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Case Study of Finnish Engineering Students Attending FL-Medium Courses Eeva RautoEsko Johnson Vaasa Central Ostrobotnia University of Applied Sciences.

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Presentation on theme: "Case Study of Finnish Engineering Students Attending FL-Medium Courses Eeva RautoEsko Johnson Vaasa Central Ostrobotnia University of Applied Sciences."— Presentation transcript:

1 Case Study of Finnish Engineering Students Attending FL-Medium Courses Eeva RautoEsko Johnson Vaasa Central Ostrobotnia University of Applied Sciences Technology and Communication

2 Our first studies were carried out before current ( ) research project: in Kokkola (Johnson & Finell 2004) Survey on learners’ attitudes Vaasa (Rauto 2003): changes in written performance Need for Research on Tertiary Level Learners in FL-Medium Learning Environment

3 Description of Earlier Vaasa 2003 Research (Rauto 2003) What:decrease in grammatical errors in engineering students’ written production Why: effect of FL-medium instruction on language acquisition How:longitudinal measurement (time span of 1.5 years)

4 Description of Earlier Vaasa 2003 Research Target Group

5 Description of Earlier Vaasa 2003 Research Profiency levels evened out test 1 test 2 Error score

6 Description of Earlier Vaasa 2003 Research Changes in Grammar and Vocabulary Improvement in precentages in learners’ (N19) grammar and vocabulary scores within 1,5 years 0 % 5 % 10 % 15 % 20 % 25 % 30 % 35 % 40 % 45 % grammar highest intermedi ate lowest vocabulary proficiency levels  The differencies between proficieny levels were evened out  Grammar skills: most beneficial to the lowest group  Vocabulary skills: beneficial to all groups

7 Internationalisation at Home survey, COU (Johnson & Finell 2005) Students (n=139) stressed the benefits English-medium education and measures to increase institution-wide multiculturalism in various ways Most students in English-medium education (courses and programmes) reported they had learned even more English than they had expected and were happy with their instruction Needs to improve of English-medium education: instruction was difficult to follow (cognitive load/abstractness; task complexity cf. Ellis 2003: ); variability of teachers’ English skills

8 New Research Interest in 2005 What happens to the learner’s language in a single course / module taught in English in a mainstream Finnish-medium degree program ? The results of previous ( ) studies apply to learners in degree programs taught in English.

9  Current Research Project 2005 – 2006 Co-operation: Central Ostrobotnia University of Applied Sciences the (Kokkola Project) Vaasa University of Applied Sciences (the Vaasa Project) 2 target groups in both projects:  Vaasa Project: VG1(N=11) VG2 (N=10/11)  Kokkola Project: KG1 (N= 11), KG2 (N=10)  TotalN= 43/44 learners In contrast to previous research: Focus on shorter / less intensive exposure to target language FL-medium module: one term / group

10 Research Instrument KOK KOLA 1. Final Survey (webropol): - Learners’ self-rating on their language development - Learners’ views and opinions of the module VAA- SA 1. Initial and Final Surveys (webropol): - Learners’ self-rating on language development - Learners’ views and opinions of the module Longitudinal approach 2. Language Tests measuring changes in: - Reading comprehension - Vocabulary acquisition - Syntax Sample survey:

11 Current Research Set-Up KOK- KO- LA Subject Operations Management lectures and materials in English Learners N= Mostly female, Matriculation exam Procifiency level: fairly advanced Previous experience of FL-medium studies: Some Learners: Yes Language Support: No VAA- SA Corporate Planning lectures in Finnish, materials in English N Mostly male Most with Vocational school background Procifiency level: intermediate NoYes

12 Research Questions (Current Research 2005 –2006) 1. The learners’ views (self-rating) of their language learning styles (Implicit / Explicit?) their language proficiency before and after (Recognize changes?) 2. What possible changes can be discovered in the learner’s target language syntax, vocabulary and reading skills by langauge tests - Vaasa project ( Support results obtained by self-rating?) 3. Does exposure to L2 (English) present extra work load to learning the content in question (FL-medium module too heavy for some learners?) 4. The learners’ views and expectations of the FL-medium course: 4.1. In which conditions is (teacher) intervention necessary and how should it be implemented?

13 Research Questions (Current Research 2005 –2006) 4.2. What improvements would the learners recommend? Scope for development in teaching practices?) 5. Are there possible changes in 1. the learners’ motivation to use the target language self- concept as language learners 2. the learners’ 6. Subject teacher’s views of learners’ academic success 7.Indvidual variables (age, sex, how much the learner uses English)

14 The learners’ Views of their Cognitive Language Learning Preferences ( Research Question 1) ”In which way do you learn a language best?” Vaasa learners (N =22) Kokkola learners (N =21) By reading and listening: somewhat or very suitable for me 1814 By means of grammar rules: somewhat suitable for me 5 (very suitable: 1) 9 (very suitable: 3) By studying vocabulary and grammar: somewhat suitable for me 9/11 (VG2) 9/10 (KG2) By studying vocabulary and grammar but also by reading and listening 2/10 (VG1) 6 /11 (KG1)

15 The learners’ Views of their Cognitive Language Learning Preferences Vaasa learners Kokkola learners

16 The learners’ Views of their Cognitive Language Learning Preferences Difference between Vaasa and Kokkola learners: Vaasa Learners: use of implicit (as opposed to explicit) learning style dominant Kokkola Learners: learners also use explicit style ”One learned English without noticing it – although it seemed difficult at first.”VG2

17 Change in Command of Target Language Grammar : Self-rating (research question 1.2) Kokkola learners: (final survey)  KG 1: slight negative change (-) (contradiction in control question +) KG2: 0 one open end answer: ” No change in grammar because no grammar instruction was included in the course” Vaasa learners: (longitudinal approach) VG 1: slight posive change (+) VG 2: slight negative change (-)

18 Change in Command of Target Language Syntax: Language Test mean before: 13,96 credit points mean after: 14,68 credit points  VG2

19 Correlation between Learning preferences and Language Achievement? LL-style (implicit, explicit) Results by Measurements Results by Self-rating Changes in target language Syntax ? Hypothesis: the implicit learners would have more changes in their target language grammar than explicit learners

20 Change in Learners’ of Grammar in relation to Language Learning Preference Kokkola learners: no / marginal negative change ” Real-life” use has made the explicit-type learners more critical and conscious of interlanguage deficiences  Vaasa learners: (marginal) positive change FL-medium studies beneficial to learners preferring implicit learning process / intermediate level learners: target language grammar becoming slightly more analyzed

21 Changes in Vocabulary Command  Structured survey questions  no clear indication of change  Vocabulary test  mean before5,43 (max score 16)  mean after 7,71

22 Changes in vocabulary command Open-end aswers. “ I learned many new interesting words”KG1 “ I learned many new useful words”VG1 “ I learned a lot of subject-related vocabulary (4 learners in KG2)” “ One gets to know more subject-related vocabulary (VG2) “ I learned a lot of vocabulary by reading /by assisting in lessons (1 learner) /by doing tasks (3 learners) ”One learns best by reading”KG2(one learner)

23 Is Teacher Intervention Necessary? (research question 4.1) ? Learners’view of Language Support Module Vaasa learnes Language support was provided Kokkola learners 2 learners: ”Subject teacher should have given feedback”.

24 Did the use of Foreign Language Present Extra Work Load to Learning the Content in Question? ( research question: 3) Question 1: English as language of instruction/English course materials/ imposed a heavy workload for me (adapted) Question 2: This course should have been taught in Finnish/using Finnish-language teaching materials Vaasa learners (N= 21) 3/21 Kokkola learners (N=21) 4/ 21 Some learners made a reservation:”Not, if language level is OK” 5 / 21

25 Did the use of Foreign Language Present Extra Work Load to Learning the Content in Question? (research question: 3)

26 .... ” reading texts became easier and dealing with English materials presented no problem ” (VG1) Indication of Decrease of Workload ” I now read more fluently and don’t need to stop to translate the text” VG2 Related to Reading Texts becoming easier  Self-rating and Reading Comprehension test: marginal positive trend (both VG and KG learners)  Positive feedback from learners’ open end answers:

27 Workload Imposed by FL-Medium Studies Summary  Response to Structured questions and open-end answers support each other: the majority did not consider the work load to be too heavy Results encouraging but more evidence needed

28 .... I understood surprisingly well what the text dealt with although I don ’ t think very highly of my language proficiency. (KG1)) I understood more English than I had originally thought (KG1) ” ” it was nice to notice that reading English texts presented no problem, (VG1) ” ” it was nice to notice that reading English texts presented no problem, (VG1) Indication of Increase of Self-Concept positive feedback form learners’ open end answers:

29 Language learning motivation and the learner’s self-concept  Language learning motivation is multidimensional (e.g. personal, social) and situational, and it has various orientations: intrinsic, integrative and instrumental motivation  Language learner’s self-concept (“kieliminä”) is my perception of myself as a language learner: general, language specific, and task-specific perceptions/beliefs  Motivational orientation, experience of teaching and learning, affective/emotional and efficacy aspects have an important role in foreign language learning (e.g. Kantelinen 1995)

30 Improvements Suggested by Learners (cf. Research Question 4.2 )  Explaining concepts and giving vocabulary support : language teacher or subject teacher? By providing some vocabulary related support, because finding professioanally related vocabulary was difficult to find so a lot turned out to be guess-work (K G1) If a vocabulary list was provided in the beginning of the course it would help a lot. Particularly (KG1) Vocabulary should be explained in the classes (VG1) More vocabularies should be provided (3 learners; VG2) Habit acquired from ESP-classes?

31 Improvements Suggested by Learners 5 There should be opportunities for speaking.. We could discuss in teams so it would be more pleasant for everybody. (KG1) I was satisfied with the course but more opportunities for speaking (VG2) One learns by speaking, more chances for practising ( VG2) More possibilities for practising output (Swain’s (1985) output-hypothesis

32  Changes in Language Proficiency  Minor changes in learners’ productive language skills Short period of exposure to L2 (English): Learners resources spent on reading comprehension (cf. “intake”-hypothesis)  Some changes in learners’ receptive skills > evidence of workload becoming smaller Summary of results  No clear evidence in learners’ self-concept as language learners and motivation. Contradiction in self-rating and open-end answers: more evidence needed

33 Summary of results Learners’ Recommendations and Preferences More opportunities for speaking (output hypothesis) Teacher intervention preferred More English-medium modules (1 learner) If more courses were given in English, the exchange students could participate in them. Then we would have no other options but use English “VG1

34 Summary of results Learners’ attitude to FL-Medium Instruction: Mainly positive feedback from open-end answers  Some critique KG2 learners)… ”I did not learn so much because the teacher did not always speak correct English ”. On the hand: ” The teacher spoke in simple terms and it was easy to understand her”

35 Conclusions More evidence needed Some survey questions difficult to process on metacognitive level: open end answers more reliable data Encouraging results from the view-point of implementing these modules The learners would recommend the courses for next year-students Some thought that participation in the course is a good way of learning a language > didactic method ” More FL-medium teaching should be included in the degree program because that is the way to learn the language better”KG1

36 Setting up a co-operative project To find more evidence on Different degrees of intensity of exposure / duration and language outcome To establish a large-scale database with different L1 backgrounds Possibly an EU project with several participating countries (models, experimentation, follow-up research?)


38 Literature Ellis, R. (2003) Task-Based Language Learning and Teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Johnson, E. & Finell, P. ( 2005). Se tuo kansainvälisyyttä, erilaisuutta ja vaihtelua”.Opiskelijoiden käsitykset Keski-Pohjanmaan ammattikorkeakoulusta kansainvälisenä opiskelu- ja oppimisympäristönä. In H. Aho (ed) Sovellusta optimaalisen tasapainon saavuttamiseksi. Opettaja oman työnsä tutkijana II symposiumiin artikkelit. Keski-Pohjanmaan ammattikorkeakoulu. A: Tutkimusraportteja-Forskingsraporter Kantelinen, R. (1995). Ruotsin kielen opiskelumotivaatio ammatillisessa koulutuksessa. Tutkimus koti- ja laitostalousalan opiskelijoiden opiskelumotivaatiosta ja siihen yhteydessä olevista tekijöistä. Joensuun yliopisto. Kasvatustieteellisiä julkaisuja N:o 21. Rauto, E. (2003) Välikielen kehitys vieraskielisessä opetuksessa. Tutkimus muutoksista englannin kieliopin hallinnassa. Jyväskylän yliopisto. Soveltavan kielentutkimuksen laitos. Available also at (with English summary) Swain, M Communicative Competence: Some Roles of Comprehensible In­put and Comprehensible Output in its Development. Teoksessa S. Gass & C. Madden (toim.) Input in Second Language Acquisition. Rowley, MA: Newbury House,

39 Appendix: Interesting Learner Profiles Learners 2, 3 and 4 (Vaasa adults) show positive development in syntax, (figure 1), vocabulary (figure 2) and reading comprehension (figure 3) Was these learners’ motivation higher than that of others?

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