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Speaking Difficulties Encountered by Young EFL Learners

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Abstract

Speaking is the active use of language to express meaning, andfor young learners, the spoken language is the medium through which a new language is encountered, understood, practiced, and learnt. Rather than oral skills being simply one aspect of learning language, the spoken form in the young learner's classroom acts as the prime source of language learning. However,speaking problems can be major challenges to effective foreign language learning and communication. English as foreign language (EFL) learners, no matter how much they know about the English language, still face many speaking difficulties.Many studies have indicated that oral language development has largely been neglected in the classroom, and most of the time, oral language in the classroom is used more by teachers than by students. However, oral language, even as used by the teacher, hardly ever functions as a means for students to gain knowledge and explore ideas. To develop the knowledge to deal with oral communication problems in an EFL context, researchers first need to know the real nature of those problems and the circumstances in which 'problems' are constructed.
International Journal on Studies in English Language and Literature (IJSELL)
Volume 2, Issue 6, June2014, PP 22-30
ISSN 2347-3126 (Print) & ISSN 2347-3134 (Online)
www.arcjournals.org
©ARC Page | 22
Speaking Difficulties Encountered by Young EFL Learners
Samira Al Hosni
TEFL Supervisor and Instructor
Ministry of Education. Oman
samira.alhosni22@hotmail.com
Abstract: Speaking is the active use of language to express meaning, andfor young learners, the spoken
language is the medium through which a new language is encountered, understood, practiced, and learnt.
Rather than oral skills being simply one aspect of learning language, the spoken form in the young
learner’s classroom acts as the prime source of language learning. However,speaking problems can be
major challenges to effective foreign language learning and communication.
English as foreign language (EFL) learners, no matter how much they know about the English language,
still face many speaking difficulties.Many studies have indicated that oral language development has
largely been neglected in the classroom, and most of the time, oral language in the classroom is used more
by teachers than by students. However, oral language, even as used by the teacher, hardly ever functions as
a means for students to gain knowledge and explore ideas. To develop the knowledge to deal with oral
communication problems in an EFL context, researchers first need to know the real nature of those
problems and the circumstances in which ‘problems’ are constructed.
Keywords: Speaking, Speaking difficulties,language acquisition, Oral language learning
1. INTRODUCTION
According to the Ministry of Education in Oman (1996), basic education aims to make the learner
gain necessary skills for life by developing his/her communication skills, self- learning, and
ability to use critical thinking to deal with science and modern technology (Al Abri, 2008).
Obviously, it is necessary to develop communication skills. English oral communication skills are
part of this skill set, and thus, students should be supported to gain these skills. Learners of
English in Oman often do not have opportunities to speak English outside the classroom, and for
many of them, the course book is the only place where they meet English (Al Zedjali, 2009).
Although speaking is considered a main language skill that students should improve, it has been
widely noticed that they face many difficulties in speaking English. This study aims to find out
what speaking difficulties are encountered by grade 5 students in basic education schools in
Oman. It also aims to find out the main factors that contribute to the existence of these
difficulties.The results of this study can help the Ministry of Education, the EFL teachers, the
curriculum designers, and the designers of assessment tools to understand the reasons why our
young learners in grade 5 basic education schools find it difficult to speak in English, and
consequently, their plans for change and improvement of the students’ speaking skill can produce
more effective results when these factors are considered.
2. REVIEW OF LITERATURE
2.1 Teaching of Speaking
The use of English as a second language (ESL) or foreign language (EFL) in oral communication
is, withouta doubt, one of the most common but highly complex activities necessary to be
considered when teaching the English language especially because we ―live at a time where the
ability to speak English fluently has become a must, especially who want to advance in certain
fields of human endeavor‖(Al-Sibai,2004, p.3).
The focus of teaching speaking, of course, is to improve the oral production of the students.
Therefore, language teaching activities in the classroom should aim at maximising individual
language use (Haozhang, 1997). In the past, oral communication instruction was neglected
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because of the misconception that oral communication competence develops naturally over time
and that the cognitive skills involved in writing automatically transfer to analogous oral
communication skills(Chaney,1998).
However, Ur (1996) considered speaking as the most important skill among four skills (listening,
speaking, reading, and writing) because people who know a language are referred to as speakers
of that language. This indicates that using a language is more important than just knowing about it
because ―there is no point knowing a lot about language if you can’t use it‖
(Scrivener,2005,p.146).
2.2 Oral Language Acquisition
Oral language acquisition is a natural process for children. It occurs almost without effort. The
ability to speak grows with age, but it does not mean that such growth will automatically lead to
perfection. To speak in more effective ways requires particular attention and constant practice
(Zhang et al., 1995). Speaking fluency appears to develop with increased exposure to second
language(L2) input (Al-Sibai, 2004). Input refers to the language data which the learner is
exposed to (Zhang, 2009).
Although it is widely recognised that input is very essential for language acquisition, it is not
sufficient if not followed by interaction and output (the language a learner produces)because the
processing of comprehension is different from the processing of production, and the ability to
understand the meaning conveyed by sentences differs from the ability to use a linguistic system
to express meaning. When input is negotiated and learners produce output in interaction, they
selectively ―take in‖ portions of comprehensible input and choose a correct linguistic form to
express themselves. This process makes it possible for the learners to internalise what they have
learned and experienced (Swain, 1985, as cited in Zhang, 2009).
2.3 Oral Language Learning
For language learning to take place, there are four conditions that should exist, and they are the
exposure, opportunities to use the language, motivation, and instruction.―Learners need chances
to say what they think or feel and to experiment in a supportive atmosphere using language they
have heard or seen without feeling threatened‖ (Willis,1996, p.7). A fact that is highlighted by
second language research is that progress does not occur when people make a conscious effort to
learn. Progress occurs as a result of spontaneous, subconscious mechanisms, which are activated
when learners are involved in communication with the second language. The subconscious
element demands a new range of activities, where learners are focused not on the language itself
but on the communication of meaning (Littlewood, 1984). Harmer (1982) also argued that in a
communicative task, the students’ attention should be focused on the content of what they are
saying, rather than the form. They should use a wide variety of language.
According to Ellis (2003), this can be done by involving learners in performing two types of
communicative tasks: focused communicative tasks and unfocused communicative tasks. Both of
these tasks seek to engage learners in using language pragmatically rather than displaying
language. They seek to develop language proficiency through communication.―Through
communication learners can integrate separate structures into a creative system for expressing
meaning‖ (Littlewood,1984,p.91).
2.4 Factors that Cause Speaking difficulties to EFL Learners
Zhang (2009) argued that speaking remains the most difficult skill to master for the majority of
English learners, and they are still incompetent in communicating orally in English.According to
Ur (1996), there are many factors that cause difficulty in speaking, and they areas follows:
1.Inhibition. Students are worried about making mistakes, fearful of criticism, or simply shy.
2.Nothing to say. Students have no motive to express themselves.
3.Low or uneven participation. Only one participant can talk at a time because of large classes
and the tendency of some learners to dominate, while others speak very little or not at all.
4.Mother-tongue use. Learners who share the same mother tongue tend to use it because it is
easier and because learners feel less exposed if they are speaking their mother tongue.
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In addition, Rababa’h (2005) pointed out that there are many factors that cause difficulties in
speaking English among EFL learners. Some of these factors are related to the learners
themselves, the teaching strategies,the curriculum, and the environment. For example, many
learners lack thenecessary vocabulary to get their meaning across, and consequently, they cannot
keep the interaction going.Inadequate strategic competence and communication competence can
be another reason as well for not being able to keep the interaction going.
Some learners also lack the motivation to speak English. They do not see a real need to learn or
speak English. Actually ―motivation is the crucial force which determines whether a learner
embarks in a task at all, how much energy he devotes to it, and how long he preservers‖
(Littlewood, 1984, p.53). The development of communicative skills can only take place if learners
have the motivation and opportunity to express their own identity and relate with the people
around them (Littlewood, 1981).
Teaching strategies also contribute to this problem as they are inadequate, and they do not put
emphasis on speaking, which results in a meagre development of this skill. Besides, vocabulary
items are taught in isolation, and listening materials are not used by the majority of schoolteachers
because of the large number of teachers compared with the number of cassettes available.
Teacher-training programs were found to be not very successful in changing the teachers’
methodology (Rababa’ah,2005).
Furthermore, all the other subjects are in Arabic, and English is seen as an academic subject only,
which means exposure to the English language is insufficient. The lack of a target language
environment can be considered another problem, which of course results in a lack of involvement
in real-life situations. Not allowing learners to participate in discourse can be another reason for
speaking difficulties. ―Children need both to participate in discourse and to build up knowledge
and skills for participationin order to learn discourse skills (Cameron, 2001, p.36). Furthermore,
―language is best learned when the learners’ attention is focused on understanding,saying and
doing something with language, and not when their attention is focused explicitly on linguistic
features‖(Kumaravadivelu,2003,p.27). It isworthy to mention that researchers recognise that
learners can improve their speaking ability bydeveloping learning strategies that enable them to
become independent learners(Nakatani,2010).
Littlewood(1981) argued that some teachers use L1 for class management. Nevertheless, this can
be another factor that contributes to the problem of speaking difficulties. This is because using L1
means sacrificing valuable opportunities for well-motivated foreign use. In addition, it tends to
devalue the foreign language as a vehicle for communication.Learners see it as allocated to
communicatively nonessential domains such as drills or dialogue practice, while the mother
tongue remains the appropriate medium for discussing matters of immediate importance.Another
main reason for other teachers to use L1 is vocabulary and grammar.Although their attitudes are
of disagreement with L1, this is not reflected in their practice (Al-Busaidi, 1998).
2.5 Review of Related Studies
There are some studies which have investigated the speaking difficulties encountered by EFL
learners. For example, one study(Dil, 2009) investigatedTurkish EFL learners’ communication
obstacles in English language classrooms, and it reported that anxiety and unwillingness during
the English speaking process are considered two of the biggest obstacles forEFL learners. Anxiety
and unwillingness are caused by the fear of being negatively evaluated whenmaking mistakes,
particularly in front of their friends.This study also revealed that students who perceive their
English as ―poor‖ feel more anxious and are more unwilling to communicate in English classes
than the other students perceiving their English level as ―very good, good, and OK.‖
Al-Lawati (1995) also investigated the difficulties encountered by Omani students in their oral
production of English and found out that thelinguistic domain (vocabulary, grammar,
pronunciation, and discourse) constitutes the most serious area of difficulty, and this is because,
as explained by teachers, the learners have not yetdeveloped an adequate level in the basic
abilities of the language. This is becausethey thinkof the curriculum thatdoes not provide
enough opportunityfor learning and practicing new and varied vocabulary and does not provide
enough variety in tasks designed for the teaching of grammar. This results in having very few
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opportunities for students to practice the speaking skill, especially with the large number of
students in class.
Another study (Ambu&Saidi, 1997)investigatedsomeissuesin teaching English speaking in a
foreign language classroomand revealed that the huge number of students in the classroom, the
insufficiency of the English teaching periods, and the syllabus that does not satisfy the learners’
communicative needs are the main reasons for learners’ speaking difficulties.
Additionally, because speaking is not tested, it is less emphasised by both teachers and students.
This is consistent with Al-Lawati’s (2002) findings in her studywhere students reported giving
special attention to writing, reading, and listening tasks that are similar to exam items, and both
teachers and students reported that they gave least attention to speaking tasks in the textbooks
because speaking is completely excluded from exams.
Al-Abri(2008) argued that the lack of oral activities in textbooks is a strong reason for students’
difficulties in speaking, and thus he recommended including some oral activities in the form of
songs, rhymes, and simple stories and more conversational language to enable students to have
more fun and enjoy learning to improve their speaking skill.
3 METHODOLOGY
This study was designed to address the following two main questions:
1. What are the main speaking difficulties encountered by grade 5 students in basic education
schools in Oman?
2. What are the factors that contribute to the existence of these speaking difficulties?
3.1 Population and Sample
The present study is a case study. Only one cycle 2 basic education school is involved.The
population consisted of grade 5 teachers and students in basiceducation schools in Oman. Four
English teachers and three classes from one school were involved.
3.2 Research Instruments
Three instruments were used in the present study, and they are lesson observations, interviews,
and curriculum analysis. Class observations were conducted and field notes were taken in order to
find more about the speakingdifficulties that are encountered by grade 5 students in basic
education schools in the actual classroom situation.
Four semi-structured interviews were conducted,three of which with grade 5 English teachersand
one with grade 5 students. The interviews aimed to find more about teachers’ and students’ beliefs
regarding the factors that causedifficulties to students when trying to speak in English. All the
interviews were recorded, and most of their parts are transcribed.
Curriculum analysis of the grade 5 basic education (English for Me) textbooks is done to find out
the role that curriculum may contribute to the problem of speaking difficulties.
The analysis is based on two main issues: the frequency of speaking activities included and the
type of those activities in terms of being communicative or non-communicative. The description
of the types of the tasks is based on the characteristics given by Ellis (2003) on the recommended
communicative tasks that promote the use of language. The analysis aimed to find out how
speaking is introduced in the textbooks and through what type of tasks.
4. DATA ANALYSIS
Data obtained from observations, interviews, and curriculum analysis were analysed qualitatively
following the Holiday (2002) approach as cited in Al-Shabibi (2004). This approach suggests
organising data using a thematic approach, where data is taken holistically and rearranged under
themes according to the questions and the issues brought by the researcher to the research.
5. FINDINGS AND DISCUSSION
5.1 The Main Speaking Difficulties Encountered by Grade 5 Students
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The data collected on this issue revealed that there are three major speaking difficulties
encountered by the students at this level, and they are linguistic difficulties, mother tongue use,
and inhibition.
5.1.1 Linguistic Difficulties
Data collected through observation showed that students struggle to find the appropriate
vocabulary item when trying to speak in English, which reflects their insufficient vocabulary
repertoire. Data collected from the student interview supported this because one of the students
reported,―We want to speak, but we don’t know the word.
The interviewed students also pointed out that they find it difficult to build sentences when they
try to express their ideas.One of them said,―We do not know how to say it.‖ Although teachers
spend a long time teaching grammar rules, students still cannot form short sentences when they
try to speak in English.
5.1.2 Mother Tongue Use
This problem is strongly related to the previous one, which is linguistic difficulties. During my
class observation, I noticed that students tend to speak in Arabic when they discuss the rubrics of
different tasks, and when I asked them about the reason for that in the interview; they explained
that by saying,―We do not know how to say it.‖ They meant how to discuss their ideas in English,
so they shifted to Arabic. Therefore, the inadequate vocabulary repertoire and weak sentence
building skills are the reasons for using the mother tongue.
5.1.3. Inhibition
It was noticed during the class observations that students’ participation was very low. This is
becauseof the previously mentioned reasons to inhibition. Students explained that their fear of
making mistakes in front of their classmates was the reason for not speaking in the class. They
expressed that, saying,―They will laugh at us if we make mistakes . . .‖ Unlike what is found by
other studies, Omani learners in grade 5 are highly motivated to speak English, and they can see
the need for that―when we meet somebody who speaks English,we can speak English.‖
5.2 Factors that Contribute to the Existence of these Difficulties
There are some essential factors that contribute to the existence of these difficulties, and they, as
revealed by the class observation and interviews, are teachers’ perceptions and tacit beliefs about
teaching speaking, teaching strategies, curriculum, extracurricular activities, and assessment rules.
5.2.1 Teachers’ Perceptions and Tacit Beliefs About Teaching Speaking
All the interviewed teachers emphasised the importance of teaching speaking as it is an important
skill of the English language. Although they think it is very important to teach speaking, they
donot spend enough time doing that, explaining this by not having enough time to do so. ―In a
lesson, we have many steps and four or five objectives, and we have to finish . . . for example
today, we have to finish lesson 2 . . . we don’t want to be late .
The question here is, what is wrong if the teachers could not finish the lesson since they are still
teaching something important, which is speaking?
The interview answered this question when one of the teachers said,The supervisors want us to
finish all the steps in the lesson.‖ This indicates that teachers are worried about just finishing the
steps, which means going through them, no matter if learning has taken place or not. These
worries are created by some visitors and supervisors who insist on teachers to finish teaching the
textbook 1 lesson steps in the time allocated for that lesson.
5.2.2 Teaching Strategies
Data collected through observation showed that teachers focus on teaching grammar points and
vocabulary items rather than teaching speaking. Even when there is an opportunity to involve
students in speaking, teachers just miss it and move on doing other tasks like reading and
writing.Teachers attributed this to the shortage of time and their willingness to finish the lesson
steps that do not include speaking as they claimed.
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In fact, the interview had shown another reason besides the time worries, and it is the lack of
speaking teaching strategies. The teachers think that teaching grammar and vocabulary items is
enough to help students in speaking.―We teach the vocabulary, grammar, but they don’t study at
home . . .‖ It seems that teachers are unaware that studying vocabulary items and grammar rules
by students is not enough for improving students’ speaking skill. Actually, teachers are not aware
enough that focusing on teaching the form does not necessarily result in using it, and that’swhy
students need to be engaged in communicationin order to improve their speaking skill.
Moreover, it is noticed that teachers tend to use a lot of L1 during the lesson especially when they
explain a grammar point or give the meaning of some words and sometimes the instruction of a
task. They also accept students’ explanation of the meaning of vocabulary items in L1.They
explained this by saying that they have no other solution to make sure that the students understood
the point. One of them said,We do not have another solution . . .‖ Another one said,―It will be
clear for them, and they will get the right meaning.‖ This obviously indicates that some teachers
lack the necessary teaching strategies, and thus they use L1 as an alternative. Besides, they are
indirectly and unconsciously conveying a message to students that using English cannot be
helpful to clarify the meaning of instruction or unknown words,and this also might mean that
teachers have low expectations of their students’ understanding ability of English.However, there
is no doubt that using lots of L1 reduces the amount of exposure to English during the lesson.
5.2.3 Curriculum
In the interview, teachers reported that the English curriculum for grade 5 English for ME
emphasises the teaching of reading and writing skills, and there are no tasks included particularly
for teaching speaking. They pointed out that speaking is integrated into reading and writing. In
other words, they come across speaking when they teach reading and writing.―We get it
[speaking] from reading and writing . . . it is indirect.‖ They discussed the idea of implicit
inclusion of speaking skill in the textbooksand compared that with the Arabicsubject textbooks
that include lessons that are allocated particularly for speaking. In Arabic, they have full [whole]
lessons for speaking.
From class observations, it was noticed that students speak very little in class, and that was mostly
to answer the teacher’s questions. Most of the time, those answers are single words or very short
sentences, which, despite being similar to the real-life way of answering questions, do not provide
the students with enough opportunities to use the English language.
5.2.4 Curriculum Analysis
Analysing grade 5 textbooks (English for Me) in terms of the frequency of speaking activities and
the type of those activities/tasks revealed that there are very few tasks included particularly to
teach speaking, which is consistent with what the teachers have reported. Those tasks are in the
form of asking and answering questions, and mainly, they require students to drill a certain
structure which obviously indicates that the form is more emphasised than the meaning. Tasks
that encourage students to use the English language communicatively are not available. This leads
us to say that grade 5 textbooks are not providing students with sufficient opportunities to use the
English language communicatively.
5.2.5 Extracurricular Activities
Because the classroom time and textbook tasks do not provide students with enough opportunities
to use English, extracurricular activities can be another alternative to overcome this problem. It
was found from the interview with the teachers that students are encouraged to participate in an
English assembly that is conducted once a week. However, only the good students participate in
that English assembly, and having it once a week makes the chance of using English very
limited,let alone that these assemblies do not provide an authentic and communicative way of
using the English language.
As the teachers pointed out, the students are not provided with other opportunities where the need
to use English is created. In other words, students’ exposure to English is almost limited to the
classroom only. Students are not encouraged to use English in authentic situations. For example,
students are not encouraged to visit places where they can use English communicatively. Teachers
think that ―there are no places‖ where students can go and use English apart from the classroom.
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5.2.6 Assessment Regulations
According to the assessment document of the ministry of education (2010), continuous
assessment of speaking skill consists of one-way speaking assessment, which refers to the
individual contributions, and two-way speaking assessment, which refers to students’ interaction.
In order to fulfil these assessment requirements, sufficient time in the lessons should be allocated
for speaking, which, according to the interviewed teachers, is not possible because most of the
time is spent on teaching reading and writing. They reported that ―the book focuses on reading
and writing.‖ Furthermore, the teachers pointed out that because speaking is not included in the
midsemester and final exams, they are given less attention in the lessons. ―It [speaking] is not in
the exams . . . there is no focus on it.
The only method teachers use to assess their students’ speaking skill is through their class
participation when they answer the teachers’ questions or when they practice the dialogues given
in the textbook. ―We assess them when they answer questions and when they ask and answer each
other.
6. IMPLICATIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
The findings of this study suggest that grade 5 students encounter some speaking difficulties that
can be overcome by putting more emphasis on this skill. Many issues related to teachers, teaching
strategies, curriculum, extracurricular activities, and assessment regulation should be
considered Teachers need to be trained on how to integrate speaking to other skills and how to
teach it communicatively. Their awareness of how language is acquired and learned should be
raised. Moreover, teachers need to be enlightened on the different teaching strategies that may
reduce their use of L1 in their classes.
In order for the curriculum to provide students with frequent opportunities of speaking,
communicative tasks should be included. Those tasks should focus on getting students to convey
the meaning rather than the form. This can help students acquire the language better as many
researchers declared Involving students in extracurricular activities can provide them with more
chances to use the language, and the classroom will not be the only place where they are exposed
to the English language. To achieve this, all English teachers, English supervisors, school
administrators, and staff of the Ministry of Education should work together Assessment tool
designers and curriculum designers should work cooperatively in order to reach an alignment
between what is introduced in the textbooks and how it should be assessed.
7. CONCLUSION
This study revealed that the main speaking difficulties encountered by grade 5 students are
linguistic difficulties, mother tongue use, and inhibition. Students are unable to speak in English
because they lack the necessary vocabulary items and grammar structures. They also lack
sentence formation skills, which result in using the mother tongue. Students also think of making
mistakes in speaking in front of their classmates very embarrassing, which results in preferring
not to speak to avoid such situations.
There are five main factors that contribute to the existence of these speaking difficulties: teachers’
perceptions and tacit beliefs of teaching speaking, teaching strategies, curriculum, extracurricular
activities, and assessment regulations.
The study shows that teachers believe in the importance of teaching speaking, yet they do not
spend enough time for that because of the shortage of time because priority is given to the
coverage of the textbook topics, which emphasise teaching reading and writing rather than
speaking.
The teaching strategies that are used by the teachers emphasise teaching the form of the language,
which is indicated by focusing on teaching grammar rules and vocabulary items. Students are
required to produce short accurate sentences while the communicative use of the language is
almost neglected. In addition, teachers think it is very important to use L1 in order to give the
meaning of some words and explain the grammar rules. They believe that using L1 is very
necessary to make sure that the students understand the meaning and get the point.
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Besides, it was found that grade 5textbooks do not provide students with frequency of
opportunities to use English communicatively, and they donot include sufficient tasks that are
particularly designed for speaking.
Moreover, the classroom is the only place where most students are exposed to English.
Extracurricular activities that aim to improve students’ speaking skill are very rare and limited to
the English assembly,which is conducted once a week.
Because speaking skill is the only skill that is not included in the exams, it is given less teaching
emphasis. The focus is mainly on teaching reading and writing besides grammar and vocabulary.
Although the teaching of speaking can be integrated into other skills like reading and writing,
teachers think that time is insufficient to do that,and priority is given to other skills rather than
speaking because they are included in the exam and speaking is not.
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AUTHORS BIOGRAPHY
Samira Al Hosni is an EFL supervisor and researcher from Oman. She
holds a master’s degree in education. With advanced subject-area
expertise in TEFL, particularly in EFL negotiation and interaction, she
has investigated different issues pertaining to TEFL, particularly EFL
learners’ oral communication and negotiation. She is the author of the
book EFL Learners’ Oral Production through Different Communication
Tasks. Samira has spoken about task-based learning and learners’ EFL
oral communication skills in depth at several international conferences
and TEFL events around the world. Her research papers and articles have
been published by different international journals as well. Her significant contributions to ESL/
EFL research have made her one of the leading practitioners in the field.
... Students commonly lack opportunities to practice speaking since lecturers mainly become the only active English users. Instead of using English to facilitate students to construct knowledge and explore ideas, lecturers use it mainly to interact with students (Hosni, 2014). When it comes to Englishspeaking practice, some students -not only those with low achievement but also high-performance students in certain circumstances -have anxious, stressful, or nervous experiences. ...
... Also, their willingness to do English public speaking is influenced by affective factors. Students' high affective filters due to linguistic challenges, inhibition, first language (L1) interference, and students' inadequate sentence formation skills can be English speaking hindrance (Hosni, 2014). Those who experience making mistakes related to pronunciation, fluency, grammar, and vocabulary frequently build speaking anxiety (Sayuri, 2016). ...
... They find difficulty in transforming their ideas into English as their target language. It confirms Hosni's (2014) findings where students cannot create simple sentences in English despite the long-time learning grammar rules. In this research, students have a 5-year minimum of learning English experience. ...
Article
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Mastering English public speaking is required for Engineering students to contribute to the Ministry of Education’s internationalization policy that is manifested in the university’s regulation. However, English public speaking has become a nerve-wracking experience for L2 learners. This research aims to explore Engineering students’ English public speaking anxiety and its causes. The explanatory sequential design is applied. The online-based survey was conducted on 197 first-semester students and semi-structured interviews with 8 most anxious participants. The triangulation data analysis of quantitative and qualitative phases was carried out. The results illustrate that students experience moderate to low public speaking anxiety levels. The reasons for public speaking anxiety are linguistics problems, inhibition, lack of speaking practice, the difficulty for sentence construction from L1 into the target language, fear of peer negative feedback and being assessed, and dealing with unfamiliar topics as well as speaking delivery driven thoughts. Furthermore, teachers' reflexive identity and the appointment system used to determine public speakers become additional pressures. These findings can be used as valuable consideration to design appropriate speaking pedagogy, especially in the context of English for non-English major programs. Recommendation for future research is discussed.
... Various studies and research have been conducted with exploring challenges facing English language and literature students in Saudi universities. Among the various conclusions, following need a mention: limited time of English language courses, intensive load of curricula, teaching methodologies, lack of the target language environment, lack of adequate up-to-date effective instructions in the classroom, and learners' lack of motivation, to name some (Hammami, 2002;Rababah, 2005;Ansari, 2012;Al Hosni, 2014;Hussein and Elttayef, 2016;Omer, 2018). Hammami (2002) elaborates that the core problem of Arab learners of English lies in the pre-packaged language teaching curricula that are imported for the students but are not based on their needs; these pre-packaged curricula are delivered in a tedious manner that slackens students' improvement. ...
Article
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The aim of this paper is to explore the effectiveness of critical thinking for improving the writing skill of undergraduate Arab students who study English Literature at Saudi universities under lockdown circumstances due to the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, it explores the impact of implementing Facebook as an online Constructivist tool to improve this skill. A general overview of the status of English language education in Saudi Arabia is briefly presented to shed light on the ongoing English language challenges in learning writing for undergraduate students in the English language and literature departments, which got more manifested due to the current status of education mode with the emergence of the pandemic. Two-group posttest-only randomized experiment was employed to evaluate the effectiveness of the proposed model, using the infusion and constructivism approaches. A total of 40 students enrolled in a literature course at a private university in Saudi Arabia participated in the experiment. The treatment was conducted through utilizing Facebook. The results demonstrated that students’ improvement in English writing was due to the combination of the infusion of a set of critical skills and the constructivist teaching and learning mode.
... Non-linguistic or psychological problems are usually caused by a lack of learner's confidence leading to fear of making a mistake which results in learners' low perception abilities and difficulties in processing language output (Susilawati, 2017). Hosni (2014) and Rahayu (2015) singled out the factors which influence the problems in speaking activity, namely: 1) inhibition 2) nothing to say 3) low participation 4) mother tongue use 5) low motivation 6) environment factors 7) lack of confidence. ...
Article
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he research studied the effectiveness of the integration of Facebook as a flexible ubiquitous learning space into the educational process for speaking skills development of undergraduate students learning English as a second language. For this purpose teaching was organised via a specially created and moderated Facebook group where various media resources, uploaded materials, links to different applications and other social networking opportunities were accumulated. It was designed to achieve the educational programme objectives and address the specifics of digital age learning. A set of specially designed materials posted on the Facebook platform for language input, structured output, and communicative output activities was applied in experimental teaching to develop talk as transition, talk as interaction and mediation, and talk as performance. The results of the quasi-experiment (students’ speaking performance) were assessed in the form of the post-test with the data being analysed and interpreted based on descriptive and inferential statistics (independent samples t-test) by means of SPSS. The results revealed higher achievement scores of the experimental group in comparison to the control group in terms of expanding vocabulary, increasing English grammar literacy, developing interactive skills, discourse management, and pronunciation. The survey administered to find out the learners’ impressions of the successfulness of the FB-assisted activities revealed their overall positive attitude to the new methodology and usefulness for the development of all speaking qualifications checked.
... However, approaches to language teaching have changed it into frustrating, unnatural, and insufficient in many contexts (Jones & Saville, 2016). Studies have shown that EFL/ESL students face challenges in learning English; they encounter problems in listening (Nushi & Orouji, 2020;Renandya & Hu, 2018), speaking (AlHosni, 2014;Soomro & Farooq, 2018), reading (Chandran & Shah, 2019;Hassan & Dweik, 2021), writing (Alharbi, 2019;Nuruzzaman et al., 2018), vocabulary (Alsaif & Milton, 2012;Tran, 2020), grammar (Lin et al., 2020;Spahiu & Kryeziu, 2021), and pronunciation (Al-Ahdal, 2020;Lin, 2014). Students' weaknesses are due to many significant factors that hinder their language achievement. ...
Article
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Learning-oriented assessment (LOA) is a highly collaborative and interactive approach that is believed to promote students' language learning. Nevertheless, little is known about Saudi EFL teachers' knowledge, practices, and challenges of implementing LOA in their language classrooms. To this end, this study explored Saudi EFL teachers' knowledge, practices, and challenges of implementing LOA using a quantitative method survey. The Teachers' Learning-Oriented Assessment Questionnaire (TLOAQ) was developed and distributed to 162 Saudi EFL school teachers. The findings indicated that Saudi EFL teachers had a moderate level of knowledge regarding LOA. Besides, they did not implement and practice the principles of LOA efficiently. In addition, EFL teachers reported significant personal, contextual and organizational challenges that limit the implementation of LOA, such as time constraints, large classes, insufficient training, and exam-oriented culture. Besides, the MANOVA results indicated no significant differences in EFL teachers' knowledge and practices of LOA due to gender and years of experience. The findings highlight the need to develop teachers' assessment literacy as well as resolve the difficulties that limit the implementation of LOA to enhance language assessment effectiveness. Future qualitative research should be conducted to have deep insights into the in-class assessment practices in relation to LOA.
... Vocabulary factor denotes that EFL students obtain difficulty to comprehend what others speak in English due to limited vocabulary. This limitation of vocabulary may lead to the situation where students have no moti-vation to express themselves [3]. Second, the behavior of speaking English factor denotes that the students who do not have much experience of speaking English before will feel diffident and not convinced to speak English which leads to the refusal towards EMI. ...
Article
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Globalization has had a tremendous impact on tertiary education all over the world, prompting many universities in non-native English-speaking countries to develop strategies aimed at raising the quality of the education they offer and increasing their market presence in the international education arena, with English Medium Instruction (EMI) becoming the driving force of internationalization and a prevalent phenomenon in tertiary education. There is irrefutable evidence that English Medium Instruction (EMI) is now a global phenomenon. For the EMI to be successfully implemented at a university both the administration and faculty should be aware of the challenges that international students experience. The challenges have been extensively studied in the literature though there is not a comprehensive classification of EMI challenges. The aim of our study is to analyze the literature on EMI challenges of international students and define the main categories of these challenges. The critical analysis of the literature revealed that the challenges of international students that study at EMI programmes can be divided into four main clusters: linguistic, academic, cultural and social ones. The results of the research can be used to develop language policy of the university and design measures to facilitate international students’ adaptation to a new academic environment. Further research is needed to compare the EMI challenges found in the literature with the challenges that experience international students studying at a Russian university.
... during their study of learning English [1]. Those 3 (three) major difficulties are Linguistic Difficulties, Mother Tongue Use, and Inhibition. ...
Conference Paper
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The main purpose of this study is to investigate the effectiveness of encouragement on the quality of the students' learning progress during German learning. This research utilizes the mixed method of quantitative and qualitative as data gathering method. The case study that this study observes is the language preparation of the 9 (nine) selected students for student exchange program from SMPK 2 Harapan (Junior High School) Bali under blended learning. It focuses on analyzing the students' German learning progress both from their macro-skills and their inhibitions' factors. Throughout the study, it gives also encouraging feedback to every of the students and tries to help the students to cope with their inhibitions' factors. It takes interests in analyzing the effects of encouragement to students' self-efficacy which affects their motivation to learn foreign language and the effects on their scores based on the 4 (four) macro-skills.
... It covers several points more than just vocabulary and language structure but including the fluency and using language appropriately. As a result, Al Hosni [1] insisted that speaking is indispensable skill in learning language since the benchmark of learning language and its successful will be based on students' competency to engage the oral tasks. In addition, Bergil [2] argued that using target language communicatively in accordance with an occupation, education and travelling is the main purpose of learning language. ...
Article
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The current study aims to discuss the current situation of research on speaking anxiety of EFL learners through some variables. The journals indexed in various databases were searched and 59 studies were selected for the review by considering (a) the participant selection process of the studies (b) the main causes of speaking anxiety in EFL classrooms (c) whether there is any difference according to some variables including level of proficiency, gender, and English learning background (d) how the participants perceive themselves in terms of speaking anxiety. It was found that the number of studies on speaking anxiety has been on the increase in the last decade. When it comes to the causes of speaking anxiety in the bunch of studies, the foremost and most reported cause of speaking anxiety is learners’ fear of making mistakes, being compared by others, proficiency level and gender type. As speaking one of the four skills to communicate in any language, it is important to find solutions to these questions and enhance the development of the EFL learners’ speaking skills. The findings yield important insights on Turkish EFL learners speaking anxiety in English for all the stakeholders ranging from teachers and learners. In addition, it is hoped that, from the sociological perspective, this paper will pave a way to rethink and criticize the local context in countries which do not include oral exams in their national standardized testing system and mandate receptive skills.
Book
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Call for Papers and Special Issue Proposals Aims and Scope Journal of Language Teaching and Research (JLTR) is a scholarly peer-reviewed international scientific journal published bimonthly, focusing on theories, methods, and materials in language teaching, study and research. It provides a high profile, leading edge forum for academics, professionals, consultants, educators, practitioners and students in the field to contribute and disseminate innovative new work on language teaching and research. JLTR invites original, previously unpublished, research and survey articles, plus research-in-progress reports and short research notes, on both practical and theoretical aspects of language teaching, learning, and research. These areas include, but are not limited to, the following topics: • Language teaching methodologies • Pedagogical techniques • Teaching and curricular practices • Curriculum development and teaching methods • Programme, syllabus, and materials design • Second and foreign language teaching and learning • Classroom-centered research • Literacy • Language education • Teacher education and professional development • Teacher training • Cross-cultural studies • Child, second, and foreign language acquisition • Bilingual and multilingual education • Translation • Teaching of specific skills • Language teaching for specific purposes • New technologies in language teaching • Testing and evaluation • Language representation • Language planning • Literature, language, and linguistics • Applied linguistics • Phonetics, phonology, and morphology • Syntax and semantics • Sociolinguistics, psycholinguistics, and neurolinguistics • Discourse analysis • Stylistics • Language and culture, cognition, and pragmatics • Language teaching and psychology, anthropology, sociology • Theories and practice in related fields Special Issue Guidelines Special issues feature specifically aimed and targeted topics of interest contributed by authors responding to a particular Call for Papers or by invitation, edited by guest editor(s). We encourage you to submit proposals for creating special issues in areas that are of interest to the Journal. Preference will be given to proposals that cover some unique aspect of the technology and ones that include subjects that are timely and useful to the readers of the Journal. A Special Issue is typically made of 15 to 30 papers, with each paper 8 to 12 pages of length. A special issue can also be proposed for selected top papers of a conference/workshop. In this case, the special issue is usually released in association with the committee members of the conference/workshop like general chairs and/or program chairs who are appointed as the Guest Editors of the Special Issue. The following information should be included as part of the proposal: • Proposed title for the Special Issue • Description of the topic area to be focused upon and justification • Review process for the selection and rejection of papers • Name, contact, position, affiliation, and biography of the Guest Editor(s) • List of potential reviewers if available • Potential authors to the issue if available • Estimated number of papers to accept to the special issue • Tentative time-table for the call for papers and reviews, including o Submission of extended version o Notification of acceptance o Final submission due o Time to deliver final package to the publisher If the proposal is for selected papers of a conference/workshop, the following information should be included as part of the proposal as well: • The name of the conference/workshop, and the URL of the event. • A brief description of the technical issues that the conference/workshop addresses, highlighting the relevance for the journal. • A brief description of the event, including: number of submitted and accepted papers, and number of attendees. If these numbers are not yet available, please refer to previous events. First time conference/workshops, please report the estimated figures. • Publisher and indexing of the conference proceedings. If a proposal is accepted, the guest editor will be responsible for: • Preparing the “Call for Papers” to be included on the Journal’s Web site. • Distribution of the Call for Papers broadly to various mailing lists and sites. • Getting submissions, arranging review process, making decisions, and carrying out all correspondence with the authors. Authors should be informed the Author Guide. • Providing us the completed and approved final versions of the papers formatted in the Journal’s style, together with all authors’ contact information. • Writing a one- or two-page introductory editorial to be published in the Special Issue.
Article
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The major portion of this paper is devoted to presenting the communication problems of Arab learners of English in general, and the problems specific to Arab World University English language majors/graduates. Then, it discusses the notion of communicative competence, and defines strategic competence. It also briefly deals with the various definitions of communication strategies and taxonomies of communication strategies. Finally, the paper concludes by presenting the pedagogical implications of communication strategies.
Chapter
Research on the learning of verb-argument constructions (VACs) emphasizes the importance of item-based patterns and their perceptual groundings in acquisition, with abstract schematic patterns emerging from the conspiracy of particular usage patterns and their interpretations. This chapter explores the distributional properties of three types of constructions (Verb-Locative, Verb Object Locative, and Verb Object Object ditransitive) as associations of form and function by means of a corpus analysis of verb selection preferences in 100 million words of usage and with the semantic network structure of the verbs in these VACs. Our initial analyses show that these constructions are (1) Zipfian in their verb type-token constituency in usage, (2) selective in their verb form occupancy, and (3) coherent in their semantics, with a network structure involving prototypical nodes of high betweenness centrality. Psychological theory relating to the statistical learning of categories suggests that these are factors that promote learning. These robust patterns of usage might therefore provide the Common Ground to facilitate processes of syntactic and semantic bootstrapping.
Article
In the present EFL classroom, the teaching of listening and speaking relies heavily on the use of the language lab or tape-recorders. It is generally agreed in China that the main reason for this is that most EFL teachers are non-native English speakers and thus may lack proficiency in English. However, in the classroom in which the tape recorder is used frequently there are some common problems. For instance, teachers may just manipulate the "machine," supplemented by a few comprehension questions after the students listen to the aural material. This can hinder the intrinsic motivation of students. How much do students take in when they are faced with "machines"? Normally, most of the teacher-posed questions are answered by the better students. Meanwhile, the majority of students just remain silent and listen. Some may even feel bored and sleepy. In such cases, how can we motivate all the students in the class to participate actively in the listening lesson? Unlike the listening classroom, native English speakers have been invited in recent years to teach speaking. These teachers have made the speaking classroom more lively and have helped more fluent student speakers. Yet we find that many students speak as poorly, if not worse, than those we taught years ago. To find out why, we observed the lessons taught by the native English teacher. After a few observations of the same class, we realized that only the better students took the opportunities to talk in group work. And usually it was these students who spoke for most of the discussion time. These students were able to monopolize discussions for the following reasons:  The large size of the class: This makes it difficult for the teacher to control the whole class in group work and to get feedback from all the students.  Affective factors: Some extroverted students tend to be talkative and learn better in oral work, while the introverted ones remain quiet.  Lack of interesting authentic materials: Listening materials in China depend to a large extent on the textbook. Even teachers who are very proficient in English are not encouraged to make tapes of their own for the students.
Article
The term 'communicative' has been used to cover a wide variety of approaches and methodological procedures. But it cannot account for both drills on the one hand and genuinely communicative activities on the other. In this article the word 'communicative' and the nature of communication are examined and a distinction is drawn between 'communicative' and 'non-communicative' activities, each of which has its place in a balanced approach to language teaching.
Article
Focusing exclusively on the art and science of oral communication for grades K-8, this book explains fundamental concepts in contemporary oral communication instruction and suggests practical strategies for implementing a competency-based approach to oral communication in an integrated classroom setting. The book also emphasizes oral communication as a process that involves both speaking and listening; outlines specific competencies and authentic assessment methods for speaking and listening; includes exercises to help create a safe and inclusive classroom, along with tools to identify communication apprehension; and provides specific oral communication exercises for K-2, 3-5, and 6-8 for use in integrated language arts programs. Chapters in the book are: (1) Positioning Oral Communication within the Language Arts; (2) The Importance of a Communication-Friendly Classroom; (3) Building Oral Communication Competency in a Variety of Contexts; (4) Focus on Listening; (5) Authentic Performance Assessment: Evaluating Oral Communication Competency; (6) Making the Most of Your Language Arts Textbook; (7) Exercises and Activities for Grades K through 2; (8) Exercises and Activities for Grades 3 through 5; (9) Exercises and Activities for Grades 6 through 8; and (10) Competitive Speech and Debate, Moot Courts, and Activities with Community Involvement. An appendix describes developing an oral communication lab and resource center. (RS)
Article
Cell phones are now widespread in many countries including Japan where we teach, and are particularly popular among university students. Although they can be a distraction in the classroom, functions such as Internet access and e-mail capability have transformed them into sophisticated communication tools. But are they also potentially useful in language learning? While task-based approaches (Nunan, 1989) adapted to desktop e-mail are now a growing area of research in CALL (Greenfield, 2003; Gonzalez-Lloret, 2003), cell phones have yet to receive much attention. This paper reports on a classroom research project aimed at evaluating the use of mobile phones as tools for classroom learning. Freshman university students in intact EFL classes (2 elementary classes, 2 lower intermediate) were first surveyed regarding their cell phone use and pre-tested to assess their knowledge of certain target learning structures. Following this they were subdivided into three groups: (a) using cell phone text messages, (b) using computer e-mail, and (c) speaking. The learners were paired, trained with warm-up tasks, and given two further sets of tasks to complete (one in class and the other at home). The target vocabulary appeared in the initial narrative task. All messages sent while doing the tasks were saved for analysis. The speaking task pairs were recorded and samples were transcribed for comparison. Finally learners took a post-test the following week to assess short-term learning gains. This project drew attention to a number of potential advantages of mobile phones as well as highlighting some limitations, but overall suggested that mobile phones represent a language learning resource worthy of further investigation.
Article
This article considers whether the use of specific communication strategies can improve learners' English proficiency in communicative tasks. Japanese college students (n = 62) participated in a 12-week course of English lessons using a communicative approach with strategy training. To investigate the influence of specific strategy use, their performance on a posttraining conversation test was analyzed through multiple data collection procedures. Transcripts of the test were made and then analyzed in terms of production rate, the number of errors, and actual strategy use. An Oral Communication Strategy Inventory was introduced to elicit participants' communication strategy use for a self-report questionnaire procedure. These results were compared with participants' retrospective protocol data regarding their oral test performance. The findings confirmed that strategies for maintaining discourse and negotiation of meaning could enhance learners' communicative ability. Yet the students used a relatively small number of examples of modified output, which indicated that they might not have enough opportunities to improve the form of their utterances.
Chapter
IntroductionProcesses of Second Language LearningSequences of DevelopmentThe Effects of Classroom InstructionTheories of Second Language LearningConclusion