The Teaching Situation English Language Essay

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Teaching situation in Jordan depends on two stages, compulsory stage which covers students from the age of six to fifteen, and secondary stage which cover students from the age of sixteen to eighteen, after that they allow taking a state examination, for those who pass can leave school to attend to the university. University graduates weren't qualified to enter the labor market and the fresh graduates were lacked in language, practical, analytical and computer skills. According to a study by the National Competitiveness Unit at the Ministry of Planning to assess the strengths and weaknesses of Higher Education, the teaching staff who finished their doctoral from American or western universities didn't attend to a voluntary training to accommodate the newly changes in the teaching processes and methods. Professors also might take an extra teaching to make ends meet, and because of the weakness of the student and the large number of them inside the class it means that the lecturer may complete the course with the minimum materials what he can use them easily, the objective questions were given to cover the course.

Course Description

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Enterprise Elementary 2 is a complete course for student studying English at elementary level. It provides them with extensive, systematic, and well-integrated practice in the productive and perspective skills necessary for successful communication in both oral and written forms of the language. The course embodies a multi-syllabus approach and a wide variety of presentation methodology. Traditional emphasis on systematic learning of grammar and vocabulary is balanced with practice in communication language use, the methodical development of sub-skills, and attention to details of spelling and pronunciation. Graded, structured material which facilitates learning is balanced with more authentic, unsimplified material which encourages language acquisition items to genuinely communicative and creative activities.

Each module ensures coverage of a core of common, useful language related to topics of general interest with which students need to be familiar. The units follow the same basic structure, outlined below:

Lead-in sections draw on students' knowledge of the given topic while previewing the new items of vocabulary and grammar to be learnt in the unit. The section ends with a listening activity, requiring students to listen to a recording of the reading text and complete a task, such as checking information, multiple matching and so on. This prepares students for the reading text which follow, by familiarizing them with the gist of the passage.

Language section consists of 200 to 350-word texts on factual topics, reflecting authentic types and styles of writing. These texts allow students to develop sub-skills such as reading for gist or specific information, and present new vocabulary in a meaningful context.

Language Development section formally present new vocabulary and grammar items, and practice them in a stimulating and balanced variety of tasks. These include listening and speaking activities to ensure the integrated development of skills, and incorporate the teaching of notions such as sequence, purpose and so on.

Grammar section present grammar items clearly and consciously, and reinforce students' understanding of these through grammar exercises. A range of activities then provide controlled practice leading to free use of the grammar items in genuine language tasks.

Reading and Listening section deal with meaningful texts on authentic, cross-cultural topics. These texts exploit the intrinsic interest of the subject matter as well as providing relatively unsimplified language to cater for language acquisition. The listening tasks improve students' listening skills while preparing them for the reading tasks, which involve such skills ass scanning for information, selecting relevant sections of texts and so on.

Pronunciation activities help students to recognize sound and reproduce them correctly. Intonation is regularly modeled and practiced in numerous dialogues throughout each unit. All pronunciation exercises are on the cassettes accompanying the coursebook.

Communication sections provide varied practice involving meaningful exchanges which resemble real-life communication, and include language functions (i.e. accepting, refusing, etc), and sociolinguistic features such as the polite expressions appropriate to "friendly" or formal social contexts.

Writing sections provide more extensive practice and consolidation of new language items. Writing tasks are thoroughly prepared beforehand, following guided practice of the language to be used, and based on the model provided by the initial reading text. Additionally. A listening activity ingeniously provides the information and plan to be followed, ensuring systematic, controlled development of writing skills. All writing activities are based on realistic types and styles of writing task, such as letters, descriptions, stories, articles and so on.

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Tree entertaining adventure stories in a "comic strip" format, presented in two episodes each, invite students to read for enjoyment and provide invaluable consolidation by means of an alternative approach.

The course is accompanied by:

An easy-to use Teacher's Book with full answers to the exercises in the student's book, useful suggestions for presenting and conducting the exercises, and tests (each in two different versions;

Class cassettes or CDs containing all listening activities, and Student's cassettes or CDs;

Enterprise 2 Elementary Workbook in which students can revise, consolidate and extend their language learning through a variety of engaging tasks.

Enterprise 2 Test Booklet containing nine write-in tests, a Mid-term test and an Exit test, which aim to access students' progress throughout the course.

What is listening?

Listening skill for an individual has been defined by Duker, (1966) as "high in his ability to obtain meaning from spoken language". Listening is the process of attaching meaning to sounds. Although speaking is the most important communication skill, the ability to listen is more necessary in the process of learning. More importantly, the act of skillful listening is the basis for developing intelligence (Wolvin & Coakley, 1993).

There are many several distinct definitions for listening from one hand and there is little agreement about which one is the most appropriate one (Pandly & Borisoff, 1997). Glenn, (1997) lists fifty different ways of describing listening. The list indicated that listening could be defined differently depending on how someone intends to apply the term. For example, researchers who seek to interpret listening versus those who seek to predict listening behavior. Glenn's analysis for the fifty definitions found that the most included concepts in the definitions of listening were: "perception, attention, interpretation, response, and spoken and visual cues" (Pandly & Borisoff, 1997). The international Listening Association (ILA) has adopted an official definition of listening as "the process of receiving, constructing meaning from, and responding to spoken and/or nonverbal messages (Emment, 1996).

Whatever definition of listening we agree with, we should know listening skill is based on several processes/procedures and these processes focus on speaker's verbal and nonverbal messages:

Listening can be learned, many studies of listening indicated that we could change how we listen in very significant ways.

Listening is a dynamic process means that if there an essential listening components the process of listening itself could not be the same twice.

Listening is an active process means that it is something that consciously done but it does not simply happen.

Listening involves mind and body, this process occur when verbal and nonverbal behavior working together.

Listening allows us to be receptive to our needs, concerns, and information about others as well as the environment around us through conscious listening we could receptive to other human beings and to our environment. For example, we cannot receive another's word unless we understand them and of course we cannot understand them unless we listen to them.

Scope

This review will basically focus on listening skill as a basic element in the chosen syllabus. As for the analysis of the listening skill in the chosen syllabus, listening skill is equally distributed in all units. The topics of listening skill vary based on habitual action topics. For instance, in unit 2 (Night and Day) there is a listening exercise titled as present simple a) listen and type in what John does at the following times? Can you guess his job? In this exercise the student will listen to the tape record then they will write by using present simple tense what John does in different times and after listening to that particular exercise they will try to guess his job. Most importantly, students will b) look at the table and talk about John's daily routine (see appendix); the exercise illustrated some key words in different times and an answered example as a guide. The students will use listening skill in order to use the present simple tense, guess the particular job, and talk about John's daily routine. John walks up at 5:00 am and has a shower. Three processes in which the students could gain by doing the previous exercise which are listening then thinking and finally talking. Moreover, in the same page 14, another exercise titled as time table. a) listen and fill in the missing information, then ask and answer questions in pairs, as in the example. The students will listen to the given exercise from the tape record then try to pick up the missing information, after that they will work in pairs to form the sentences as the following: SA: What time does Tom have math? SB: He has math from 9:10 till 10:00.SA: Where does he have math? SB: In classroom. Part 2 which is b) What about you? Write your own time table for Monday, than tell your partner about it. In this exercise the students will write their own timetables and of course using part 1 as a guide for the students. Then they should tell their partners about it. For example, I have history from 9:10 till 10: in class A2, then…..etc. Various exercises have been illustrated in different ways in order to help students to achieve the purpose of listening skill and that could be noticed from the previous exercises as well as the next exercise on page 15 unit 2 (see appendix). The listening exercise asks students to match the speakers to their jobs. Moreover, exercise 20 on the same page ask students to listen and fill in the missing words then make sentences as the given example (the picture shows what Pauline used to be like five years old), Pauline used to have short orange hair, but now she's got long brown hair. The student should making sentences by listening to the tap record then looking at the picture. This process helps students to develop their listening skill as well as their writing skill. Another type of listening skill arises on page 16 which titled as reading and listening (see appendix), in that exercise the students asked to read the sentences, then listen and mark them as T (true) or F (false).

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Obviously, the syllabus that I have chosen distributes several different procedures, processes, and methods for listening skill in one way or another in order to motivate the students. Hence the importance of making the given topic(s) more interesting for them because of its variation in showing the information necessary to develop the skill of listening. For instance, no body ignores that by following the same method or procedure in teaching makes the process of teaching bored for students and for teachers as well. For example, the listening exercises on page 37 (see appendix) deals with cross-cultural topic which ask students to read the advertisement about Sri Lanka then listen and fill in the missing words. The exercise helps students to write a formal letter because after filling the missing word they asked to write a formal letter. Then they asked to answer the questions that follow (section c). 1) Has the writer included all points mentioned in the prompts? 2) How does the writer start the letter? How does the writer finish it? Is the letter formal or informal? How many paragraphs are there? And which heading matches each paragraph? All these questions in the given exercise develop the skill of listening and the skill of writing as well. Furthermore, by moving to the Episode on pages (68, 69) which titled as The Python Hunt I noticed that the students were very satisfaction of that particular story about two journalists Sandra and David who went Cameroon, West Africa, to write a report about a python hunter. The students after listening to the story are asked to answer exercise 12 who said the following? (see appendix) the stude0nt should listen and write S for Sandra, D for David. In which the students refer the given questions/statements to the speaker. 1. "Why do you hunt them"............... 2. "They show there's a python inside the hole". ………….. 3. "I want to take picture of the snake"……….. 4. "Quick, Sandra! Help me. Pull him out…………… Moreover, another listening exercise came up on the same page asked the student to listen and follow the episode on page 68, then read out the episode. What do u think will happen to David? .

Listening Comprehension and Pre-reading

The relationship ship between listening comprehension and pre-reading is quite strong (Wise, Sevcik, Morris, Lovett & Wolf, 2007). He indicated that listening comprehension skills are only weakly related to pre-reading and word identification skills. For example, Nation and Snowling, (2004) examined 72 students, 8.5 years old and 13 years old in two different times. At time one, results indicated that listening comprehension skill accounted for only 3% of unique variance in word identification ability once pre-reading skills (i.e. measures of rhyme fluency and rhyme judgment 71.8%) from one hand and 3.8% for expressive vocabulary knowledge were accounted from another hand. Whereas, at time two, large amount of unique variance 58.9% in word recognition skills during the use of pre-reading skills, and 2.4% for listening comprehension skills. Listening comprehension skills appear to be the most important factor (Wise, Sevcik, Morris, Lovett & Wolf, 2007).

Strengthens and Limitations

Listening has always been considered a key skill in foreign language learning. Finding ways to assess how well students understand spoken English should be a key priority of any EFL context. Listening test design and implementation are difficult tasks with talented classroom learners in general and young learners in particular. One of the strengths in the syllabus is the focus on cross-cultural topics such as (see appendix) in a good way because it deals with meaningful texts that seem to be authentic in one way or another. Moreover, by providing simple language, students could acquire listening skills throughout the period of study because the texts or the topics included in the course try to exploit the intrinsic interest of the subject matter. Listening tasks that have been illustrated in the chosen syllabus help students to improve their skills in listening and prepare them for reading tasks that consist of such other skills like scanning for information and selecting relevant sections of texts.

On the other hand, the chosen syllabus, based on my point of view, has relegated listening skills as a secondary position and a large amount of interest has conducted on reading, writing, and speaking skills. This issue could be observed obviously through testing the listening skills. Moreover, from my little experience in teaching English as a foreign language in my school, Universal School, some of the reasons for the lack come from the fact that listening is considered as more "valuable" skill to focus in the classroom; and teachers of my school have often considered listening as something that could only be "picked up". Furthermore, they (teachers) had not been taught listening themselves, and because of that they have seen little need for developing their teaching strategies and methods. The syllabus designers, in the chosen syllabus, have not focused on the three levels of teaching listening, namely, pre-listening, while-listening, and post-listening in the exercises of the textbook. Although, their focus as I have mentioned earlier was on cross-cultural topics but these topics were not following strategic procedures. Typically, the teacher plays the tape recorder in order to answer the listening exercise(s), from my point of view, the syllabus should give listening skills strategies more attention and that could be achieved by understanding that listening exercises could be divided into three main parts or activities. Firstly, pre-listening activities in which the syllabus should consists of such way that guides the teacher to start with a short discussion with the students in the pre-listening stage as what they think of the topic, what their opinions, comments, and thoughts before they listen to the text. Secondly, the students could be asked to use whatever or any information they gathered from the given text in order to extend the discussion in the post-listening stage. Hence the importance of this stage in which student's comments and critical discussion could be developed as well as the amount of participation among the students could be developed as well. Finally, the while-listening stage comes in between the two previous stages in which the students could be focused on their listening by careful selection of tasks which seem to be meaningful and cater to develop specific listening skills rather than assessing their performance in the given exercises. If I were the syllabus designer, I would use those previous stages and make some suggestions of such materials through technological media in order to help students to achieve better listening skills.

Another issue comes to arise in the review of the chosen syllabus is testing listening skills. The syllabus designer has not drawn much attention to testing listening and the procedures of conducting tests to assess students' listening skill. My questions is "How could the teacher develop his/her students listening skills by focusing just on the written exercises that follow any listening text during the language lesson and not include listening test in any formal test?" Based on my experience, by the means of testing, students give substantial attention to listening if they are involved in a listening test in the classroom because they already know that this test as well as other skills will be considered in their assessment mark. Generally, most textbook syllabi provide a summary of key language items covered in a unit of study. As for the chosen syllable, it also provides coverage of these language items in each unit of the textbook. Thus, this should form the starting point in terms of deciding and determining what content needs and listening tasks are appropriate to be featured in the listening test. In the Jordanian context, the new English textbooks approved by the Ministry of Education, so to speak, have the same listening tasks. Therefore, age and experience are obviously crucial here. While a class of 14 year-old students may have covered the same basic content as a class of 10 year olds, it may not be fair or appropriate to expect both groups of learners to apply this knowledge in the same way or in response to the same tasks. Personally, I think that not all language items presented in the syllabus must be featured in the test. Teachers should try to start with the most general language items that have more universal application as criteria for test content. Students are more likely to see this kind of content repeated and expanded in the future, and its presence on a test should convey the idea that it is important for students to know it.

Difficulties in testing the speaking skills:

Speaking is probably the most difficult skill to test. It involves a combination of skills that may have no correlation with each other, and which do not lend themselves well to objective testing. In ( Kitao & Kitao, 1996), it was mentioned that there are not yet good answers to questions about the criteria for testing these skills and the weighing of these factors (Nation & Snowling, 2004)

It is possible to find people who can produce the different sounds of a foreign language appropriately; hence they lack the ability to communicate their ideas correctly. This is one of the difficulties that testers encounter when testing the oral production of learners. However, the opposite situation could occur as well; some people do have the ability of expressing their ideas clearly, but at the same time they cannot pronounce all the sounds correctly.

Another difficulty is the administration of speaking skills testing. That is because it is hard to test large numbers of learners in a relatively short time. Therefore, the examiner of an oral production is put under great pressure (Heaton, 1988).

The next difficulty discussed here is that speaking and listening skills are very much related to each other; it is difficult to separate them. In most cases, there is an interchange between listening and speaking, and speaking appropriately depends on comprehending spoken input. Therefore, this has an impact on testing speaking because the testers will not know whether they are testing purely speaking or speaking and listening together.

Finally, the assessment and scoring of speaking skills is one of its biggest problems. If possible, it is better to record the examinees' performance and the scoring will be done upon listening to the tape.

The aspects of speaking that are considered part of its assessment include grammar, pronunciation, fluency, content, organization, and vocabulary. (Kitao & Kitao, 1996).