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This research study investigates the effects of bilingualism in the Higher College of Technology in Oman and more specifically the ways in which English affects foundation year students' social life. It also, seeks the main incentives of being bilingual within the Omani society and whether there are differences among bilingual and monolingual students in Oman. A structured type of questionnaires was distributed to measure the effectiveness of learning English on the students' relationships within the college and the outside Omani society; with family, bilingual, and monolingual friends. Furthermore, structured interviews were conducted with English language teachers and Omani educated and uneducated parents to elicit more information regarding the research aims mentioned above.
Cohen et al., (2000) declares that there is nothing to be called as a complete perfect method where all methods have strong and weak points. In seeking a suitable methodology to be used for this study, the two methods that are often contrasted, the quantitative and the qualitative methods are both involved.
There are numbers of questionnaire types, which range from structured to unstructured questionnaires. For this study, a closed questions structured questionnaire is used, which is useful in that it will result in a frequency of objective responses which are able to be statistically analysed. It also enables making comparisons among the samples (Oppenheim, 2008). According to McLean & Wilson (1994) cited in Cohen et al., (2000), in this study, the questionnaire utilised as a quantitative method is based on the positivists view and this method have been regularly used in education under the basis that there are many objective facts in the educational area. Besides, the closed questions questionnaire is a commonly used instrument for collecting survey information and structured numerical data which is often straightforward to analyse in comparison with other methods. The type of questionnaire items taken into account is the notion of rating scales that are simply completed and analysed. Additionally, they are very useful for the researcher as they builds in a degree of sensitivity and differentiation of response whilst still generating numbers. However, rating scales do not allow respondents to add any further commands or explanations and there is a risk that the categories might not be exhaustive and that there might be bias in them.
Although, the category designed in this questionnaire which is the one that measures the degree of agreement such as agree or disagree and which is a very attractive and widely used instrument in research, yet, the study of bilingualism would rather include social act resulting to the use of the qualitative method which is combined in the form of interview to analyse certain points, for example the social attitudes towards bilingualism.
The interview is a social encounter and used as a qualitative method which is based on the naturalistic view. Interviews enable participants either interviewers or interviewees to discuss their interpretations of the research main topic in which they express how they regard situations from their own point of view. According to Kvale (1996), the use of the interview in research marks a move from manipulating human subjects for data collection and experiments to most often conversations with the human subjects where they do not only answer questions, but also formulate their own conceptions through the dialogue.
Cohen et al., (2000) note that the more a researcher gain information about how interviewees view and answer the questions of the interview, the more qualitative and open-ended the interview will be. Moreover, this is useful when the researcher is not aware of what he or she does not know, and therefore, relies on the respondents to tell him or her.
There are various types of interviews with particular purposes as Cohen et al., (2000) has shown and the one used for this study is the standardised open-ended interview which can be used as the principal means of testing or developing hypothesis and gathering data as in surveys or experimental situations. One important feature of this type is that the interviewees should understand the questions of the interview and recognise the goal behind asking each question.
In the standardised opened-ended interviews, the same questions in the same order are asked to all the participant interviewees. This type raises the comparability of responses, because all respondents answer the same interview questions, and it facilitates organisation and analysis of the data. However, standardised open-ended interview lacks flexibility in relating the interview to particular individuals and circumstances, and it may limit naturalness and relevance of questions and answers.
A research population is normally a large group of individuals or objects that share similar characteristics and this group is the main focus of a research study. However, populations consist of large numbers of individuals and it is difficult to test every individual in the population because of the high expenses and time consuming. Consequently, researchers rely on sampling techniques.
The population of this research consists of members belonging to the Higher College of Technology and people from the Omani society. They are English language teachers and students of foundation year programme in HCT. Moreover, there are educated and uneducated Omani parents included in this research population.
Beside the appropriateness of methodology and instrumentation, sampling plays a role in the quality of a research. Generally, a sample would be a representative group of the population which is randomly selected for research purposes, because it is difficult to test all the group of population. Furthermore, the sample should be of a good size where the size depends on the purpose of the study and the nature of the research population in order to warrant statistical analysis. The main function of the sample is that the researcher can conduct the study to a group of individuals from the population and then the results of the study can be used to derive conclusions that will apply to the entire population. (Cohen et al., 2000).
Part of the sample selected for this research study is represented in a group of fifty advanced level students excluding beginner and intermediate levels, because advanced level students are supposed to be the students of highest proficiency in English within the foundation year programme in HCT and they have experienced learning English more than students of other lower levels, so the questionnaire distributed would be more appropriate to investigating the effects of learning English among this sample which will be more familiar with the language and different aspects of the questionnaire. A number of five well-experienced English language teachers have been involved in the interview where the same questions have been asked to all of them. In addition, four Omani male and female, educated and uneducated parents have been interviewed. Distinctive kinds of instrumentations and samples are engaged in order to cover all the different aspects and aims of the research as well as finding the best and most original answers for all research questions.
Investigating the effects of learning English on HCT foundation year students' social life is the major concern of this research entitled: How Does Bilingualism (Learning English Language) Affect HCT Foundation Year Students' Social Life? To localize the issue in the Higher College of Technology, two types of instruments were conduct. A rating scales items type questionnaire was distributed among fifty advanced level students. It includes two parts where the first part seeks some information from the respondents that include factors which may affect respondents' attitudes towards English. Students' genders are required in the questionnaire since in Omani male and female students differ to some extent in viewing the learning of a foreign language. The questionnaire takes in consideration parents' levels of education and the number of languages they speak which may affect their attitudes towards their children's learning of English in HCT and their use of it in the society for example within the family environment. Table shows a classification of the respondents according to the factors that may affect their perceptions.
Your parents are:
Your parents are:
The second part of the questionnaire consists of seventeen rating scales type of items (strongly agree, agree, neutral, disagree, and strongly disagree) in which respondents put a tick under one of the categories.
The first statement draws attention to the general societal view towards speaking English in Oman, which may affect the views of parents, peers and students themselves. The second statement highlights the level of English language existence in HCT, which will motivate and affect students' opportunities of speaking English. The third and fourth statements examine two potential motives for learning English in HCT. The first one is getting good job opportunities which would be considered as an external motive for the foundation year students to being bilingual. This statement is significant since it shows the frequency of being bilingual as a result of getting suitable or good jobs that require English and which might affect the bilingual's social life. The other motive is preventing others' understanding. It is important, because its regular occurrence may affect social relationship between English speakers (bilinguals) and their peers and families. If they intend to speak English to prevent others' understanding, people get irritated even if they do not understand.
The questionnaire starts to narrow the focus on the attitudes towards learning and speaking English and its effects on students' social relationships. Statements from five to seven highlight parents' attitudes towards English, the language their children learn in HCT and the effects of the parents' views on their relationship with their children. The importance of these statements is that they reflect parents' views towards Bilingualism which greatly affect students' family relationship. Statements eight, nine, and ten underline the students' code-switching where they use English words within Arabic sentences which may increase as they master English. Also, the statements explain students' views towards English as a reason of decreasing the fluency in speaking Arabic. These three statements are very important to explain why some people reject the idea of learning and speaking English. Some people attempt to protect their native language by refusing to learn or speak another language because they view their language as a symbol of their social identity which embodies cultural reality.
Statement five spotlights the effects of speaking English within bilingual peers. This statement is significant to my study as it shows how speaking English might influence the social relationships among bilingual students since some bilingual students do not prefer using English unless they need to use for example, in the classroom.
Statements from eleven to fourteen emphasize the effects of speaking English within bilingual peers. This is significant to my study as it shows how speaking English might influence the social relationships among bilingual students since some of them do not prefer using English unless they need to use for example, in the classroom. Moreover, the statements spotlight the way monolinguals view speaking English and the effects of their views on their relationships with bilingual peers. These statements are vital, because they highlight how bilingual students' social relationships with monolingual and other bilingual peers are affected as a result of speaking English.
The last three statements stress the possible positive and negative effects of learning English on HCT students' culture and behaviours. Actually, the obvious and subtle changes occurring to English learners determine to some extent the learners', parents' and peers' views towards learning English. If they think that the changes are negative, they mostly view learning English negatively and the vice versa.
The other type of instruments is a standardised open-ended interview. There are two sets of interviews, one is designed for the sample of teachers in HCT and the other is addressing a group of Omani parents. The first interview was conducted with a number of five English language teachers who are teaching students in the foundation year programme in HCT. The interview consists of six open-ended questions which were set in a way to backup the students' questionnaire to give more accurate results through comparing and contrasting between students' responses and teachers' experience and views towards the different aspects of the subject matter. The second interview was conducted with four Omani parents. The following table shows the variables concerning the sample.
The criteria Gender
The parents' interview consists of four open-ended questions. Those questions address two aspects of bilingualism in the Omani society. The first aspect is the parents' views towards bilingualism and its effects on their lives. For example, the overt influence of learning English on their children's behaviours and Arabic native language in the home environment within the family and relatives. The second aspect, moreover, investigates the effects which parents have upon their children's learning of a second language.