This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.
In 1985, recognizing the future trend which students in secondary school must learn a foreign language, the Ministry of Education of Cambodia and Quaker Service Australia (QSA) set up a Cambodian English language Training Program (CELT). This was designed firstly to provide English language training to government officials and to further train teachers of secondary schools. As a result, English was formally introduced to Cambodia's secondary education again in 1990 (Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport, 1992; cited in Ouk, 2009). Since then, Cambodian students have had a choice of either French or English as their foreign language though more and more students have preferred English.
In 1991, with the support from external consultants, the ministry tried to revise and improve the curriculum that was developed in 1990 (Chamnan & Chornish, 1997; cited in Kam, 1998). The quality of teaching and learning was very low at the beginning of the programme. According to Suon (1990), there was teacher-centered hold in the classroom teaching practices, and teachers mainly relied on the textbook (Kam, 1998). Due to the lack of appropriate teaching methodology and qualified teachers of EFL, the ministry of youth, sport, and education has provided two training programs, short-term and long-term program, to equip Cambodian teachers of EFL with some linguistic knowledge and teaching methodology to teach their students at certain levels (Chamnan & Cornish, 1997; quoted in Kam, 1998).
Since then, different teaching methodologies have been implemented by EFL teachers in Cambodia. Modern methodologies including communicative language teaching (CLT) have come to replace the traditional grammar-translation methods. CLT has been generally regarded by some EFL teachers in Cambodia as one of effective teaching approaches in English language teaching. Having both knowledge and communicative competence is valuable as many CLT researchers have agreed that linguistics skills and communicative abilities should not be isolated from each other (Savignon, 1997). According to Wu (2008), the main principle in CLT approach is the meaningful communicative fluency in language use of the learners.
Though most of Cambodian EFL teachers especially those graduated from the Institute of Foreign Languages or from overseas have been trained on or heard about CLT approach, the real application of CLT in classroom settings remains to be discovered. This is even more important when different teachers may hold different beliefs about their English language education as well as about their profession as EFL teachers.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
Though CLT teaching approach has been introduced in Cambodia since 1990s, little is known about how it is put into practice by EFL teachers and about how their beliefs influence their teaching. This lack of concrete evidence has limited an attempt to improve the current CLT practices, and thus reduces the effectiveness of teaching and learning. Also, without proper self-reflection and given their time constraint, EFL teachers may find it hard to see how their teaching practices reflect the concept of CLT. Thus, there is a real need for a study to examine this relationship between teachers' beliefs and their practice with regard to CLT teaching methodology so as ways to better the present CLT teaching practices can be put forward.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
This research therefore attempts to (1) explore Cambodian teachers' beliefs of CLT approach in Cambodian EFL settings, (2) pinpoint how they apply CLT approach in Cambodian EFL classroom, and (3) examine the link between their beliefs and teaching practices of CLT.
1.4 Research Questions
This study aims at exploring the answers to the following questions:
What are Cambodian teachers' beliefs of CLT approach in Cambodian EFL settings?
How do Cambodian EFL teachers implement CLT in their classrooms?
To what extent do their beliefs influence their teaching practices of CLT approach?
1. 5 Significance of the Study
The importance of this study can be analyzed at both policy and personal levels. At policy level, it is hoped that the findings of this research will serve as a knowledge base for policy decisions to improve the practice of CLT approach in EFL programme at ELSU in particular and in Cambodia in general. The findings will be useful in informing the design and improvement of both pre-service and in-service EFL teacher training programmes. At a personal level, EFL teachers who are currently employing CLT approach may also be able to reflect and enhance their practices based on the findings from this study.
Moreover, the findings from this study will be highly relevant to changes in Cambodian teachers' perception of plausibility which can influence CLT curriculum or a personal change in a teaching situation. This would enable teachers to feel more confident and comfortable in applying CLT techniques in their teaching to improve communicative competence of students.
The selection of CLT approach for this study also implies the significance of CLT approach in EFL teaching and learning. First, CLT approach is believed to engage students in developing their communicative ability in English. This technique is student-centered, and it contributes to motivating students. Second, CLT presents a creative, task-centered, and purposeful approach to teaching English as a foreign language. CLT promotes this perspective by emphasizing that language facilitates human socialization and that language presents an interpersonal communion among society members. Thirdly, CLT bases development of learning activities on the students' needs and expectations meaning that it is possible for an instructor to create instruction that meets specific needs of every student (Jacobs & Farrell, 2003). Therefore, it is hoped that this study will contribute to making CLT play these important roles in EFL learning and teaching in Cambodia.
1.6 Limitations of the Study
This study is a case study, involving a small number of EFL teachers in Cambodia within the context of ELSU at the Royal University of Phnom Penh. Thus, it may be unrealistic to claim that it represents the beliefs of all EFL teachers in Cambodia. Also, the findings from this research should not be generalized within a wider context without further in-depth investigations. Moreover, this study does not look at other factors that may also have an impact on teachers' practice though the responses from the informants may reveal some of those factors.
1.7 Theoretical Framework
The framework demonstrates relationships among beliefs, pedagogic principles, and teaching practices of teachers of EFL. The pedagogic principles adopted for their language lessons usually derive from the teachers' beliefs or personal theories the teachers held regarding the nature of the broader educational process, nature of language, how it is learnt and how it may be best taught (Breen, et al, 2001).
A teacher's beliefs or personal theories about language, the educational process, and CLT within this process tend to be experientially informed and appear to be deeply held. The pedagogic principles which have been shaped and generated by these more abstracts and underlying beliefs serve to mediate between them and the teachers' on-going decision making and actions. Enacting a particular CLT principle in a particular ELT class would entail selecting and implementing certain activities and tasks that teachers see as appropriate to the learners in the immediate learning conditions. Principles significantly influence how the teachers orchestrate the interaction between learner, teacher, and communicative competence in a particular EFL classroom with particular resources.
Teacher's CLT pedagogic principles
Teacher's interactive thinking and decision making
Teacher's actions, classroom activities and tasks
Teacher's beliefs of CLT approachThe above possible relationship between such beliefs, guiding pedagogic principles, and classroom actions is shown the chart below.
1.8 Proposed Outline of the Research Paper
This study is organized into six chapters. Chapter 1 provides background information about the research including the objectives, the research questions, significance of the study, theoretical framework and the limitations of the study. The succeeding Chapter 2 is devoted to the review of literature of CLT, focusing on the conceptualization of CLT, teachers' beliefs and practices of CLT, and the relationships between teachers' beliefs and their practices of CLT in EFL setting.
Chapter 3 lays out the methodology that this study employs including data collection procedure, sampling, data analysis procedure, ethical considerations and the limitations of the methods. Chapter 4 presents the findings of the study. That is, it analyzes the responses from the interviews and classroom observation. Employing content analysis technique, the responses received will be thoroughly analyzed and presented with regard to what teachers believe as main characteristics of CLT, how they actually promote communicative competence of students in their classroom setting, and how their beliefs of CLT influence their teaching practices.
Chapter 5 highlights the author's discussion of the responses against the theoretical framework and draws policy implications for the improvement of CLT practice. Chapter 6 summarizes the main research findings and offers the author's reflections on the topic with regard to current EFL teaching in Cambodian context. It then ends with suggestions for further investigation and research concerning the topic, and follows by bibliography and appendix.
1.9 Definitions of Terms
The following terms are pertinent to the context of this research and thus need to be defined.
Beliefs: Dewey (1933) defines beliefs as matters of which we have no sure knowledge, but feel confident to act upon, and matters that we accept as true, but which may be questioned in the future. Rokeach (1968) explained the difference between the two terms by stating that "beliefs are the predisposition to action," whereas an attitude is "a set of interrelated predispositions to action organized around an object or situation" (p. 113). The differences between beliefs and knowledge will be elaborated in Chapter II.
Communicative competence: Wiemann (1977) defines it as "the ability of an interactant to choose among available communicative behaviors in order that he (she) may successfully accomplish his (her) own interpersonal goals during an encounter while maintaining the face and line of his (her) fellow interactants within the constraints of the situation" (p. 198).
Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) or communicative approach: Developed as a reaction away from grammar-based approaches (Richards, Platt and Platt, 1992), CLT highlights communication as a goal of language learning. Some of its key principles are use of authentic language in classroom, games, cooperation among students, emphasis on context and meaning, and emphasis on a relaxing classroom atmosphere and on teacher's non-judgmental role (Larsen-Freeman, 1986).
English as a Foreign Language (EFL): Richards, Platt and Platt (1992) defines EFL as follows, "The role of English in countries where it is taught as a subject in schools but not used as a medium of instruction in education nor as a language for communication (e.g. government, business, industry) within the country" (pp. 123-124).
2.1 Communicative Language Teaching
CLT is a language teaching approach that is under influence and challenges from other fields of study, and different linguists have conceptualized the approach slightly differently. Savignon (1991) claims that:
CLT thus can be seen to derive from a multidisciplinary perspective that includes, at least, linguistics, psychology, philosophy, sociology, and educational research. The focus has been the elaboration and implementation of program and methodologies that promote the development of functional language ability through learner participation in communicative events. Central to CLT is the understanding of language learning as both an educational and political issue (p. 265).
According to Savignon (1997), a classroom model of communicative competence consists of four elements: grammatical, sociolinguistic, discourse, and strategic competences. Moreover, she has come up with five other elements of a communicative curriculum including language arts, language for a purpose, personal second language use, theater arts, and beyond the classroom (Savignon, 1997). All these components serve as both theoretical and practical foundations for CLT. However, those components are interrelated regardless of their relative importance at any given level of overall proficiency, and the whole of communicative competence is not just a simple combination of those elements (Savignon, 1997). The five curriculum components are no exception.
Other scholars have proposed similar framework for understanding communicative competence and CLT. For example, Brown (1994) has conceptualized CLT to include the following aspects: (a) "Classroom goals are focused on all of the components of communicative competence"; (b) "Language techniques are designed to engage learners in the pragmatic, authentic, functional use of language for meaningful purposes"; (c) "Fluency and accuracy are seen as complementary principles underlying communicative techniques"; and (d) "students ultimately have to use the language, productively and receptively" (p. 245). Bachman (1990) has proposed a theoretical framework for communicative language ability that consists of knowledge structures, strategic competence, psychophysiological mechanisms, context of situation, and language competence. Language competence is further divided into organizational competence (grammatical and textual competences) and pragmatic competence (illocutionary and sociolinguistic competences). According to Richards and Rogers (1986), CLT is "best considered an approach rather than a method. Thus although a reasonable degree of theoretical consistency can be discerned at the levels of language and learning theory, at the levels of design and procedure there is much greater room for individual interpretation and variation than most methods permit" (p. 83).
According to Ellis (1994), communicative language teaching refers to an approach for achieving both the knowledge of the language and the ability to use the knowledge in real setting and conditions. Process and meaning focus are the two aspects of the model of CLT (Canale& Swain, 1980). Process is rather significant than the content. What is more, Nishino (2008) describes CLT as a methodology conducted by grouping the students and pair work to discuss and share and it is mostly used in classes with minor number of students. A main emphasis which is stressed in a work of Thompson (1996) is on the problem- solving and pair works in a side of the practical condition.
2.2 Teachers' Beliefs of Teaching
The term belief is somehow a difficult term to define specifically (Pajares, 1992). Nevertheless, this term is viewed differently according the point of view of the researchers in their specific fields of study (Mansour, 2008). In a study of Pajares (1992), the term belief refers to messy construct and used in a substitutable way to the other terms such as: perceptions, conceptions, judgments, opinions, and perspectives etc. However, Haney, Lumpe, & Czerniak (2003) use the term beliefs in teaching as one's philosophy or theory of teaching the language as it is used in the educational field.
The significance of teacher beliefs is emphasized in this study because as Pajares (1992) recognized in his synthesis of 35 empirical educational investigations, "All teachers hold beliefs, however defined and labeled, about their work, their students, their subject matter, and their roles and responsibilities" (p. 314). There are many conceptions of educational beliefs in the literature. Citing Nespor's (1987) influential work, Pajares (1992) proposed that "beliefs are far more influential than knowledge in determining how individuals organize and define tasks and problems and are stronger predictors of behavior" (p. 311). Pajares (1992) promoted 16 "fundamental assumptions that may reasonably be made when initiating a study of teachers' educational beliefs" (p. 324). These assumptions include, among others, the notions that (a) beliefs are formed early and tend to self-perpetuate; (b) some beliefs are more incontrovertible than others; (c) beliefs about teaching are well established by the time a student gets to college; (d) changes in beliefs during adulthood are rare; (e) beliefs are instrumental in defining tasks and selecting the cognitive tools with which to interpret, plan, and make decisions regarding such tasks; (f) individuals' beliefs strongly affect their behavior; and (g) knowledge and beliefs are inextricably intertwined.
The poor relationship between beliefs and knowledge leads to a possible tension. Though Pajares (1992) recognized that it is not easy to differentiate knowledge and beliefs, he argued Nespor's (1987) point "that beliefs have stronger affective and evaluative components than knowledge and that affect typically operates independently of the cognition associated with knowledge" (p. 309). Richardson (1996) apparently believed that although the distinction between beliefs and knowledge remains ambiguous, beliefs influence teaching practice more directly than knowledge and that the "relationship between beliefs and actions is interactive" (p. 104). Moreover, Richardson (1994) assigned the teacher the role of one who mediates ideas, constructs meaning and knowledge, and acts upon those constructions. According to Richardson, one should focus on teachers' beliefs and practices in order to understand how teachers make sense of teaching and learning.
2.3 Teachers' Beliefs of CLT
Whatever the situation may be as regards actual teaching practices, communicative language teaching (CLT) is well established as the dominant theoretical model in ELT. There have been recurrent attempts to take stock of CLT and to identify its characteristic features. In areas such as teacher training, it is generally believed that the principles of CLT are clearly understood and accepted.
Though there is such apparent unanimity, many teachers remain somewhat confused about what exactly CLT is. At the more abstract end, there is general agreement that CLT involves an emphasis on communicating by means of the foreign language; at the practical classroom end, CLT is strongly associated with a number of particular activity types, such as problem-solving and pair work. But in the middle ground, the area where theory meets practice, things become less certain.
Thompson (1996) discovered four misconceptions that were common among his colleagues concerning the meaning of CLT: (a) not teaching grammar, (b) teaching only speaking, (c) completing pair work (i.e., role play), and (d) expecting too much from teachers. Thompson mentioned that a surprisingly large number of teachers invoke erroneous reasoning for criticizing or rejecting CLT. He concluded that the future development of CLT depended upon correcting these misconceptions. Fox (1993) surveyed first-year French graduate teaching assistants at 20 universities in the United States and analyzed their responses according to the definitions of communicative competence (CC) set forth by Canale and Swain (1980). She reported that teaching assistants did not conceptualize language according to this particular model of CC. Instead, the participants relied on grammar at the expense of communicative activities. She concluded that their beliefs about language teaching and learning should be exposed so that they could develop their beliefs and knowledge about CLT.
Even teachers committed to CLT often seem to show a very superficial adherence to CLT principles. As Nunan (1987) discovered, although the teachers in his study had goals for communicative classrooms, they offered students few opportunities for genuine communicative language use in the class sessions that he recorded. Although the lesson plans of these teachers might have conformed to the sorts of communicative principles advocated in the CLT literature, the actual patterns of classroom interaction resembled traditional patterns rather than what he identified as genuine interaction. Karavas-Doukas (1996) reported similar findings in the responses of 14 Greek teachers of English to an attitude survey and in the observations she made of their classrooms. She found that the survey results leaned toward agreement with CLT principles, but when she observed the classroom teaching environments, "classroom practices (with very few exceptions) deviated considerably from the principles of the communicative approach" (p. 193).
However, not all of the news is bleak. Okazaki (1996) completed a longitudinal study using surveys to find out whether pre-service teachers changed their beliefs concerning CLT after a 1-year methodology course. She concluded that although beliefs of pre-service teachers were not easily swayed, some of them were influenced in the desired direction by what Wenden (1991) called persuasive communication, which aims at changing participants' beliefs by reflective teaching. Kumaravadivelu (1993) studied two teachers whom he identified as "'believers' in the CLT movement" (p. 14), and who both had masters degrees in ESL. Regardless of the theoretical and practical problems of his study, Kumaravadivelu (1993) claimed effectiveness for strategy training with regard to teachers' uses of CLT. In a study concerning L2 teaching in more general terms, Freeman (1993) maintained that four foreign language teachers (citing two illustrations) changed their ideas about teaching when they were introduced to the discourse of current professional issues and notions.
2.4 Teachers' Practices of CLT
What are the methodological implications for teachers if the CLT approach is adopted in the classroom? This section is devoted to present some of the more significant changes in teaching techniques and class organisation with regard to CLT as noted by Cheng (1980).
Generally, there is a change in the teacher's role in CLT. He no longer dominates the class as he so often does in the more formal lesson. There is also a radical change in student-teacher relationships. The teacher's main function is to initiate activities and once he is satisfied that the students know exactly what they are to do, he will be as unobtrusive as possible, intervening only when it is really necessary. He will therefore be the guide and facilitator rather than the controller-in-chief. All in all, this makes for a more relaxed classroom atmosphere. Next we will look at some classroom activities and tasks in relation to the four key skills that teachers use with regard to CLT approach.
2.4.1 The Speaking Skill
With CLT approach, teachers tend not to use mechanical drills. Drills have often been used to give students practice in the learning of grammatical structures. In the heyday of the oral approach pattern drills were popular. Practising teachers have, however, often complained that drills are frequently boring and not necessarily effective. Lamendella (1979), citing clinical data, criticizes that pattern practice in foreign language learning does not lead to communicative competence. This is perhaps a rather extreme view. However, it is generally true to say that ELT experts have become dissatisfied with pattern practice itself. In contrast to such extreme view, Johnson (1980) offers some useful suggestion in his article 'Making drills communicative'.
Group activities and group work also gain a greater emphasis in CLT. If a communication activity involves at least two people who interact with each other, it is inevitable that the emphasis should be on group activities and pair work. The teacher can move from group to group and give whatever guidance and help are needed. Since all the groups are working on their individual tasks, the teacher can give help without interrupting the course of the lesson.
Of course, there are some difficulties to be overcome. Some of difficulties are (a) the size and furniture of the classroom, (b) the problem of noise, (c) the possibility of mistakes being undetected and uncorrected and (d) a few more assertive students dominating the groups. They are not insoluble, and group work is being carried out successfully in a classroom with forty-eight students and where the furniture consisted of obsolete, heavy wooden desks and chairs. Another point is that of resources. Teachers who want to implement small group work in their classes are obliged to have resources for their own activities. However, there are a lot of activities from the professional literature of foreign language education, and many of them can be adapted for the ESL class.
A more flexible use of visual aids, cue cards etc is used in CLT classroom. Language teachers have long been using visual aids in their lessons. Chalk talk and picture description have been in vogue for at least a quarter of a century. In the past, pictures were often looked upon as the vehicle for introducing vocabulary or the practice of structures. Students were encouraged to talk about the pictures. A more recent development is to encourage students to talk with the pictures, i.e. to go beyond what is shown on them.
Another feature of lessons associated with CLT approach is that cue cards and role cards are often used to encourage interactions. Cue cards are often cards with simple pictures. Role cards set out the roles the students have to play and the linguistic tasks they have to perform. The use of communication games is also observed in CLT classroom. Communication games have as their objective the development of communication skills. Often cooperation rather than competition is emphasized.
Simulation and role-play is another feature evident in CLT approach. It encourages the use of role-playing and simulations. Cards are often used to cue students on the roles they are to play. Simulations are in a sense role-plays on a bigger scale. Many of the better known simulation games are for native speakers and considerable adaptation is necessary. The teacher can devise his own simulations by taking a local issue or even an everyday incident involving people with different viewpoints who have to arrive at a consensus or the solution to a common problem. What is needed is creativity and knowledge of the linguistic ability of the students.
More advanced activities used by teachers in CLT are problem-solving and decision-making. In the supper forms students have to use language for discussion and activities involving problem solving, and decision making and the free exchange of ideas are appropriate.
2.4.2 The Reading Skill: A Functional Perspective
According to Gao (2008), using CLT in reading classroom teaching is beneficial particularly to both the teachers' reading teaching and students' reading learning. He states that it does not only help improve their ability to summarize, judge, and analyze, but also increase more opportunities for the students to get themselves in relevant personal lives and experiences in different real- life situations for their real life practice significantly. However, the application of CLT in a classroom setting is very much dependent on teachers' beliefs about CLT.
As a result of research in discourse analysis and ESP, the teaching of reading from a functional perspective is receiving greater attention. In the past teachers have concentrated on vocabulary and content when dealing with a prose text (Cheng, 1980). It is now realised that what the student needs is study skills - the ability to tackle reading passages on his own. The student has therefore to be taught how to make use of contextual clues, understand paragraph organisations, and note the various relationships between sentences and how these sentences function within the paragraph. There is a considerable amount of literature on the subject and teachers should certainly attempt to keep abreast of developments in the field. For CLT, reading comprehension aims at teaching reading strategies and helping students to understand communicative functions common in academic writing (Cheng, 1980).
2.4.3 The Writing Skill
More recently ELT specialists have focused attention on the teaching of functional writing. Functional writing is writing that is meant to fulfil real life purposes such as making a request or giving advice, inviting someone for a visit or to a function, applying for something (Cheng, 1980). That is, the writing activities carried out resemble those done in real life for practical purposes. This kind of writing practice prepares learners for writing which they must do as part of survival in everyday life. The writing of titles, headlines, advertisements and posters is also a form of functional writing, because people write headlines as a job, and write advertisements and posters to accomplish specific purposes (Cheng, 1980).
2.4.4 The Listening Skill
Because of the introduction of the listening test in the Advanced Level Exam, teachers are paying more attention to the teaching of listening comprehension. Jigsaw listening is one type of listening activity in which the principle of the information gap is exploited. The class is divided into three groups and each group listens to a taped version of an incident. Each version contains some information not found in the others. A considerable amount of note-taking and information exchange is necessary before the groups can obtain a clear and full picture of the incident (Cheng, 1980).
These are some of the rationale behind the communicative approach and some of the techniques associated with it. On the other hand, there is necessarily a polarity between the oral approach and the communicative approach (Cheng, 1980). A judicious selection of what is useful in both approaches is recommended. Also, there are some constraints in the classroom situation which make it difficult to use all the techniques as mentioned above. Moreover, the selection of certain teaching techniques and classroom activities are influenced by the beliefs of CLT that teachers hold. Thus, the next section is to review how teachers' beliefs are linked to their practices in classroom.
2.5 The Relationships between Teachers' Beliefs and Practices
Research on teachers' beliefs and their practices is currently a kind of widespread concern for educational researchers (Karaagaç & Threlfall, 2004). According to Mansour (2008), the two concepts are interrelation and are found both consistencies and inconsistencies by different researchers.
Empirical studies consistently reveal the difficulties of promoting knowledge and skills that challenge or contradict currently held beliefs and practices (Sato & Kleinsasser, 1999). In second language (L2) teacher studies in general, there is definitely a tendency for those studied to rely on their preconceived beliefs, and there appears to be little alteration in traditionally held images of L2 teaching (Johnson, 1994; Lamb, 1995; Neustupny, 1981). Nonetheless, studies that specifically single out typical CLT also indicate links among beliefs, knowledge, and practices. On the one hand, a few studies show little change in teacher beliefs, knowledge, or practice, whereas, on the other hand, a few studies reveal the possibility for change in teacher beliefs, knowledge, or practice.
In some other cases, such inconsistency between their beliefs and real practices has also been found (Thompson, 1984). For example, in a study of Nga (2007), an interesting topic was conducted as a case study in a Vietnam high school which mainly seeks to explore the teachers' beliefs about teaching reading strategies and the gap between their beliefs and practices. The finding showed that teachers find reading is a challenging and hard skill as students can barely finish the reading task due to the time limitation. They think that reading means attempting to read by moving from word to word to get the understanding of the target points or the whole text. In the study, all the six teachers stressed on the important strategies are conscious of its content and importance of strategies to teaching reading by summarizing, enlarging the ideas, inferring or implying the meaning from the context while their actual practices only focused on teaching new words, concerning on the structures and allow the students solve the reading task instead of enlarging their ideas from the content of the text. This shows the difference between their beliefs and the real practices due to the lack of efficient training, time constraints, and the lack of motivation from the students. Apart from this, among the six participating teachers, four of them introduced communicative language teaching (CLT) including pairs, group work in their actual classroom teaching as they believe that this is an effective method for their students learning.
The pedagogical knowledge or the belief system influence on the teachers' decision and judgment of the teachers and helps their experience expand (Mansour, 2008). In addition, Kagan (1992) states that a teacher's knowledge of his or her profession is situated in three important ways: in context, in content and in person.
Nga (2007) research into teachers' beliefs generally show that teachers have their own beliefs, cognitions and theories about teaching and learning which might have been influenced by their training, work experience and so on. Teachers are not passive recipients of theories but do construct their own theories.
3.1 Research Design
The concept of teachers' beliefs and their relationship with teachers' practice are very complex and qualitative in nature, qualitative research is thus employed in this study. A case study will be selected so that the teachers' belief and their practices of CLT can be deeply examined and the relationships between their beliefs and practices can be drawn. This is particularly important as we need to look at the whole picture rather than turning it into variables and adopt a holistic approach and in-depth understanding rather than numerically analyzed data in order to unpack teachers' beliefs and to understand their relationships with the teachers' practices. The following sections will elaborate on these methods and the rationale behind the decision to select them for this study.
3.2 Tools for Data Gathering
In order to capture teachers' beliefs and practices of CLT and how they are linked, two key qualitative data collection methods will be used in this study. They are classroom observations and interviews with teachers. This use of these two methods is especially important in exploring beliefs, practices and their relationship as the observations will enable the researcher to get further information about the actual use of CLT in the classroom settings as well as to verify the responses from the interviewees.
3.3 Site, Population, Sample Size and Sampling Method
A case study of ELSU at the Royal University of Phnom Penh will be selected to examine the issues of teachers' beliefs and their practices. There are several reasons why ELSU is to be selected for this study. First, all the teachers at ELSU are trained about TEFL including CLT approach, either in Cambodia or overseas. Also, ELSU offers a wide range of English language courses, tailored to the different needs and levels of students at RUPP (except students studying at the Institute of Foreign Languages).
Five teachers teaching English at ELSU will be selected to participate in this study. The selection is based on their educational backgrounds in CLT and their occupations as teachers of English. A discussion with all teachers at ELSU will be held with the approval from the director of ELSU in order to introduce the study and seek their interests. Though all of them have been trained as EFL teachers, not all of them are fully versed with CLT approach. Therefore, the meeting also aims to identify those teachers who are interested in the study and who have knowledge about and experience of CLT approach.
3.4 Data Collecting Procedures
The tools and procedures that will be used are as follows:
Classroom observations will be conducted with the sample teachers. Before conducting the observations, the researcher will first discuss with the identified teachers about the observation schedules and purposes. The researcher will observe four different sessions for each teacher so as to capture how s/he promotes students' communicative competence in her/his speaking, writing, listening, and reading sessions.
To avoid early generalization, the observations will focus on what is observable such as setting, participants, events, acts, and gestures. However, attention will be focused on the teaching techniques and classroom activities used by the teachers to promote students' communicative competence through the use of narrative descriptions.
An observation guide will be developed to guide the researcher in observing the teaching activities (Please see Appendix 1 for a classroom observation guide). During the observations, the researcher will take notes and write some questions for the post-observation interviews so as any unclear points noticed during the observations can be clarified with the teachers. The notes from the narrative description focus on the details of the key principles of CLT such as the use of authentic language in classroom, games, cooperation among students, emphasis on context and meaning, and emphasis on a relaxing classroom atmosphere and on teacher's non-judgmental role.
Interviews with teachers will be done in two different steps. The post-observation interviews will be conducted sometime after the sessions. The researcher will ask the teachers the questions about what she has noticed in the class. This is more about to follow up on what the researcher has observed about teaching practices during the classroom observations.
The second step of the interview is the actual interviews with the same teachers. The interviews will be held to hear about what teachers say about their beliefs of CLT and about their teaching practices. Those interviews will be taped recorded and transcribed for descriptive data. These actual interviews place emphasis on both the teachers' beliefs and practices of CLT key principles in relations to teaching the four language skills: speaking, writing, listening and reading.
An open-ended interview protocol will be developed, piloted and modified where necessary in order to guide the actual interviews with teachers. Spradley's (1979) ethnographic descriptive questions will be used to guide the design of the interview questions (Please see Appendix 2 for a list of guiding interview questions). The pilot interviews will be conducted with the researchers' classmates who are also EFL teachers.
3.5 A Plan to Analyze Data
Content analysis method will be used in the data analysis stage. The data gained from the interviews and observations will be perused so as categories and classifications can be developed. Themes that emerge from the various data sources will be identified, compared, and developed into the analysis with regard to teachers' beliefs and practices of CLT. The extent to which their beliefs influence their practices will be drawn based on the data from the different sources.
In response to the research questions, the content analysis will be used to analyze the gather data in relation to the following themes:
Teachers' Beliefs of CLT: The responses from the interviews will be analyzed to identify the teachers' perceptions about the goals of CLT, key principles of CLT and the importance of the four skills. Also, what teaching techniques they believe can improve those four skills of the students will be elaborated based on their responses.
Teachers' Practices of CLT: The responses from the interviews and notes from the observations will be analyzed to present the teachers' application of what they believe about CLT approach as noted in the above section, especially looking at how they promote the principles of CLT in a practical classroom setting.
The Relationships between Their Beliefs and Practices of CLT: The influence of teachers' beliefs of CLT on their practice will be drawn based the responses and observation notes. Other factors that may also influence their practices will be recorded though it is not the focus of this study.
3.6 Ethical Consideration
There are a few ethical issues that the research will deal with. First, as the interviews will be tape- recorded and analyzed. Thus, permission from those concerned including the management of ELSU and RUPP will be sought. Pseudonyms will be used instead of the teachers' names so as to enable them to feel comfortable in expressing their opinions. Also, permission to do classroom observations will be asked from the teachers involved in this study too.
3.7 Strengths and Limitations of the Method
Strengths: Using classroom observation allows the researcher to capture the processes of CLT implementation in naturalistic settings. With regard to teachers' practice of CLT, this method can provide more detailed and precise evidence than other methods. In this sense, the descriptions of instructional events that are provided by this method will enable the researcher to analyze how teachers promote CLT principles with regard to the four main skills in real classroom setting and how their beliefs influence such process.
By the same token, interviewing with the teachers allows the researcher to unpack the beliefs about CLT held by the teachers in a friendly atmosphere, which would be otherwise difficult with other research methods. Also, such interviews give the researcher an opportunity to probe or ask follow-up and clarifying questions on the opinions or impressions as expressed by the teachers. Doing so will enable the researcher to fully understand the beliefs and knowledge of teachers about CLT.
Overall, these two methods are complementary and reinforcing one another in a way that makes the content analysis possible. As such, the content analysis of the observation notes and interviews responses responds well to the research questions as outlined in Chapter 1.
Limitations: Though the methodology employed can allow the collection of reliable and valid information about teachers' beliefs, their practices and the relationships between their beliefs and practices, it is not free from limitations. Regarding classroom observation, observer effects may occur because teachers and students are aware that their behaviors are being observed. The presence of an observer may change teacher or student behaviors, perhaps resulting in reactive effects. Teacher anxiety or teachers performing less well than usual can interfere with the drawing of valid inferences about what normally occurs in the classroom. To minimize such effects, the research will have a chat with the teachers before observing to make them feel at ease so as they can teach as they would normally do. Also, the observer will wear student uniform just like a student in order to reduce the visibility of her as an observer.
The interviews about CLT can be quite technical language and jargons in EFL/CLT may be used. Therefore, to avoid any inappropriate use of the language, the interviews will be conducted in English, and the researcher will ask some follow up questions to cross-check the validity of the responses from the interviewees.