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Honesty, integrity, dignity, respect for others and caring are some of the fundamental values in constructing the awareness of an individual. In other words these principles are the basic values that embedded in moral education which has been taught by parents, teachers and schools today. While civic and moral education is enforced and nurtured consistently, there are other greater influencing elements which conflicts ethically, domestically, internationally and globally. Therefore moral education should be taught of as a continuum from the inception of socialisation of children into those consensus values and virtues that sustain communities. And this has enticed the author to propose a framework by incorporating moral education into the ESL/EFL classroom. The assumption of this curriculum is based on the assistance of developing the linguistic and cognitive skills, social awareness, critical thinking and predominantly a life - long learning for learners. The main criterion is to enhance teachers to take a more pro - active role in the moral development of students and to propose curriculum or syllabus which will be an added value to policy makers and future practitioners.
CHAPTER 1. Introduction
Jobless, out of work, on the dole, layoffs, unwaged and unemployed are some of the terms occur for an individual who are actively seeking for employment and unable to get it. And some of the factors that contributed to the unemployment status are merely because of economy crisis, recession, advanced technology, increase of population, political environment, low qualification and even lack of opportunities. Nevertheless in a country which is in a stable economy or recovering status the unemployment percentage still occurs prominently especially among the university graduates. And one of the primary reasons that contribute to this factor is lack of creative minds, communications skills and interpersonal skills. Some researchers define it as intellectual abilities in problem solving and analytical thinking. (Wilson Rangga A.J, Ahmad Ariffian B., W. Norhishamuddin W.R & Abu Zarin H, 2011) In other words these characteristics are coined and term as social skills, generic skills, working skills or even soft skills.
Malaysia is one of the countries which produce a high number of university graduates and surprisingly the rate of employability is astonishingly low. Based on the report released by the Department of Statistics of Malaysia, the unemployment rate is increased to 3.30 per cents in September 2012. This figure represents a total number of 385800 people where 42524 are graduates. (Lai, 2011) Although it is not an alarming issue, it has raise concerns to the Ministry of Human Resource, Ministry of Higher Education and Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF). One of the common perceptions in the consensus of employers brought attention to the root of the problem is the lack of soft skills among graduates. (Lai, 2011) This is supported by the results of surveys conducted by Jobstreet.com (2005) According to Simon Si, the vice president of Jobstreet.com Bhd (marketing and business development division) stated that there are enough vacancies for people to fill in but companies finding it hard to choose the right candidate. (Business Times, 2006) Having more graduates with similar qualification, the rights of equality comes in and therefore soft skills become the determination factor in job - seekers employment. The working world has changed vigorously over the past decade and commands skill full and competent employees. So it becomes a great obstacle for job hunting among fresh graduates. (The Star, 2011) Thus it comes to a conclusion that the primary reason of most unemployment among graduates is the lack of soft skills. This phenomenon does not only exist in Malaysia, it occurs globally. Harvey (1999) reported that United Kingdom companies prefer graduates who have the qualities of adaptability, flexibility, teamwork spirit, interpersonal and intrapersonal skills. A recent discovery made by AIESEC Canada, an organization run by the students identifies the bridging gap between a university graduate and employment is 'Soft skills'. Thus it comes to a conclusion that with soft skills embedded at its inception, a graduate will be more intellectually inclined and filled with qualities to perform and establish themselves.
1.1 The need of Soft Skills
Soft skills is perceived as the upmost significant topic of present day discussions especially in schools, universities, private and public sectors. It is the most vital topic discussed, debated and highlighted by employers or stakeholders after an interview or assessment process of selecting a candidate for employment. Due to the increasing rates of unemployment among graduates, a great concern arises based on the privation of soft skills. Therefore the necessity of soft skills training emerged robustly as to give emphasis and addressed to Ministry of Human Resource on the seriousness of this matter. These complaints were forwarded to Ministry of Education to seek for strategies, techniques that would develop a graduate to be more employable after graduation. Faizah (2008) highlights one of the approaches made by the ministry is to introduce soft skills through academic courses in university. By incorporating soft skills into the university courses it will not only benefit the undergraduates, it will also equipped them holistically and prepare them to face the working challenging environment.
1.2 The definition of soft skills
Some researchers defined soft skills as a collective of qualities, knowledge and abilities to succeed in studies and career. Others defined it as working skills as it is a lifelong learning process and will assist in the development of an individual in a working environment. It is also term as social skills where it determines an individual's capability and ability to fit in a specific structure. (Nieragden, 2000) It can be defined as a cluster of personal talents, habits, attitudes and social charms that make someone a good employee and a compatible co - worker. (CareerBuilder.com) In the academic field soft skills consists of traits of interpersonal skills, technology skills and communication skills. (Kahirol Mohd Salleh, Nor Lisa Sulaiman & Khairul Nazry Talib, 2010) These traits are also mention as the primary objective of learning in the curriculum for the secondary school in Malaysia. (Malaysia, 2003) In other words a graduate should have the traits of interpersonal skills encompasses of conversation and interaction in a social context, forming and maintaining relationships and obtaining goods and services which is developed internally. Technology skills comprises of searching information and knowledge using multimedia resources, processing and utilizing various sources and presenting it in spoken and written form. Communication skills consist of expressing ideas, thoughts, feelings artistically and creatively and critical thinking. (Malaysia, 2003)
CHAPTER 2. Aims
This paper aims to provide the upmost prominence of incorporating soft skills into the ESL classroom. Language learning relates to everyday life namely relating to personal issues, school issues, life in the university, working life and even old age. Through language learning, learners will take this opportunity to improve, gaining confidence and simultaneously exposing to the various skills. Therefore this article proposes a framework of incorporating soft skills into the English as a second language (ESL) classroom. This framework is specially designed for undergraduates where it will prepare them holistically before entering into a working or professional environment. It may be ideal for training centres who wishes to train candidates that are keen in a hospitality line such as tourism, hotels and airline industries. The framework wishes to discuss on the specific areas of concern where the facilitators or teachers play a major role in Soft Skills training. By recognizing the importance and seriousness of these traits, learners will not only gain knowledge in language learning yet they will developed critical thinking skills and progressed into a more mature and responsible individual with positive character traits. The proposed framework is displayed after by Koo (2006a, 2006b, 2007a, 2007b) a conceptual framework of pluriliteracy, a Malaysian Model Framework by MOHE 2006 and Boyatzis (2008) a theory of performance based on the concept of skills suggested in Kahirol at el (2010)
CHAPTER 3. Literature review
Several studies have been conducted to uncover the bridging gap between employers and graduates. Researchers have recognized and concluded that these days most graduates are lack and in need of soft skills. Although current graduates are equipped with latest technology developments in the form of knowledge and information, which are the basic requirement, employers are indeed seeking for graduates who are equipped with latest knowledge in the form of rationally discerning to analyse issues, investigation, knowledge application, recommending solutions and design and execution. (Maclean, R. & Ordonez, V, 2007) By having the knowledge of hard skills alone will not guarantee a job placement. (The Star, 2011) In a case study by National Research Institute for Higher Education, identify that typically employers seek for employees with generic skills which consists of communication skills, equipped with general and current information, knowledge in ICT and presentation skills. (Koo Yew Lie, Vincent Pang & Fadhil Mansur, 2006) In most cases graduates often over estimate themselves, presupposing as professionals (The Star, 2011) and assumed that having good qualification is entrenched with soft skills elements and not knowing that these traits are a part of personal traits which is unlikely to develop. (Shakir, 2009) Therefore the call for integration of soft skills into the academic curricula initiated and this matter was forwarded to institutes of higher learning to design, develop and implement.
Several approaches were identified by the Ministry of Higher Education and according to the National Higher Education action Plan 2007 - 2010, it intentions to develop special programmes emphasizing on soft skills elements so as to when a graduate leaves the university they are more likely to be employed. A framework was developed by the Malaysian Institute of Higher Learning suggesting approaches that ought to be undertaken towards soft skills implementation. (Evelyn Shyamala Devadason, Thirunaukarasu Subramaniam & Esther Gnanamalar Sarojini Daniel, 2010) Institutes of higher learning are given the flexibility to adopt the proposed framework and customised it accordingly towards the varieties of courses offered. (Shakir, 2009) This flexibility was given in making alterations and additions whether it is fixated to faculties/departments or based on semester or a yearlong project.
Based on the model given by the Ministry of Higher Education Malaysia (2006), the development of soft skills are categorised into three domains. The first domain indicates that soft skills developed in a formal teaching and learning system, to be embedded in existing courses and to have it as stand - alone subjects for instance offered as an elective course. This formalised teaching gives opportunity to students to develop their soft skills within a semester or throughout the full duration of the course. The second domain emphasizes on support programs either academically focused or non - academically which is more into extra-curricular activities. This particular approach will explore students' interest and indirectly contribute in the development of their personality and character traits. Finally the third domain covers on students' campus life, based on university residence and campus surrounding. This approach will involve students' participation in interactive activities that will nurture and develop leadership qualities, teamwork, entrepreneurship and interaction among students.
Internship/practical or industrial training is another approach which has been very much active and has intervened into students' course. This type of training will be undertaken at the end of program and students are encouraged to participate. The exposure is considered as an early screening of what will be projected from them. (Shakir, 2009, Wilson Rangga A.J & el. 2011) However there are limitations and shortcomings of such programs in terms of no transparent guidelines in assessments, suitable assessment methods and the facilitation of employing the efficiency of soft skills development. Therefore Shakir (2009) encourages continues research in the efficiency of soft skills development.
The necessity of soft skills is proven through academicians and researchers work and a model framework is shown for adaptation and implementations. Students are assuredly to improve if they are more pro - active or encouraged by their peers or lecturers. Nevertheless passive students may not realize the importance of infusing such elements. Hence the lecturers, teachers, faculties and students should incorporate in preparing them to compete in the real world.
This paper attempts to provide the reasoning of incorporating soft skills into an ESL context, proposes a framework for integrating such traits. By adapting the Malaysian model framework and infusing soft skills elements into an English Language classroom, learners will benefit from the domain of cognitively and linguistically. It is proven by enrolling into a special language course (English for specific purposes) learners could acquire an inquisitive mind, critical thinking skills and communication skills. (Faizah, 2008)
CHAPTER 4. Proposed framework
4.1 Framework of incorporating soft skills
The proposed framework for incorporating soft skills in ESL classes, presented in Figure 1, is modelled after Koo (2006a, 2006b, 2007a, 2007b), MOHE (2006) Malaysian model framework and Boyatzis (2008) a theory of performance based on the concept of skills suggested in Kahirol & el (2010). The framework is intended to deliver a broader guide to the enactment of soft skills qualities along with the skills of English Language namely writing, reading, listening and speaking skills. An assumption is made that such programme will commendably promote second language learners' dialectal and intellectual development and simultaneously promotes the growth of quality traits which been infused. In order to take place of the development, the interaction between learners, teachers and staffs are to be embedded in challenging and motivating activities and tasks. The framework consists of the following groupings: theme, interpersonal skills, intrapersonal skills, organizational skills and Higher Order Thinking Skills, a concept of Bloom's Taxonomy.
The selection of theme is based on the essentials and quality needed of a good employee. Therefore the framework should focus on literal, lateral and critical interpretation in the form of planning, designing, organizing and executing activities. The role of the teachers, facilitators is to mentor and monitor such inputs as well as to motivate learners to outgrow and developed into a positive characteristic individual.
Figure 1: Proposed Framework for incorporating soft skills elements into the ESL classroom
Self - development
Total personal approach
Able to identify personal talents/skills
Able to enhance interested skills
Work as a team
Ability to lead and be lead
Literal and lateral thinking
Focusing on priority
Self - concept
CHAPTER 5: METHODOLOGY
The application of soft skills in the ESL classroom in concurrence with the presented framework centres around creating an active learning environment is the recommended methodology for this paper. (Shaaban, 2008) Active learning represents a learner centred approach and involves interactions between learners and teachers, decision making participation and positive reinforcement. The paradigms of such learning environment are appropriate for topics such as civic and moral education, business simulation and training interventions.
Prior applying the proposed framework, the participants are required to undergo an English Language placement test to determine their proficiency level, a pre requisite. It is clarified that the soft skills embedded for the reasons of pre - preparatory into a working environment. Thus the proposed framework is appropriate for learners in the Intermediate level. The justification for such statement is that learner will be more comfortable, confident and consistently improve and therefore enable them well to activate and accomplish the activities or events (Nancy H. Leonard et el , 1997)
The duration for the proposed framework will be for two semesters long. The exposure gained from the long duration will demonstrate some growth and development as soft skills cannot be infused in a short time. The activities proposed needed time management, priority focusing and communication skills. Therefore this is an opportunity for all learners especially the passive learners to remove the barrier and step forward. In this manner there will be no exemption made and all learners will somehow acquire the basic quality traits of soft skills.
As highlighted in the topic the integration of soft skills is to be implemented in an ESL classroom. The simulation of training will be exercised within the classroom; however the tasks or activities may be stretched out of classroom where more interaction will be occurred and thus will enhance the communication skills. This is managed by the teacher to promote effective and active learning environment. (Nancy H. Leonard,Thomas L. Leonard,Christine L. McKeag & Terry W. Mullins, 1997)
The instruction materials shall be formatted based on the needs and requirement of the skills. The resources may be obtained from various ESP materials namely Business English, Presentation Skills and General English especially for adult. Therefore it is the role of the teacher or facilitator to carefully select the various resources and transfer them into analytical discussion, debates and decision.
Another rich resource that would deepen the study is utilizing the multimedia. Multimedia exposes learners in gaining general and current information, acquiring tasks and interactive activity. The knowledge of computer skills: word, excel and power point will enable learners to illustrate their literary skills. In brief, we can conclude that by adapting the framework and applying the relevant resources and materials, learners will delve deeply and improve themselves considerably and consistently.
To disclose the effectiveness of soft skills integration, assessments are the one of the main proponents for this framework. As emphasized by Shakir (2008) more research should be focus on the appropriateness of assessments facilitation. Based on the duration of the programme, the focus of the assessments should embodied in several areas that would promote the growth of interpersonal skills, intrapersonal skills, organizational skills and higher order of thinking skills. Figure 2 will display on the theme that would have the infusion of soft skills and the types of assessments, the criteria imposed will be the evaluating factors. (S. Usha Menon & C. Alamelu, 2009)
Figure 2: Types of assessments
Types of assessments
Organizing an event
Proposal (presentation skills)
Flow of the activity/event
Mock - up interview (speaking)
(responding to a job advertisement)
A close monitoring, mentoring, guiding are the main proponents to facilitate these assessments. In order to identify the growth and development of soft skills, the adaptation of this framework needs not only from the learners and teachers/lecturers support; it requires patronage from the universities, stakeholders and some funding from the government bodies. However the key thespians who will initiate and infuse soft skills to the learners are the teachers, lecturers, trainers or facilitators.
5.3 The role of the teacher
There are few criteria that have to be emphasized before selecting the specialized teacher for this particular subject. It is important to highlight that the teacher/lecturer/facilitator is be able to relate some real experiences, hypothetical situations and have it a more pro - active role. A supposing and pre supposing ideas, thoughts are the exemplary factors to be discussed, debated and decided among the teacher and learners. To stimulate, an act of expressing to be injected among the learners and to be emitted and used for any form of considerations, negotiations and deliberations. These expressions provoke cognitively and analytically and therefore stimulate the critical thinking skills of the learner. An act of guiding, mentoring, monitoring, motivating are the main qualities to be looked into a teacher in order to facilitate. Following which are transferred and transmitted into a learner and embedded in them. Therefore the teacher need not only be efficient in the language use, he/she has to have the experience to relate, to share, to communicate and to perform strategies which could bring out the hidden qualities of the learner. In this manner, when the learner graduates from the university, he/she will be able to at least have certain qualities which have been expressed, shared and transmitted by the teacher.
CHAPTER 6. Findings - Perceived outcome
Based on the recommended methodologies, we take note on the perceive outcomes if the learner dilemmas in the future. The themes suggested in the framework will give a complete holistic exposure to the learners. Active and passive learners will get the opportunity to work as team and able to express the hidden quality within themselves. One of which is to reinforce learner's autonomy and increasing self - esteem which will enable learner to face challenging situations. In other words learner will take the effort of researching, discussing, analysing, deliberating and making decisions. Followed by another perceive outcome is a lifelong effect, a growth of critical thinking skills which will help learner to have the ability to judge and to be rationalized. And the final perceive outcome relates to social implications corresponds to environment situations, a way of involvement in activities and community service, human rights and environment programmes. In short, the author hopes the framework would contribute a holistic positive character traits growth of the learner for individual and for the society.
The author have made into essential conclusions that the main aim of the tentative framework is to assist ESL/EFL teachers to become a mediator in their societies by providing rich challenging environment for the students that allows them to develop into knowledgeable, caring and responsible citizens. Although it was an arguable issue that could lead to sensitivity and controversies, it was indeed stressed to refrain from using religion as the base for moral education. The author also emphasizes the limitation of this paper which is the ability of implementation of the proposed programme, whether the teachers are capable enough to complement their work in developing the students. Crookes & Lehner (1998) suggested that there should be enough training for teachers especially in the areas of critical pedagogy, methodology and curriculum. In this manner the teachers are well prepared to use these techniques for developing critical thinking skills in real life situations.