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CHALLENGES IN STUDYING ENGLISH SPEAKING SKILLS ENCOUNTERED BY FOURTH YEAR ENGLISH MAJORS AT THUONGMAI UNIVERSITY

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  • CHALLENGES IN STUDYING ENGLISH SPEAKING SKILLS ENCOUNTERED BY FOURTH YEAR ENGLISH MAJORS AT THUONGMAI UNIVERSITY

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THUONGMAI UNIVERSITY ENGLISH DEPARTMENT - - GRADUATION PAPER CHALLENGES IN STUDYING ENGLISH SPEAKING SKILLS ENCOUNTERED BY FOURTH-YEAR ENGLISH MAJORS AT THUONGMAI UNIVERSITY Supervisor : Mrs Hoang Thu Ba, M.A Student : Nguyen Dinh Bach Class : K54N4 Student’s code : 18D170154 ABSTRACT Nowadays, English has become one of the most common languages for nonEnglish as well as native English speakers all over the world In the integration trend, English has become an indispensable tool in human communication and business Not an exception in the whirlwind of that era, Viet Nam was increasingly developing and prevailing in the English language as an essential requirement It is not only used in English-speaking countries but also internationally used in many countries including Vietnam In the era of globalization, English has become an essential tool in strengthening trade and culture exchange in many countries It plays an indispensable role in every aspect of life to help English speakers keep up with the advances in science and technology and globalization trends Speaking English is not only considered one of the most important skills in communication as well as interaction with people in our lives, but also it has the greatest impact on learners However, there are not many people are aware of this importance They are many students in universities, colleges,…who are supposed to be aware of how important speaking English skills is in the future job and their life as well The reason is they find it difficult to study and master this particular ability The purpose of this study is to discover challenges in studying English skills of students in the class in the university, particularly fourth-year English major students at Thuong Mai university After discovering the reasons behind these challenges, I will mention some methods to encourage students to overcome challenges in studying English speaking skills in the class i ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS First and foremost, I would like to show my gratitude to my supervisor, Mrs Hoang Thu Ba who helped me very much in the process of completing this graduation paper Without her assistance and encouragement, I could not have finished this graduation paper Also, I also would like to express my sincere thanks to the teachers at the English faculty of Thuongmai University who have taught me interesting and priceless lectures that have helped me build a firm foundation so that I could fulfill this graduation paper Last but not least, I would like to thank all the authors of the materials listed below for helping me to complete this research Due to the limited research, obstacles of the covid-19 epidemic as well as limited skills, the research may contain some mistakes I look forward to receiving comments and suggestions in order to perfect my graduation paper ii TABLE OF CONTENTS ABSTRACT i ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS ii TABLE OF CONTENTS iii LIST OF CHARTS, TABLES, AND FIGURES v LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS vi CHAPTER 1: OVERVIEW OF STUDY 1.1 Rationale 1.2 Previous studies 1.2.1 From domestic researchers 1.2.2 From foreign researchers 1.3 Aims of the study 1.4 Research subjects 1.5 Scope of the study 1.6 Research methodology 1.6.1 Research instrument 1.6.2 Collecting data process 1.7 Organization of the study CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE REVIEW 2.1 Overview of speaking skills 2.2 Errors in speaking process 2.3 Challenges in studying speaking skills 10 2.4 Factors affect studying English speaking skills 14 iii 2.5 Summary 18 CHAPTER 3: FINDINGS AND DISCUSSION 3.1 Findings from questionnaire 19 19 3.1.1 The reality of using speaking skills of fourth-year English majors at Thuongmai University 19 3.1.2 Challenges in studying English speaking skills encountered by fourth-year English majors at Thuongmai University 25 3.1.3 Solutions to improve studying English speaking skills 29 3.2 Discussion 31 CHAPTER 4: RECOMMENDATIONS AND SUGGESTIONS 4.1 Suggestions 33 33 4.1.1 For students 33 4.1.2 For teachers 36 4.2 Limitation of the study 38 4.3 Recommendations for further study 38 CONCLUSION REFERENCES APPENDIX iv LIST OF CHARTS, TABLES, AND FIGURES Chart 3.1: Learning English year of students – P.g 19 Chart 3.2: Students’ attitudes towards English skills – P.g 20 Chart 3.3: Students’ opinions towards the importance of speaking skills – P.g 22 Chart 3.4: Places to speak English – P.g 23 Chart 3.5: Students’ self-assessment about their English proficiency – P.g 24 Chart 3.6: Time spent on studying English speaking skills – P.g 25 Chart 3.7: Challenges in studying English speaking skills – P.g 26 Chart 3.8: Challenges in studying English speaking skills – P.g 27 Table 3.9: Challenges in studying English speaking skills – P.g 28 Table 3.10: Students’ methods to study English speaking skills effectively – P.g 30 Table 3.11: Teaching methods lecturers should use – P.g 31 v LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS TMU: Thuongmai university HOU: HANOI OPEN UNIVERSITY ANU: Ajloun National University IT: Information Technology TOEIC: Test of English for International Communication IELTS: International English Language Testing System vi CHAPTER 1: OVERVIEW OF STUDY 1.1 Rationale These days, the English language plays an essential role in our lives and other aspects of the world such as jobs, foreign relations,…Therefore, English has become one of the most common languages in many countries including Vietnam It is the key to opening a new door to connect with everyone all over the world Additionally, almost all knowledge of humankind is written in English, so learning English will help people have opportunities to approach new cultures and knowledge It is a powerful tool in human communication and worldwide data sharing Therefore, English has become more and more important for students to study nowadays However, English is not considered as a simple language as people think it should be, especially speaking skills There still exist many challenges in studying speaking skills encountered by English learners in Vietnam in general and fourth-year English majors at Thuongmai university in particular Many people state that they have spent so many years studying the English language but cannot speak it appropriately and understandably Moreover, many of them can write and read English well, speaking fluently and properly is almost impossible As a result, speaking English skills has so far become one of the problems faced by many English language learners in general and fourth-year English majors at Thuongmai university in particular Moreover, some students not know how to improve and overcome these challenges Therefore, this study focused on discovering the challenges in studying English speaking skills encountered by fourth-year English majors at Thuongmai university After observing them encounter those problems, I would find out solutions in teaching and studying methodologies to improve the quality of the learning of speaking skills 1.2 Previous studies 1.2.1 From domestic researchers The researcher names Nguyen Ngoc Thien studying by interview and questionnaire survey on “Difficulties in studying and acquiring English speaking skills for the first year English majored students at Thuongmai university” (2020) The aims of the study were to evaluate the students’ English proficiency through questionnaire surveys and interviews, acknowledge what the difficulties are based on the results of the survey and the reasons why such obstacles exist, and then suggest some solutions to improve their speaking skills From the interview, the researcher showed self-evaluation regarding their English proficiency and the hardship that participants had to overcome From the questionnaire, the study pointed out the important aspects of English in general and speaking in particular; frequency and time spent on English speaking skills; places to speak English regularly; sources to learn English speaking skills; students’ opinions of the most difficult parts when speaking in English The researcher used both an interview and questionnaire survey to conduct this study, so it covered fairly many aspects of the study However, in the interview survey, the author didn’t cover many aspects of difficulties related to lecturers’ teaching methods The study was carried out by a closed-ended questionnaire on “The difficulties in learning speaking skills encountered by the first-year English major students at Ho Chi Minh city university” (2016) by Pham Thuy Duong The aims of the study were to identify the obstacles the first-year English students at HOU encountered when learning to speak and suggest ways of overcoming them in order to enhance the quality of learning and teaching speaking skills At the end of the study, the researcher showed the importance of speaking skills; difficulties encountered during the speaking process; factors in English speaking skills are difficult; and how grammar affected students when speaking English However, this study wasn’t carried out by an interview survey And the study only included closed-ended questionnaires Therefore, the researcher couldn’t cover many aspects of the difficulties in learning speaking skills encountered by the first-year English major students at HOU A group of researchers including Nga Thi Tuyet Phan and Thanh Truc Dang studying by quantitative research – questionnaires on “Challenges in speaking skills of students at B English center” (2020) The research aimed to answer three questions “What are the challenges facing students’ English speaking skills at B English center?”, “What causes these challenges?” and “How these challenges affect student’s English speaking skills?” The researcher found speaking communication challenges such as pronouncing troubles, listening troubles, grammatical troubles, vocabulary problems, expressing a complex idea/problem, and Difficulties in giving a question However, to carry out this research, there were only 40 participants,17 males and 23 females completing a survey in my research Students were at the ages from 13 to 15 Additionally, the researcher didn’t conduct the interview survey but used only questionnaires Therefore, the study didn’t have a diverse answer to discover as many difficulties as possible 1.2.2 From foreign researchers Abdel-Rahman AlEiadeh (2016) used interview methodology to research the topic “Improving English language speaking skills of Ajloun National University students” The author aimed to enhance the oral communication skills (conversations) of ANU students The sample of the study consisted of 20 students (12 female students and male students) all of them studying the English language, the majority of the sample were seniors and juniors students, while freshmen were minority students The researchers used a random sample method To achieve the objectives of the present study, the researchers used the semi-structured interview as an instrument for data collection The results of this study revealed that the students of ANU face many problems related to speaking skills, such as confusion and embarrassment Students did not learn speaking lessons correctly at school and faced difficulty in pronouncing some words The results also showed that the most frequent problems were the limited amount according to table 3.9, there are many students who agree that they don’t have many opportunities to speak to foreign teachers It may be understood that the opportunities for fourth-year English majors to practice speaking English outside the classroom are less than those inside classrooms Because many students have part-time jobs which are not related to their English major, they can not use their English at workplace In short, fourth-year English majors at TMU should use the appropriate studying language methods more consciously, purposefully, and frequently to be more successful in developing their speaking skills In fact, the students may encounter different challenges, and if they only possess a limited range of speaking methods, they fail to sustain their simple communication Besides, lecturers also should use appropriate methods in teaching to help students overcome those challenges in studying the speaking skills process 32 CHAPTER 4: RECOMMENDATIONS AND SUGGESTIONS 4.1 Suggestions 4.1.1 For students 4.1.1.1 Being self–confident Confidence is the key to or study anything effectively including English speaking skills Actually, a majority of students speak English badly not because they have limited sources of vocabulary or knowledge The reason is they are afraid of making mistakes, criticism, or appearing foolish That will destroy students’ fluency in speaking English Students should understand that no one was born to be perfect and everyone used to make mistakes Therefore, they should be encouraged to speak no matter how many mistakes they could possibly make Learning from mistakes and rectifying them is the best way to improve speaking skills However, building confidence will take time, patience, and a lot of effort But once students overcome those challenges, they will master English speaking skills Another way to be more self–confident is that students should start to believe in themselves According to Jennings Bryan (1989) said “The way to develop self– confidence is to the thing you fear and get a record of successful experiences behind you” Therefore, when students believe they can speak English well and study hard, they absolutely can it 4.1.1.2 Speaking more and more Because the fourth year students are very busy, they don’t have much time to study speaking skills However, if they are not good at speaking skills, they should practice speaking more and more Speaking to native people is one of the fastest ways to improve students’ intonation, pronunciation, and so on The fourth-year English majors should find a part-time job such as a tour guide so that they can develop their language skills and cultural 33 knowledge In the conversation, students and foreigners interchange their life experiences and information, in that way, students can understand more about the natives’ culture or get the consultancies if their way of expression is suitable to the foreigners’ way of speaking Speaking to themselves is also a great way to improve speaking skills There are many materials on the internet that can help them self study such as e-books, movies, music,… They can learn by themselves by repeating the words in books, imitating the accents of speakers in movies, or singing English songs,… That is also the way to have good pronunciation Because pronunciation is a set of habits of producing sounds The habit of producing a sound is acquired by repeating it over and over again Learning to pronounce a second language means building up new pronunciation habits and overcoming the bias of the first language Therefore, it needs to be seriously considered and practiced regularly by learners to reach the level that speakers can interest listeners by their pronunciation 4.1.1.3 Enlarging vocabulary If the student wants to speak naturally, there is no other way but to have an abundant source of vocabulary It is a vital aspect of language because it appears in every skill of language: listening, speaking, reading, and writing Learning vocabulary through materials by reading a sentence or a text consisting of new words And then students should try to guess its meaning and finally look it up in a dictionary These new words should be written in a notebook and revised before the students begin a new text with new words and structures Besides, listening to some reliable sources such as BBC, VOA, TED,… is also a useful way of learning vocabulary Anytime students listen to a word that they don’t know or recognize, they should write it down and look it up in the dictionary By doing that, they will learn new words and can remember them 34 Another way to enlarge vocabulary is learning new words as a routine By learning 10 or 20 or 40 new words, phrases, and structures each day, and making sentences with these new words, the vocabulary of students will remarkably be increased 4.1.1.4 “Teamwork makes the dream work” Working in groups brings many benefits to students such as increased productivity and performance Actually, groups that work well together can achieve much more than individuals working on their own A broader range of skills can be applied to practical activities and sharing and discussing ideas can play a pivotal role in deepening students' understanding of a particular subject area Moreover, skills development being part of a team will help students develop their interpersonal skills such as speaking and listening as well as team working skills such as leadership Besides, working in pairs is also an effective way to study English speaking skills Pair work brings the fourth-year English majors the chance to talk to their partner freely, comfortably, and confidently as he or she only speaks to one person, the strangeness and timidity will disappear and be replaced by free communication and mutual understanding 4.1.1.5 Improving grammar Fourth-year English majors at Thuongmai university are supposed to be good at English, but there are still many of them having grammar mistakes in English It is a fact that speaking will become more effective and natural if students know how to use grammar properly Every day, they should spend at least 30 minutes reading the sentences with correct grammar rules After that, they can speak with correct sentence grammar without looking at them Additionally, students can learn grammar through reading and then take notes of some grammar by writing down some common structures used in spoken language Watching movies is also a practical way to remember and broaden the source of grammatical structures Gradually, students can use correct 35 grammar to speak and create the habit of choosing the best grammar structures for uttering instead of the not-sound-good ones with grammatical mistakes 4.1.1.6 Surrounding with English language Another way to improve English speaking skills is to immerse in English as much as possible Watch movies or TV in English, with subtitles if students need them, and watch the same programs over and over Most people find that they understand more each time Listening helps them become familiar with the rhythms and intonations of English Once the sounds are familiar, try imitating them 4.1.2 For teachers 4.1.2.1 Let students speak English more It is important to create opportunities for students to speak English They will be active, talkative, collaborative, and creative while teachers are observing and listening to them In any discussion, teachers should encourage students to share their ideas and personal thoughts with others According to Harmer (2001:272) discussion range is divided into several stages from highly formal, whole-group staged events to informal small-group interactions Inviting students to stand on the board to speak their own thoughts or debate the topics with others, this way will reduce their fear of speaking in front of their classmates Moreover, students will have opportunities to find and correct their own mistakes immediately Learning from the root causes and sources of their motivation is a good way to learn to speak English Additionally, teachers should create an atmosphere where they feel free to speak in front of the crowd While they are speaking, teachers shouldn’t interfere and let them interact with each other and speak out their ideas 4.1.2.2 Create interesting activities Activities are designed to provoke communication between students and also help them enjoy the lessons Those activities are made based on the principle of the 36 information related to lessons so that one student can talk to another partner in order to solve a puzzle, draw a picture, put a thing in the right order, or find similarities and differences between pictures Many students think that having interesting activities in the class is a good way to stimulate their passion and motivation For example, they use simulation and role-play activities when they teach expressions Teachers can ask them to write some dialogues and after that, they have to act them out in front of the class Building up more speaking activities: role-play, presentation, storytelling, brainstorming,…The teachers should give a topic for debate or presentation and assign contrasting viewpoints to individuals or groups Students can gain many benefits from debating and presenting activities through practical communications Besides, they can conduct the interview on selected topics with various people by preparing their own interview questions Conducting interviews with people gives students a chance to practice their speaking ability not only in class but also outside and helps them become socialized For example, students are expected to predict the content of a reading text or talk about their reactions after reading the text The second is instant comments which can train students to respond fluently and immediately to insert ‘instant comment’ mini activities into lessons This involves showing them photographs or introducing topics at any stage of a lesson and nominating students to say the first thing that comes into their heads The last is formal debates Students prepare arguments in favor or against various propositions The debate will be started when those who are appointed as ‘panel speakers’ produce well-rehearsed “writing like” arguments whereas others, the audience, pitch in as the debate progresses with their own thoughts on the subject 4.1.2.3 Apply innovative teaching methods Instead of telling the students to read textbooks or scripted conversations, and have them learn by heart then present it in front of the whole class, teachers can set up a competition, which includes certain rewards between different groups to see who’s able 37 to give their fastest and most accurate answers by asking them specific questions relevant to the subject that their teachers are trying to aim at Teachers can also use technology to assist them, by showing new words along with pictures on the screen or letting them watch a short animated video containing a number of new words, which can help them remember longer Students can be provided with specific topics to discuss as well, then teachers shall call a few students to listen to how the students present their opinions and provide some comments for the students to take note of 4.2 Limitation of the study Due to the limited research, obstacles of the covid-19 epidemic as well as limited skills, the research may contain some mistakes In the limited time and lack of sources, findings, suggesting solutions, and recommendations for both students and teachers to study and teach English still exist some shortcomings Specifically, the author couldn’t conduct the interview in class as usual which can collect the answers more clearly and conveniently In the questionnaire, the author couldn’t give it to all English majors in the English Faculty at Thuongmai University to collect the diverse answers So, the findings and solutions of the study can not cover all aspects of challenges in studying English speaking skills encountered by fourth-year English majors at Thuongmai University Hopefully, this study will provide some helpful solutions to improve English speaking skills for fourth-year English majors at TMU in particular and English learners in general 4.3 Recommendations for further study Due to the limitation, this graduation paper can not cover every aspect of the study, since it only aims at the challenges in studying English speaking skills encountered by fourth-year English majors at Thuongmai University In order to get a better outcome, 38 the data, as well as participants, should be more diverse to contribute to the effectiveness of the research by using both quantitative and qualitative methods at the same time Besides, the author recommends that other researchers should conduct the study on as many students as possible Using other methodologies in order to collect many results and cover all aspects of the research 39 CONCLUSION It is undeniable that English is of significant value in our life Studying speaking English skills is an urgent need for everyone However, there are still many challenges in studying English speaking skills encountered by Vietnamese students in general and fourth-year English majors at Thuongmai University in particular Hopefully, finding out the ways to improve studying speaking skills for fourth-year English majors at TMU, I carried out this study This graduation paper researched challenges in studying English speaking skills encountered by fourth-year English majors at Thuongmai University Specifically, the author has introduced the overview of the study and theories related to speaking skills After that, research was carried out on 150 fourth-year English majors at TMU through a questionnaire survey to find out the reality of using speaking skills and the challenges in studying English speaking skills And then suggesting some solutions to help them overcome those challenges Due to limited time and knowledge, mistakes are certainly unavoidable in the study Additionally, this is the first time that the author has conducted research, so there are still many limitations on qualifications as well as research tools and materials Therefore, comments, suggestions, and encouragement to better the research paper are highly appreciated Hopefully, this graduation paper will make a contribution to the quality improvements of teaching and studying English speaking skills at TMU REFERENCES Foreign documents: Abdel-Rahman Al- Eiadeh (2016), Improving English Language Speaking Skills of Ajloun National University Students Burns, A., & Joyce, H (1997) Focus on Speaking Sydney: National Center for English Language Teaching and Research Brown, G., & Yule, G (1983), Discourse analysis Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press Doff, A (1998) Teach English: A Training Course for Teacher Cambridge University Press Efrizal, D (2012) Improving Students’ Speaking through Communicative Language Teaching Method at MtsJaalhaq, Sentot Ali Basa Islamic Boarding School of Bengkulu, Indonesia International Journal of Humanities and Social Science, 2(20), 127-134 Krashen (1982) Principles and Practice in Second Language Acquisition, New York: Pergamon Press Jason S Wrench, Anne Goding, Danette Ifert Johnson, and Bernardo A Attias (2011), Chapter 14, Section 14.1, Stand up, Speak out: The Practice and Ethics of Public Speaking Parupalli Srinivals Rao (2018), Alford Council of International English & Literature Journal Oxford, R L (1990) Language learning strategies: What every teacher should know New York: Newbury House Shumin (1997) Factors to consider: Developing adult EFL learners’ speaking abilities Teaching Forum Domestic documents: Nguyen Ngoc Thien (2020), Difficulties in studying and acquiring English speaking skills for the first year English majored students at Thuongmai university Tran Quoc Thao, Dang Thi Nhu Nguyet (2019), Four aspects of English speaking difficulties encountered by tertiary English-majored students Nga Thi Tuyet Phan, Thanh Truc Dang (2020), Challenges in speaking skills of students at B English center Nguyen Thi Thuy (2020), Strategies of learning speaking skills by second-year English majors at Thuongmai University Pham Thuy Duong (2016), The difficulties in learning speaking skills encountered by the first-year English major students at HOU APPENDIX QUESTIONNAIRE SURVEY Challenges in studying English speaking skills encountered by fourth-year English majors at Thuongmai University Hi guys! I am a senior year student of the English Faculty at Thuongmai University I am carrying out a study on the topic "Challenges in studying English speaking skills encountered by fourth-year English majors at Thuongmai University" Hopefully, you can spend a little time fulfilling this questionnaire which was designed for my paper Your help will be a great contribution to my data collection All your information will be secured Thanks for your time! The reality of using speaking skills of fourth-year English majors at Thuongmai University Question 1: How long have you learned English? ………………………………………………… Question 2: In your point of view, which English skill is the most important? O Writing skills O Speaking skills O Reading skills O Listening skills Question 3: How is English speaking important to you? O Very important O Fairly important O A little important O Not important Question 4: Where you often speak English? O At classroom O At workplace O Where there are foreigners Question 5: How you assess your English speaking ability? O Poor O Fair O Good O Excellent Question 6: How much time you spend studying speaking skills? O Less than hour a day O – hours a day O More than hours a day Challenges in studying English speaking skills encountered by fourth-year English majors at Thuongmai University Question 7: Challenges that you encountered in studying speaking skills process related to internal factors Never Lack of vocabulary Grammar mistakes Bad listening ability Mispronunciation Lack of knowledge related to topic spoken Rarely Sometimes Usually Psychological factors such as unconfident or fear Difficulty in expressing idea Question 8: Challenges that you encountered in studying speaking skills process related to external factors Agree Disagree Don’t have many opportunities to speak to foreign teachers Teaching methods are inappropriate or boring Lecturers don’t correct students’ mistakes Lecturers use mother tongue while teaching Classrooms are overcrowded Can not cooperate with classmates in speaking class Better students dominate the class so you have no chance to speak Solutions to improve studying English speaking skills Question 9: Which methods you often use in order to study English speaking skills effectively?  Learn at English centers  Join English speaking club  Speak with native speakers  Well prepare for the topic  Improve grammar, pronunciation, vocabulary  Read news, books, magazines in English  Practice with teachers and friends everyday  Watch videos in English  Imitate how actors/actresses say in movies  Others Question 10: In your opinion, which teaching methods lecturers should use?  Be willing to answer any students’ questions  Only use English to teach  Act from scripts prepared before  Apply interesting activities in teaching process  Encourage students to discuss the topic  Others ... using speaking skills of fourth- year English majors at Thuongmai University 19 3.1.2 Challenges in studying English speaking skills encountered by fourth- year English majors at Thuongmai University. .. fourth- year English majors at Thuongmai University And then, the author would aim at finding challenges in studying English speaking skills encountered by fourth- year English majors at Thuongmai University. .. Challenges in studying English speaking skills encountered by fourth- year English majors at Thuongmai University Question 7: Challenges that you encountered in studying speaking skills process related
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