons as well as formats that teachers can use. (Richards, 2001:251)
In Libyan context, for instance, teachers still use traditional teaching methods with the new designed textbook. Therefore, teachers can not implement the requirements of the new curriculum.
Evaluation And Assessment
Any evaluation within the curriculum involves an evaluation of the curriculum itself. Any joint negotiation among the various participants within the curriculum may clearly deal with the initial purposes and ongoing methodology which have been adopted. Communicative evaluation may lead to adaptation of initial purposes, of methodology, and of the agreed criteria of evaluation themselves. Judgements are a crucial part of knowledge, learning, and any educational process. By applying judgements to the curriculum itself, evaluation by the users of that curriculum can be brought into the classroom in an immediate and practical sense. Once within the classroom, evaluation can be made to serve as a basis for new directions in the process of teaching and learning. Therefore, the essential characteristics of evaluation within a communicative curriculum would be that such evaluation is itself incorporated within the communicative process of teaching and learning, that it serves the dual role of evaluating learner progress and the ongoing curriculum, and that it is likely to be formative in the achievement of this dual role (Hall and Hewings, 2001:23).
The memorization of meaning and the spelling of words are common methods of evaluation in English tests in the secondary levels in Libya, which include no oral tests. It might be argued that the fact that English tests do not normally include an oral component might have led to the neglect of oral skills (Al-Buseif, 2003). The majority of the questions in any English language tests are usually of the multiple choice type, matching words with pictures, putting scrambled words in order, and writing missing letters in words. This makes it easier for learners to pass tests with very little effort, and may mean that learners pay very little attention to working hard. Therefore, learners become 'exam-conscious', interested only in results and passing tests without paying attention to the subject itself. Monthly written tests by which students are evaluated are very common in Libyan schools. The main purpose of conducting such tests is to help teachers track the progress of their students (Nasef, 2004). We can notice that it is difficult to evaluate the progress of students in the new curriculum, because on one hand it is not applied as it is aimed. And on the other hand teachers are still using the traditional methods in testing and evaluating the students' progress. However, the successful application of the new curriculum (CLT) requires the following:
- The availability of a classroom that can allow for group work activities or for student-student interaction and for teaching aids and materials.
- A highly competent and imaginative teacher who is able to apply the CLA techniques appropriately.
- Enough time to be devoted to different classroom activities.
- Students should be motivated by their teacher before carrying out any learning task.
- The classroom atmosphere should be relaxed so that students can enjoy their English lessons.
Teachers need to be prepared with the skills and knowledge that allow them to use the textbook/materials and to conduct assessment as best they can (Kreeft, 1997; Glatthom, Jones & Bullock, 2006). Other than pedagogical knowledge, teachers need to have knowledge of English and to be fluent speakers of it.
This study is of a special significance to the Libyan context. Successful adoption of CLT in Libyan secondary schools would enhance the students' basic knowledge of English and competence to use English for communication. The research findings can then be used as references or guidance for educational practitioners.
The literature discussed so far has several implications for the study. First it is obvious that the new English curriculum in the Libyan education system represented a significant change in principles of language teaching and learning. This significant change required teachers to adopt and to implement new teaching practices, new roles, and to accept new assumptions regarding the process of language teaching and learning. Some other factors is hindering or facilitating the implementation of this new curriculum. Therefore, this study aims to examine how far does the new curriculum filter down into EFL classrooms in Libyan secondary schools. I will now proceed to outline the methodology of the research through which I investigated these issues.
1. General View;
Different methods are used in collecting data, every method has its own techniques, its own advantages and disadvantages as well. Methods are referred as;
The range of approaches used in educational research to gather data, which are to be used as a basis for inference and interpretation; explanation and prediction (Cohen, Monion and Morrison, 2000:44).
Interviews, observations and questionnaires are often used by researchers in collecting data. Their using is different from researcher to another and depends on the researcher and the situation (field of study). According to my study, I decided to choose teachers' questionnaire to collect my data. It is said that questionnaire is more reliable, because the participant gives his information without referring to his name in a written form and no one is known for whom each paper is. While in the other tools, the researcher sometimes need to record or to face the participant and in this case he may knows him, so he will not get reliable information. The other reason of choosing questionnaire as a method of collecting data is that; from one hand, my data is in Libya which is far distance from my study in (UK). It seems difficult to use the other tools. on the other hand, this study is based upon quantitative data which would be more logical and straight forward to use questionnaire in order to answer my research question.
2. Quantitative method; Questionnaires:
The written questionnaire is a tool which is often used in data collection especially on teaching methodology. The questionnaire is a widely used and useful instrument for collecting survey information, providing structured, often numerical data, being able to be administered without the presence of the researcher, and often being comparatively straightforward to analyze (Cohen, Manion and Morrison, 2000:243). It is also suggested that;
Surveys and questionnaires are useful ways of gathering information about affective dimensions of teaching and learning,…and enable a teacher to gather a large amount of information relatively quickly (Richards & Lockhart 1996: 10).
The success of the research can be determined by the techniques being used in the process. According to my state, I decided that the appropriate technique is by using questionnaire. So, I organized teachers' questionnaire to find out some relevant background about teachers, their own personal views of the new curriculum (CLT), and the implementation of it. Whether they are followed the principles of the new curriculum, or they are still traditional. To know whether they are managed to use the materials and applied activities in the classroom. We want to get information about their speaking of English and the amount of using their native language. We want to know whether they are received appropriate training about the new curriculum and about the shape of the classroom. Moreover, the researcher wants to know how far does the new curriculum filter down into secondary school classrooms? I also incorporated some open-ended questions to provide me more information when I analyze the results.
On realization of the draft, the items of the questionnaire have been thoroughly discussed and revised before the actual circulation. A pilot questionnaire was tested on ten TESOL teachers of secondary schools in Libya. I sent them by email to my colleagues, they distributed them by hand. The collected data were sent to me by hand with one of my friends who came to (UK). Pilot is critical to increase the reliability, validity and practicability of questionnaire (Cohen et al 2001: 260). From this pilot, I believed that I could find out how long it took to complete the questionnaire, and to avoid any ambiguity. Some notes are given by some teachers which have been taken into my consideration. I know that there are advantages and disadvantages in choosing to use questionnaires in any research. The advantages as;
“An efficient use of time; anonymity for the (respondents); the possibility of a high return rate and standardised questions” (Munn and Drever, 1999:2).
The disadvantages as; “the information can be superficial” and “the information collected tends to describe rather than explain why things are the way they are” (ibid:5).
Moore (1987:7) states that;
Questionnaire surveys are probably the most commonly used and misused research method…It is not easy to design a really good questionnaire and even well designed ones do not always manage to produce a high rate of response.
Therefore, I have taken in my consideration both advantages and disadvantages when I decided to use questionnaire.
3. kinds of questions used in this research:
Questionnaire for teachers is obtained. Three main kinds of questions are used in this research. They are arranged as following:
The first is closed question (the multiple-choice answer); a question is asked and there are several choices for the participants to choose. This kind is organized to gather some information about teachers' background. The second kind of questions is a scale rating. It is a semantic differential sca
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