How to create an interesting English learning environment to motive students to participate in speaking activities

In the article “Nurturing emotional intelligence through literature” of Irma K. Ghosn (2001), the author demonstrates that literature can provide a motivating and low anxiety context for language learning because literary text brings students the “genuine feel” when touching on themes to which they may respond personally from their own experience. Particularly, due to the multiple levels of meaning, the use of literary text is often a successful way of promoting activities where students need to share their feeling and opinions such as discussions and group work( G. Laza,1993) According to Ibsen’s view (1990), literary text appeal to students in terms of emotion and personal experience because “each student will meet the text in his/her own way based on past experiences and knowledge about literature and life”. This creates meaningful and interesting discussions among students, which provide a good learning climate in a relaxing atmosphere. Especially, when students “enter imaginary situation” through drama or improvisation, they “explore a theme, a person, or a conflict from within. Emotion and intellect go together at this stage” (Ibsen, 1990). Through the cover of another person, they can see and present themselves. More importantly, they are intrinsically motivated and this improves their speaking respectively.

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENT I would like to express my grattitude to my supervisor MA Phan Hoang Yen for her patience , special insights and encouragement. My thank is also expressed to two co-researchers, James Scott and Peter Smith who are volunteers in my college, for their help. Sincere appreciation also goes to my colleagues for their useful advice and comment , my students who enthusiastically participated in my piloted lessons and completed questionnaires, my husband who helped and encouraged me to complete this paper successfully. Table of content Acknowledgements…………………………………………………I Chapter 1 …………………………………………………………...1 Introduction………………………………………………………….1 Background information……………………………………………...1 The problem…………………………………………………………..2 Reasons for the study…………………………………………………3 Aims and objectives…………………………………………………..5 Significance of the study……………………………………………...6 Research questions……………………………………………………6 Chapter 2…………………………………………………………….7 Literature review………….………………………………………...7 Defining motivation…………………………………………………..7 The importance of motivation in second language learning………….9 Types of motivation in second language learning…………………..10 Literature in language teaching……………………………………...12 Literature in teaching language skills……………………………….15 Folktales in teaching speaking…………………………………….16 Chapter 3…………………………………………………………...19 Methodology………………………………………………………..19 The sample and sampling……..……………………………………..19 Instrumentation…………. ………………………………………….20 Data collection and analysis…………………………………………20 Chapter 4……………………………………………………………22 Presentation and discussions of results……………………………22 Chapter 5…………………………………………………………….39 Conclusion and recommendation…………………………………..39 References Appendix A Appendix B Chapter 1 Introduction This chapter presents the background information, states the problem and reasons for the study. It also outlines the overall purpose and objectives of the study , describe the significance of the study , poses the research questions to be answered and provides an overview of the research design. Background information Nghe An junior teacher training college is located in the north centre of Vietnam. It was established in 1960 and its main function is to train teachers for primary and secondary schools in the province of Nghe An. Although established in 1960, it has had a department of English only for seven years. Students in this department have a three year course of English for six terms . One of main purposes of this course is to develop four language skills: reading, writing, listening, and speaking. For first year students, to improve these skills, the "Head way pre-intermediate" was chosen as their main book and now the "New headway pre-intermediate". They have speaking English lesson one time a week with four periods for each time. The topics for their speaking lessons are also basically on the "New headway pre-intermediate" textbook. They are lifestyle, your town, plans and ambitions, money, childhood, environment, generation gap and the biggest cities in the world. With the aim to develop students' ability about presenting opinions on certain topics and to improve their communicative ability. A speaking lesson is usually taught with the following procedure: first half of the lesson the teacher has students discuss about the topic by asking them to work in groups, pairs or individuals; second half of the lesson , the teacher gives some situations which are related to the topic and ask students to do role-play. Each topic is discussed during two weeks. However, topics are discussed in a quite general way because they are broad; for instance, with the topic Lifestyle, the teacher asks students to find out the differences between the Vietnamese people style and the English. Being young and enthusiastic teachers, we pay much attention to how to motivate students to engage in classroom activities. However, they always find the speaking lesson hard , challenging and sometimes boring. One of the reasons for this difficulty is that the majority of them come from the countryside and remote areas where English is not an important subject and pupils are not taught carefully, especially, they have never practiced speaking English before. The Problem Most first year students have not been satisfied with their placement in our college. They consider the time here to be one gap year because passing the entrance university examination is still their desire. Therefore, to get high mark of this examination, they have to study hard on reading, writing, and grammar and this affect their attitude toward how they involve in the speaking lessons. In addition, they have not practiced speaking English before, from many of my lessons, I realize that they find it very difficult to express their ideas in English and they even do not know how to keep the conversation going on. They are usually stressed and passive when being asked to participate in speaking activities. More importantly, the topics chosen are quite broad and the way teachers develop them is not very interesting. Some topics are beyond students’ enjoyment such as money and generation gap and some require a deep common knowledge which students usually lack. If students have no idea what to say, they may lose confidence and feel uncomfortable and make mistakes. As a result, learning in the speaking lessons is boring and ineffective. The question “ How to create an interesting English learning environment to motive students to participate in speaking activities” puzzled me a lot because the active language environment will stimulate thought and feeling while cultivating speaking skill. Reasons for the study In the article “Nurturing emotional intelligence through literature” of Irma K. Ghosn (2001), the author demonstrates that literature can provide a motivating and low anxiety context for language learning because literary text brings students the “genuine feel” when touching on themes to which they may respond personally from their own experience. Particularly, due to the multiple levels of meaning, the use of literary text is often a successful way of promoting activities where students need to share their feeling and opinions such as discussions and group work( G. Laza,1993) According to Ibsen’s view (1990), literary text appeal to students in terms of emotion and personal experience because “each student will meet the text in his/her own way based on past experiences and knowledge about literature and life”. This creates meaningful and interesting discussions among students, which provide a good learning climate in a relaxing atmosphere. Especially, when students “enter imaginary situation” through drama or improvisation, they “explore a theme, a person, or a conflict from within. Emotion and intellect go together at this stage” (Ibsen, 1990). Through the cover of another person, they can see and present themselves. More importantly, they are intrinsically motivated and this improves their speaking respectively. However, the criteria of choosing works and genres which meet students’ need, interest and language level should be taken into consideration . Obviously, linguistic difficulty comes first. If a literary is too difficult in terms of vocabulary, grammatical structures and syntax, students would lose their patience soon because they would not be “ able to draw upon that common pool of instinctive language recognition”(Povey,1967: 44). Second is the cultural problem. Povey maintain that “the whole area of cultural comprehension is more likely than language problems to cause difficulty”(1967: 45). Indeed, students may be unfamiliar with some of the cultural assumptions in the literary text and this causes cultural shock which inhibits their active response to the text. In this case, the teacher should help them to overcome difficulties of the text to raise their tolerance for cultural differences. According to Mc Kay’s view, “an interaction with a literary text depends on a reader’s familiarity with the cultural assumptions in it” (1982: 101). Third, important factors which engross students in the text are pleasure and enjoyment. “The teacher should try to see literary works through the eyes of their students to ensure that the works chosen will be of interest to students (Nga,2003: 23) . From above reasons, a question in my mind is “Should folktales be adapted as extra material in the speaking course to motivate first year students at Nghe An junior teacher training college?”. Upon the criteria of choosing a literary text, with the simplicity of language, folktales are not very difficult in terms of linguistic level. Moreover, they are universal. Although it is interesting to compare culturally specific details in folklore from different times and places, one of the most intriguing phenomena in human experience is the similarity in stories with universal themes from all over the world. In addition, they are short, fun, memorable and also meaningful. They present human experience through symbols and archetypes so that there is room for endless debate and students can live in funny, fairy world with their imagination which breaks the boundary between students to create comfortable atmosphere in their class. That is why I desire to carry out an experiment on the use of folktales in speaking class to motivate students with the hope that I could find out a more effective way in creating interesting learning environment in the speaking class. The stories chosen for my study are “Mullah and the party”, “The little Snow White”, “Tam and Cam”. “Mullah and the party” is a short and funny story and the language used is simple. Moreover, humour is a very potent factor to improve the classroom atmosphere because the use of humour helps students feel at ease without tension in the air. “The Little Snow White” and “Tam and Cam” are two famous folktales in Viet Nam, they are considered the “mirror” reflecting the good and the bad. The speaking activities exploited from folktales which are applied in my piloted lessons are drama, role-play, improvisation, discussion and storytelling. Aims and objectives The overall purpose of the study is to investigate the use of folktales in speaking class to motivate first year students of English department at Nghe An junior teacher training college. Specifically, this study will: Identify the attitude of first year students of English department at Nghe An junior teacher training college toward the use of folktales in their speaking lessons Examine how language activities based on folktales motivate first year students in their speaking class at Nghe An junior teacher training college Significance of the study Many researches have shown that literature has many benefits in language teaching skills. In particular, folktales has been adapted in speaking class for young lower level learners. However, this is completely a new field at Nghe An junior teacher training college. This study investigates the use of folktales in speaking class to motivate first year students at Nghe An junior teacher training college, using quantative research to analyse the students’ attitude toward the use of folktales in their speaking class and qualitative research to analyse how speaking activities based on folktales create interesting learning environment to motivate students. Teachers who teach speaking at Nghe An junior teacher training college will be the direct beneficiary of the data and analysis from the study . The study should contribute to the better speaking lessons in terms of active learning climate for first year students at Nghe An junior teacher training college. Research questions In order to achieve the aims of the study the research questions below will be addressed: What is the attitude of first year students of English department at Nghe An junior teacher training college toward the use of folktales in their speaking lessons? How do speaking activities based on folktales create interesting environment to motivate first year students of English department at Nghe An junior teacher training college? Chapter 2 Literature review The chapter reviews a range of literature review related to the study. The literature review is organized into six parts : (1) Definition of motivation, (2) The importance of motivation in second language learning, (3) Types of motivation in second language learning, (4) Literature in language teaching, (5) Literature in teaching language skills , (6) Folktales in teaching speaking. In particular, the first part will review the development of definitions of motivation in second language learning through time from different theories. The second part will discuss the importance of motivation in second language learning. As substantial literature shows that motivation in second language learning has a crucial role in the learners' success . The third part will mention some major types of motivation . Besides two basic types of motivation, integrative and instrumental , extrinsic and intrinsic are also discussed. The fourth part attempts to introduce briefly the historical development of the role of literature in language teaching. The fifth part will explore the importance of adapting literary texts in second language class room to improve language skills. The final part will discuss how folktales are used in second language class room to teach speaking skill. Defining motivation There have been many definitions provided for the word ''motivation'' and they vary according to the context in which they are presented . From general perspective, motivation is related to satisfaction of needs and desire whether it is internal or external to the person. As Zoltan Dornyei states that "motivation explain why people decide to do something, how hard they are going to pursue it and how long they are willing to sustain the activities" (2001:7). In the context of second language learning, the definition of motivation has, over the last few decades, been viewed slight differently by different theories. In the middle of the 20th century, the earliest theory to address motivation perhaps is behaviourism. In the view of behaviourism , motivation is identified as the role of praise and punishment or practice and drill in learning. Therefore, motivation is related to external stimuli and reinforcement. In the 1960s, humanistic theory emphasizes the ' the natural desire' of everyone to learn. They maintain that learners come into the learning process with their own set of basic needs to be gratified. In the 1970s, the social cognition theory proposes reciprocal determination as a primary factor in both learning and motivation. In this view, the environment, an individual's behaviour and the individual's characteristics both influence and are influenced mutually. Currently, the dominant view of the cognitive theory focuses on "how individual's conscious attitudes, beliefs, and interpretation of events influence their behaviour" ( Dornyei, 2001:21). In other words, they attribute motivation to a person's active search for meaning and satisfaction of life. Thus, motivation is internal to the person. In short, different theories have provided us varied views of motivation but they treat motivation as either internal or external drive of human behaviours. Motivation can be either intrinsic or extrinsic, and they both explain for man's action. From the complex nature of motivation, it is unwise to seek the unique definition but when educators discuss learners' motivation, the same concept is usually mentioned: motivation is something which gives an individual the desire to perform some activities. Among definitions for motivation in second language learning, the fullest definition is perhaps as what Gardner presents "motivation refers to the combination of effort plus desire to achieve the goal of learning plus favourable attitudes towards learning the language"( 1985:10) According to him, learners with positive attitudes toward the subject and high motivation are likely to be successful in second language learning. The importance of motivation in second language learning Language learning is remarkably different from other kinds of learning because of its social nature. Learning a foreign language means living in a new world of knowledge, culture and values and learners have to learn to be another social person. This requires a long and difficult process. In order to be successful, a language learner needs motivation to continue his/her learning. Obviously, meaningful involvement in language learning happens only when learners find their needs to be met. Thus it is assumed that motivation contributes a lot to one's success in learning a second or foreign language. Findings of a great deal of research on the role of motivation in second language learning have been revealed that motivation is one of the major factors contributing to one's success in learning a second language. Gardner (1995) stated that greater motivation and attitude lead to better learning. In other words, learners who achieve success tend to persevere motivation and those who do not get success become discouraged and gain less success. To explore the relationship between motivation, Labonde (1982) claimed that motivation is one of important factors which help to determine the level of proficiency achieve by different learners and the most successful learners will be those who have both talent and a high level of motivation for learning. With regard to Caroll (1962), if learners have more motivation, they will spend more time and energy on learning an aspect of a second language. More importantly, students' motivation also promotes their choice of learning strategies and research has shown that the use of specific learning strategies and techniques while studying a second or foreign language leads to success. Types of motivation in second language learning * Integrative motivation: The concept of integrative motivation was first introduced by Gardner ( 1959) to refer to the desire of assimilating oneself to the target culture while learning the language . This kind of motivation is considered a key component in assisting learners to develop some level of proficiency in second language when they become residents in the community in which the target language is used in social interactions. In 1974, Gardner and Lambert modified the definition that " an integrative motivation involves an interest in learning a second language because of a sincere and personal interest in the people and culture represented by the other language groups”. In other words, with integrative motivation, language learners view language as a key to social and cultural enrichment through the opportunities it provides for association with members of a different culture. According to them, integrative motivation was a key factor for success in language learning. Unless learners have a positive attitude toward the target culture and want to integrate into it, it is unlikely that they will succeed with the language. * Instrumental motivation: In contrast with integrative motivation was instrumental motivation. In the view of Gardner(1959), instrumentally motivated learners are more likely to see language learning as enabling them to do other useful things, but as having no special significance in itself. Such learners will be motivated if they see language learning as having beneficial career prospects or something that will enable them to use transactional language with speakers of the foreign language. In other words, with instrumental motivation, language learners may learn a second language for an immediate short term goal, e.g.: future career, job promotion, good grades or rewards. With this kind of motivation, the purpose of second language acquisition is more utilitarian. Replicating Gardner and La