Difficulties in teaching vocabulary to students of information technology at thanh hoa teachers' training school and some solutions

English is considered to be one of the most popular languages in the world. In Vietnam, with the changes and the developments of the economy and society, as well as the implementation of the open- door policy, English has been used more and more widely both by the young and the old and it has been the most popular foreign language. English also occupied a specially important status in the development of international relationship in Vietnam. More importantly, English has been influenced on our education curriculum as a compulsory subject. It is known that, in learning a foreign language in general, and English in particular, the knowledge and mastery of vocabulary play an extremely important role. Pyles and Algeo (1970) noted that: "When we first think about the language, we think about words. It is words that we arrange together to make sentences, conversations and discourse of all kind". In fact, vocabulary is the element that links the four skills of speaking, listening, reading and writing all together. In order to communicate well in a foreign language, students should acquire an adequate number of words and should know how to use them accurately. However, both teachers and learners have faced many difficulties in English teaching and learning, especially in teaching and learning vocabulary. It seems difficult for teachers to apply the suitable way to teach learners. In the context of Thanh Hoa Teachers' Training School (THTTS), students with Vocational Training level are taught English as a compulsory subject. And students of Information Technology start learning IT English at the beginning of the second year. The short period is mainly aimed at improving reading and translating skills. However, with limited knowledge of vocabulary and English grammar, it is difficult for them to study English for IT, especially in reading and translating exercises. They often learn vocabulary passively through their teachers' explanation, It is hard for them to memorize new words. Thus, it requires a great deal of help from teachers.

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Part 1: Introduction Rationale English is considered to be one of the most popular languages in the world. In Vietnam, with the changes and the developments of the economy and society, as well as the implementation of the open- door policy, English has been used more and more widely both by the young and the old and it has been the most popular foreign language. English also occupied a specially important status in the development of international relationship in Vietnam. More importantly, English has been influenced on our education curriculum as a compulsory subject. It is known that, in learning a foreign language in general, and English in particular, the knowledge and mastery of vocabulary play an extremely important role. Pyles and Algeo (1970) noted that: "When we first think about the language, we think about words. It is words that we arrange together to make sentences, conversations and discourse of all kind". In fact, vocabulary is the element that links the four skills of speaking, listening, reading and writing all together. In order to communicate well in a foreign language, students should acquire an adequate number of words and should know how to use them accurately. However, both teachers and learners have faced many difficulties in English teaching and learning, especially in teaching and learning vocabulary. It seems difficult for teachers to apply the suitable way to teach learners. In the context of Thanh Hoa Teachers' Training School (THTTS), students with Vocational Training level are taught English as a compulsory subject. And students of Information Technology start learning IT English at the beginning of the second year. The short period is mainly aimed at improving reading and translating skills. However, with limited knowledge of vocabulary and English grammar, it is difficult for them to study English for IT, especially in reading and translating exercises. They often learn vocabulary passively through their teachers' explanation, It is hard for them to memorize new words. Thus, it requires a great deal of help from teachers. ESP (English for specific purpose) is viewed as something hard to teach for language teachers. As a teacher of English for IT, I myself find out many difficulties during teaching vocabulary. They arise from the lack of specialized knowledge, so teachers fail to provide every reasonable explanation. Moreover, the target students at THTTS are lower in comparison with those at colleges or universities on the ground of needs, interest and motivation. In addition, it is difficult for teachers to understand a lot of terminology, complicated structures and countless expressions. Facing this problem, the teachers of English of THTTS want to do something to change the ways of teaching and learning vocabulary in order to improve the students' learning effectiveness to help them succeed in their future job. Therefore, I have conducted a research to find out the main difficulties in teaching IT vocabulary at THTTS. Then to offer some solutions to these problem. Aims of the study The study aimed at: Giving a brief overview about ESP and vocabulary and its relevance in teaching and learning English for IT. Finding out difficulties that ESP teachers at THTTS are facing in teaching English vocabulary to students of IT Suggesting some solutions to the learning of vocabulary to students of IT effectively Research questions The research is carried out with an attempt to find out the answer to the following research questions: What are the main difficulties experienced by teachers who are teaching vocabulary to students of IT at THTTS? What solutions should be offered to help teachers to find out the effective ways to teach vocabulary to students of IT at THTTS? Scope of the study The study limited itself to the investigation of difficulties in teaching vocabulary to students of Information Technology at Thanh Hoa Teachers' training school. The solutions are also provided to help to improve teaching and learning English in general, teaching and learning English vocabulary of IT in particular at THTTS. Methods of the study In order to achieve the aims mentioned above, the study was designed to use varieties of methods such as: interview and questionnaire. The data can be recorded formally and informally. The interview is used to record information from teachers. The survey questionnaire to students is to get more information to support the study. Design of the study This study is organized into 3 main parts: Part 1: Introduction: in this part the rationale, the aims, the research questions, the scope, the method, and the design of the study is presented. Part 2: Development: It consists of three chapters. Chapter 1 provides the theoretical background, which is relevant to the purposes of the study. Chapter 2 presents an introduction on the context of learning and teaching vocabulary of Information Technology at THTTS. Chapter 3 is the main part of the study. It includes the context of the study, the subjects, and the data collection methods and data collection procedure. Also in this chapter, the data will be analyzed and the finding will reveal teachers' difficulties in teaching vocabulary to students of IT. On the basis of these findings, solutions in teaching and learning will be suggested. Part 3: Conclusion: This part offers a summary of the study and some suggestions for further study. Part 2: Development Chapter 1: Literature review 1.1. An overview of ESP 1.1.1. What is ESP? "ESP" stands for English for Specific Purposes and different authors have defined this term so far. According to Hutchinson and Waters (1987: 19), ESP is "an approach rather than a product to language teaching in which all decisions as to content and method are based on learner's reason for learning". For Hutchinson and Waters, starting point in determining appropriate input for ESP course is identifying learners' need. Similarly, Munby (1978: 2) states: "ESP courses are those where the syllabus and materials are determined in all essentials by the prior analysis of the communication needs of the learner". And Robinson (1991: 3), discussing the criteria to ESP, also emphasizes the students' needs element of ESP: " An ESP course is based on a needs analysis, which aims to specify as closely as possible what exactly it is that students have to do through the medium of English". She defines that time period should be specified clearly for an ESP course, in which their objectives have to be achieved. Likewise, Streven (1988: 1) stated: "ESP is a particular cause of the general category of special purpose language teaching". It is obvious that all the above definitions stem at different time by different authors, these definitions reveal that any ESP course must be based on learners' needs. 1.1.2. Classification of ESP It can be seen that, language varies according to the context of use. Thus, there are many types of ESP. Traditionally, ESP has been divided into two main areas. Kennedy and Bolitho (1984: 4) defined the types of ESP: "English for Occupational Purpose (EOP) is taught in a situation in which learners need to use English as a part of their work or profession". Whereas, "English for Academic Purpose (EAP) is taught generally within educational institutions to students needing English in their studies". Robinson (1991) provides the distinction between these two areas. Pre- experience EOP Simultaneous/ In service Post- experience ESP Pre- study For study in a specific discipline In- study EEP/ EAP Post- study Independent As school subject Integrated Figure 1: Types of ESP (Robinson, 1991: 3-4) This division of ESP plays a very important role in affecting the degree of specificity that is appropriate to the course. However, according to Hutchinson (1987: 16) " This is not a clear- cut distinction: people can work and study simultaneously, it is also likely that in many cases the language learnt for immediate use in a study environment will be used later when the student takes up, or returns a job". ESP EST EBE ESS EAP EOP EAP EOP EAP EOP English for English for English for English for English for English for Medical Study Technicians Economics Secretaries Psychology Teaching Figure 2: Types of ESP (Hutchinson, 1987: 16) On Hutchinson' ELT tree, there are three categories basing on nature of the learners' specialism. English for Science and Technology (EST), English for Business and Economic (EBE) and English for the Social Science (ESS). Though ESP if classified by different author, they are common that ESP can be divided into EAP and EOP. On ELT tree mentioned above, English for Information Technology belongs to English for Technician. 1.1.3. The roles of ESP teachers The roles of ESP teachers have been pointed out by a variety of studies. An ESP teacher must master fully the roles of General English teachers and ESP course process. In learning process teacher must help the learner achieve their goals effectively. Especially, in vocabulary teaching, the teacher mostly focus on words, idioms to express the topics like "computer and its application" or "computer types", etc, plus words in the general, and (s)he has to provide the students with the anxiety- free atmosphere. Besides, (s)he also has to create favorable environment in which students are able to practice to memorize new words. According to Hutchinson and Waters (1987: 157), the ESP teacher will have to deal with need analysis, syllabus design, materials writing or adaptation and evaluation. Whereas Martin (1992) lists and explains different roles of the teacher. He views the role upon the process of carrying out a task in ESP lesson" before, during and after a task. A teacher wishing to support learning throughout the various phrases of a task would need to be able to play an extended a set of roles including explorer, organizer, adviser, instructor and a guide. Little Wood (1981: 51) states that the ESP teacher is expected to "perform in a variety of roles, separately or simultaneously". Nunan (1988) also said that these roles of an ESP teacher include an instructor, a manager, counselor, facilitators, organizer, curriculum developer, material writer, material writer and even a friend. Robinson (1991) gives his own opinion, '' the ESP teacher does not only teach but very often he or she is involved in designing, setting up, administering, evaluating and testing the ESP course" Obviously, the ESP teacher must be flexible and their roles will vary according to type of syllabus and course, teaching and learning environment, etc. 1.1.4. The problem of ESP teachers Robinson (1980: 83) stated some problem of ESP teachers "Lack of sufficient preparation time", "lack of personal and professional contact with subject teachers", and" the content may be very specific indeed, requiring a high degree knowledge and skill from teachers". ESP teachers may also have to struggle to master language and subject beyond the bound of their previous experience because most of them have been trained for General English teaching and has unexpectedly found themselves required to teach the texts whose content they know little or nothing about. It is true to all teachers teaching at THTTS. They are teachers of GE who lack experience, the needed specialized knowledge and the choice of appropriate teaching methodologies seem to be the major concerns. Obviously, it is not easy and does take time for the teachers to become familiar with the ESP course materials as well as with the language of the subject. 1.2. Vocabulary teaching in ESP 1.2.1. Definition of vocabulary The term "vocabulary" appears to be a very simple concept but in fact, we can find it extremely difficult to give an exact definition of vocabulary. Based on different criteria, linguistics defined vocabulary in different ways. According to Peny, Ur (1996: 60), vocabulary "as the words we teach in the foreign language. However, a new item of vocabulary may be more than a single word: a compound of two or three words or multi- word idioms". Pyles and Algae (1970: 96) also noted that: "It is in words that sound and meanings inter- lock to allow us to communicate with one another and it is words that we range together to make sentences, conversations and discourses of all kinds". In general, vocabulary is the total number of all the words that a language possesses, including a single word, two or three word items expressing a single idea and multi- word idioms whose meaning cannot be deduced from the analysis of the component words. Vocabulary can be defined as the words we teach in the foreign language and a useful convention is to cover all such cases by talking about vocabulary "items" rather than "words". It can be seen that a "vocabulary" item can be more than one word. Therefore, it is necessary not to make confusion between vocabulary item and word. 1.2.2. Main principles in Vocabulary Teaching 1.2.1. Decision about the content Before considering the main principles in vocabulary teaching, we should pay attention where we select vocabulary from. According to Ruth Gairns and Stuart Redman (1999: 54) vocabulary reaches the classroom from four mains sources such as the course book, supplementary materials, the students, and specific vocabulary activities designed by the teacher for his particular group of students The course book: This will include the written and spoken texts, activities for the presentation and practice of grammatical structures, testing exercises, and so on. Even the instructions for classroom activities can form a source of new vocabulary. Supplemental materials: these are not designed specially not for vocabulary development or provided by educational institution, or selected by the teacher himself. This may include texts, drill, role- plays, video, exercises etc. The students: a wide range of unanticipated and unpredictable items will inevitably surface from student enquires, queries, and errors. Specific vocabulary activities designed by the teacher for his particular group of students 1.2.2. Criteria for selection It can be seen that vocabulary should be selected in a suitable teaching setting. That is, every situation is different and so core items in one context may be useless in another. Teaching can effectively deal with only a small amount of information about vocabulary items at a time. Thus, teachers have to take into considerations factors. We should consider the following table. Criteria Order of importance Definition Frequency 1 Average number of occurrences of a word in a language Range 2 A measure of the different types of texts in which a word occurs Language needs 3 The words that are regarded as 'require' by the learner in order to communicate Availability and familiarity 4 The word the learner is mostly in contact with and somehow ' know' Coverage 5 the capacity of a word to take the place of other words Regularity 6 How is the use of a word 'spread' over the language Learn ability 7 Are some words easier to learn than other? Table 1: Criteria for selection Source: 1.2.3. What need to be taught in English Vocabulary? According to Penny Ur (1996), when vocabulary is introduced to learners, pronunciation and spelling, word form, grammar, collocation, aspects of meaning, word- formation need to be taught. 1.2.3.1. Word form When learning vocabulary students should be introduced its pronunciation and its spelling. To many students, the complex relationship between sound and spelling in English seems to make the language inexplicable. It is easy understand when we consider the number of homophones in English such as: weight/ wait, sole/ soul, and the number of similar forms that differ wildly in their pronunciation like hurry/ humor. 1.2.3.2. Grammar There are two main pedagogic issues involved: the highlighting of regular and irregular forms, and the role of source books in allowing learners to be sift- sufficient as Ruth Gairns and Stuart Redman stated. In the classroom, the new item is not obviously covered by general grammatical rule, grammar will need to be introduced or examined. The teachers need to clarify regular forms and common regular forms for students. When a new word is taught, for example we might also give its past form such as: buy/ bought and it is transitive or intransitive, when a noun such as a person is taught, it should be given its plural form as people. 1.2.3.3. Collocation Collocation is the way in which words are used together regularly in a specific language. It refers to the restriction on how words can be used together in right contexts. Thus, this is another piece of information about a new item, which may be worth teaching. For example, you throw a ball but toss a coin. We can talk about thick fog and dense fog, thick smoke and dense smoke with the same meaning. However, we cannot say dense hair instead of thick hair 1.2.3.4. Aspects of meaning Aspect of meaning include denotation, connotation, appropriateness and meaning relationship The denotation meaning refers to or point out things, concepts. This is often the sort of definition given in dictionaries such as "cat" denotes a small animal with soft fur, often kept as a pet or for catching mice. Connotation of a word is less obvious component of its meaning. This is association, or positive and negative feelings the word evokes which may not be indicated in a dictionary definition. Connotation includes stylistic, affective, evaluation, intensifying value, pragmatic communicative values, the word acquires by virtue of where, when, how and by whom, for what purpose and in what context it is or it may be used Appropriateness is more subtle aspect of meaning that indicates whether a particular item is appropriate one to use in a certain context or not. Thus, it is useful for a learner to know whether a certain word is very common, or relatively rare or taboo in a polite conversation, or tends to be used in writing but not in speech, or is more suitable for a formal than informal discourse or belongs to a certain dialect. It is necessary to list aspects of meaning in the sense of meaning relationships. This can also be useful in vocabulary teaching and learning. They show how the meaning of one item relates to the meaning of others. These are various relationships and here are some of the main ones like synonyms, antonyms, hyponyms, co- hyponyms or co- ordinates, super ordinates, and translation 1.2.3.5. Word- formation Word can change their shape and their grammatical value. Vocabulary items whether one- word or multi- word, can often be broken down into their components "bits". Students need to know facts about word formation and how to use words to fit different grammatical contexts. For their parts, students should be taught the common prefixes and suffixes and how they work, For example, if learners know the meaning of "sub", "un" and "able", this will help them guess the meaning of words such as "substandard", "uncomfortable", and "enable". However, students should be warned that in many common words the affixes no longer have obvious connection with their root meaning (for example: "consider" -> "considerable") Another way vocabulary items are built is by combining two words: two nouns, or a gerund and a noun, or a noun and a verb to make one item: a single compound word or two separate (for example: "book list"," sitting room") 1.3. Terminology 1.3.1. Definition of terminology Linguists have stated varieties of definitions of technology. In Longman dictionary of applied linguistics (1985: 290) defines terminology as “the special lexical which occur in a particular discipline”. According to Nguyen Thien Giap (1985: 308), “Terminology, which is understood as a special linguistic unit of a language consists of word and fixed

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