Using Communicative Activities to Improve Speaking Skill of the fifth grade EFL Students at Dong La Primary
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CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION
1.1. Rationale for the study
In the context of globalization, English is one of the most wildly used languages in the world. It has been regarded as a global language that people around the world use for communicating, cooperating and developing the world together. In Vietnam, in recent years, English has gained considerable attention. For its importance, English has been made one of the compulsory subjects taught in primary schools throughout the country, and children now start learning English when they are at grade three.
In order to enhance English language teaching and learning English in Vietnam and improve the application of Communicative Language Teaching in primary school, the Ministry of Education and Training (MOET) has designed and promulgated a new English curriculum Framework which focuses on communication and student centeredness. Accordingly, students are expected to engage with each other in meaningful interaction and negotiation of meaning within a specific context.
Like other Primary Schools in Viet Nam, the teaching and learning English in Dong La Primary School is following the curriculum of Ministry of Education and Training and the textbook English 5 is used as the main material for the fifth grade students. The book is structured in 20 units and designed with various learning tasks, the purpose of which is to set up communicative situations for students to practice English language.
However, the results are still far from satisfactoriness, most of students at Dong La Primary School cannot make communication actively with others due to the lack of mastering the aspects: fluency, pronunciation, grammar and vocabulary. In reality, in language teaching and learning class, students rarely answer the question in English or they speak with a lot of pauses. They also get difficulties in finding the appropriate words to create sentences or expression. During communicative class work, many students are reluctant to use English productively as they are afraid of making mistake in front of the class and being criticized by their partners. These problems are partly affected by teaching methods. Teachers have not made full use of good communicative activities for teaching in class. For many years, language teachers have kept teaching speaking just as a repetition of drills or memorization of dialogues. Moreover, the traditional teaching approach which focuses on reading and writing skills is still the dominance in class due to the strong wash back effect of examinations, in which only written tests are used to assess grammatical and vocabulary accuracy. As a result, speaking skill has not been emphasized, students do not have enough chance to interact with each other in English in class or in other words, they have not had the environment to speak English yet, so their language communicative abilities are not improved as expected and learners gradually lose interest in speaking lessons.
Hadfiels (1999, p.7) says that speaking is a kind of bridge for learners between classroom and the world outside. In order to build the bridge, in the speaking activities, the teacher must give them practice opportunity for purposeful communication in meaningful situation. It means learning to speak in a second language will be facilitated when learners are actively engaged in attempting to communicate. Thus the teacher must give the learners practice to actualize their speaking skill. By mastering speaking, they can carry out conversation with others, give ideas and exchange the information with interlocutors.
Actually, Communicative activities are the most effective technique which offers students chance to practice communicating with each other in class and helps students develop their communicative competence. The effectiveness of Communicative Activities in improving students’ speaking has been demonstrated by a number of researchers. Ho ( 2004) proved that the most common understandings of the communicative approach is that it provides teachers communicative activities to their repertoire of teaching skills and give learners the opportunity to practice language skills in class ( Ho, 2004, cited in Littlewood, 2007). Oradee (2012) also proved in his research that communicative activities not only upgraded significantly speaking abilities of students but also improved their attitudes towards learning speaking skill. Additionally, communicative activities can activate the learners and encourage a supportive environment for language learning and teaching .
Improving the quality of teaching speaking skill for of the fifth grade EFL Students at Dong La Primary is the main focus in English class for several years. However, the Grammar – Translation is still the mainly used method at Dong La Primary. Teachers usually teach grammar rather than skills. Teaching grammar is only to meet students’ demand at that time. After tests and exams, students are not able to use English they have learnt for a long time for the purpose of communication. They cannot speak English even in a daily conversation. Moreover, generally, the students are not interested in doing speaking tasks that are given the textbooks. Also, they are not aware of whether these tasks are effective for them or not. Nevertheless, they express their desire for some types of communicative activities that they have chances to work with.
Basing on those reasons, the researcher intends to carry out a quasi- experimental research study entitled “Using Communicative Activities to Improve Speaking Skill of the fifth grade EFL Students at Dong La Primary” with the aim to investigate whether the Communicative Activities have positive effects on the speaking skill of the 5th graders at her school by comparing with the traditional teaching method.
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1.2. Objectives of the study
The study aimed at:
1. Investigating the effectiveness of using Communicative Activities on the fifth grade students’ speaking skill in Dong La Primary School.
2. Examining students’ attitudes towards the use of Communicative Activities.
1.3. Research questions
In order to fulfill the objectives, the study has been carried out to find out the answers to the following questions:
1. To what extent do Communicative Activities improve the fifth grade students’ speaking skill?
2. What are students’ attitudes towards the use of Communicative Activities in speaking lessons?
1.4. Significance of the study
The findings from this study may be a meaningful contribution for EFL teachers in understanding that Communicative Activities can be a good alternative strategy for teaching students in speaking classes. EFL students are expected to be better in English, especially in speaking skill and have positive attitudes towards speaking activities after the use of Communicative Activities in their class.
1.5. The scope of the study
Due to the time limit and other conditions, this study only focuses on the implication of some communicative activities in speaking lessons of 5th grade students at Dong La Primary School.
1.6. The structure of the thesis
The thesis is dived into five chapters: Introduction, literature review, methodology, Analysis and Discussion, and conclusion.
Chapter 1: Introduction includes rationale of the study, objectives of the thesis, research questions, significance of the study, scope of the study, and structure of the thesis.
Chapter 2: Literature Review provides the basis concepts of speaking skill, Communicative Language Teaching, Communicative Activities, Teaching English to Children, Attitude and related studies.
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