Article

An action research study of promoting students’ confidence in speaking English

Source: OAI

ABSTRACT This study investigated students’ attitudes towards language learning, especially speaking, at King Mongkut’s Institute of Technology, North Bangkok, Thailand. One of the important factors needing change in Thai education is the improvement of language teaching, especially speaking. The aims of the research are to improve Thai students’ motivation to speak English through a range of materials and activities used for promoting students’ confidence in speaking English. Action research procedures (plan, act, observe, reflect and revise) were used to study the processes and participant Three English teachers took part in the project to assist in its implementation and to observe the outcomes. The study was conducted in two cycles: the first cycle involved teaching a program to a class of engineering students for one semester. The teacher used new student centred techniques to teach differently from traditional teaching using six activities as a tool to motivate students to speak. These were: Self- Introduction, an English Movie, a Popular Song, My Favourite Story, Foreigner Interview and a Coffee-break Discussion. The second cycle followed the reflection on the first cycle to further develop materials, activities, teaching techniques and teacher’s roles. It involved a further semester teaching the six activities to a new class Data from Cycle I were analysed and used to make improvements for Cycle II. Observers played a role in evaluating, suggesting and revising the program. Data from Cycle II were presented to show the final outcomes and changes. Data were collected through the teacher’s journal, observers’ sheets, students’ worksheets, students’ diaries and self-rating scales. The data are presented through narrative and through interpretation of students’ responses. Data were also used to construct a model for promoting students’ confidence in speaking English for King Mongkut’s Institute of Technology, North Bangkok. The results of the research indicated that students’ increased confidence in speaking English was influenced by teaching learning strategies, using authentic materials and presenting the activity in non-threatening terms. Student centred approaches including pair and group work, cooperative learning, giving the opportunity to practise, time to rehearse and promoting positive attitudes towards language learning also contributed to improve outcomes. Further factors included a general interactive approach to teaching and teacher roles, using communication strategies, promoting positive attitudes and a positive atmosphere. Finally, the action research process itself helped students and teachers to reflect on their successes and failures in teaching and learning.

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