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Japanese University Students’ Attitudes toward the Teacher’s English Use Koji Uenishi Hiroshima University.

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Presentation on theme: "Japanese University Students’ Attitudes toward the Teacher’s English Use Koji Uenishi Hiroshima University."— Presentation transcript:

1 Japanese University Students’ Attitudes toward the Teacher’s English Use Koji Uenishi Hiroshima University

2 Outline Introduction Research Objectives Research Method Results and Discussion Conclusion

3 1 Introduction In Japan the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT): Changes to English language instruction in mainstream education. Primary sector: Foreign language activities (gaikokugo katudou), formally introduced in 2011; many primary teachers struggling with the teaching method & contents at school. → Discuss English as a formal English subject from now. Secondary sector: English language classes at senior high school taught primarily through the medium of English in 2013 (MEXT’s announcement, 2008). → Mixed response from English teachers at high schools.

4 Tertiary sector: More discussion on the merits of English classes only in the target language to further promote students’ learning motivation and English ability ⇔ more flexible approaches that incorporate the use of Japanese. Researchers and educators: Research on teachers’ use of Japanese in English classes (Ford, 2009; Burden, 2000; Critchey, 1999). Critchey: 91% (out of 160 university students) welcomed some degree of bilingual support; a teacher’s limited use of Japanese. → English-only classrooms not suitable in Japan. Atkinson (1993): Integration of communicative methodology with a selective and limited use of the L1.

5 Some researchers’ objection to L1 use: Ryan (2002): The students’ L1 not employed in class → given more opportunities to use the target language. Leane (2006) : The value or importance of English-only classrooms: The more chances they have for authentic communication with each other, the greater the likelihood that their risk-taking, and hence communicative confidence, will increase.

6 Cole (1998): At lower levels, translating individual words, explaining grammar use, and facilitating complex instructions can save time and anguish, especially for mature students. Ford’s (2009) research: Although 9 out of 10 interviewees tended to follow an English-only approach concerning their own language use, they took a flexible tack on student language use and employed Japanese for ‘primarily humor, creating a relaxed atmosphere, giving instructions and task directions.’

7 Burden (2000): The teacher should not use the L1 ‘when explaining grammar, giving instructions, explaining class rules or the reasons why the students are doing a task, testing, or checking for understanding’. → Communication exclusively in the target language; ‘a more humanistic approach is needed that values the students, their culture and their language.’

8 Ford (2009): There is a growing tendency toward recognizing not whether the teacher employs the students’ L1, but when or in what case it should be used in class. → The issue of English-only in classrooms ‘remains hotly debated.’ Teaching: a complex activity. English language teachers: in a wide range of actions in class-time (e.g. explaining new words, explaining grammar, giving instructions, and checking students’ understanding) → Such items: teaching contexts in this paper.

9 2 Research Objectives The research questions: (1) What are non-English-major students’ attitudes toward the teacher’s English use in different teaching contexts? (2) Are there differences or similarities in attitudes toward the teacher’s English use between English-major and non-English-major students? (3) What ideas regarding the teacher’s English use can be found in non-English-major students’ free descriptions?

10 3 Research Method Subjects: 91 first-year university students (non-English- majors) Classes: Communication III B during one semester (lower-intermediate and intermediate classes) The aim: students basically develop their receptive skills. Diverse 15 teaching contexts (Table 1) in the lessons (e.g. grammar instruction, explanation of vocabulary, and explanation of social issues). → The questionnaire at the end of the semester; 83 out of 91 students completed the questionnaires.

11 Table 1: Teaching contexts 1. explain new words 2. give grammar instruction 3. instruct students 4. talk about Japanese and foreign cultures 5. explain class code such as good manners and attitudes toward classes 6. talk about assignments 7. explain grammatical differences between English and Japanese 8. give students quizzes 9. confirm students’ understanding of the content 10. relax students 11. create a good rapport 12. explain activities such as games 13. review the previous lesson 14. wrap up the class 15. give a warning

12 Students: evaluate whether Japanese teachers of English should use English-only in these teaching contexts through a questionnaire, using a 6-point scale ― to evaluate each item positively or negatively. Further groups of questions: Items 16 to 19 (Table 2): toward a more global attitude to English use in class. Items 20 to 25 (Table 3): to assess students’ perceptions of their own ability/improvement in English after taking the class.

13 Table 2: General views on L1 and L2 use 16. Japanese teachers of English should use English in class. 17. Please describe the reason(s) why you agree or disagree with Item Students may use Japanese in class. 19. Please describe the reason(s) why you agree or disagree with Item 18.

14 Table 3: Awareness of English ability / improvement 20. I understood what the teacher said in English. 21. I could interact with the teacher smoothly. 22. I could use English positively. 23. I understood the text. 24. I could memorize more vocabulary in pair work activities. 25. I could improve my reading ability of the text.

15 4 Results and Discussion Global statement ‘Japanese teachers should use English in class,’ → This correlated positively with students’ awareness of their own English ability/improvement (Table 4). This aligns with the intuition that students who are aware of their English ability/improvement agree with the idea of the teacher’s English use in class. Students’ awareness of receptive ability/improvement was high ⇔ Not feel they could interact with peers and the teacher smoothly or positively (Table 5).

16 Table 4 Correlation: Item 16 Itemrp Awareness of English ability/ improvement

17 Table 5 Descriptive Analysis 1 AE: Awareness of English ability/improvement ItemMSDN AE

18 4.1 Research Question (1) Analyzing non-English-major students’ attitudes toward the teacher’s English use in the 15 teaching contexts, the data were divided into two categories: positive (6-4) and negative (3-1). → The data results (Table 6).

19 Table 6 Data Results of Students’ Attitudes Item Positive Negative Item Positive Negative

20 Table 7 Descriptive Analysis 2

21 Negative responses in the questionnaire content relating to teaching contexts Item 1 (explain new words) Item 2 (give grammar instruction) Item 5 (explain class code such as good manners and attitudes toward classes) Item 6 (talk about assignments) Item 7 (explain grammatical differences between English and Japanese) Item 15 (give a warning) For Items 1 and 5, approximately half of them answered in the negative. For Items 2, 6, and 7, a clear majority of students answered in the negative.

22 The results for Items 2 and 7: Students do not like analyzing grammatical items only through the medium of English. → support Cole’s research. University students’ preference → taught in the target language (9 teaching contexts); items with high positive percentages (over 4.0) Item 3 (give instructions to students) Item 4 (talk about Japanese and foreign cultures) Item 12 (explain communication activities and games) Item 13 (review the previous lesson) → More preferable to be taught in English in the contexts of reviewing, instructions and explanations of activities and cultures.

23 Table 8 Correlation: Item 16 Item rpN

24 Next, the relationship between Item 16 and the 15 teaching contexts (the Pearson product- moment correlation coefficient). →In terms of the global statement: Item 16 “Japanese teachers should use English in class,” … a positive correlation with all 15 teaching contexts except for “explain new words (in English)” (Table 8). →This implies that students who are positive about the teacher’s English use tended to desire it in almost all contexts.

25 The differences of non-English-major student attitudes toward the teacher’s English use, depending on their levels, were also explored. No significant difference between the two levels of students in 15 contexts in class. No significant differences between awareness of English ability and understanding the class content. →This indicates that there were no differences between non-English-major student levels, meaning that in all 15 contexts both levels of students tended to have almost the same attitudes toward the teacher’s English use.

26 4.2 Research Objective (2) English-major and non-English-major students were compared based upon the data results obtained from the research. Remarkable differences in awareness of the Japanese teacher’s English use between both groups. The mean scores of English-major students were higher than those of non-English-major students in all 15 teaching contexts (Table 9). For non-English majors: only four out of 15 teaching contexts given a mean score of over 4.0. ⇔ For English majors: 10 teaching contexts. → English-major students appear to prefer the teacher’s use of English in class in almost all the contexts (Table 9).

27 Table 9 Descriptive Analysis 3 ItemGNMSDSEItemGNMSDSE

28 Table 10 Comparison on Learners’ Awareness (t-test) Item tpdf

29 When analyzing the data using the t-test, there were significant differences between English majors and that of non-English majors in seven teaching contexts (Table 10). English-major students, generally speaking, prefer the teacher to use English in class (t=5.603, df=117, p<.001); Medium sized effect (r=.46). The following preferred contexts: when the teacher: explains new words in English (Item 1) gives instructions to students (Item 3) explains homework/assignments and various activities such as playing games (Items 6 and 12) relaxes students (Item 10) creates a good rapport (Item 11) gives a warning to students (Item 15)

30 Among them both groups tended to prefer to be taught in a quite different way in two teaching contexts: explain new words and give a warning. → English majors desired to be taught in the target language. ⇔ Non-English majors preferred the teacher to use the Japanese language. English major and non-English major students tended to: prefer the teacher to use Japanese only in grammar instruction (Items 2 and 7). want to be taught in the target language in the contexts such as understanding the class content and evaluation.

31 4.3 Research Question (3) Students’ free description (Item 17) in terms of Item 16, ‘The teacher should use English in class’: → 23 out of the 83 participants answer: (1) the teacher’s English use is good for improving listening ability. (2) they can get accustomed to listening to English. Four students: they can focus on English studies. Four students: they take it for granted that the teacher will employ English in English classes. → The main reason that the students give: the teacher should employ the target language in class to develop their ability in listening to English.

32 14 students: the teacher should play it by ear regarding his or her English use in class (e.g. grammar instruction or Japanese translation). 9 students: they could not follow the English class or did not understand the class content. 5 students: at the teacher’s L1 use promoted a better understanding of the class content.

33 Table 11 Results of Free Description (Non-English majors) Positive Comments N Good for listening/get accustomed to listening Focus on English (studies) Natural ( English classes) 23 4 Negative Comments N Play by ear / Use both English and Japanese Cannot follow the class / Don’t understand the class Japanese use deepens understanding Insufficient communication Depends on the students’ English ability Miss important points in class

34 5 Conclusion This research has examined the responses of students who were not majoring in English at university. Regarding non-English-major students’ attitudes toward the teacher’s English use, it was found that it is preferable to be taught in English in the contexts of reviewing, instructions, and explanations of activities and cultures. → It seems that students do not like analyzing grammatical items only through the medium of English. → They prefer to be taught in the target language in nine teaching contexts: reviewing, instructions, and explanations of activities and cultures.

35 The differences of awareness of the Japanese teacher’s English use: the mean scores of English-major students were higher than those of non-English-major students in all 15 teaching contexts. Especially, in two teaching contexts (explain new words and give a warning), English majors desired to be taught in the target language, ⇔ Non-English majors preferred the teacher to use Japanese. Both groups tended to prefer the teacher to use the Japanese language only in grammar instruction. ⇔ They preferred to be taught in English in the contexts such as understanding the class content and evaluation.

36 The main reason that the students give for the teacher employing English in class is to enable them to develop their listening ability. Some students fear, however, that they might not be able to follow the English class or understand the class content without the teacher’s use of Japanese. A further issue concerns the connection between awareness of language ability/improvement and actual language improvement. Does a willingness to study in predominantly English-only classes correlate with a belief in English ability, or in actual English ability? Future research is necessary to obtain more reliable and objective results based on data from more subjects.

37 References Atkinson, D. (1993). Teaching monolingual classes. London: Longman. Barker, D. (2003). Why English teachers in Japan need to learn Japanese. The Language Teacher, 27(2), 7, Burden, P. (2001). When do native English speaking teachers and Japanese college students disagree about the use of Japanese in the English conversation classroom? The Language Teacher, 25(4), 5-9. Burden, P. (2000). The use of the students’ mother tongue in monolingual English “Conversation” classes at Japanese universities. The Language Teacher, 24(6), Cole, S. (1998). The use of L1 in communicative English classrooms. The Language Teacher, 22(12), Cook, V. (2001). Using the first language in the classroom. Canadian Modern Language Review, 57, Critchley, M. P. (1999). Bilingual support in English classes in Japan: A survey of student opinions of L1 use by foreign teachers. The Language Teacher, 23(9), Ford, K. (2009). Principles and practices of L1/L2 use in the Japanese university EFL classroom. JALT Journal, 31(1), Leane, S. (2006). Establishing English only classrooms. Chugokugakuenn Journal, 5, Uenishi, K. (2012). Teaching EFL Classes with English as the Medium: a Focus on University Students’ Attitudes toward the Teacher’s English Use. A paper presented at the third International TESOL Conference in Vietnam. Uenishi, K. (2011). Eigo no jugyou wa eigo de okonau nikannsuru itikousatsu. [A study of teaching English lessons as the medium: A heightening awareness on both the English teacher and the high school student]. Setsunan Journal of English Education, No.5, Willis, H. (1981). Teaching English through English. Essex: Longman.

38 Thank you for your attention.


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