Presentation on theme: "TEACHERS’ AND LEARNERS’ PREFERENCES IN THE CLASSROOM."— Presentation transcript:
TEACHERS’ AND LEARNERS’ PREFERENCES IN THE CLASSROOM
In the learner-centred curriculum, learners are viewed as the centre of the learning- teaching process. According to Nunan (1999), the choices of what and how to teach should be made with reference to learners, to get learners actively involved in the learning process. Learners’ preferences for the various classroom activities compared with their teachers’ preferences, is a necessary area of research with firm implications for language classroom application by teachers.
Results from previous studies have suggested considerable discrepancies of opinions between learners and their teachers. In most previous studies, the teachers gave high ratings to communicative activities while the learner’s opinions were quite divergent. The dominant trend is a preference for traditional activities like pronunciation practice, error correction, teacher’s instruction. In some studies, the learners enjoyed communicative activities but were reluctant to abandon traditional activities. Only a study by Green (1993) suggested a complete satisfaction of communicative activities.
The largest-scale research in the field was several studies within the Adult Migrant Education Program (AMEP) in Australia, which, in Nunan’s conclusion, reveals ‘clear mismatches between learner’s and teacher’s views of language learning’(Nunan 1988:93). Nunan (1988) asked 60 Australian ESL teachers to rate ten activities according to their usefulness, and then compared his results with those of Willing (1988), who polled 517 learners for their views on the usefulness of the same activities. There were mismatches between teachers and learners on all but one of the items
Some research comparing learners at different language levels revealed different preferences for classroom activities among learner group of different language level. In a study of learner’s views about teacher- fronted activities and student-centred activities, Garrett and Shortall (2002) investigated the perceptions of 103 Brazilian EFL students at beginner, elementary and intermediate level and found that there was ‘a pathway towards more interactive student-centred activities as they move up through the language levels’(p47).
58 second year full-time students in the International Trade Department of the Foreign Trade University (FTU) took part in the study. The English Program that they were taking at the University was General Business English. 10 teachers from English Department of the same university who were teaching English in the second -year program were invited to take part in the research. They were all Vietnamese nationals who had from 1 to 8 years of experience in teaching English at the University.
The questionnaire used a five-part Likert scale as follows: How much do you like each activity? Please tick the appropriate column. Like very much Like No opinion Dislike Dislike very much. The open-ended question section aimed to identify students’ reasons for preferences. Students were asked to choose 3 activities they like most and 3 activities they dislike most and say the reasons for their choices.
Compared to other studies the results of the research were striking since statistically, there was only 25% mismatch between the students’ attitudes and the teachers’. The big match between the teachers and the students is that both groups favored student- student interactive activities over the non- interactive and teacher-centered activities. The differences between the teachers and the students were scattered in most areas with the most significant differences in the writing –related activities.
In the study, both teachers and students highly valued student-centred activities over the non- interactive activities and teacher-centred activities. While the communicative-orientation of teachers in the study bore similarity with other research, that of the students brings a distinct feature of the findings. The orientation may be attributed to the learners’ beliefs, language level and the classroom culture.
The students had very strong idea of learner- centredness and that’s why they are much against the idea of teacher-centredness which is perceived as a passive way of learning: ‘I don’t like everything teacher-centred. The Class is ours and we wanna have our own leaders’. ‘ it (teacher-centred activity) makes us passive’ ‘The role of teacher is instruction and explanation. Students need to practice in English very much so that we are centred.’
A close relationship is built up throughout the years and even through their lives. The association in the class is more akin to Western notion of ‘family’ than ‘classmates’, the ‘classroom-as-family’. It should also be noted that the pair/groups in this context are often formed among a group of very close friends. In the classroom, students with close relationship often sit near each other and since, in the institution as well as in most classes in Vietnam, chairs and tables are fixed in rows, which make it inconvenient to move
The differences between teachers’ and learners’ ideas appeared in only 8 out of 32 activities and scattered in most areas. Among the differences, the most notable and interesting point was in the learners’ views towards the practice of collaborative writing, which go against their writing teachers’ ideas as well as current trends of writing teaching methodology. According to the teachers, writing in pair/group ‘helps students involved in writing, compete with each other, learn from peers/group members’ and therefore ‘increases motivation’. Interestingly, the questionnaire and interviews showed that teachers who are teaching writing gave higher rating and more attributes to collaborative writing than other teachers.
The results from this study can be encouraging news for educators and CLT supporters since there are only 25% mismatch between teachers and students’ views and that the students clearly indicated their preferences for communicative activities. The most noticeable factors influencing their preferences of activities include the language proficiency, beliefs, and the affective variables. The students in this study have shown that when asked for their views, they are able to report a range of factors that they feel promote or impede the gains from these classroom learning activities. Though, undoubtedly, some of learners’ views may be misleading, being aware of learners’ views is surely useful for teachers.
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