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English is now considered as an important language, not only in the learning institutions but also within the society. Most employers seek employees who can communicate competently in English. Unfortunately the standard of English among today's graduates is disappointing. One may argue that emphasize should be put on the skill needed to do a particular job instead of focusing on being able to speak English well. However, in certain fields the ability to converse well in English is mandatory. It is especially important to graduates or students of the TESL course as they are suppose to teach English to others. If they could not do it well, how could they be expected to teach others?
In my practicum teaching experience, I managed to observe that some of the students kept silent all the time during the teaching and learning session. And the main reason for this situation taking place is the fact that they do not want to speak English. Most of the time during classroom teaching, I am the only one explaining and trying to get the student's to speak. Even when they know the answer to a simple question, they still hesitate to open their mouths, and to volunteer in answering the question orally. They are indifferent to conversing in English. Although some of them know clearly that they should be competent in the language so as to qualify themselves for the current competitive career seeking opportunities that they will face in the future. Besides, the ability to speak in English is required in the society and the Malaysian community since we are in a multicultural country. With this demographic background, one common language that we share besides Malay is English. Therefore, having confidence to speak the language is considered necessary.
1.2 THE STATEMENT OF THE RESEARCH PROBLEM
Being able to make ourselves confident, and directing the self-confidence that we have to speak in English is a hard effort. To be able to have this confidence, individuals need to make sure that they are proficient in the language. Lack of proficiency in English is seen as a major contributor towards the student teacher's oral contribution in the classroom and during English teaching and learning session. In light of this situation, many factors have been identified as the cause of such issue to occur among the student teachers. Thus, these contributing factors will be further investigated in this research in order to come up with means for effective change.
The first problem that results in silence of the sample group during classroom interaction and instruction is due to the fact that the student teacher's level of English proficiency, compared to their senior teachers and lecturers, are relatively different. The sample group has differences among them in terms of English proficiency. This means that their level of competency, especially in oral English, differs from one another. Therefore, with this problem, they become more afraid of making mistakes if they speak, thus resort to being silent and avoid any oral communication in the classroom with the senior teacher or lecturer. Does this problem apply to the focused group of the research?
Based on the practicum teaching experience, I also found out that the same problem applies to my B.Ed TESL colleagues during lecture sessions. Even though we are already in our final semester of learning and the ability to converse in English should have been sharpened throughout the 7 semesters, many still hesitate to voice out opinions or provide individual answers voluntarily during lectures. Therefore, I decided to look into this problem and come up with necessary solutions for this issue.
Based on the problems explained above, this topic best interests me since I will benefit from the findings of this research whereby I can use it to overcome any difficulties pertaining to this issue for the betterment of my teaching and instruction as a teacher in the classroom.
1.3 THE RESEARCH OBJECTIVES
The purpose of this research is to investigate trainee teacher's perceptions, problems and experiences of speaking English in the classroom. By identifying these three components; students' perception, difficulties, and ways to overcome this matter, this study generally focuses on how to help the B.Ed TESL Cohort Three students to overcome the barrier that exists. Therefore, I hope that this study will help them to be able to speak in English during their teaching periods and in the classroom.
Specifically, the research is conducted to fulfill the following objectives:
To find out about trainee teacher's perception and difficulties in speaking English while doing their practicum and during lecture hours in the classroom.
To propose suggestions on how barriers and difficulties of speaking English in the classroom can be minimized, or eliminated.
1.4 THE RESEARCH QUESTIONS
The following questions were designed to fulfill the needs of this research:
How does B.Ed TESL trainee teachers teach English in class, and how do they act and react during lecture hours in the teachers' training institute?
What are the ways that can encourage B.Ed TESL trainee teachers to frequently speak in English in the classroom?
1.5 LIMITATION OF THE STUDY
This study had been conducted to the Cohort Three, B.Ed TESL students of UiTM. The reason for selecting them as the respondents is due to the limitation of sources, age factors, and the time constraint. As we are studying in MARA University of Technology (UiTM), and the fact that it is hard for us to get respondents from other universities, we decided to study our own B.Ed TESL Cohort Three students. Besides that, this study is only limited to B.Ed TESL Cohort Three students due to the small age gap between each and every one of my respondents. In average, the respondents for my study are aged between 23 to 25 years old. This project is limited to only the respondents chosen because it is easier to distribute the questionnaire to them and recollect it back afterwards. Moreover, since we do not have ample time to distribute and analyze the questionnaire papers, choosing only B.Ed TESL Cohort Three students seemed to be the best solution not only because of the factors stated above, but also because the topic of my case study is closely related to the respondents chosen.
1.5 SIGNIFICANCE OF STUDY
This study had been carried out with the purpose of knowing why students in higher educational institutions are less interested in speaking English. As an English language learner, I found out that most students studying in higher education institutions, especially Mara University of Technology (UiTM) lack the interest to speak English, especially outside the classroom. Moreover, this study had been held to give me useful information pertaining to the opinions of B.Ed TESL Cohort Three students about speaking the language outside of the classroom. As English is an important language nowadays, it is also vital for teacher trainees like us to master the language. One best way of mastering this language is by using it in our daily conversations. Unfortunately, B.ED TESL Cohort Three students of UiTM seemed to be reluctant to speak English among their friends, colleagues, peers, and everyone around them. So, this study helps me to reflect on the reasons leading to this situation.
2.1 ENGLISH SUBJECT
English is an international language. It is widely used in many situations like business trade, communication, learning process and so on. Therefore, English has become a compulsory subject in Malaysian Educational System. It was first implemented in year 1979. All students starting from kindergarten until tertiary level have to learn English as one of their subjects. The major aim of this subject is to allow students to develop their level of proficiency in English. This will enable students to use English for their daily life, knowledge acquisition and to prepare them for future jobs. In KBSM, the learning outcome in learning English is based on the four skills which are reading, speaking, writing and listening. Those four skills are really needed to be mastered by the students before they go off the school. Speaking skill is useful for students to deliver their 'thoughts and ideas clearly in speech when they pronounce words correctly and observe correct stress and intonation' (KEMENTERIAN PENDIDIKAN MALAYSIA SUKATAN PELAJARAN KURIKULUM BERSEPADU SEKOLAH MENENGAH) From Zhao B. (1998) in her article.
2.2 MOTIVATION TO SPEAK ENGLISH
'How to motivate students to speak English', has provided several issues that need to be taken into consideration. The first factor is environment. There are several factors that hindered students from speaking English in class like afraid of making mistakes, and lack of confidence. Thus, it is the teachers' role to provide 'good environment' so that students will feel comfortable to converse in English. Secondly, 'encouragement is necessary'. From time to time teachers should give moral support to the students so that they will increase their level of confidence in using the target language. Third is 'methods' chosen by the teachers. The teachers should make sure that the approach for speaking class is suitable for students to develop their speaking skill. Lastly is 'guidance from the teacher'. Teachers should guide their students so that they will learn something from the lesson and will not repeat the same mistake again and again. Teachers should try to make their class 'lively and active' through their guidance and ways of handling it.
2.3 SPEAKING ENGLISH OUTSIDE THE CLASSROOM
In order to be fluent in speaking English, students must be encouraged to put into practice speaking English outside the classroom environment. From Pete Marchetto (2007), 'only the most motivated students will manage' to speak it all the time. However, why students nowadays feel reluctant to use the language as one of their means of communication? Fluency is one of the factors that may hinder students to speak English outside the classroom. An article entitled 'English outside the Classroom' stated that 'to develop fluency, we must generate a need to speak, to meet the learners want to speak. The learners themselves must be convinced of the need to relate to the subject and communicate about it to others. They need to feel that they are speaking not simply because the teacher expects them to, but because there is some strong reason to do so; not only inside the classroom but also outside the classroom'. Thus, students need to force themselves to speak in English if they want to become fluent speakers. Fluency may not come without practice.
Fluency may be a factor that hinders students from speaking English, but their personal interest can also be a contributor to this issue. In research done by Junko Shimizu entitled 'Why Japanese Students Reluctant to express their Opinions in the Classroom' suggests that, 'some students are not interested in English and it is natural that they cannot express their opinions during the class'. So, it means that, students need to have high interest in learning the language. If they have little interest in the language, definitely they will not practice the language.
Apart from that, students do not speak English because they feel afraid of making mistakes. 'The fear of "losing face" prevents the students from speaking English (Zhu, 2003). These students do not want to feel ashamed in front of their friends if they tend to speak English incorrectly.
One crucial phrase that can be applied in mastering the English language is "practice makes perfect". In order to be competent in English, TESL students should speak the language every opportunity they get. Surprisingly, many TESL students do not use English outside of the classroom. This is why I decided to conduct a survey to investigate this matter. I want to find out whether the reason they are not using English outside of the classroom is innate or related to their surroundings. This is important because we need to recognize and eliminate the inhibitors that prevent TESL students from using English outside of the classroom so that I may find ways to overcome this problem.
This chapter looks into how the survey has been carried out. In this chapter, it is discussed in detail about the subjects of this study, the instruments used to carry out this study, how the data had been collected, and finally the way the data had been analyzed. From this chapter, the whole process, from distributing the instrument to the way of analyzing all the data of the study is being described precisely.
3.2 THE SUBJECTS OF THE STUDY
The subjects for my study are 46 persons. From all the subjects, I chose to distribute our instruments to 12 male students, and 34 female students. Furthermore, the subjects of my study are all from B.Ed TESL Cohort Three UiTM students. All of the respondents are aged between twenty to twenty two years old. While choosing for the subjects for this study, I did not encounter any difficulties as my survey is not a comparison between males and females. So, the difference in amount between male and female respondents was not a barrier for me to continue with the study.
3.3 THE INSTRUMENTS
In doing this survey, the method chosen is survey questionnaire. The reason for choosing this method is that it is easier to analyze the data provided afterwards. The survey questionnaire will be distributed to 46 respondents in March 2010. The questionnaire consists of ten (10) survey questions pertaining to the survey topic. From those 10 questions, four questions had been asked in a form of YES/NO, one question as scale, four questions as a multiple choice, and another question is an open-ended question. The YES/NO question asks the respondents to tick either Yes or No for the answer. The optional choice question in the questionnaire needs all the respondents to choose the answers within the answers that had been provided for them. The scale question requires the respondent to grade according to their opinion about what the question asks. Meanwhile, the open-ended question asks the respondents to state their reason/s in answering the related question.
3.4 DATA COLLECTION
As this survey had been conducted using survey questionnaire, the data provided is written in the questionnaire paper itself. Therefore, when this questionnaire had been distributed to all the respondents chosen, I had given them about 15 minutes to complete answering the questionnaire. The questionnaire paper is collected as soon as all the respondents finished answering it. The questionnaire was handed to all the respondents while they were in class and waiting for the lecturer to come. So the data collection for this survey has been made at their respective classes
3.5 DATA ANALYSIS
After all the data had been collected, an analysis of it has been carried out to conclude all the findings and assemblage the data into their percentage. This is done to come out with a list of figures and charts discussing each question. The data collected is first recounted to make sure all the respondents had handed in their questionnaire paper. After that, an analysis of each question is made by grouping the answers, and totaling them up in a form of percentage. Then, the percentage of each data is transmitted into the different charts provided by the computer. For the open-ended question, the data is transmitted into a table containing all the reasons stated by the respondents related to the question asked.