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In the United Arab Emirates (UAE), most higher education institutions require students to study in English, a student's non-native language. Students of the UAE are not previously well-prepared to use English for academic purposes. This research investigates the influence of language of instruction (both Arabic and English) on pre-service teachers' achievement and attitude toward the Educational Technology Course at the College of Education, United Arab Emirates University. The participants (N=409) were students (n=181) who study the course in Arabic and others (n=228) who study the same course in English. Research shows that students prefer to study the course in Arabic, their native language because the concepts are better understood and easier to teach in the English component of the course. On the other hand, students who study the course in English for the first time spend more time studying, doing the tasks, communicating less, and working on the language at the expense of the course content. Students who studied in their native language performed higher in tests, than students who performed in English.
In the United States, at least 3.5 million children are identified as Limited in English Proficiency (LEP). If these schools do not offer special classes for LEP students, they are placed in a mainstream classroom where teachers provide appropriate and intensive tutoring and help (Endo & Miller, 2004). Immigrant English-language learners face a plethora of problems as they begin to think in a new language. The problems stem primarily from linguistic and possibly cultural differences. The problem non-native English language students face develop from using a language they have not yet mastered to read, write, communicate, or for thinking, problem solving, explaining, and other academic purposes.
The term English language learner (ELL) describes students who come to school with limited or no English proficiency. ELLs first learn a language other than English in their home and community and then learn English as a new language. Most ELL programs recommend daily oral use of English until students achieve at least a minimum level of proficiency (Genesee, 1999). Researchers assert that if students increase the use of English language, their oral proficiency will increase along with English sub-skills (Chesterfield, Chesterfield, Hayes-Latimer, Chavez, 1983; & Saville-Troike, 1984).
Students of the UAE public schools begin to learn English language basics (phonics, numbers, colors, etc.) in the first grade. These public schools offer English language for 45 minutes a day. English language is practiced exclusively in the English class, while the remaining subjects are taught in Arabic. Normally, children of the UAE are not exposed to the English language before schooling.
Native Language versus English:
One debate that continues in the field of English as a Second Language (ESL) concerns whether language learners should be allowed to use their native language while learning English. Research that supports holding on to native language argues that students who maintain their native language while learning English have the advantage of becoming bilingual. Furthermore, it is believed that students who continue to speak their native language have greater success in learning English. In addition, bilingual speakers have a lower dropout rate than those who speak only one language. In fact, research encourages students to use their native language, whether at home or in school. As in the United States, many immigrant students learn rapidly that their native language is burdening their social and academic success. If school policy values that students perform in other than their native language, it is expected that students may resist or consume a longer time practicing the second language to replace their native tongues.
English language learners who tend to use English as a second language more than their native language in the classroom score better achievement in English (Chesterfield et al., 1983; & Saville-Troike, 1984). In contrast, research shows that the previous statement depends on the English language learners' level of language proficiency and the amount of exposure and interaction in English. In addition, research asserts that less proficient students receive greater benefits interacting with their teachers than with their peers (Chesterfield et al., 1983).
Using English outside the school environment has a great impact on one's oral proficiency. Families who report using English more frequently tend to demonstrate higher levels of English proficiency (Hansen, 1989; Pease-Alvarez; 1993; & Umbel and Oller, 1994). However, one study notes that although English use at home can make a significant contribution to English language development, in general, English used at school may play a more significant role in supporting higher levels of English language and literacy development. Hansen (1989) believed the use of English at home is a stronger predictor of English oral proficiency than English use at school, but English use at school proved to be a stronger predictor of English reading achievement than did English use at home. Cumming (2005) asserted that students get accustomed to a new language as early as age five, and their English proficiency expands through rich exposure to language.
Does extensive exposure to English result in English proficiency? Lightbown and Spada (1990), Spada and Lightbown (1993), and Swain (1995) argue that exposure alone to a second language is not sufficient for language mastery. Even though interaction is vital for L1 and L2 learners, researchers claim that it is different for older students who study in a non-native language and are required to negotiate the abstract concepts and complex language of secondary school classrooms and textbooks (Lightbown & Spada, 1990; Spada and Lightbown; 1993; & Swain, 1995).
Studying and Performing In a Non-Native Language:
Jessner (1999) reported that the development of proficiency in two or more languages may result in higher levels of metalinguistic awareness. This claim supports Bialystok's (1988) belief that bilingual children are at a greater advantage than monolingual children in that they have control over two or more languages. Advanced bilingual children have the experience of labeling the same conceptual system and the relationship between structure and meaning. Therefore, bilingual children may have more stable management of two languages which enhances regulation functions (Bialystok, 2001).
Reading is manifest in the way that readers plan, monitor, evaluate and use information available to them as they make sense of what they read. Baker and Brown (1984) noted that it is essential for English language learners to use both cognitive and meta-cognitive skills for reading comprehension. Skilled reading requires, in addition to fluent habitual word identification, meta-cognitive knowledge that includes a person's knowledge about his or her reading, about different types of reading tasks, and about reading strategies (Baker & Brown, 1984).
According to Cumming (2005), there are three dimensions of language proficiency:
1. Conversational fluency is the ability to carry on a conversation in a classroom setting. This fluency is gradually developed at an early age when the ELLs are given the opportunity to converse in English with the teacher and with each other. In these conversations, students should be able to use high frequency words, adapt the grammatical aspect of the language, and denote meaning supported by non-linguistic cues, such as facial expressions and gestures. Cumming noted that ELLs generally develop conversational fluency after a year or two of exposure to language either in school or out-of- school environment.
With increasing English oral proficiency, English language learners use strategies that allow them to communicate more effectively with others, to reflect on their language growth (Chesterfield& Chesterfield, 1985), and to demonstrate a wider repertoire of language skills, such as higher level question forms (Lindholm, 1987; & Rodriguez-Brown, 1987).
2. Discrete language skills are skills that reflect specific acquisition of the phonological grammatical aspects of the language. ELLs acquire these skills through direct instruction in formal and informal settings at an early age. Cumming (2005) asserts that these skills can be learned concurrently with conversational fluency and vocabulary development.
As students mature, they learn writing skills, such as conventional spelling, punctuation, capitalization, and grammatical rules and their exceptions.
3. Academic language proficiency is the knowledge and use of infrequent vocabulary words and the ability to read and write a complex text. As students continue to mature, they should be able to use professional vocabulary and abstract expressions that they rarely use in an out-of-classroom environment and to put these words in a coherent meaningful text. In addition, students are able to understand and to produce different texts for different purposes in various content areas (Cumming, 2005).
These three skills may not be taught concurrently, resulting in a student being skillful in one and lacking in the other. For instance, if conversational proficiency is not offered with discrete language skills, the ELL may be a fluent reader but unable to interpret his reading or engage in contestation.
For oral proficiency, ELLs have to show sufficient oral mastery in the new language. For the concept of print, they have to show familiarity and understanding of the symbolic function of notation of a new language, and for phonics, they have to know the letter-sound relationship and how some letters represent more than one sound. Francis (1999) claimed that providing a concrete background of English as a second language at an early age, especially comprehension monitoring, plays an important role in bilingual children's reading comprehension in higher elementary school and later on.
Most studies on the influence of bilingualism on academic skills have been conducted on samples of children who were partially bilingual at the beginning of their schooling. As students enter college, there is a need to show a more professional use of academic English. The challenging academic texts used require a deliberate integration of linguistic representations and conscious monitoring of higher-level discourse processes, which is considered a critical transition period when reading begins to take on new academic functions.
There is a difference between second language used for communication versus academic purposes. Cummins (1981) made a distinction between basic interpersonal communicative skills (BICS) and cognitive academic language proficiency (CALP) that represent cognitive demands and contextual support. Both BICS and CALP require a sufficient exposure and use of English. BICS are context embedded and less cognitively demanding, and BICS are often acquired to a functional level within about 2 years of initial exposure to the second language. On the other hand, CALP is context reduced, cognitively demanding, and requires at least 5 years to adjust to the level of the native speaker in CALP of the second language. Cummins and Swain (1986) had also stated that CALP is transferable across languages. Based on the above statement, ELL students will need a minimum of 5 years of English exposure and use to be able to use the second language sophisticatedly.
Research has shown that second language is best acquired gradually through extreme immersion in "academically rigorous tasks in low-anxiety language learning contexts" (Garcia & Beltrán, 2003, p. 197). When students are in a setting where they have to study in English, or any other new language, they learn information as they learn the vocabulary of that language. ELL students have to have a concrete foundation and deep knowledge of the English language to ensure a successful learning (Garcia & Beltrán, 2003).
To study and function in this new language, English language learners have to demonstrate their communication skills, thinking, and learning skills in English. Growth in language acquisition requires concurrent growth in the four language modes: listening, speaking, reading, and writing, indicating that planning and practicing language skills are the cornerstone of development of understanding in any school subject or college courses offered in English.
ELL students have to master language mode sub-skills as well. Each school subject possesses unique language requirements. For example, writing a reflection differs from writing a research paper or a summary. To develop a response to its tone or mode, one needs to have a feel for the overall flow of the passage, structure, and the appropriate vocabulary.
Distinguished performance in a first language does not apply necessarily to the second language. Teachers of ELL students often notice the rapid acquisition of social language proficiency compared to academic language skills. However, social language proficiency and academic skills may not progress correspondingly for older language learners. Social and emotional factors may inhibit their language development and result in the surpassing of their academic language skills (Harper & Jong, 2004).
Problems Students Encounter when Studying in a Non-Native Language:
Students do not develop or acquire knowledge until they can put information into a context that has a form and meaning. Language is the means that students generally use to bring order and meaning to facts and experience, either by speaking or writing, or by inner monologue of thought. Teachers need to consider how students learn and what they encounter when performing in a second language, such as struggling with language and academic skills simultaneously.
1. When struggling with language, language learning experience "language shock" and anxiety when adjusting to performing in a non-native language that they do not speak, or are not proficient. This language shock may result in silence preference regardless of their desire to speak English fluently. Language is one's strength, and it is a vital tool of communicating, telling jokes, and expressing one's ideas and feelings. Students often require several years before they understand everything said in their classrooms. When students share their ideas in a non-native language that is not yet mastered, they feel their basic language skills are at question. They believe they did not learn "correct" English, and their writing adopts from their native colloquial language (Zawacki, Hjabbasi, Habib, Antram, & Das, 2007).
2. When students are not confident in the language they are using, they may experience frustration, anxiety, failure, and powerlessness. Many students fear communicating unless they are certain of the accuracy of their statements, fearing the negative evaluation of the instructor or more competent students (Spolsky, 1989). Even though students may experience language anxiety and fear, some of them wish to participate and be able to read and write fluently (MacIntyre & Gardner, 1994).
3. When struggling with pedagogy and curriculum, another important challenge many ELLs face is trying to understand the curriculum and pedagogy, especially if it reflects a different writing style or heritage. While mature students may spend more time doing homework, tasks, reading and reflecting on articles, ELL students may spend additional time translating and making sense of the textbook if they don't have the skill to read in that language.
Teaching in a Non-Native Language:
In some developing countries, such as the UAE, there is a shift toward using English language in the national universities. Students who graduated from public schools may not be prepared for using English for academic purposes. Therefore, instructors need to take into account the anxiety students may experience.
Studying in a non-native language requires a conscious attention to the grammatical, morphological, and phonological aspects of the English language (VanPatten, 1993). Exposure to a comprehensible academic language may not be enough and must be accompanied by understanding the relationship between form and functions of the second language (VanPatten, 1990).
Research on bilingualism suggests that teachers:
1. Reduce the cognitive load: This activity means choosing activities and assignments that allow students to draw on their prior knowledge and life experiences. If students are able to relate new information to their own experiences and use this information in life, rigid cognitive information will be meaningful. Teachers need to understand that older learners have more advanced cognitive skills (e.g., memory and analytic reasoning) and may be capable of drawing upon a more sophisticated linguistic and conceptual base than young children. Older L2 learners can take an active part in their learning process. When teachers do not take linguistic and cognitive strengths of older learners into account, it may result in interfering with their second language development (Harper & Jong, 2004).
2. Evaluate teaching strategies and approaches: These concepts refer to classroom environment, taking into account individual differences, background knowledge and language proficiency. The best classroom environment is where the classroom is student centered. Here the student practices the language most of the time and is allowed to share ideas all the time. English language learning strategies should promote understanding over memorization.
3. Reduce the cultural load: Language is not strings of letters and sounds; language is a medium to transfer culture, religion, information, etc. For instance, UAE students may encounter difficulty adapting the concept of the American Educational system if the course assigned textbooks represent that system. Therefore, teachers have to tie textbooks to students' culture and values. Teachers should provide examples from students' lives and experiences and not be limited to textbook examples and illustrations. According to the teachers' guide of Ministry of Education of British Colombia (1999), students suffer at the beginning of their studies of a non-native language; they complain a lot; ask repeatedly for teachers who share their native language, and show depression and anger. Therefore, the Guide suggests that teachers be alert to these symptoms and help students adapt to the new situation.
4. Use academic vocabulary: English-language learners rely on the teacher to use English skillfully. That is, the teacher should avoid using oversimplified vocabulary. Instead, the teacher should deliberately model academic language by selecting terms and vocabularies that will help the students learn the required academic language with appropriate context clues and other information that will help English language learners acquire and practice this language. Teachers should also consider using visual aids and technology means.
5. Address ELLs needs: Teaching older students in a second language differs from teaching in their native language. Teaching strategies and good instruction is not sufficient in a second language (Chamot & O'Malley, 1994). Teachers must understand older students' needs along with the language demands of their subjects.
6. Allow the use of native language when possible: National Standard Documents, USA, recommends considering language diversity in instruction. L2 learners may acquire the necessary reading skills before they can speak in a second language. The ability to decode is not the goal of L2 instruction. With insufficient vocabulary, limited oral fluency, students become restricted with their language limitedness. Since language is not the target in itself, students should be allowed, when possible, to use their native language (Harper & Jong, 2004). The previous statements which were supported by Short and Spanos (1989) suggest that to perform academic tasks in a non-native language, students need adequate language proficiency and understanding of vocabulary and texts.
Experiences of Countries in Teaching in a Non-Native Language:
Snow (2002) stated that it is difficult to find relevant empirical data or well developed theoretical models of adults studying in English compared to bilingual children studying in the same language. Teaching in English rather than a native language has long been a controversy; along with the controversy is the issue of limiting English to teaching mathematics and science. Some educators believe that if students are to study in English, it should not be perceived as students' first language in instruction. Helmy (cited in Mahrous, 2006), believed that Arabic students are challenged by the fact of studying in English in the University that pushes them to retain information rather than to understand it. Most of these students, he added, remain silent because they lack the keys to communicating and arguing in another language. Occupying the position of a dean of College of Science in Ain-Shams University in Cairo, Egypt, Helmy taught the same curriculum to two groups of students in two languages. The group that studied in Arabic required less instruction time, achieved higher grades, and carried out fruitful discussions that reflected depth of understanding compared to the group who had to study in English. From his point of view, teaching in a native language widens the opportunity for learners to express, invent, relate, and communicate (Mahrous, 2006). Shaheen (cited in Mahrous 2006) asserted that teaching university students in their native language brings life into academic performance. He added that students who have to study in a non-native language have to show a great competence in that language before they find themselves in a situation where a huge curriculum has to be digested in a language they do not primarily comprehend. Adawi (cited in Mahrous, 2006) declared that the essence of the problems is that students cannot relate what they study to their lives or even to the information they previously studied in another language due to the underlying language specifics of which they are not familiar (Mahrous, 2006).
English is a dominant language in Israel; it is widely used in all media means and most university textbooks. It is common to hear people speaking English in Haifa compared with other languages, such as Arabic or French. Abu-Rabia (2004) investigated the anxiety level Israeli students experience when studying in English compared to Hebrew. This research raised the issue of anxiety related to foreign language (FL) learning. Abu-Rabia explained different kinds of anxieties, including anxiety students experienced when learning in a FL. This type of anxiety had a negative impact on students' emotions which plagued them with worry, physical insecurity, and the inability to engage in situational learning. This anxiety reflected difficulty coping with new assignments and tasks and was labeled facilitating anxiety. FL anxiety, as research showed, was related to learners' self-expression. In sum, female students had poorer linguistic results than male students. Consistently, female students' anxiety levels were higher than male students.
Statement of the Problem:
As a result of the College of Education (COE) accreditation, most courses in the COE at the United Arabic Emirates University are taught in English, a non-native language. English is not the students' native language and is usually limited to classroom use, such as in English language courses. Not prepared prior to college to use English as a learning acquisition language or a language of academia, students communicated in Arabic only. In school, students used English in the English class only while the remaining subjects were taught in Arabic. This study primarily investigated students' attitudes toward studying in a non-native language at a college-level.
This study addressed one main question "Does language of instruction in a technology course have an influence on pre-service teachers' attitude towards and achievement of course content?" To answer this question, the following sub-questions were formulated:
Do pre-service teachers who study the course in Arabic have a higher motivation mean score towards studying technology than pre-service teachers who study the same course in English?
Do pre-service teachers who study the course in Arabic have a higher language of instruction preference mean score than pre-service teachers who study the same course in English?
Do pre-service teachers who study the course in Arabic have a higher content gain mean score than pre-service teachers who study the same course in English?
Do pre-service teachers who study the course in Arabic have a higher content achievement score than pre-service teachers who study the same course in English?
The participants in the present study were pre-service teachers studying at the College of Education, United Arab Emirates, at the time the Educational Technology Course was mandated to be taught in English for the first time. The participants were all female preservice teachers. The total number of participants was 409; 181 students studied the course in Arabic representing 216 (83.8%) of students registered the Arabic sections of the course; and 228 studied the course in English representing 228 (86.2%) of students registered in the English sections of the course. In other words, the study sample represent (85%) of the total population.
All participants studied Educational Technology as a core course. As a result of COE launch of seeking international accreditation in the academic accreditation in the 2000 academic year, students were obligated to study the course in English, where pre-accreditation cohorts had the choice to study the course in Arabic. This course was the only course in the college that prepared pre-service teachers for the field pertaining to technology integration in the classroom.
The aim of this course was to introduce educational technology as an essential and integral component of the teaching/learning process and to highlight the different roles it played in improving the effectiveness of learning and instruction. The course covered the learning principles and strategies for integrating technology into teaching. It introduced the teacher's role in designing, developing, utilizing, and evaluating instructional technology effectively. The candidates learned the production skills and the effective procedures for selecting, producing, utilizing and evaluating various instructional media.
DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS
The questionnaire used in the study was developed by the researcher and piloted and validated by a number of experts from the United Arab Emirates from different fields, such as Curriculum and Instruction, the English Department, and the Arabic Department. The questionnaire consisted of 24 items on a 5-point scale ranging from strongly agree (5) to strongly disagree (1). These items were categorized by the researcher into six themes for easy analysis and discussion: Course content, Assessment, Motivation, Language of instruction, Working in the field, and Teaching method. In addition, the questionnaire included some open-ended questions asking participants to outline advantages and disadvantages of studying in native versus non-native language.
The purpose of the questionnaire was to measure the participant's attitude toward language of instruction in the College of Education, United Arab Emirates University. The questionnaire also included some open-ended questions asking participants to write down the advantages and disadvantages of language of instruction.
The final exam delivered to participants was used as the post test. The test covered all topics in the course that participants studied regardless of language of instruction. The topics covered in the course were identical in Arabic and English. In fact, the Arabic content was a translation of the English content. Hence, the content was controlled for during the whole study period. Similarly, the test for the participants who studied the course in a native language was a translation of the test that was in a non-native language.
The assignments and projects in the course were another method used to measure language of instruction effect on achievement. The projects used were PowerPoint, Web Site Design, Video, Transparencies, Excel, and Access. These projects had the same structure, requirements, and grades across all groups regardless of the language of instruction.
Once the questionnaire was validated, and piloted, the reliability alpha was 0.93, which is considered a high percentages the study. Near the end of semester, the questionnaire was distributed by researchers to all students studying the technology course at the College of Education. The return rate was 85%, which is considered the study sample by researchers of this study. In addition, the posttest was administered at the end of semester.
Using SPSS (statistical package for social sciences), independent samples t-tests were conducted to investigate differences between the two groups pertaining to studying the course in native versus non-native language. Similarly, participants' answers to the open-ended questions were collected and presented in percentages and frequencies.
RESULTS AND DISCUSSION
To answer question 1, "Do pre-service teachers who study the course in Arabic have higher motivation mean scores towards studying technology than pre-service teachers who study the same course in English?" Results revealed a positive answer (Table 1). The mean scores of motivation items were in favor of Arabic as a language of instruction. For example, when pre-service teachers were asked to rate the answers of their motivation to study the technology course, mean scores for "Course and its contents fit today's demands, and "with motivation, any student can learn course content" were in favor for Arabic (4.3 and 4.4 as opposed to 4.0 and 3.9 for the English language).
Research supported the findings of this research question; for instance, that learning in a non-native language in adulthood can lead to loss of motivation and aptitude and can provide the feeling of failure (Clahsen & Felser, 2006). According to the teachers' guide of Ministry of Education of British Colombia (1999), students who do not master Standard English required a period of adjustment. Some showed symptoms of fatigue, lack of motivation and some withdrew from school.
Looking at the difficulty of course materials, participants who studied the course in Arabic reported less difficulty than participants who studied the course in English. MacIntyre & Gardner (1994) noted that students who studied in a non-native language lacked self-confidence and wished they could communicate in their own language instead. The mean scores for "making effort studying the course," "fearing failure," "losing concentration during lecture," and "the need to study the course as it is," were lower when studying the course in Arabic (see Table 1) and that supports VanPatten's (1990) statement that it was easier for students and more meaningful to study in their own language because the textbooks and tasks made more sense.
To answer question 2, "Do pre-service teachers who study the course in Arabic have higher language of instruction preference mean score than pre-service teachers who study the same course in English?" Results showed that participants preferred Arabic as a language of instruction because of its advantages (Table 2). Looking at language appropriateness of course content, the mean score for the pre-service teachers who studied in Arabic was significantly higher than pre-service teachers who studied the course in English (3.9 versus 3.4). Similarly, pre-service teachers who studied in Arabic reported that the language helped them communicate more effectively in the course. On the other hand, when participants were asked about "boredom due to language of instruction," "spending more effort to study the course," "lack of benefit from the course due to language" and "language restriction of interaction with the teacher," pre-service teachers who studied the course in English had higher mean scores than pre-service teachers who studied the course in Arabic. These results were strongly supported by open-ended participants' answers pertaining to the advantages and disadvantages of language of instruction (see Table 3 and 4).
Participants who studied the course in the native language reported a number of advantages they see in their native language. For example, 38% stated that studying in Arabic leads to understanding the course content better. Similarly, 27% stated that studying in the native language results in easy communication between them and the instructor. On the other hand, two advantages were reported by participants for studying the course in English: Learning an international language (70%), and availability of technology resources (30%).
From the open-ended answers, it is clear that participants were favoring the native language over the non-native language for learning content and increasing their understanding of materials and interaction with the instructor.
In spite of this fact, participants reported some disadvantages for both languages (see Table 4). Two disadvantages were reported for studying the course in the native language (lack of technology resources 85%, and the use of traditional teaching methods 15%). However, when reporting the disadvantages for studying the course in the non-native language, many were reported as opposed to two for the native language.
Participants reported that studying in the non-native language leads to a number of disadvantages. The most prevalent were difficulty understanding course content (66%) and limited students-teacher communication (14). In fact, these two disadvantages for the non-native language were reported as advantages for the native language as discussed above.
Difficulty understanding course content
According to VanPatten (1990), studying in a native language can save students time. He stated that studying in non-native language put a heavy burden on students who needed to relate new information taught in a non-native language to their prior knowledge learned in their native language. Therefore, teachers needed to be aware of students' individual differences and understand the needs of this population (Chamot & O'Mally, 1994).
To answer question 3 "Do pre-service teachers who study the course in Arabic have a higher content gain mean score than pre-service teachers who study the same course in English?" The results showed that pre-service teachers who studied the course in Arabic had higher mean scores on items related to understanding content (see Table 5). For example, "content is easy to understand," and "I can retain course content easily." Their mean scores were 4.2 and 3.7 respectively compared to 3.4 and 2.8 for pre-service teachers who studied the course in English. On the other hand, the pre-service teachers who studied the course in English had higher mean scores on items indicating difficulty of understanding course content or interacting with it. Their mean scores on "I need help to understand content," and "Classroom interaction becomes very complicated" were 4.0 and 3.2 as opposed to 3.6 and 2.3 for pre-service teachers who studied the course in Arabic. These scores indicated that studying course materials and interacting in the classroom were easier when the language of instruction was in the mother tongue. Again, these results were supported by participants' answers to the open-ended questions (see table 4).
Research was rich explaining how the students studying in a non-native language struggled to create and express ideas in non-native language. According to Zawacki et al., (2007), non-native English speakers thought they have good ideas but they didn't know how to communicate them. They needed more time translating the English language into their own language and then translating back their responses. They remained silent because it was safer. These results were expected and supported by the research of Short and Spanos (1989). Those non-native English language students who didn't have enough exposure to English often lacked vocabulary comprehension and understanding of context (Short & Spanos, 1989).
To answer question 4, "Do pre-service teachers who study the course in Arabic have higher content achievement scores than pre-service teachers who study the same course in English? There were two results. The first was actual gain score in assignments and tasks and the second was the gain in exams (see Table 6). When the differences between participants' mean scores were investigated, independent samples t-tests did not show significant differences between the two groups on assignments and tasks, but showed significant difference in the exams' mean scores favoring pre-service teachers who studied the course in Arabic. The interpretation of this discrepancy can be easily explained. The language of instruction does not make much difference when it comes to assignments and tasks which are mainly hands-on projects. Pre-service teachers have enough time to do the work at their own pace and time without worrying too much about the language. However, this is not the case with exams where the language makes a big difference in understanding the questions and answering them.
To conclude this discussion, the results of this study strongly were in favor ofthe mother tongue as a language of instruction for pre-service teachers studying a technology course. This result was not isolated from other studies investigating the same issue. It conformed to a number of studies that favored the mother tongue being used for instruction. Examples of these studies included, but were not limited to the following:
According to current research results students who spent their lives studying in Arabic and were raised in a household and studied in schools where English was not the primary language of communication or learning, may find their academic performance affected in several ways as explained previously. Students may encounter discouragement in toward learning or be hesitant to speak out in class discussion. In some cases, as some students declared, it may be difficult to understand the lecture, yet participation is crucial if students are to improve their communication skills, academic performance, and confidence. To encourage students overcome English language problems in the university level and be more able to contribute to class discussion, researchers suggest the following:
Native language should be given priority as a language of instruction, particularly in non-scientific contexts.
Students should be prepared in the use of English as an academic language well before admission to the university.
The focus should be given on understanding the content rather than teaching a new language, when using non-native language as a language of instruction.
Translation of key terms and terminology could be provided to enhance students' understanding when using a non-native language.
Students should have strong proficiency in non-native language, when a non-native language is mandated to be the language of instruction.
Tests and tasks that are required to be completed in a non-native language should be tested to investigate the appropriateness of language to students' English proficiency.
7. Content is not compromised for language when conducting an ongoing assessment to the programs that use a non-native language.