English is now considered as an important language, not only in the learning institutions but also within the society. Most employers seek employees who can communicate competently in English. Unfortunately the standard of English among today’s graduates is disappointing. One may argue that emphasize should be put on the skill needed to do a particular job instead of focusing on being able to speak English well. However, in certain fields the ability to converse well in English is mandatory. It is especially important to graduates or students of the TESL course as they are suppose to teach English to others. If they could not do it well, how could they be expected to teach others?
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In my practicum teaching experience, I managed to observe that some of the students kept silent all the time during the teaching and learning session. And the main reason for this situation taking place is the fact that they do not want to speak English. Most of the time during classroom teaching, I am the only one explaining and trying to get the student’s to speak. Even when they know the answer to a simple question, they still hesitate to open their mouths, and to volunteer in answering the question orally. They are indifferent to conversing in English. Although some of them know clearly that they should be competent in the language so as to qualify themselves for the current competitive career seeking opportunities that they will face in the future. Besides, the ability to speak in English is required in the society and the Malaysian community since we are in a multicultural country. With this demographic background, one common language that we share besides Malay is English. Therefore, having confidence to speak the language is considered necessary.
1.2 The Statement of the Research Problem
Being able to make ourselves confident, and directing the self-confidence that we have to speak in English is a hard effort. To be able to have this confidence, individuals need to make sure that they are proficient in the language. Lack of proficiency in English is seen as a major contributor towards the student teacher’s oral contribution in the classroom and during English teaching and learning session. In light of this situation, many factors have been identified as the cause of such issue to occur among the student teachers. Thus, these contributing factors will be further investigated in this research in order to come up with means for effective change.
The first problem that results in silence of the sample group during classroom interaction and instruction is due to the fact that the student teacher’s level of English proficiency, compared to their senior teachers and lecturers, are relatively different. The sample group has differences among them in terms of English proficiency. This means that their level of competency, especially in oral English, differs from one another. Therefore, with this problem, they become more afraid of making mistakes if they speak, thus resort to being silent and avoid any oral communication in the classroom with the senior teacher or lecturer. Does this problem apply to the focused group of the research?
Based on the practicum teaching experience, I also found out that the same problem applies to my B.Ed TESL colleagues during lecture sessions. Even though we are already in our final semester of learning and the ability to converse in English should have been sharpened throughout the 7 semesters, many still hesitate to voice out opinions or provide individual answers voluntarily during lectures. Therefore, I decided to look into this problem and come up with necessary solutions for this issue.
Based on the problems explained above, this topic best interests me since I will benefit from the findings of this research whereby I can use it to overcome any difficulties pertaining to this issue for the betterment of my teaching and instruction as a teacher in the classroom.
1.3 The Research Objectives
The purpose of this research is to investigate trainee teacher’s perceptions, problems and experiences of speaking English in the classroom. By identifying these three components; students’ perception, difficulties, and ways to overcome this matter, this study generally focuses on how to help the B.Ed TESL Cohort Three students to overcome the barrier that exists. Therefore, I hope that this study will help them to be able to speak in English during their teaching periods and in the classroom.
Specifically, the research is conducted to fulfill the following objectives:
To find out about trainee teacher’s perception in speaking English while doing their practicum and during lecture hours in the classroom.
To find out about trainee teacher’s difficulties in speaking English while doing their practicum and during lecture hours in the classroom.
To propose suggestions on how barriers and difficulties of speaking English in the classroom can be minimized, or eliminated.
1.4 The Research Questions
The following questions were designed to fulfill the needs of this research:
How does B.Ed TESL trainee teachers teach English in class, and how do they act and react during lecture hours in the teachers’ training institute?
What are the difficulties in speaking English while doing their practicum and during lecture hours in the classroom?
What are the ways that can encourage B.Ed TESL trainee teachers to frequently speak in English in the classroom?
1.5 Limitation of the Study
This study had been conducted to the Cohort Three, B.Ed TESL students of UiTM. The reason for selecting them as the respondents is due to the limitation of sources, age factors, and the time constraint. As we are studying in MARA University of Technology (UiTM), and the fact that it is hard for us to get respondents from other universities, we decided to study our own B.Ed TESL Cohort Three students. Besides that, this study is only limited to B.Ed TESL Cohort Three students due to the small age gap between each and every one of my respondents.
In average, the respondents for my study are aged between 23 to 25 years old. This project is limited to only the respondents chosen because it is easier to distribute the questionnaire to them and recollect it back afterwards. Moreover, since we do not have ample time to distribute and analyze the questionnaire papers, choosing only B.Ed TESL Cohort Three students seemed to be the best solution not only because of the factors stated above, but also because the topic of my case study is closely related to the respondents chosen.
1.5 Significance of the study
This study had been carried out with the purpose of knowing why students in higher educational institutions are less interested in speaking English. As an English language learner, I found out that most students studying in higher education institutions, especially Mara University of Technology (UiTM) lack the interest to speak English, especially outside the classroom.
As English is an important language nowadays, it is also vital for teacher trainees like us to master the language. One best way of mastering this language is by using it in our daily conversations. By using English language in our daily communications, the B.Ed TESL students are able to improve their speaking skills during their practicum and also during lecture hours.
Consequently this study can be used to help the students in their speaking of English and also to help them to be more confident to use the second language. Apart from that, this study also able to aid the lecturers to tackle this matter. Therefore, some measures will be taken by them in terms of the contents of the lesson and the pedagogy used in class. For example, the lesson carried out is more interesting which requires the students to talk and contribute more in the classroom. In addition, the UiTM administrator should organize workshops that focus on building student’s self-confidence to converse in English. This will encourage the students to use English as their medium of communication.
Unfortunately, B.ED TESL Cohort Three students of UiTM seemed to be reluctant to speak English among their friends, colleagues, peers, and everyone around them. So, this study helps me to reflect on the reasons leading to this situation.
2.1 English Subject
English is an international language. It is widely used in many situations like business trade, communication, learning process and so on. Therefore, English has become a compulsory subject in Malaysian Educational System. It was first implemented in year 1979. All students starting from kindergarten until tertiary level have to learn English as one of their subjects. The major aim of this subject is to allow students to develop their level of proficiency in English. This will enable students to use English for their daily life, knowledge acquisition and to prepare them for future jobs.
In KBSM, the learning outcome in learning English is based on the four skills which are reading, speaking, writing and listening. Those four skills are really needed to be mastered by the students before they go off the school. Speaking skill is useful for students to deliver their ‘thoughts and ideas clearly in speech when they pronounce words correctly and observe correct stress and intonation’ (KEMENTERIAN PENDIDIKAN MALAYSIA SUKATAN PELAJARAN KURIKULUM BERSEPADU SEKOLAH MENENGAH) From Zhao B. (1998) in her article.
2.2 Motivation to Speak English
‘How to motivate students to speak English’ (Golding, 2007), has provided several issues that need to be taken into consideration. The first factor is environment. There are several factors that hinder students from speaking English in class like afraid of making mistakes, and lack of confidence. Thus, it is the teachers’ role to provide ‘good environment’ so that students will feel comfortable to converse in English.
Secondly, ‘encouragement is necessary’. From time to time teachers should give moral support to the students so that they will increase their level of confidence in using the target language. Third is ‘methods’ chosen by the teachers. The teachers should make sure that the approach for speaking skill is suitable for students to develop their speaking skill. Lastly is ‘guidance from the teacher’. Teachers should guide their students so that they will learn something from the lesson and will not repeat the same mistake again and again. Teachers should try to make their class ‘lively and active’ through their guidance and ways of handling it.
2.3 Speaking English outside the Classroom
In order to be fluent in speaking English, students must be encouraged to put into practice speaking English outside the classroom environment. From Pete Marchetto (2007), “only the most motivated students will manage” to speak it all the time. However, why students nowadays feel reluctant to use the language as one of their means of communication? Fluency is one of the factors that may hinder students to speak English outside the classroom.
An article entitled ‘English outside the Classroom’ stated that “to develop fluency, we must generate a need to speak, to meet the learners want to speak. The learners themselves must be convinced of the need to relate to the subject and communicate about it to others. They need to feel that they are speaking not simply because the teacher expects them to, but because there is some strong reason to do so; not only inside the classroom but also outside the classroom.” (Hawes, 1994) Thus, students need to force themselves to speak in English if they want to become fluent speakers. Fluency may not come without practice.
Fluency may be a factor that hinders students from speaking English, but their personal interest can also be a contributor to this issue. In research done by Shimizu entitled ‘Why Japanese Students Reluctant to express their Opinions in the Classroom’ suggests that, “some students are not interested in English and it is natural that they cannot express their opinions during the class”. So, it means that, students need to have high interest in learning the language. If they have little interest in the language, definitely they will not practice the language.
Apart from that, students do not speak English because they feel afraid of making mistakes. ‘The fear of “losing face” prevents the students from speaking English (Zhu, 2003). These students do not want to feel ashamed in front of their friends if they tend to speak English incorrectly.
2.4 Barriers in speaking English
Feeling not confident to speak in English, or reluctance to speak, whether in the classroom, or outside can occur due to many factors. These factors hinder, or become the barrier in individuals to speak in English. From my experience, my colleagues rarely speak in English in informal situations especially outside the classroom. For me, this is the largest barrier that deters the speaking of English during lectures in class. Speaking in English outside the classroom is important. “Interacting in the community is a vital part of their language learning because language acquisition takes place when learners have problems communicating and have to negotiate for meaning.” (Ellis, 2005)
Speaking in English outside the classroom is important, and has proved to facilitate individuals in becoming confident and able to improve speaking skills. A research done by Cathy Wright (2006) entitled ‘SPEAKING ENGLISH BEYOND THE CLASSROOM: IDENTIFYING BARRIERS AND EFFECTING CHANGE’, showed that “speaking English outside class was very important (all instead of half) and more certain it could improve speaking, listening, vocabulary and understanding of life. Furthermore, participants had become more positive about their experiences of speaking English in the community.”
First language (L1) is also a barrier to individuals to speak in English in class. This is because in my opinion and observation, my colleagues prefer to speak among themselves in L1, whether inside the classroom, or outside. L1 effect on second language (L2) is also termed as ‘interference’. Quoted in Bhela (1999),
“When writing or speaking the target language (L2), second language learners tend to rely on their native language (L1) structures to produce a response. If the structures of the two languages are distinctly different, then one could expect a relatively high frequency of errors to occur in L2, thus indicating an interference of L1 on L2 (Dechert, 1983 and Ellis, 1997).”
Based on the quotation above, the structure of individual’s L1 interfere in the production of sentences in L2, thus creating repeated errors in individual’s speech and writing in L2. Therefore, the errors may instil lack of motivation and confidence to speak in L2, creating a situation that hinders my colleagues to practice speaking English in class and outside the classroom.
One crucial phrase that can be applied in mastering the English language is “practice makes perfect”. In order to be competent in English, TESL students should speak the language every opportunity they get. Surprisingly, many TESL students do not use English outside the classroom. This is why I decided to conduct a survey to investigate this matter. I want to find out whether the reason they are not using English outside the classroom is innate or related to their surroundings. This is important because we need to recognize and eliminate the inhibitors that prevent TESL students from using English outside the classroom so that I may find ways to overcome this problem.
This chapter looks into how the survey has been carried out. In this chapter, it is discussed in detail about the subjects of this study, the instruments used to carry out this study, how the data had been collected, and finally the way the data had been analyzed.
From this chapter, the whole process, from distributing the instrument, conducting and collecting the data, to the way of analyzing all the data of the study is being described precisely.
3.2 The Subjects of the Study
The subjects for my study are 45 persons. From all the subjects, I chose to distribute our instruments to 11 male students, and 34 female students. Furthermore, the subjects of my study are all from B.Ed TESL Cohort Three UiTM students. All the respondents are aged between twenty to twenty four years old. While choosing for the subjects for this study, I did not encounter any difficulties as my survey is not a comparison between males and females. So, the difference in the numbers of males and females respondents was not a barrier to me to continue the study.
3.3 The Instruments
In doing this survey, the method chosen is survey questionnaire. The reason for choosing this method is that it is easier to analyze the data provided. The survey questionnaire will be distributed among 45 respondents in March 2010. In order to accumulate the data the instrument is divided into three sections which are; (a) Student’s Perception, (b) Difficulties, and (c) Ways to Help.
The questionnaire consists of ten (10) survey questions pertaining to the survey topic. From those 10 questions, three questions had been asked in a form of YES/NO, one question as scale, and six multiple choice questions. The YES/NO question asks the respondents to tick either Yes or No. The optional choice question in the questionnaire needs all the respondents to choose the answers within the answers that had been provided for them. The scale question requires the respondent to grade according to their opinion about what the question asks. Meanwhile, the open-ended question asks the respondents to state their reason/s in answering the related question.
3.4 Data Collection
As this survey had been conducted using survey questionnaire, the data provided is written in the questionnaire paper itself. Therefore, when this questionnaire had been distributed to all the respondents chosen, I had given them about 15 minutes to finish answering all the questions. The questionnaire set is collected as soon as all the respondents completed answering it. The questionnaire was handed to all the respondents while they were in class and waiting for the lecturer to come. So the data collection for this survey has been made at their respective classes
3.5 Data Analysis
After all the data had been collected, an analysis of it has been carried out to conclude all the findings and assemblage the data into their percentage. This is done to come out with a list of figures and charts discussing each question. The data collected is first recounted to make sure all the respondents had handed in their questionnaire paper. After that, an analysis of each question is made by grouping the answers, and totaling them up in a form of percentage. Then, the percentage of each data is transmitted into the different charts provided by the computer. For the open-ended question, the data is tabulated into a table and followed by appropriate justifications on how the respondents reacted to the questions asked.
RESULTS AND INTERPRETATION
The purpose of this research is to investigate trainee teacher’s perceptions, problems and experiences of speaking English in the classroom. This chapter looks into how the results of the findings of the study will be portrayed and discussed.
4.1 Data Presentation and Analysis
This chapter contains information and the conclusion made pertaining to each question asked in the questionnaire paper. After the data had been analyze and transmitted into figures and tables, a conclusion for each question is made to relate the findings and the survey topic together. In this chapter also, the results of the survey is shown and discussed.
4.1.1 Student’s Perception
220.127.116.11 QUESTION 1: From your point of view, is English an interesting language?
The first question is a general question which asks the respondents whether English is an interesting language or not. It is a Yes/No question, which require the respondents to tick in either one of the boxes provided. For this question, 45 respondents, or a total of 96 percent of the respondents say that English is an interesting language. While an outstanding total of respondents say that English is interesting. On the contrary, 2 respondents, who carry another 4 percent of the total percentage, say that English is not an interesting language.
18.104.22.168 QUESTION 2: Is English language difficult to be spoken?
The second question is a Yes/No question, asking the respondents’ perceptions whether English language is difficult to be spoken or not. From the pie-chart chart above, it is shown that a high 80 percent of the respondents say that English is not difficult to be spoken. Another 20 percent stated that speaking English is hard. It clearly shows that majority of the respondents agree to the fact that English is not a hard language to be spoken.
4.1.2 Student’s difficulties
22.214.171.124 QUESTION 3: On the scale of 1 to 10, what is your level of proficiency in the English language?
The third question required the respondents to rate their level of proficiency in the English language. The rational of asking this question is to know how well the respondents feel about themselves pertaining to the study of English. The scale of 1 to 10 has been provided to them in three different boxes. The first box is rated 1 to 3, the second rated 4 to 7, and the third box is rated 8 to 10. After analyzing the findings provided, 62 percent, with majority respondents rated their proficiency in English at 4 to 7 of the scale. The second highest percentage is 32 percent, where the respondents rate their English proficiency at 8 to 10 from the scale given. Meanwhile, the lowest percentage is 6 rate their proficiency at the point of 1 to 3 on the scale.
126.96.36.199 QUESTION 4: How often do you speak English with your friends / peers outside of the classroom?
The fourth question for this survey is pertaining to the frequency of speaking English for each respondent. The answers provided for this question is seldom, once a week, everyday, or never spoken in English before. The respondents are asked to choose only ONE answer for this question. From the analyzed data, 50 percent of the respondents answered they seldom speak in English, 14 percent said that they speak English once a week, another 32 percent of respondents state that they speak English everyday, while another 6 percent of the remaining respondents stated that they never spoke in English. From this question, it can be concluded that the respondents spent less time using English to communicate in their daily lives.
188.8.131.52 QUESTION 5: Do your colleagues practice speaking English outside of the classroom?
Question 6 is a Yes/No, asking the respondents whether their colleagues in the university practices speaking English outside the classroom or not. All the respondents are asked to chose either Yes or No for the answer. The highest percentage for this question is the answer Yes, with a total of 60 percent of the respondents stating that their colleagues do practice speaking English outside their classroom. Another 40 percent of the respondents say that their colleagues did not practice speaking the language outside classroom.
184.108.40.206 QUESTION 6: Do you speak English with your parents / family members at home?
The above figure is a transmitted data of the seventh question in the survey questionnaire conducted to the B.Ed TESL teacher trainee of IPGM-KKB – UiTM. This question is asked with the purpose of knowing whether the respondents do speak English language with their parents or family members at home. Related to the fifth question before, this is another way for me to gather more information about the topic of my study. To conclude the figure above, 60 percent or a total of 30 respondents do practice speaking the language with their parents or family members at home.
220.127.116.11 QUESTION 7: What do you think is the inhibitor for TESL students to use English in the classroom?
The question asked respondents to give their opinion on the inhibitor for TESL students to use English in the classroom. From the data collected, it shows that most of the respondents admit that lack of self-confidence is the biggest inhibitor for them to use English outside the classroom, with 57.7 percent. Besides, 19.7 percent respondents believe that they are lack of practice to use the language. While, 17 percent of our respondents say that their mother tongue (Malay Language) inhibits them to speak English in the classroom. Meanwhile, only 7 percent of the total percentage states that peers are the inhibitors for them to speak the language in class.
4.1.3 Ways to Overcome
18.104.22.168 QUESTION 8: Who influence you most in speaking English?
This question is asking the respondents to reveal who influenced them most to speak in English in the classroom. The answers provided for this question is peers/friends, parents, their lecturers and their own self-willing. From the bar chart above, respondents agree that their peers/ friends, and their lecturers are the most influential factor for them to speak in English, with the percentage of 28.9. Meanwhile, a 26.8 percent out of the total percentage state that their own-willing to speak is the most pushing factor in influencing them to speak the language outside the classroom. Another 15.4 percent of the remaining respondents chose their parents as someone who influence them to speak in English out of class. From this question, it shows that peers or friends, and lecturers play an important part to make us speak in English, even outside of the classroom.
22.214.171.124 QUESTION 9: From your point of view, do a teacher / lecturer play a big role in encouraging students to speak English?
Question 8 is a multiple choice form of question, which needs the respondents to choose only ONE answer from the list of answers provided to them. The respondents are required to give their views on whether a teacher or lecturer plays a big role in encouraging students to speak English. There is a huge difference in the amount of percentage between one answer to others. A majority of 44 respondents, with the percentage of 88 says that the teacher or lecturer plays a big role in encouraging them to speak English. From this question, I can make a conclusion that students depend on their lecturers in order to make them speak in English outside the classroom environment.
126.96.36.199 QUESTION 10: In your opinion, what are the factors that contribute to someone speaking English fluently?
This question is asking for the respondents’ opinion on the factors that contribute to someone speaking English fluently. Just like the previous question, the respondents need to state their point of view by choosing from the list of answers already provided to them in the questionnaire paper. The opinions asked are the factors that contribute to someone speaking fluent English. The results in the figure above shows that 41 percent of the respondents think that lots of practice is the main key in speaking fluent English. Meanwhile, one quarter of the pie chart, with 25 percent of the respondents think that interest in the language contributes to someone speaking English fluently.
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4.2 Summary of the findings
Based on the findings of the study, there are few conclusions that can be made. Throughout the findings, I found out that more than half of the respondents have the rate of 4-7 on the English proficiency scale of 10. I also found out that half of the overall respondents seldom speak English with their friends or peers outside of the classroom. 60% from the total of respondents state that their colleague practices speaking English outside the classroom. However, that does not bring enough motivation to encourage them to speak in English. 88% of the respondents have a view that lecturers play a big role in encouraging students to converse in English in and outside the classroom. From the data collected, I found out that, most of the respondents with a total of 57.7%, state that lack of self-confidence is the greatest inhibitor to converse in English in the classroom.
One crucial phrase that can be applied in mastering the English language is “practice makes perfect”. In order to be competent in English, TESL students should speak the language every opportunity they get. Surprisingly, many TESL students do not use English outside of the classroom. This is why we decided to conduct a survey to investigate this matter. We want to find out whether the reason they are not using English outside of the classroom is innate or related to their surroundings. This is important because we need to recognize and eliminate the inhibitors that prevent TESL students from using English outside of the classroom so that we may find ways to overcome this problem.
5.1 Implications to Language Learning
The researcher really values the insights received from the B.Ed TESL Cohort 3 students on their opinion and perception about English language, which is our L2. By knowing what they have to say about the English language, it creates awareness of the researcher on the situation of speaking in English among colleagues inside and outside the classroom.
The current situation of speaking English among colleagues shows that though English is the language that we are learning in order to become an English teacher in the near future, many inhibitors still hinder us from frequently speaking the language, either inside the classroom or outside in informal situation with friends. The importance of English is undeniable. Because the language is very important, B.Ed TESL Cohort 3 students should work very hard to try to overcome, or curd the inhibitors that stop them from being able to speak in English in any given situation.
As future English teachers, urgency and inner instinct to proficiently improve self in the language should be buried inside us. In addition, due to the increasing demand on individual’s proficiency in English for education and job prospect nowadays, to be able to speak English in many situations is considered very good. Therefore, B.Ed TESL students should have their own self-encouragement to become better speakers of English, and be a very good role model to the students when they start teaching in schools in the near future. By putting effort and finding our own means to speak English frequently and confidently, not only can we be proud of ourselves, but also a sense of proud and satisfaction sparks in the lecturers who had taught us the language for almost 6 years.
This study also shed light to the fact that practicing English is a very good effort in order to become fluent and proficient speakers. The only problem that surrounds it is that, the feeling of shame to practice speaking and getting caught making errors. It creates embarrassment which led to unwillingness to continue the practice of speaking the language. Being afraid of making errors while speaking will only put individuals at the current state of their English proficiency. In order for them to move forward and become better, the feeling of shame should be put aside. This is because making errors are part
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