Factors that affect the English language teaching-learning process in Ecuadorian public high schools.

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UNIVERSIDAD TÉCNICA PARTICULAR DE LOJA

La Universidad Católica de Loja

AREA SOCIOHUMANISTICA

TÍTULO DE LICENCIADO EN CIENCIAS DE LA EDUCACIÓN

MENCIÓN INGLES

Factors that affect the English language teaching-learning process in

Ecuadorian public high schools.

TRABAJO DE TITULACIÓN.

AUTOR: Vázquez Ortíz, Wazhington Oswaldo

DIRECTORA: Benítez Correa, Carmen Delia, Dra.

CENTRO UNIVERSITARIO AZOGUES

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APROBACIÓN DEL DIRECTOR DEL TRABAJO DE TITULACIÓN

Doctora.

Carmen Delia Benítez Correa.

DOCENTE DE LA TITULACIÓN

De mi consideración:

El presente trabajo de titulación: Factors that affect the English language

teaching-learning process in Ecuadorian public high schools, realizado por Vázquez

Ortíz Wazhington Oswaldo, ha sido orientado y revisado durante su ejecución, por

cuanto se aprueba la presentación del mismo.

Loja, Noviembredel 2015

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DECLARACION DE AUTORIA Y CESIÓN DE DERECHOS

“Yo, Vázquez Ortíz Wazhington Oswaldo declaro ser autor(a) del presente

trabajo de titulación: Factors that affect the English language teaching-learning process

in Ecuadorian public high schools de la Titulación de Ciencias de la Educación mención

Ingles, siendo la Dra. Carmen Delia Benítez Correa director (a) del presente trabajo; y

eximo expresamente a la Universidad Técnica Particular de Loja y a sus representantes

legales de posibles reclamos o acciones legales. Además certifico que las ideas,

conceptos, procedimiento y resultados vertidos en el presente trabajo investigativo, son

de mi exclusiva responsabilidad.

Adicionalmente declaro conocer y aceptar la disposición del Art. 88 del Estatuto

Orgánico de la Universidad Técnica Particular de Loja que en su parte pertinente

textualmente dice: “Forman parte del patrimonio de la Universidad la propiedad

intelectual de investigaciones, trabajos científicos o técnicos y tesis de grado que se

realicen a través, o con el apoyo financiero, académico o institucional (operativo) de la

Universidad”.

f. ...

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DEDICATION

I dedicate this research to my parents and specially

to my mother, Dra. Lucrecia Ortíz for her support and knowledge,

to my father , Oswaldo Vázquez S., for his motivation,

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ACKNOWLEDGMENT

The process to complete this investigation was hard and sacrificed, but with the

guidance and support of my teacher advisor, Dr. Carmen Benitez Correa, this research

was finished in the best way. I recognize her work and dedication in order to give me all

the academic assistance needed and make of this research a good source for future

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vi CONTENTS

APROBACIÓN DEL DIRECTOR DEL TRABAJO DE TITULACIÓN... ... ... ii

DECLARACION DE AUTORIA Y CESIÓN DE DERECHOS ... iii

DEDICATION ... iv

ACKNOWLEDGMENT ... v

CONTENTS ... vi

ABSTRACT ... 1

RESUMEN ... 2

INTRODUCTION ... 3

METHOD ... 5

DISCUSSION ... 7

Literature Review ... 7

Description, Analysis, and Interpretation of Results... 20

Conclusions ... 49

Recommendations ... 50

REFERENCES ... 51

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ABSTRACT

This research work intends to explain the factors that affect the English language

teaching-learning process in public high schools in the city of Azogues, Ecuador; the

study was done in five different high schools.

To gather the data, a questionnaire of 20 questions was applied to English

teachers. It contained questions related to the level of education, teaching methods,

types of classroom activities among others. In order to corroborate the data, an

observation format was used for registering class observations; teachers were also

interviewed. Additionally, a student from each class was questioned. Finally, the results

were processed, analyzed, and discussed quantitatively and qualitatively.

After the results were analyzed, it was noticed that one of the factors affecting

the teaching- learning process is the lack of motivation of students, and the low

attraction to the English language learning. The number of students is also another

factor that affects the quality of English in the language teaching learning process.

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RESUMEN

Este trabajo de investigación está dirigido a explicar los factores que afectan el

proceso de enseñanza-aprendizaje del idioma Inglés en las instituciones secundarias

públicas de la ciudad de Azogues; el estudio se realizó en cinco diferentes instituciones

secundarias.

Para recopilar los datos, se aplicó un cuestionario de 20 preguntas a los

profesores de inglés. Los cuestionarios contienen preguntas relacionadas con el nivel de

educación, métodos de enseñanza, tipos de actividades en el aula, entre otros. Con el fin

de corroborar los datos, se utilizó un formato de observación para registrar la

información de las observaciones de clase. Además se entrevistó a los maestros acerca

de esto. Un estudiante de cada clase también fue entrevistado. Por último, los datos

fueron procesados y luego analizados y discutidos cuantitativa y cualitativamente.

Después de analizados los resultados se observó que uno de los factores que

afecta el proceso de enseñanza-aprendizaje es la falta de motivación y la baja atracción

al aprendizaje del idioma Inglés. El número de estudiantes es otro factor que afecta la

calidad de la enseñanza del Inglés en el proceso de enseñanza-aprendizaje de Idiomas.

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INTRODUCTION

Nowadays, professionals and students with a high academic level of the English

language are required because English is one of the most spoken languages in the world

and so many of the researches in any subject are conducted in this language. However,

the importance of English has not been taken into a great consideration during the last

century in Ecuador; for this reason the level of English in most students from public

institutions is very low.

Due to its importance, English teaching needs professionals who can contribute

to the correct learning of the language. English teachers need sufficient knowledge to

understand the language and communicate accurately in order to students do not leave

their high schools with little or no English knowledge. This problem was been observed

for many years, to restricting the professional goals of students, because they cannot get

international scholarships, apply for immersion programs, etc., due to their low level of

English.

That is the reason why I decided to research on the topic “Factors that affect the

English language teaching-learning process in Ecuadorian public high schools.” with

the objective of determining teachers’ instructional competence, identify the

characteristics of in-service English teachers and find out the classroom conditions in

which English lessons take place

The present research will aim to find the causes that affect the teaching-learning

process. There are some other research’s conducted with the same objective. One of

them is the one interesting research was done by Khamkhien in 2010 which purpose

was to determine how gender, motivation and experience in studying English affect the

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the pattern of language learning strategy used by Thai and Vietnamese students. This

research presented some limitations like the small group of students taken into

consideration for the study, the different nationalities and the weakness of the technique

used to find language learning strategies.

Another study is the one done by Robertson P., who in 2011 conducted a

research in Japanese and Korean secondary schools which explored teachers’

competence in the target language and in language teaching, cultural and personal traits,

teaching styles, and the classroom atmosphere the teachers establish. This study was

limited because only two schools were analyzed and it does not give enough data to

generalize to other schools.

Finally, Aduwa-Ogiegbaen in 2006, examined the factors responsible for the

poor quality of the teaching of English as a second language in public secondary

schools in Nigeria. The study indicated that a serious disconnection exists between

university training and the needs of the labor market. It has been socially costly to the

country.

This study is a contribution to all the people related to the teaching of English

language in our country. For instance, educational institutions are benefited from this

research because they can correct teaching problems through specific factors identified

like the adequate choice and monitoring of teachers’ performance. It also helps teachers

because they can take advantage of this investigation to correct mistakes in their

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METHOD

Setting and Participants

For this investigation process, five public high schools of Azogues city were

chosen. The participants were fifteen teachers from three different courses in every high

school. These teachers were surveyed and observed during their classes. Moreover, one

student from each classroom was surveyed to verify the data

Procedures

At the beginning, it was necessary to provide scientific information related to the

researched topic in order to have a background knowledge about what authors have

found about it. Different information from books, journals, electronic books, and

newspapers was selected and then included in the “Literature review”.

The instruments used in the study field were four: the teacher´s questionnaire

which consisted on twenty questions which included questions about factors concerning

students, teachers, classrooms and educational institution; the observation sheets, which

were completed through observation in the classroom in order to confirm the

information given by the teachers; the students` questionnaire which included fourteen

questions, this instrument was completed by one of the students from each observed

classroom. There was also an interview for teachers; this instrument was administered

in order to know the teachers` language proficiency. The methodology used in this

research was quantitative and qualitative.

All data was tabulated and showed into twenty graphs. In factors concerning

teachers (graph 1 to 8), aspects like level of education, language proficiency, teaching

methods and techniques, percentage of the English language used in class, lesson design

and managing learning were considered. In the same way, in factors concerning

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level. For the factors concerning classrooms (graph 12 to 18) aspects like class size,

classroom space, seating arrangement and, classroom and teaching resources were

considered. For the last factor, concerning educational institution (graph 19 to 20),

aspects like class observation and lesson design monitoring were taken in to

consideration.

Qualitative analysis was also done, it means that all the information was

analyzed, discussed and interpreted. All the analysis was supported with the information

from observation sheets, students´ questionnaires´ responses and teachers´ interviews

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DISCUSSION

Literature Review

Nowadays English is spoken in every part of the world being an international

language and the most popular and most spoken language in the technology world. We

need to know English in order to study any science subject. English also constitutes the

language of globalization, for instance throughout the world, when people with different

languages come together they commonly use English to communicate. That is why at

the moment the Ecuadorian Government is interested on improving the teaching quality

in our high schools. One of the actions taken in this regard is the offering of

scholarships.

In this theoretical support section, information like the teaching approaches, the

teaching techniques, some studies conducted in other countries, etc. will be developed

which will allow us to understand the research field.

Teaching Methods and Approaches

I start by mentioning the Total Physical Response method, characterized by the

teaching of language through the application of physical activities for a correct learning

of the language. The main goal is to keep students’ amusement when they are learning

(Larsen and Freeman, 2003). Additionally, according to the necessity of learners,

specific instructional objectives will be given (Richard & Rodgers, 2010).

Among the activities given when using this method of following directions

would be reenacting stories, accompanying songs with actions, and drawing pictures in

response to teacher directions (Gordon, 2007).

Another important method is the Audio-lingual which Pla, Vila, Ribé, and Vidal

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“This method involves the oral practice of the language through

exercises given by the teacher and the repetition of these. The

teacher also rectifies errors made by the student. Consequently the

constancy creates a linguistic habit that facilitates the learning of

the language.” (p.17)

The main characteristic of this method is the introduction of new vocabulary and

grammar in dialogues that are practiced through imitation and repetition (Larsen &

Freeman 2003). In addition to that, the audio-lingual method contains phonetic,

morphological and syntax elements of the language which are developed throughout the

pronunciation of syllables (Rodgers and Richards, 2010).

The next method I would like to explain is Grammar Translation. This method

emphasizes the teaching of grammar and its rules. The purpose is gotten by analyzing

the grammar rules and then applying them to translation exercises. In the various

exercises applied with this method, it takes a lot of importance the accuracy of them

(Geetha Nagaraj, 2005).Additionally, the aim of this method is mainly to be able to read

literature. It is through reading that we get to know the target language grammar.

Therefore reading writing are the major focuses (Larsen & Freeman, 2003).

On the other hand, Grammar Translation Method has an advantage for the

teacher, according to Mukalel, J. (2007, pag 56): “The grammar-translation method

does not expect the teacher to be highly resourceful. Any average teacher can teach

through the grammar-translation method”.

Another important and frequently used approach is Task-Based Language

Teaching. It has theoretical foundations. Long and Doughty, (2011) stated:

Task based language teaching (TBLT) is an approach to

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theoretical and empirical foundations for good pedagogy with

a focus on tangible learning outcomes in the form of “tasks”,

that is, what learners are able to do with the language. (p.

192)

In Task-Based Language Teaching the empiric is the basis of second language

learning. This means that learning growth consists on different sequences of tasks but

based on practical activities. It is learning by doing rather than in a passive form of

acquisition (Nunan, 2004). In addition to that, activities must involve real

communication because these are essential for language teaching (Richards & Rodgers,

2010).

The next Approach to be described is Cooperative Language Learning, Richard

and Rodgers (2010) indicate that it is also called Collaborative Learning and it is mainly

based on cooperative activities to learn the target language. Normally, these activities

involve pair and small groups work in the classroom and when students work in pairs,

the student may be placed in the role of both instructor and tutored (Arnold J. 1999).

While some authors state that this approach is very beneficial for all students,

others believe that this approach only benefits the most deficient students (Arnold J.

1999). However, other of the many benefits of Cooperative Language Learning is to

create learning experiences that will develop genuine fluency of the target language

(Norland & Terry, 2006).

The next approach to be presented is The Natural Approach also called “Natural

Way”. According to Richards and Rodgers (2010), The Natural Approach consists two

distinctive ways of learning; the first one is by developing the acquisition naturally

parallel to the native language; the second one is learning by contrast, it is the

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Coady and Huckin (1997) said: “grammatical structures tend to be naturally

acquired in a somewhat predictable order without artificial sequencing of input” (p. 15).

This has relation with what Nunan (2004) says in the Natural Approach that learning of

vocabulary is crucial no grammar.

Finally, the last approach to be described is Content –Based Instruction.

According to Richards & Rodgers (2010, p. 204) “it refers to an approach to second

language teaching in which teaching is organized around the content or information that

students will acquire, rather than around a linguistic or other type of syllabus”. To

reference about this content or information, Nunan (2004, p. 131) said “content may

come from other subjects on the school curriculum, such as science, history,

environmental studies, or it might be generated from an analysis of students’ interests”.

Then, this approach encourages students not only to learn the target language in class,

but also to motivate the study outside of the classroom. (Stryker and Leaver1997).

Teaching Techniques

Teaching techniques are different activities that the teacher uses to teach the

second language. These can be manipulated by the teacher according to the type of

method used (Mukalel, 1998). Regarding the techniques to be used in class, Claxton

(2008) states the most noted methodologies incorporate techniques such as: Debate-

Discussion, which is an educational form contest of argumentation between two teams

during which one team supports, while the other team opposes a given proposition; Role

play, it is a technique in which the student acts in a scenario taking different roles of

social life for educational purposes; and Simulation, this technique emphasizes the big

picture of experiencing group processes rather than focusing on the playing of an

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questioning which is used frequently in some approaches. Questioning is a natural

technique that creates an effective interaction (Mukalel, 1998).

Managing Learning

An important component of Managing learning in classroom is the instructions

and language used by the teachers. According to Spratt, Pulverness &Willians (2005),

clear instructions benefits to the adequate students´ task performance; and the language

used by the teachers will depend of the age, proficiency level of students, and level of

formality required.

Another important component in Managing learning is feedback because it helps

clarify the performance of some factors such as goals, criteria, and expected standards.

Feedback also delivers high quality information to students about their learning,

provides information to teachers that can be used to help the teaching, and encourages

positive motivational beliefs (Bryan & Clegg, 2006).

Equally important is managing classroom time to appropriately fulfill the lesson

class. It deals with the time assigned to tasks and their transitions during the lesson. A

teacher needs to know the estimating time each task will take, and be prepared to find

out potential delays and problems of planning is important to the teacher’s success

(Konza, Grainger & Bradshaw, 2001).

Lesson Design

Dionisio and Feliciano (1993) state that the purposes of a lesson plan are two:

First, it should give the teacher a comprehension of the main

objectives which a subject or course of study seeks to realize.

Second, it should furnish a working basis for the specific

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It is necessary to know that a lesson plan is a detailed guide for teaching a

lesson. It is a step by step guide that outlines the teacher's objectives for what the

students will accomplish that day.

Gower, Phillips & Walters (2005) said that a Lesson Plan is a vital component

of the teaching-learning process because proper classroom planning will keep teachers

organized and on track while teaching, thus allowing them to teach more, helps

students reach objectives more easily and manage less.

Equally, Gower, Phillips & Walters (2005) point out it is necessary to know

the parts in the construction of a lesson plan, these are: preplanning, preparatory study,

diagnostic testing, assessing test results, assembling the lesson plan, implementation

and feedback.

Class Size

In education, one of the most important factors is classroom size which is the

number of students in the classroom. It is necessary to know some benefits of teaching

with small, medium and large groups of students as detailed below.

According to Hayes (2006), common sense shows to be very beneficial for

students to learn in small groups, because teachers have more time to spend on each

group. Also there is higher teacher-pupil interaction and students have more

extracurricular activities and attendance; on the contrary, the same author says that “the

positive effects of small classes diminish if teachers persist in using instructional

methods and formal classroom procedures that are more suited to larger, whole-class

teaching styles”(p. 36).

On the other hand, large classes can be problematic while teaching but it does

not necessarily may affect the quality of the teaching-learning process Byram, (2000).

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phonics, fluency (Evertson &Veinstein, 2006). Additionally, large classes can present

an opportunity for teachers to improve their skills, and students can learn from each

other (Byram, 2000).

Classroom Space

Frequently the teacher does not decide about classroom space and the number of

students in class therefore it is necessary to organize in the best way all the objects

within the physical space (Savage & Savage, 2010). In certain cases, a small physical

space with regard to the number of students can affect the attitudes and behavior of

students for example increasing dissatisfaction, aggression and decreasing attentiveness.

(Weinstein as cited McLeod, Fisher & Hoover, 2003). In the same way, according to

Williams, (2009), little classroom space with a large number of students can cause stress

if it is not correctly managed; on the other hand, large classroom space with few

students creates many empty spaces and the students does not feel cramped and can

spread out if they feel the need

Seating Arrangement

The arrangement of the student’s desks depends on the type of the classroom. It

should not be permanent (Partin, 2009). In fact, seating arrangement will depend on

class size and the number of students, and it can be determined by students’ attitude to

each other and to the teacher, teacher attitude to them, how students interact, and the

types of activity students can do (Gower, Phillips and Walters, 2005). Below is some

type of seating arrangement for different class-work.

According to Mansuroglua (2009), there are different types of seating

arrangements such as: the standard and most known in the classrooms of educational

institutions where students are placed in rows and focused especially on the front of the

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when teachers need all the students to be focused on a particular task on the board.

Another is the semi-circle, which is beneficial for different activities such as audiovisual

exercises or particular tasks; it is less teacher-centered, so it provides lots of student

interaction. Lastly, the circle is composed of groups of three or more students, and helps

a lot to students with fear of making mistakes; it is beneficial because group work is a

cooperative learning experience where students learn from another.

Classroom and Teaching Resources

There are some teaching resources that facilitate the learning of language. For

Hyland, (2006) teaching resources are predominantly paper-based, but these can also

include audio and visual aids, computer-mediated resources, real objects or

performance. These kinds of resources can be classified for example, in visual aids

including real objects, pictures, photographs, and the over-head projector; audio aids

including cassette recorders; and audio-visuals like videos and the computer (Gower,

Phillips and Walters, 2005). In addition, paper-based resources may include a

dictionary, a textbook, etc. (Woodward, 2001).

Classroom Observation

Frequently, educative institution must be monitoring the work performed by

teachers and students, which is activities like the fulfillment of the curriculum,

pedagogy, and materials or equipment used. This monitoring will assist in the

learning-teaching process and will improve the quality of education in each institution; hence

classroom observation is a tool used to it (Mayer, Mullens & Moore, 2010).

Some specific aspects are analyzed in classroom observation like the language a

teacher uses to ask questions, how the teacher monitors learning and how people

interact in a lesson (Wajnryb, 1992). Nowadays classroom observation also includes the

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On the other hand, classroom observation has disadvantages as well, for example

the presence of an observer will affect the normal behavior of the teacher in classroom

through increasing caution or nervous (Campbell, 2004).

Students’ Motivation

First of all it is necessary to recognize that teachers are interested in a particular

kind of motivation, which is the student’s motivation to learn. In 1992, Inga and Jara

define motivation as the set of forces that propel individuals to achieve a goal,

determining their behavior and conduct; likewise, it responds a vital need of people (p.

63). Motivation may be intrinsic, when the students like to study and know the benefits

of learning a second language; extrinsic, when the student only studies to get a reward

for example a professional title (Richards & Renandya, 2002).To conclude Lightbown

and Spada, (2006) said that it is important for the student to stay motivated because he

or she will get adequate learning and an adequate academic level. Teachers must

contribute to students' motivation by planning interesting and amusing classes.

Learning Styles

Each student possess specific talents and skills for learning, so it is necessary to

know the different learning styles. In 2001, Gass & Selinker defined the term learning

style as: “the preferences that an individual has of obtaining, processing, and retaining

information” (p. 432). This means that people have different leaning styles that work

best for them when they are learning the second language.

Once learning styles have been defined, it is necessary to refer to the types of

learning styles. According to Taylor, 2003 learning styles may be classified into the

following groups: cognitive, affective and physiological. Cognitive style refers to an

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refers to how students’ personality affects their learning; and the physiological style

refers to the interaction between the senses and the environment.

Specific details about these three groups are given by Candlin & Mercer, 2001. Within

cognitive learning there are field independent and field dependent learners: these refer

to whether an individual tends to separate details from the general background or to see

things more holistically correspondingly.” (p. 35) Physiological style students are the

students that need to add an action for an adequate learning process, these are called

kinesthetic learners; they learn better when they are totally involved in an activity.

Finally, affective style is based on the individual´s temperament or personality

characteristics such as motivation, curiosity, persistence, anxiety, risk taking, and

personal interests.

Students Intelligence or Aptitude to Learn English

It is necessary to make a difference between intelligence and aptitude.

Intelligence establishes for instance that a student that can be successful in tests such as

grammar, vocabulary, reading, but not necessarily in speech. Aptitude constitutes the

quickly learning of the target language. Students can also have success in learning the

target language through perseverance. (Lightbown & Spada, 2006).

Aptitude for learning a language is also called "gift for language" which may

depend on various factors such as students’ intelligence, motivation to master the

language, as well as tools and scientific methods of study (Rosenthal, 1996).

Additionally, Carroll and Stanley (as cited in Littlewood, 1984) said that there are some

abilities which form part of language aptitude; these are the ability to identify and

remember sounds, to memorize words, to recognize how words function grammatically

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gift is helpful to acquire a new language but it is not always necessarily relevant

(Rosenthal, 1996).

It is important to examine the results of studies done in different countries about

the factors that affect the quality of the teaching and learning of the English language.

Some of these are put below.

The first study selected was conducted in 2007 by NaZ. The goal was to

determine the level of anxiety in high school English learning students’ in Chinese EFL

(English as a Foreign Language) classrooms. This study surveyed and analyzed 115

students from a high school in Shandong Province, China. It was found that most

students experienced anxiety in classrooms, especially the fear of negative evaluation,

and that this anxiety affects the level in language learning, especially anxiety about tests

and English classes which means that the students weren’t comfortable with the

teacher’s methodology.

Another research was carried out by Khamkhien, (2010) whose purpose was to

determine how gender, motivation and experience in studying English affect the choices

of language learning strategies and also to compare the roles of these factors and the

pattern of language learning strategy used in Thai and Vietnamese students. This study

was conducted in two public universities in Thailand and Vietnam. The participants

were 84 Thai EFL and 52 Vietnamese students. Two groups of university students were

chosen from two public universities in Thailand and Vietnam. They had to fulfill four

main criteria to be qualified for the study. The analysis revealed that amongst these

three factors, motivation is the most significant factor affecting the choice of the

strategies, followed by experience in studying English, and gender, respectively

In 2012, Vala and Bamba conducted a research to determine factors affecting

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This study analyzed 100 teachers in five districts in India, and the main instrument used

for this study was a teachers’ opinionnaire about the education system, methods of

teaching used by them and socio-cultural factors affecting the teaching learning

environment. The study found out that the low level of English reading ability in

Haryana is due to lack of English-speaking and listening environment, frequent change

of government policy in education, lack of language labs and lack of scientific approach

in teaching English.

Another study was conducted by Masataka (2011), it explored Secondary EFL

Students’ Perceptions of Native and Nonnative English-Speaking Teachers in Japan and

Korea, concerning their competence in the target language and in language teaching,

cultural and personal traits, teaching styles, and the classroom atmosphere the teachers

establish. The study examined 268 eighth and ninth graders in two middle schools, one

in Japan and the other in Korea. For the present study, it was developed a student

questionnaire to examine their perceptions of NESTs and NNESTs, concerning each

group‘s strengths and weaknesses, with multiple choices. The research represents a

collective case study and therefore can only suggest trends through comparing and

contrasting student responses.

Some anomalies were found when it came to personal aspects and competence

in teaching language skills. It is presented that students' perceptions about NESTs and

NNESTs are situational, and contextual particularities and strengths and/or weaknesses

of all teachers need to be understood on an individual basis rather than assumed as

characteristic of any group of teachers.

Finally, the last study carried out by Ogiegbaen A. (2012) examined the factors

responsible for the poor quality of the teaching and learning of English secondary

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students through the six geopolitical zones. The main instruments used for this study

were questionnaires and observation sheets. Questionnaires were designed which

solicited students responses on teaching strategies, instructional resources media used

by the teachers and the teaching learning environment. Results revealed that

secondary schools in Nigeria should be provided with adequate and a variety of

instructional media. If teachers in public secondary schools in Nigeria assumed new

roles and used new technology –supported instructional tools, they would become

familiar with a variety of instructional delivery methods rather than relying on

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Description, Analysis, and Interpretation of Results

In order to know the classroom conditions in which English lessons take place,

the characteristics of in-service English teachers and the teachers’ instructional

competence, some graphs are presented bellow to show quantitative results of the four

variables collected during this study. The results are analyzed and discussed and further

support is given, using information from observation formats, students’ questionnaire

and notes.

Quantitative Analysis

Factors Concerning Teachers

Which level of Education do teachers have?

Author: Vazquez Oswaldo

Source: Teachers of Public High School in Azogues City.

For this question we have that 46% of 100% teachers who were surveyed have a

Master´s Degree in English, 27% have obtained an English Bachelor´s Degree, 7% of

them possess a High School Diploma and the other 20% have Diplomas in other fields.

7%

27%

46% 20%

Graph 1

High school diploma

English Bachelor´s Degree

English Master´s Degree

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The data given above confirms that most of the teachers have a good knowledge

of English to facilitate or guide students to learn English as a foreign language and to

reach their students’ goals. Teachers holding a Master Degree in English and Education

have the advantage of having a wider knowledge in education in EFL teaching. The

results gathered through this research are satisfactory because most of the participants in

this educational and training paradigm are well prepared and have the right tools to

successfully meet students’ needs, thus effectively leading students into today’s world

of English in several relevant fields such as education, politics, science, technology and

medicine.

During the interview teachers who have not gotten a master degree yet, said that

they are very enthusiastic about reaching the next level of academic study as soon as

possible despite of the chaotic economic situation and the lack of time. In short, the

level of our English teachers has been improving every single day through their effort

and several English teachers programs that have been offered by many different

institutions such as: Embassies, Ministry of Education and Foreigner Universities,

whose main goal is to provide to the Ecuadorian English Teachers with the best

methods, techniques and extra class materials in order to improve their teaching.

On the other hand, some of the teachers who have received a High school

diploma or other degree that have nothing to do with teaching English, feel that having

a Master in English is worthless because some of them are elderly and they are about to

retire.

Finally, the rest of teachers who have a diploma in other fields such as:

engineering, architecture, accountant think that getting a Master in their major will give

them better opportunities in other areas than being English teachers; as a result they are

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22

techniques. In brief, during my observation it was easy for me to see the great difference

among the classes led by someone who learned to be a teacher than the ones who did

not learn to be teachers. For instance, a well-managed and organized class full of

activities was always led by one of the teachers who did study to become an English

teacher; on the contrary, a boring and bossy class was most of the time led by one of the

teachers who did not study to be an English teacher.

Which of the following methods was used in this class?

Author: Vazquez Oswaldo

Source: Teachers of High School in Azogues City.

For this second question we have that 46, 67% of the teachers interviewed use

Communicative Language Teaching in their classes. A 33.33% say they use the

Grammar Translation method. Then in a small percentage, 13, 33 % of teacher use Total

Physical Response and 6, 67% of the teachers use Content-Based Language Teaching.

The other methods are not used by the teachers at all.

According to the surveys, teachers say they use Communicative Language

Teaching to teachEnglish since its techniques are designed to engage learners in the

13,33% 0% 33,33% 6,67% 46,67% 0,00 0,00

0,00 0,00

Graph 2

Communicative Language Teaching

The Natural Approach

Cooperative Language Learning

Content- Based Instruction

Task-Based Language Teaching

Cognitive Academic Language Learning

Total Physical Response

Whole Language Approach

Grammar Translation Method

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23

pragmatic, authentic, functional use of language for meaningful purposes. They also

explained that this method permits them to do activities that involve real

communication to promote learning. Teachers know that with the use of this method

they guide the student’s acquisition of the English language while students are

communicators. They try to understand themselves and their classmates.

Following the principles of CLT and in order to create an authentic language in

the classroom, teachers use activities such as: role play, scramble sentences, pictures

strip story, dialogues and games.

Taking into account the results gathered through this research CLT is one of the

methods that is said to be used although the real content of the class is in Spanish,

which contradicts a little bit the results.

The next method reviewed was Grammar Translation, in which the grammatical

rules are explained and translated to the native language, as it has been observed in the

practice Grammar provides the rules for putting words together, and instruction often

focuses on the form and inflection of words by the using of readings and grammatical

explanation. Teachers are aware that this method gives students the opportunity to learn

a lot of vocabulary in the form of lists of isolated words.

Another method chosen by the teachers was the Total Physical Response.

According to Dr. James Asher (1977), people are biologically programmed for language

acquisition in a particular sequence: “a reasonable hypothesis is that the brain and

nervous system are biologically programmed to acquire language, either the first or

second, in a particular sequence and in a particular mode. The sequence is listening

before speaking and the mode is to synchronize language with the individual’s body.

It is clear that this method begins by giving students commands to do an activity.

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24

what they have to do. So, during an observation class as the other ones for the different

methods, the students had to show the meaning of these two words STAND UP and SIT

DOWN to the class.

The last method was Content-Based Language which was observed through

topics explained in class such as: technology. James Brewster (1999) affirms that

Content- based language teaching is a version of bilingual education and

subject-teaching which simultaneously teaches the language required for school learning and

promotes thinking skills. For this reason, I can say that this method makes the

teaching-learning process more interesting and useful, because students want to and like to

practice their English in a better way.

The teachers also mentioned that they use other techniques and activities which

aim their students to acquire or improve their English language. They said that their

students learn better when they see a movie or listen to an English song. Learners are

encouraged to use the language through the new words or phrases that they learn from

movies and songs. Teachers also organize discussion groups about an interesting topic

for students and make group and pair work. During the observation, I could notice that

students practice reading, one of the students or from a certain group reads a paragraph

while the rest listening they finish reading they all discuss the topic in order to answer

the given question, Teachers’ mainly purpose was to allow students to support, help,

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Do you use whole-group activities to teach your lesson?

Author: Vazquez Oswaldo

Source: Teachers of High School in Azogues City.

For this particular question we have that the 100% of the teachers said they use

whole group activities. Teachers and students talk over the subject of the lesson as

health, sports, foods, etc. In fact, when whole- group activities are used in class,

students will be allowed not only to learn or to create their knowledge as a whole group,

but also students will be allowed to share ideas, opinions, and feelings. Consequently,

students’ previous knowledge will be triggered, hence helping them to take decisions or

to do a work as a group.

Something importantobserved in the classes was that the teachers also did whole

class activities when they reminded last class contents. They used questions and

comments for all the students, which is important because recent researches have shown

that Whole Class activities, especially the ones that involve dialogues, link spoken

language with learning and cognitive development, (Richards & Rodgers, 2010).

Through using language and hearing how others use it, students become able to describe

the world, make sense of life’s experiences and get things by themselves. 100%

0%

Graph 3

Yes

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26

In fact, it is relevant to say that whole-group interaction activities used during

these observation classes are the most appropriate option if you as a teacher want that

the use of Task-Based Language Teaching method to be successful as pointed out by

Richards & Rodgers, 2010.

Do you use individual activities to teach your lessons?

Author: Vazquez Oswaldo

Source: Teachers of High School in Azogues City.

According to the results, there are 11 teachers, which represent 73.33% of the

sample who say they use individual activities. On the other hand, 26.67% responded

negatively to this question.

The previous graph shows that 100% of the teachers used whole group activities;

nonetheless, graph 4 shows us that individual activities are also used in the

teaching-learning process.

Some of these activities include tasks in which the students practice grammar and

writing. It is important to mention that some of these classroom tasks are already

programmed in the books and the students have to do them individually.

Indeed, I think whether using whole group activities or individual activities it will

always depend of identifying the student`s needs, determine adjustments that need to be

73,33% 26,67%

Graph 4

Yes

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27

made to the curriculum, the monitoring and evaluation. Thus, lesson plans are crucial in

order to give or provide students individual or group activities because every single

student is a unique person with his own desires, feelings, emotions, and goals. In fact,

this is one of the main reasons why multiple intelligences have to be taken into account

when individual activities are planned because students learn different things in

different ways. On the other hand, if you have a large number of students, it is important

use different kind of individual activities being one of this the called realia, as said in

the journal Zoni English System (2009) which suggest the practice of this because

teachers have closer contact with the students.

Do you use group work activities to teach your lessons?

Author: Vazquez Oswaldo

Source: Teachers of Public High School in Azogues City

According to the results shown in graph 5, teachers use different group activities

for their English classes and prepare individual activities, they include group work

activities for a better teaching – learning process, 100% of the teachers responded

positively to the use of group work activities in class. In fact, different class activities

100% 0%

Graph 5

Yes

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28

are picked out based not only on the type of activities teachers want their students to do,

but also in the kind of task and evaluation in which the students are working on.

The use of group work activities is a good strategy if these are used at the right

time in the right way. Some of the good reasons for the usage of group work activities

are: students would have more speaking time, improve their speaking skills, cut down

on embarrassment, have fun, error correction, improve their fluency, and get to know

each other better, among others.

Do you use English most of the time in your classes?

Author: Vazquez Oswaldo

Source: Teachers of Public High School in Azogues City

An 80% of the teachers answered that they speak English most of the time in their

classrooms, while a 20% of them accepted they do not use it during the whole class.

These teachers manifested that they use English and Spanish in their classes in order to

make easier for students to understand and grab new words or information. They also

explained that the usage of English in their classrooms depends on several factors such

as: students’ level, lessons, tasks, and so on.

Using English in class is worthy if it can be done successfully and without too

much difficulty; nonetheless, there are some times when using the students’ own

80% 20%

Graph 6

Yes

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29

language is the best option because an explanation in English could easily confuse our

students, especially when the word or phrase is unfamiliar to them.

According to Gower, Phillips& Walters, (2005) L2 learners, must first learn to

comprehend the spoken language they hear. Listening is regarded as a receptive skill, in

what the listener is receiving messages from the speaker. Additionally, they also said

the main resources receive by students come from the teacher who may use English as a

communicating skill for instructions. Hence, from the perspectives of language learning

and communicating in real language situation, it benefits students in learning English.

In brief, if spoken English is used most of the time in classes, it will give students more

practice in listening and responding in the target language, thus helping students pick up

words and expressions beyond the language of the book.

Do you plan your lessons?

Author: Vazquez Oswaldo

Source: Teachers of Public High School in Azogues City

For this question, a100% of the teachers said they plan organized lessons for their

classes. This was clearly noticed during the observation. They affirmed that

well-planned and done class plan was followed by them to guide students in their teaching –

learning process since a lesson plan allows the teachers to visualize every step of the

100% 0%

Graph 7

Yes

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30

teaching process in advance. It is important to mention that the presentation of the

teachers of the classes that I observed, were well done. Teachers used different and

interesting activities to practice what they had explained. To sum up, when a lesson is

planned, teachers do not only have an order to follow, present, develop, and finish the

class, but also they make it more interesting and useful for the students. However, some

teachers do not write a plan; they come to classes without a lesson plan. They explained

that lesson plans demand much time and sometimes their lessons plans are not fulfilled

as they would want since there are other educational events that interrupt their classes.

Nevertheless, setting goals for each class and sharing them with the students will

provide a roadmap for them because when learning aims are clear for students, it makes

easy to distinguish among different types of knowledge, emphasis on important details,

balance their individuality learning with teachers’ guidance; as a result of it, students

will increase their ability to guide their own learning.

The information given in the former paragraphs totally agree with the advice

written by Woodward, (2001) who talks about the importance of having a correct and

accurate lesson plan considering the real situation of each teacher and the attitudes of

students in order to succeed in the teaching-learning process. This means that teachers

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Do you consider aspects such as discipline, timing, feedback, and instruction to teach

your lessons?

Author: Vazquez Oswaldo

Source: Teachers of Public High School in Azogues City

Aspects such as: discipline, timing, feedback, and instructions are carefully

considered when teaching a lesson. This graph shows that the 100% of teachers

answered they consider the aspects mentioned above to teach their lessons. It was

noticeably observed because there was no sign of indiscipline by the students in spite of

the number of students that sometimes exceeded 30,in contrast, all of them were paying

attention to the teachers and to the classes. Gower, Phillips & Walters (2005) mention

the importance of keeping discipline by establishing rapport among motivating students,

giving feedback, trying to find areas of improvement in individual students´ work and

using proper timing during classes.

Most of the classes started by presenting the topic, then teachers make students to

practice, review the activities, and provide feedback. Time was well managed by most

of the teachers. However, some teachers did not have a good control of the time because

of their little experience in the teaching-learning process. With regards to the teachers’

100% 0%

Graph 8

Yes

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32

instructions, they were clear and all the students’ doubts and questions were explained

again and again. In brief, when teachers consider aspects such as: discipline, timing,

feedback, and instructions, they make their classes more interesting and understandable

for the students. They create a good environment to facilitate the learning process to be

successful.

Factors Concerning Students

Do you consider students´ needs to teach English successfully?

Author: Vazquez Oswaldo

Source: Teachers of Public High School in Azogues City

For this particular question, we have that an 87% of the fifteen teachers consider

students´ needs when they teach English and only 2 of them, being the 13% do not see it

as an important factor.

During most of the observation time, it was easy to see how students’ needs

were carefully collected and analyzed in order to know which method or strategy would

work better for the lesson to be achieved successfully. In fact, teachers do their best in

order to teach the second language efficiently. When a new topic was about to be

taught, they spoke clearly and slowly to make it more understandable with the final

87% 13%

Graph 9

Yes

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33

objective of making it useful to the students according to their needs. Indeed, teachers

used extra materials such as: flash cards, posters, gestures, miming, and so on.

Actually, motivating students to study English is perhaps the most difficult

challenge that a tutor faces in the teaching-learning process. Not all students in the

classroom are going to be motivated to study English because most of the time they

don’t feel like being in a classroom for many reasons. Some of the students think

English is not necessary. They also think English is a very difficult language to be

learned, or simply students do not want to learn it. Consequently, before thinking on

teaching, teachers have to meet student’s previous knowledge to see where and how to

start. In other words, meeting our student’s needs is crucial for our classes to be more

connected to what field or purpose English could be used not only in their present but

future life.

All the information above matches with what Candlin C., Mercer N., (2001) said

about the students’ styles that highlight the necessity of knowing each student’s

preferences.

Do you consider Students´ level to teach English successfully?

Author: Vazquez Oswaldo

Source: Teachers of Public High School in Azogues City

66,67% 33,33%

Graph 10

Yes

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34

As shown in graph 10, 66.67% of the teachers said they consider students´ level

of English for teaching their class. However, a 33.33% of them did not consider

students’ level important for their classes. In other words, graph 10 shows that for some

teachers, students’ English level is significantly considered to teach English. What is

more, during the observation classes, most of the teachers lower their English level to

deliver what they want to teach to their students and they also make their students

practice their English. But there were some teachers who did not care about it. They just

taught what they had to teach in order to stick with the syllabus. It does not matter if

their students learn or not. That was the result, teachers spent too much time talking and

talking without letting students use English by creating a nice discussion about the

topic.

The key for a successful teaching and learning are: know ability levels;

backgrounds; interest levels; attention spans; ability to work together in groups; prior

knowledge; and learning experience. These are crucial in order to develop a plan that is

designed to meet the students’ needs and that is framed according to what is considered

the best practice in teaching and learning.

Even though teachers perform tests to measure continuously the students

learning, it is not so important to them because teachers have to fulfill with an annual

curriculum. Consequently, for some teachers it is not important the English level in the

students to teach them successfully. Additionally, some teachers said that students give

little importance to the English subject.

Some teachers also said that problems arose because of the variety of students’

level especially in the eighth year of basic education due to the primary schools where

they come from and in many cases they don’t have English in their class schedules.

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The majority of the aspects discussed in the former paragraphs are taken into

consideration in the book written by Woodward, (2001), where there is important

information about evaluating students before starting a process so teachers can find the

different levels and weaknesses of each student.

Which is the level of your students?

Author: Vazquez Oswaldo

Source: Teachers of Public High School in Azogues City

According to the results for this question there is an 86.67% of teachers who

said that students have basic level of English and only 13.33% of the rest pointed out

that students have intermediate level.

This graph clearly shows that teachers recognize the low level of English

existing in the public high schools in Azogues city. It was identified through of the

observation made by the activities assigned to all the students in class such as: the use

of the present and past simple in their classroom tasks.

The new view of the language teaching and planning together with the new

English material given to the student for free, I think will help the students to improve

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36

their level of English in the future. It is important also to read books like the one written

by Woodward T., (2001), which gives us advice on how to identify and work on

specific students’levels. On the other hand, some factors have affected students’

perceptions and thus their motivation to study the language, so without will and desire

to learn, it is difficult to achieve effective and fruitful learning.

Knowing students’ level is fundamental in order to fruitfully teach a language.

Woodward T., (2001) states that Language Aptitude refers to the capacity students have

for learning languages. This ability can be assessed by using formal aptitude tests,

which will help teachers predict the degree of success the student has with a new

language; what is more, the information gathered through them will place students in

the right level.

Factors Concerning Classrooms

How many students do you have in this class?

Author: Vazquez Oswaldo

Source: Teachers of Public High School in Azogues City

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An 80% of the teachers reported having more than 31 students in their

classrooms, 13% having from 26 to 30 students, and only 7% having 16 to 25 students.

This shows another problem that affects teachers and students’ success.

This was clearly evident in the observation. Teachers have from 30 to 50

students in a classroom. Generally, public high schools have more than 31 students in

one classroom.

Large classes couldaffect the teacher’s work because they cannot manage all the

students’ needs, levels, and learning problems. However, large classes can also give the

chance to encourage cooperative learning and group work which depends on how the

teacher organizes the groups according to each student’s strengths and weaknesses. This

is pointed out by Byram (2000) who said that the quality of learning does not depend on

the number of students but on the teachers and students attitudes as well as on the

correct methodology and techniques used by the teacher.

Do you feel comfortable working with this number of students?

Author: Vazquez Oswaldo

Source: Teachers of Public High School in Azogues City

20%

80%

Graph 13

Yes

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38

For this question an 80% of the fifteen interviewed teachers pointed out that they

do not feel comfortable working with a large number of students. Only 20% of them

reported they feel good with such amount of students. Teachers prefer working with

manageablegroups rather than with too large ones.

Teachers said that large classes turn into an uncomfortable environment, thus the

teacher has to face some difficulties to teach the language. They argued that it is not

easy at all to have a total control of the whole class, because while teachers are guiding

some students the rest are playing, making noise, or simply doing nothing. That is why

having a small number of students has its advantages. For example, it will be much

easier to guide the students in a better way to acquire the language by having all of them

participate actively and eagerly.

Some believe that it is so uncomfortable and difficult to teach to large number of

students because it is more difficult to control attention, discipline and homework

checking. In fact, it is crucial to take into account the number of students because it

does affect how well teachers can teach and how students can learn. Byram, (2000) said

that the notion of large is relative and mentions that in China for example there are 50 or

60 students in a classroom, for this reason, the teacher needs to be skilled and deal with

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Do you have enough space to work with this group of students?

Author: Vazquez Oswaldo

Source: Teachers of Public High School in Azogues City

For this question, 14, 53.33% of the teachers said that there is insufficient space

in the classroom to work with their students, and 46.67% that there is enough space to

perform their activities.

Crowded classrooms are visible problems due to the amount of time students

spend in school. There are a lot of students in Public High Schools, especially in those

found in the central area of the city. Teachers must manage them because the institution

matriculates students without taking this problem into consideration. Most teachers say

that there is not enough space for work.

Likewise, we can determine that the large number of existing students causes

lack of space to work in different tasks, especially in groups. Space has also to do with

keeping discipline and evaluation. We can notice that when the students are too fitted, it

is more difficult to control whispering and talking. Moreover, when testing the students

in a small classroom space can easily encourage cheating.

On the contrary, 46.67% of teachers said that there is enough space in

classrooms; this problem cannot be easily solved, so the teachers should look for the

46,67%

53,33%

Graph 14

Yes

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40

best solutions and methodologies in order to take advantage of the negative aspects.

Savage & Savage, (2010) said that teachers have to organize the space and setting to

encourage student motivation rather than discomforting them.

Do you arrange students´ seats in relation to the activities planned for your classes?

Author: Vazquez Oswaldo

Source: Teachers of Public High School in Azogues City

An 80% of teachers stated that they arrange the seating position in relation to the

activities they want to perform when they are teaching English. Twenty percent of the

surveyed teachers think that this is not necessary to arrange seating position during

different activities in class. This means that the teachers try to find correct seat positions

in order to fulfill certain activities.

In general, classrooms observed in High Schools of this City have the typical

classroom arrangement with students' desks lined up in neat rows. It is difficult to get

another seating arrangement in some High Schools. The space then is the reason why

some teachers cannot make changes in the arrangement of seats.

80% 20%

Graph 15

Yes

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41

In activities like games and group works many teachers prefer to modify the

position of the seats in order to perform activities successfully as said by Partin, (2009)

that mentions the constant changing of desks arrangement in order to create the best

environment for learning.

How many students do you think is the appropriate number to teach English?

Author: Vazquez Oswaldo

Source: Teachers of Public High School in Azogues City

As shown in graph 16, the most appropriate number of students must be

constituted from 10 to 15 for 40% of teachers surveyed, from 16 to 25 for the other 40%

of teachers and only 20% of teachers think that the classroom should have an average of

25 to 30 students. However, the reality in public schools is opposite to the teachers’

ideal.

The teachers believe that it would be more didactic and successful to have small

classes because here they can concentrate better on each student’s weaknesses and

strengths. Conversely, there is overpopulation in the classrooms from public institutions

which difficult the teacher’s labor greatly. Here, it is pertinent to mention that The

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Organization for Economic-Operation and Development (2011) gives us some

guidelines of class size and expresses that the number of students per class is calculated

from a number of different elements such as the ratio of students to teachers and

classrooms.

As we have seen in the graphs above the number of students is another decisive

factor that teachers consider affect the development of a productive teaching-learning

process. One of the interviewed teachers said “As we know thousands of public schools

across the country are seeing their class size swell because of budget cuts and teacher

layoff, undermining a decade-long push not only by parents but administrator and

policy makers to shirk classes’ size”. In fact, how the numbers of students in classes

have risen across the country has been directly affecting the teaching-learning process.

Do you use teaching resources (TV, tape/cd recorder, computer(s), projector (s), smart

board, and supplementary materials)?

Author: Vazquez Oswaldo

Source: Teachers of Public High School in Azogues City

For this question, the 100% of teachers say they use teaching resources such as:

tv, tape, cd players, computers, projectors, smart board, smart phones, and others kinds

of materials. Teachers estimate that these are useful and interesting tools that help

100% 0%

Graph 17

Yes

Figure

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