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The Related Literature And Studies English Language Essay

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Language
Wordcount: 5427 words Published: 1st Jan 2015

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Communication is an integral part of human existence and development. Engaging in it is inevitable particularly in a business setting as it is relative to promoting an idea, product, service, or organization to create value or make a sale (Khan). Successful businesses recognize the value of communication in the workplace which requires proficiency in oral and written communication skills. The latter is engineered to display information effectively on the page in order to get results, to inform, to request, to entertain, or to persuade (Holloway). In fact, 90% of all business transactions involve written communications (DePompa). Hence effective business communication demands ideas, thoughts, and concepts to be expressed and presented in an orderly, formal, and effective manner.

English as Second Language (ESL) learners perceive business writing skill as far more challenging than that of oral business communication. The former requires the use of written English based on standards set by prescriptive authorities associated with publishing houses and schools (www.wikipedia.com).

Teachers, like the researcher, are faced with the challenge of addressing students’ lack of business writing skills which emanates from their confusion and difficulty in understanding the concepts governing business writing. Business writing is a highly demanding process that necessitates an organization in the development of thoughts, ideas, and accuracy in word choices. The most common problem that confronts teachers of the writing class does not lie so much on what to ask students to write about; the difficulty is more on how to motivate the students to write interesting and effective materials. Writing for its own sake is a drag, and produces boring output (Ikeguchi).

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Writing only becomes an interesting activity when the teacher knows how to go about teaching it. One very important point the teacher can consider to increase motivation is to actually become a very good supporter and facilitator in the entire writing process. In this regard, the use of newspaper articles as intervention in the improvement of business writing is can be considered.

The use of newspaper articles can be an effective intervention to implement in the writing-learning process because it can easily be adapted in Business Communication and Writing class. Newspaper articles offer situations that students are likely to encounter in real life. Through newspaper articles, they can use their experiences and prior knowledge to respond appropriately, and even creatively.

This intervention can also help students with low English proficiency to arouse interest so they can actively participate in the class activities. The use of newspaper articles motivates students to write what they want, what they need, and what they feel. Because of the increased responsibility to participate through a variety of writing exercises, students may gain confidence in using the target language in general. Students are more responsible managers of their own learning (Larsen – Freeman).

This paper intends to find out whether the use of newspaper articles as intervention in the improvement of business writing skills of iACADEMY students is effective.

Background of the Study

Having the mindset of directly addressing the need for ready-to-hire graduates/applicants of both the information technology (IT) and business industries, Mr. Mitch Andaya, former Dean of the College of Computer Studies in DLSU and Vice-President of STI Colleges Head Office, together with the other founders, established the Information and Communications Technology Academy, now better known as iACADEMY, in March of 2002. The school acquired the first and third floors of the PhilCare Building in Ayala Avenue corner Dela Rosa Street in Makati City. At present, the school occupies the third to the fifth floor of the building that has been renamed iACADEMY.

iACADEMY offers Bachelor of Science in Computer Science (BSCS) with Specialization in Software Engineering, Bachelor of Science in Information Technology (BSIT) with Specialization in Digital Arts, and Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (BSBA) with Specialization in Marketing and Advertising Management, Bachelor of Science in Animation (BSA), Bachelor of Science in Game Development (BSGD), Bachelor of Arts in Multimedia Arts and Design (AB MMA), and Bachelor of Arts in Fashion Design (ABFD).

iACADEMY’s library houses a good selection of hard-to-find and imported books, a generous number of local text books and reference materials, and half a dozen desktop computers equipped with the internet, the latest software for IT-related courses and electronic books (e-books) encompassing a variety of subjects to address the needs of its students across all degrees. It also has been on daily subscription with two of the more prominent Philippine broadsheets, the Manila Bulletin and the Philippine Star. Several copies of the daily issues of these broadsheets are accessible to everyone who works for or studies in the institution. However, based upon the school librarian’s personal observation, only a handful of individuals, most of whom are faculty members, take the time to read these newspapers. Students become interested with these learning materials only when the need arises, like when assignments necessitate them to read and photocopy articles in these newspapers. This study, which aims to improve the students’ business writing skills, also hopes to make students become active newspaper readers after they discover the real-life learning opportunities it can offer.

The advent of computer and internet technology may have invited people to forgo handwritten letters, but definitely not letter writing itself. The existence of the computer and internet in fact has revolutionized letter writing, particularly its speed in creation, transmission, and feedback. And, with the development of electronic mailing system (e-mail), people probably write more than they actually used to. The internet may have decreased the interest of people to perform the task of hand writing but it has also increased people’s preference for written communication (Bly).

Two decades or so ago, most managers dictated letters which their secretaries typed. Today, more professionals personally transcribe their letters as computer literacy, including a working knowledge on MS Word and Excel has become a basic managerial requirement (Bly). This goes to show that there is an increase in the number of individuals who are actively performing the skill of writing everyday; therefore, a call for more emphasis on teaching and learning writing skills is an imperative.

Majority of iACADEMY’s student population comes from the upper-middle to the high-class members of the society. Most of them are graduates of private or exclusive high schools. However, this alone cannot be taken as a guarantee of their English proficiency, both in oral and written communication. Business Communication and Writing course falls under the umbrella of English for Specific Purpose (ESP) course; therefore, it requires a higher level of English proficiency. This is why the course is set as the third English course to be taken by students while the first two English courses are its prerequisites.

iACADEMY English faculty are alarmed with their students’ poor writing performance. These students barely pass or even fail their English subjects because they exhibit below average level of competency, particularly in writing; and when asked why they performed rather poorly, they blamed their very little exposure to the language and uninteresting English subjects as the culprits.

English language educators have to admit that ensuring the students’ improvement in writing performance is in their hands. Writing only becomes an interesting activity when the language educator knows how to go about teaching it and by increasing students’ motivation in engaging students in the writing process. In this regard, the use of newspaper articles as intervention in the improvement of business writing of iACADEMY students is recommended for consideration.

In the Philippines, there are very limited studies related to the topic. The researcher would therefore attempt to make a modest contribution to this area through a different approach by the use of newspaper articles as intervention in the improvement of business writing.

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-LeuJYwqheos/TsX101KIkkI/AAAAAAAAACU/htuv1nYBVFc/s1600/iACADEMY.jpg

Map of the Location of Information and Communications Technology Academy

Figure 1

Theoretical Framework

The framework of this research is anchored on two approaches. First is Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) or Communicative Approach (CA) or in its earlier stage, Notional – Functional Approach; and second is the Craftsmanship approach in Business Communication.

The CLT approach is the result of the works of educators and linguists known as the Council of Europe language experts (Bryam) in the early 1970s and was further developed by David Wilkins, a prominent linguist who used the term “communicative approach” in 1974 (Wilkins). It can be further traced to the work of Chomsky in the 1960s, when he advanced the two notions of ‘competence’ and ‘performance’ as a reaction against the prevalent audio-lingual method of the time.

The central theoretical concept and goal of the CLT approach is “communicative competence,” a term introduced into discussions of language use and second or foreign language learning together with communicative language teaching in the early 1970s (Savignon). Communicative competence can be defined in terms of the expression, interpretation, and negotiation of meaning and looks to both psycholinguistic and socio-cultural perspectives in Second Language Acquisition (SLA) research to account for its development (Savignon).

Teaching writing in the SLA context is one of the main objectives of foreign language teaching and learning. It involves a preparatory phase known as the decision-making phase. This phase entails defining the rhetorical problem: establishing a purpose for writing, determining the audience and a topic. Secondly, the ensuing writing processes are then determined and established. These processes involve the planning, transcribing, and reviewing of the composed work (Lee). The CLT approach to writing is an effective approach because it allows students to draw from their prior knowledge, actively navigate their way through the various writing processes with the appropriate scaffolding, and finally present their understanding of the content.

One application of CLT approach is the use of authentic materials. Proponents of CLT have advocated the use of “authentic” “real-life” materials in the classroom which include language-based such as newspapers, magazines, advertisements, or graphic and visual sources in which communicative activities can be built (Jin, Application of Communicative Approach in College English Teaching). The range of exercise types and activities compatible with CLT is unlimited. Moreover, it is not assumed in this approach that the teacher is the center of all classroom activities (Al-Mutawa); therefore, the CLT is a learner-centered approach to language learning; and that the teacher’s and learner’s motivation and positive attitude are crucial for effective teaching and learning. Finally, as each classroom is different and is composed of different types of learners, several techniques and strategies may be used to address individual learner differences within the SLA environment (Lee).

The second theory that this study will use as framework is the Rhetorical Theory in Business Communication. This theory declares that the communication process is neither a single nor a linear process; but is rather continuous making the entire communication process clear to all parties involved.

One of the major approaches that the rhetorical theory offers to business communication is the Craftsmanship approach, which is based upon the well-crafted sales letter. It posits that the purpose of the letter is to convince, inform, and arouse its reader’s interest; therefore, it should be written with the “you attitude,” wherein the writer attempts to identify with the reader’s needs, perspective, language, and desires. This then becomes the master strategy for planning means of stimulating the reader’s faculties in various letter situations (Brooks).

The “you attitude” is given due attention and emphasis by George Burton Hotchkiss. He says that what is true of sales letters is equally true of all other kinds of business letters. He further suggests that the first thing the writer must do is to form the habit of looking at the subject of his message from the reader’s viewpoint and language; and more importantly, he must get what is called the “you attitude.” The ideas and concepts in a letter should be expressed from the point of view of the reader. Whatever is said must be expressed in language directed at the reader himself (Hotchkiss and Kilduff).

Aside from the “you attitude,” principle, Hotchkiss also adds five concepts that should always be observed when writing a business letter – correctness, clearness, conciseness, courteousness, and character (Hotchkiss and Kilduff). These concepts are known as the, “5 C’s of business writing,” should be evident in any type of business letter.

Conceptual Framework

The researcher has come up with a conceptual framework (see Fig. 1) based upon the theoretical framework of this study. Experimental (treatment) and control groups are included in the framework design.

The process to be used for the experimental (treatment) group will be from a pretest to the use of newspaper articles to the posttest that will provide data for the validation of the hypotheses. The control group will undergo the process of a pretest to the conventional pedagogy to the posttest that will provide data for validation of hypotheses. The teaching methodology to be applied for this group is “lecture-discussions.”

Experimental Group Control Group

Pretest

Pretest

Conventional Teaching

Conventional Teaching

Posttest

Use of Newspaper Articles as Intervention

Posttest

Improved Business Writing Skills

Research Paradigm

Figure 2

Statement of the Problem

The main purpose of the study was to look into the effectiveness of using newspaper articles as intervention in the improvement of business writing performance in the Business Communication and Writing class of iACADEMY during the third trimester of school year 2011-2012.

More specifically, the study aimed to answer the following sub-problems:

Based on the 5 C’s of writing, what were the writing performances of the experimental and control groups in the following:

Pretest

Posttest

Was there any significant difference between the pretest and the posttest writing performance of the two groups:

Experimental group

Control group

Was there any significant difference in the pretest writing performance of the two groups:

Experimental group

Control group

Was there any significant difference in the posttest writing performance of the two groups:

Experimental group

Control group

Hypotheses:

There is no significant difference between the pretest and the posttest writing performance of the experimental group.

There is no significant difference between the pretest and the posttest writing performance of the control group.

There is no significant difference in the pretest writing performance of the experimental and control groups.

There is no significant difference in the posttest writing performance of the experimental and control groups.

Scopes and Limitations

This study focused on determining the effects of using newspaper articles as intervention in the improvement of business writing performance of iACADEMY students. The research subjects were taken from two heterogeneous groups of students enrolled at the Information and Communications Technology Academy (iACADEMY) in Makati City during the third semester of school year 2011-2012 and who were officially enrolled in ENG103 Business Communication and Writing course.

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The lecture-discussions for this study were based on the ENG103 (Business Communication and Writing) syllabus designed by the researcher three weeks prior to the start of the third trimester. The institution where he teaches allows members of the faculty to modify the course syllabus provided that such modifications are geared towards better delivery of the much needed learning of the students.

Both experimental and control group were provided with the same lectures but with differences in the pedagogical approach. The control group was given only the lecture presentations and practice drills while the experimental group had newspapers articles integrated in the class activities in addition to the usual lecture presentations and practice drills.

The newspaper articles chosen by the researcher typified the following principles of CLT approach (Jin, Application of Communicative Approach in College English Teaching): (1) Communicative Principle; (2) Task Principle; and (3) Meaningfulness Principle.

Significance of the Study

The individuals, who can benefit from this study, include the students, the language and the literature instructors, the curriculum designers, and future researchers.

Students. The implementation of the study will benefit college students since newspapers can help them develop not only their reading and speaking skills, grammar, and vocabulary, but also their writing skill. Newspaper articles are considered to be authentic learning materials that provide real-life learning that motivates students to utilize previous life experiences and prior knowledge of a given topic. It can also serve as a model for proper execution of the writing tasks.

Language Arts Instructors. The use of newspaper articles as intervention in the improvement of the business writing skills of students gives English instructors more up-to-date teaching materials that are readily accessible to them and their students. Newspaper articles can also serve as good examples for students to improve their writing skills.

Curriculum Designers. Inevitably, academicians who focus on innovating designs of the English curriculum would need to find better if not pioneering approaches to teaching English as a second language. It is in this light that such professionals might want to consider including and utilizing newspaper articles in developing curricula that would focus on both language and literature.

Other researchers. This study can open new doors for researchers to investigate the effects of the use of newspaper articles in the improvement of the writing performance of students in the English classes, and probably in other disciplines as well, such as in science, history, and values education.

Definition of Terms

The following terms are defined operationally and conceptually in the study:

Authentic Materials. These are materials which involve language naturally occurring as communication in native-speaker contexts of use, or those selected contexts where Standard English is the norm.

Business Communication. This is sharing of information between people within an enterprise that is performed for the commercial benefit of the organization. In addition, business communication can also refer to how a company shares information to promote its product or services to potential consumers.

Business Communication Skill. This is the ability to convey information to another effectively and efficiently. Business managers with good verbal, non-verbal and written communication skills help facilitate the sharing of information between people within a company for its commercial benefit.

Character. This is both an intellectual and emotional quality of the business letter that expresses the writer’s unique personality in a very natural way, with due regard for his subject and his reader, making the letter a more adequate substitute for personal representative.

Clearness. This is an intellectual quality of the business letter that shows its quality of impression and is therefore always to be judged from the reader’s viewpoint. The writer always knows what he means if he means anything at all. If the reader, however, does not know what a statement means, such a statement lacks this quality of clarity.

Communication. This is the two-way process by which information is being conveyed between two individuals, a sender and a receiver, through a common system of symbols, signs, or behavior in order to reach mutual understanding and create a shared meaning.

Communicative Competence. It is a situational ability to set realistic and appropriate goals and to maximize their achievement by using knowledge of self, other, context, and thereby to generate adaptive communication performances.

Communicative Principle. This principle uses activities that involve real communication situations that promote learning.

Conciseness. This is an intellectual quality of the business letter that demands as little as possible of the reader’s time and gives the kind of service that builds goodwill.

Control group. This is a group of students to be used as standard comparison in a control experiment.

Conventional Pedagogy. This is the standard way of providing learning to the students at iACADEMY, which incorporates PowerPoint presentations with lecture-discussions.

Correctness. This is both an intellectual and emotional quality of the business letter. It is an intellectual quality because the words, spelling, grammar, and punctuation must all be in conformity with established usage. It is also an emotional quality because incorrectness distracts and irritates, and arouses contempt because it gives a bad suggestion of ignorance, carelessness, or haste on the part of the writer.

Courteousness. This is an emotional quality of the business letter that is based upon consideration for the reader’s feelings and personality by the studious avoidance of any idea that would offend. A writer should have no difficulty in securing this quality if he has a genuine recognition of the reader’s equality with himself.

ENG 103. This is the course code of Business Communication and Writing, which is the third English subject needed to be taken by the students after accomplishing the prerequisite English courses Communication Arts 101 and Oral Communications with Public Speaking.

Experimental group. This is a group of students that will under study to determine the effects of using newspaper articles as intervention in business writing performance

Learner-centered Approach. This is an approach to education focusing on the needs, abilities, interests, and learning styles of the students with the teacher as a facilitator of learning, rather than those of others involved in the educational process, such as teachers and administrators.

Lecture-Discussion. This is a teaching model that uses what students already know by building their own background; presents information in a systematic manner; and uses teacher questioning to involve students actively in the learning process.

Meaningfulness Principle. This involves language that is meaningful to the learner supports the learning process.

Newspaper Article. This is a written work published in print for the purpose of propagating the news, research results, academic analysis, or debate in a scheduled publication such as the broadsheets.

Posttest. This is an achievement test that will be used to identify the students’ level of improvement in their writing skills upon attainment of learning in the given lecture-discussions and activities performed in class.

Pretest. This is a diagnostic test which aims to determine the students’ preparedness in beginning a new course of study. The test helps in the assessment of the student needs in learning the topics to be covered in the instructional design.

Proficiency. It is mastery of a specific behavior or skill demonstrated by consistently superior performance, measured against established or popular standards.

Second Language Acquisition (SLA). This is the process by which people of a first language learn a second language in addition to their native language.

Task principle. This principle involves activities in which language is used to carry out meaningful tasks to promote learning.

Writing rubric. This is an assessment tool that attempts to communicate particular level of expected qualities in writing performance areas specifically based upon the “5 C’s of Business Writing.”

Chapter 2

REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE AND STUDIES

Presented in this chapter are the foreign and local literatures and studies which are relevant to the present study because such contain written reviews or commentaries of other researchers, theorists, and professionals with regard to the use of newspaper articles as intervention in the improvement of business writing.

As a result of some limitations, the researcher acknowledges the fact that there is a possibility that other relevant literatures are still unread, either due to time constraint or distance issues of the location of the resource materials. Despite this discrepancy, the researcher tries to exhaust, to its fullest capabilities, the internet that seems to augment and provide sufficient information to supplement the library materials available.

Foreign Literature

J.C. Richards (2006) states that the ever-growing demand for good communication skills in the English language has created a huge demand for teaching English and an enormous demand for quality language teaching materials and resources. Learners today set themselves the demanding goal of being able to master English on a high proficiency level. Even employers demand that members of the workforce exhibit good English language skills, both oral and written. The demand for an appropriate teaching methodology is therefore an imperative (J. C. Richards).

According to Carol Rzadkiewicz, communication is vital in an organization because it not only connects members within a specific department but also connects them to those from other departments, from other branches, and, in today’s global economy, from around the world. Moreover, communication can make the difference between success and failure for a company.

Good communication helps ensure the efficient operation of all levels of an organization, from the lowest to the highest, whereas poor communication often results in inefficiency; and as successful business leaders know, inefficiency equals a loss of productivity and, consequently, a loss of profits (Rzadkiewicz).

Lee believes that writing must first be given a clear definition so that a philosophy or an approach to teaching writing in SLA classroom maybe utilized. Writing as communication may be defined as “how learners put thoughts down on paper and develop them into some kind of coherent text” (p.245) (Lee).

Writing skill is a difficult task for it requires prior knowledge of the language components such as morphology, phonology, syntax, semantics, and pragmatics. These components serve as broader aspects of language for the underlying foundation of language skills like vocabulary, capitalization, syllabification, punctuation, sentence structure, sequential order, and initiation and maintenance of thoughts (Brice).

Beare (2012) revealed that for many ESL learners, learning to write fluently in English is much more challenging than learning to speak fluently. Even for advanced level learners, written communications can come much more slowly in English than spoken communications because written communication is more formal; spoken communication allows for more mistakes; less reflection goes into spoken English than written English; and expectations are much higher for formal written English.

It is important when teaching written English skills – especially for business English – to be aware of the challenges that learners face when learning to function in a written English environment and considerations should be given to achieve this. One such consideration is that acquiring speech is an unconscious act, whereas learning to write takes a conscious effort on the part of the learner. Another is that written language must be filtered through a system, which can be phonemic, structural or representative, etc. The individual must not only learn to recognize the meaning of words orally, but also go through a process of transcribing these sounds. Lastly, the process of transcribing requires the learning of other rules and structures thereby cognizing a previously unconscious process (Beare).

Widdowson¼ˆ1978¼‰enumenrates two aspects in language; one is rules, such as grammar, that determine correctness, and the other is the performative ability that allows people to undertake meaningful communication. He labels the correctness as usage and the performance as use. Since the language functions systematically and communicatively, both spoken and written modes of language cannot leave out either the grammatical and communicative aspects (Widdowson).

Communicative writing can be described as the act of corresponding. Of course, as Widdowson¼ˆ1978¼‰acknowledges, the socially reciprocal setting of the written mode is different from that of the spoken mode because, unlike listeners, readers are not always available for immediate responses or, even worse, for any form of interactions whatsoever. However, communicative writing entails the presence of readers as target audience. The important point is that one can write following grammatical rules, and one can compose in order to communicate with others through writing, yet, if the one does not write with the target audience in mind, composition cannot be an act of communication.

According to Richards and Rodgers (1986), the theory of CLT approach is holistic rather than behavioristic. It starts with a theory of language as communication which implies knowledge of the grammatical system as well as performance (Richards and Rodgers). Widdowson (1984) stated that in other words, such competence includes both the usage and use of the language (Widdowson).

Richards, J. C. (2006) explains that communicative competence embraces three fundamental dimensions: first, the ability to use linguistic means to realize a variety of language functions; second, the ability to use language appropriately with due consideration of the social context in which communication takes place; and third is the ability to develop strategies to manage the negotiation of meaning. This specification of communicative competence is the hallmark of the CLT approach because it cannot be founding the theoretical framework of any other method of or approach to language teaching (J. C. Richards).

The CLT approach to teaching writing in the second language acquisition (SLA) context introduces two essential phases: first, a decision-making phase and a second phase whereby the ensuing writing processes are determined and established (Lee).

The decision-making phase entails “defining the rhetorical problem.” It involves establishing a purpose for writing, determining an audience and a topic, ac

 

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