UNIVERSIDAD TÉCNICA PARTICULAR DE LOJA
La Universidad Católica de Loja
TITULACIÓN DE LICENCIADO EN CIENCIAS DE LA EDUCACIÓN
Factors that affect the English language teaching-learning
process in Ecuadorian public high schools
Trabajo de fin de titulación.
Autoras: Mención: Peña Ledesma, Vanessa Lizet, and Inglés Sánchez Romero, Gladys Esperanza
Nesterenko Nina Aleksandrovna, Mgs.
Centro Universitario Quito
DIRECTORA DEL TRABAJO DE FIN DE TITULACIÓN
C E R T I F I C A:
Que el presente trabajo, denominado: “Factors that affect the English language
teaching-learning process in Ecuadorian public high schools” realizado por las
profesionales en formación: Peña Ledesma Vanessa Lizet y Sánchez Romero Gladys
Esperanza; cumplen con los requisitos establecidos en las normas generales para la
Graduación en la Universidad Técnica Particular de Loja, tanto en el aspecto de
forma como de contenido, por lo cual me permito autorizar su presentación para los
Loja, julio de 2013
f) . . .
CESIÓN DE DERECHOS
“Nosotras, Vanessa Lizet Peña Ledesma y Gladys Esperanza Sánchez Romero
declaramos ser autoras del presente trabajo y eximimos expresamente a la
Universidad Técnica Particular de Loja y a sus representantes legales de posibles
reclamos o acciones legales.
Adicionalmente declaramos conocer y aceptar la disposición del Art. 67 del Estatuto
Orgánico de la Universidad Técnica Particular de Loja que en su parte pertinente
textualmente dice: “formar 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
Vanessa Lizet Peña Ledesma Gladys Esperanza Sánchez Romero
C.I. No 172099666-7 C.I. No 070316862-5
I dedicate this thesis especially for my dear
daughters Mikaela and Valeria, who are my
angels and for whom I have worked. I give
infinite thanks to my God for his love and
kindness and for allowing me to fulfill my
I want to dedicate this special project, to my
family Erick and José, who have been my
support since the beginning of my carrier.
Having in mind that my mother who is not here
merely deserve gratitude for helping me during
It is pleasure to thank those who have made this thesis possible. We refer to
Universidad Técnica Particular de Loja, its authorities, administrators, teachers and
whole staff who have been present since the beginning of our carrier at this
educational center, giving us the possibility to become professionals through this
project, which is the top of our effort to get a degree.
Additionally, we would like to thank to Mgs. Nina Nesterenko, our tutor, who has
Contrato de Cesión de Derechos de Tesis de Grado………...iii Dedication………....iv
Description, Analysis, and Interpretation of Results…………...………..24
The topic of the current study refers to Factors that affect the English
language teaching - learning process in Ecuadorian public high schools, whose
objective is to determine the factors that prevent learners from succeeding in
managing a foreign language. To complement the investigation of field, additional
bibliographical research was used to provide related information.
The current study was carried out in the head state of Ecuador, Quito, where a
sample of six public schools was chosen by access facility. The research was held by
asking a sample of thirty people divided into fifteen teachers and fifteen students to
answer questionnaires. In addition, observation of classes was done to complement
and to fulfil the main objective of the study. The obtained results were summed up
and analysed in a quantitative way.
As a result for the current research, it was found that factors affecting the
English learning process are concerned to teachers, students, classroom and
educational institutions. It was recognized that the variable with highest number of
aspects affecting to complete successfully the learning process were factors related to
Learning a foreign language corresponds to the way people develop more
opportunities to interact with others apart from the individuals who use the same
mother tongue. It represents a path to allocate desires of personal improvement and
ambition of getting a better life style based on target language usage to overcome
obstacles in contemporary society; specially, university students are directly related
to learning a new language since updated information comes in books written in
Regarding aspects related to the second language acquisition, the current
study focuses on factors that affect the English language teaching – learning process
in Ecuadorian public high schools, whose main objective is to analyze the factors
influencing the success in acquirement of English as a foreign language.
In order to achieve the general goal of the research, specific objectives have
to be emphasized, and mentioned as it follows: To determine the classroom
conditions in which English lessons take place. To identify the characteristics of
in-service English teachers. To determine teachers‟ instructional competence.
Studying factors influencing English learning as a second language is
important since the current research can be used to find negative aspects affecting
learning process and develop solutions to help students of Ecuadorian public
educational institutions to acquire English in a better way and to be able to use the
In order to elucidate some more information about the present topic, some prior
studies were considered. The first of them was done by Khamkhien (2010). The main
purpose was to understand the relation of three factors such as gender, motivation
and experience in learning English and how they affect the choices for teaching
learning strategies. However, limitations appeared because of the short number of
participants, reason by which results ended inconclusive. Additionally, variables as
nationality, age, field of study might be influencing in learning choices, but they
have to be fairly studied.
The second study to bear in mind was the one performed by Muñoz (2001),
whose main objective was to determine the effects of the starting age on learning a
second language, as well as other individual factors and their relation to age, such as
the student‟s attitude and motivation. Limitations were not found in the study.
The third research was done in Nigeria by Aduwa-Ogiegbaen (2006), with the
goal to determine frequency of resources usage in teaching English, as well as type
of methods used to instruct lessons, and to establish English learning depending on
the environment. Limitations in the study were not mentioned.
It is important to recognize that individuals, who are benefitted from this
present study, correspond to the group of people involved in education especially for
foreign language teaching, which is formed by school boards, administrators, English
teachers who can plan interventions and ways to change their acting to improve the
learning process; students of any level, as well as teenagers of public schools who
will get a development in the way they receive classes having the opportunity to get
benefitted, since they will take advantage of recommendations to obtain new type of
resources to promote English learning. Future researches would have a base to guide
their studies in order to achieve their objective and help Ecuadorian educational
Some limitations were found in the study, since lack of cooperation of teachers
in some cases was evidenced, students may have not answered questionnaires
sincerely because they were scared of future consequences.
Monitoring and planning checking could not be certainty determined since an
instrument for interviewing area coordinators was not elaborated.
It can be suggested to use a more representative sample of teachers to achieve
In order to accomplish the goal of the current study, it was necessary to gather
information from the Internet, previous researches and different books found in two
libraries in the city where the investigation had been carried out. The information
obtained was used to fill in the topics for the variables of the study, and to give
theoretical support to the current project. In addition, it was necessary to collect
information from observation of classes as well as submitting questionnaires to 15
instructors and students in public high schools for later analysis of results.
Setting and participants
The present study was done in the city of Quito; six public high schools were
selected by convenience; these educational institutions were located in the north,
south and centre of the city.
The sample used to be studied were fifteen English teachers part of the six
public schools in Quito. Fifteen students were also chosen at random in order to
complete the questionnaire. Finally, observation of fifteen classes was performed in
order to pursuit the objective of the study.
The information requested to stand theoretical support as teaching techniques,
teaching methods and approaches, class size, teaching resources, between others, was
researched in order to fulfil information to analyse the four variables considered to
achieve the goal of the current investigation; the variables that have to be included in
educational institutions. These themes were obtained in bibliographical sources as
books, and other resources as the Internet.
The gathered data was properly summarized, paraphrased and included in
charts to record the information. Charts were useful tools to keep most relevant data
in order to facilitate understanding of the researched topics, a number of three
authors were considered as the ideal for each theme.
Subsequently, the information kept in charts was utilized to write a Literature
Review, in an essay way, to explain the most important facts of each researched
topic, using coherency and cohesion to describe data. Additionally, a list of authors
of the researched books, and prior studies investigators had to be included in a
section called references, where citing in the American Psychological Association
(APA) was compulsory.
The research design applied in this study was survey designs, which
correspond to procedures handled in quantitative way, where administration of
surveys is done to the sample, in order to identify attitudes, opinions, and
characteristics of the researched people.
In order to collect data for the quantitative analysis, it was necessary to
establish the unit of analysis corresponding to type of school to be studied (public)
and the level of students to be inquired (from 8th Grade to 3rd. Year senior high), after
a representative sample was chosen for each institutions, which means 2 or 3
teachers per high school and one student per observed class. In the students a simple
random sampling was used to get the participants. Teachers were chosen by
obtain permission from the educational institutions by using a formal letter and a
letter from the university. Finally, instruments were used to collect data from
Techniques used to collect data were divided in three categories: The first one
corresponding to the observation, by which an observational checklist was used to
observe classes, along with an observation directly in the field. The second technique
corresponded to interview which an assessment instrument for teachers had used to
establish their level of proficiency in second language. Finally, the last technique
used was the survey in which teacher‟s questionnaire, student‟s questionnaire were
used to get information from participants. Additionally, the instruments were used to
measure, observe and document quantitative data.
In order to analyze data quantitative manner was used; it was necessary to add
scores for each individual response in all the questionnaires to measure variables.
Inferential statistic analysis was also used, since it allows analysing data from a
sample to draw conclusion about unknown population. A table was used to report
results, to summarize quantitative data obtained and to organize in frequency of
occurrence in rows and columns. In addition, figures were used to show relation
among scores and variables, the figures used were pie charts. Finally, it was
necessary to use descriptive and inferential statistical analysis to explain the results
According to Pesantez (2012), for about 30 years little has been done to
improve methods of teaching English in Ecuador. Currently Secretaría Nacional de
Educación Superior, Ciencia , Tecnología e Innovación (SENESCYT) is giving
great importance to English teaching as a foreign language in our country, since
English is a universal language that opens many doors to the professional and
personal success of those who master this tongue. In this way, that institution is
referring to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages to
measure teacher´s abilities to manage English. The Common European Framework
of Reference for Languages includes six levels of proficiency, going from A1, A2,
B1, B2, C1 and C2, where A1 and A2 levels correspond to basic English users
capable to narrate their personal experiences using basic vocabulary and simple
tenses; B1 and B2 levels correspond to independent users able to interact with
natives, expressing their opinions and thoughts. Finally, C1 and C2 levels which
correspond to proficient users who are able to express themselves fluently people use
their English for academic and professional purposes and structure arguments of
complex subjects (Annex 5). The Ministry of Education along with SENESCYT
evaluated 5,022 English teachers in public schools through an examination called
TOEFL which is graded according to the Common European Framework of
Reference for Language. From this evaluation, 74% of teachers were placed at A1
and A2 levels, the remaining percentage (26%) could reach B1 level. According to
the Ministry of Education an instructor has to master B2 level, which corresponds to
degree of fluency, between other intermediate skills of using the language to be able
to teach properly. These results showed that the majority of teachers in Ecuador did
not have communicative skills in English to perform teaching tasks. Thereby, an
urgent necessity to improve the process for learning and teaching English in public
schools all over the country has arisen.
To achieve quality not only in teachers but also in students, Secretaría Nacional
de Educación Superior, Ciencia, Tecnología e Innovación (SENESCYT) is giving
teachers the opportunity to be trained in the United States and to get acquainted of
current methodologies in order to improve English teaching in Ecuador, and thus
overcome the big problem that Ecuadorians face in relation to English education.
Teaching Methods and Approaches
Thorough the years different methods for English teaching have been
developed in order to ensure an effective English learning process in students. There
are many methodologies taken into account when instructing second languages,
however the most relevant are explained below.
According to Diaz-Rico & Weed (1995) & House (2011), the Grammar
Translation Method was the first and the most popular foreign language method
during the mid-twentieth century. At the beginning The Grammar Translation
Method focused mainly on translating manuscripts word by word from classical
languages as Latin and Greek. Then, its usage was extended to modern languages.
Additionally, the authors affirmed that classes were imparted in the mother tongue
giving as a result a development in reading and writing skills, but not in
learning a foreign language following the Grammar Translation Method, the
grammatical rules are analysed at first, and then the learner would be able to begin
translations of sentences from the native to the target language. Furthermore, they
state The Grammar Translation Method can be frustrating for students since they
must memorize endless lists of vocabulary and grammar rules for achieving a perfect
In the 19th century the Direct Method was created to compensate the elements
missing on The Grammar Translation Method. According to Diaz-Rico & Weed
(1995), & House (2011), the target language must be used during the whole time in
the lesson to avoid translation; consequently the teacher has to find different ways to
communicate with students such as mimics, pictures or other resources that do not
allow translation with the unique purpose of improving communicative skills.
Furthermore, according to Richards & Rodgers (2001), in the above method, both,
teachers and students exchanged questions and answers in the target language to
improve oral communication skills in an organized and progressive way.
Nevertheless, this method has its limitations; such teachers‟ level of proficiency
which almost required instructors to be native.
Additionally, from 1930 to 1970 the Audiolingual Method was used which
according to Richards & Rodgers (2001), Diaz-Rico & Weed (1995), & House
(2011), has as main objective the development of communicative skills; students
need to listen to dialogues, memorize them in order to form habits and assimilate
The Silent Way is the next method to be analyzed. According to Richards &
Rodgers (2001), & Diaz-Rico & Weed (1995), the teacher should be silentmost of
the time during the class and encourage students to produce as much language as
possible. Moreover, House (2011) states that the main element used is a wooden box
with rods that are employed by the teacher since it is the best way to represent words
without using phonemes or syllables.
The next method is Suggestopedia which was developed by Georgi Lozanov.
According to Richards & Rodgers (2001), Diaz-Rico & Weed (1995), and House
(2011), its main element is classical music which helps in the memorization of new
topics by permitting students to be in a relaxed state, and make easy the process of
assimilation of the presented knowledge.
Finally, another well known method is Total Physical Response. In this
method students use physical response to show understanding of given instructions;
and, students cannot be obligated to speak creating a positive environment and
facilitating the teaching-learning process, according to Richards & Rodgers (2001),
Diaz-Rico & Weed (1995), and House (2011).
In relation to teaching techniques, Gover & Walters (1983) state that
teachers use different techniques not only to draw the attention of students but also to
seek active participation in class. Some of the applied techniques are: Eliciting: it is a
technique where the main point of the class has to be inferred. Correction: it is a
good way to help students get language accuracy by identification of weakness in
and intonation:it is a technique used to improve communicative skills of learners
trough teacher‟s correct production, accompanied with highlighting of particular
utterances at the moment of talking. Showing visuals: it is used to save time and
include grammatical points to be taught by using pictures, in some cases it could be
mixed with eliciting. Promoting interaction in class is a technique related to the
strategies priory explained since interaction allows students to be more confident and
to develop communicative skills in the target language, and some other techniques.
Likewise, according to Scrivener (1994) techniques have to be used freely
without making them a rule or law for the teacher, some techniques mentioned by the
author are correction, fingers and time lines.
Correction should be used to help students improve the use of language which
creates an atmosphere of trust when is properly done; it also allows students to build
up their knowledge in the second language. Furthermore, this author explains about
other techniques denominated “fingers”, in which each finger represents a word and
is used to correct the sentence order if this is wrong and to clarify patterns structure.
At last, time lines are part of another technique used to help students
differentiate the time when actions occurred and mainly to understand tenses usages.
Nevertheless, Finocchiaro (1965) considers that starting with a known
environment, planning different oral activities, creating a cultural island in class
trough material showed on walls and language used at normal speed are techniques
About managing learning Gower & Walters (1983), & Harmer (1991) state that
an important point in this aspect is to know how to give instructions clearly and
accurately in order to achieve a positive environment for students and the teacher. In
this way, waste of time will be avoided. Likewise, Woolfolk ( 2010) describes that is
not fair to use managing techniques just to keep students in silent and quiet way , it is
also necessary to make sure they are ready to participate in the activities in class and
that they have understood the given instructions.
Gower & Walters (1983), & Harmer (1991) mention that another important
part is to give proper feedback to determine the strengths and weaknesses in every
student to avoid future problems related to language use.
For proper development in a classroom, the teacher must organize classes
considering aims, procedure, approach and activities, materials, aids and equipment,
information about students, and anticipate problems; preparing a class is very
important because the teacher through plans fulfils his/her objectives. In addition, the
class can be adapted to the needs of students; planning time is helpful too, because
the teacher can achieve ending a lesson just in time, according to Gower, Phillips, &
Additionally, Richards & Renandya (2002) state that daily lesson plan can
benefit both the teacher and students. On the one hand, the teacher is benefitted
allow him to anticipate problems. On the other side, students are benefitted, too,
because the teacher takes into account their difference in backgrounds, interests, and
Likewise, Underwood (1987) mentions that planning a class for a teacher in
training can take much time than for an experienced teacher. Besides, when planning
a class details as the date, objectives, procedure, methodology and stages should be
included. Furthermore, the class should not be complicated and timing ought to be
taken into account to avoid incidents.
Finally, the plan of a class is not other thing that the class written down before
being given and it is done with the unique purpose of avoiding problems during the
According to Harmer (2007) the size of students in an English class varies
greatly. Nevertheless, both small and large groups of students have their own
advantages at the moment of teaching. In fact this author names to Hess (2001) who
says that in large groups there is a great variety of human resources in order to obtain
interaction among participants, while in small groups attention can be personalized
from the teacher to the students.
Although Blatchford (2003) states that in smaller classes the quality of
teaching and learning is better than in large ones. Meanwhile, according to
UNESCO (2006) and its recent researches, when teaching a second tongue class size
classes can learn as well as the students in small groups. In addition, it states that the
most important element is the quality in teaching and not the size of a class.
Classroom space is an important point to take into account when giving classes
since much depends on the organization of space to create a positive and enjoyable
environment for both students and the teacher, according to McLeod, Fisher, &
Hoover (2003). The teacher must be creative to organize space and thus succeed in
capturing the attention of students. Moreover, the instructor has to be allowed to
move freely in the space in order to check students‟ work.
Additionally, according to Nash (1976), space has to be prioritized as well as
equipment in order to match with the activities that are going to be done during class.
Finally, according to UNESCO (2006) the organization of space is necessary
to avoid feeling of overcrowding in learners, since this can make them feel
comfortable in a psycho social environment.
About seating arrangement can be said that it depends on class size and
classroom space. It is another aspect to bear in mind in order to create a friendly
atmosphere. In addition, the teacher must take into account both culture and the way
students interact, especially in multicultural classes in order not to cause offense or
any other discomfort among students. The teacher can place students individually, in
pair work, group work or whole class interaction, depending on the activity that is
Subsequently, Underwood (1987) states that it is important to organize seats in
a way that these cannot cause discomfort among other teachers using the same class.
Last of all, English is a language that needs a lot of speaking interaction and
therefore it is important to form pair work and group work so students have the
opportunity to communicate with each other (Lewis & Hill 1985).
Classroom and/or Teaching Resources
According to Richards & Renandya (2002), the different materials used in
class are the main source of contact that students have with the language after the
teacher, and these are the key component in most language programs. Among the
materials used in class it can be stated the printed material such as: books,
workbooks, worksheets, or readers; and the nonprint materials such as: cassette,
audio material, videos, or computer based resources. Additionally, there are also
materials that comprise both print and nonprint sources such as: self-access materials
and elements found on the internet.
Even though a great of published material is available the teacher can develop
his own worksheets and these can be presented in different ways such as sheets of
paper, photocopied, cue cards or role cards which are going to be used to work in
pairs or groups.
There are also resources to help significantly in the teaching - learning of
English such as: magazines, newspapers, and TV documentaries.
Moreover, Gover, Phillips & Walters (2005) say that the resources used in
elements that cannot be missed in a classroom. Furthermore, other resources are
visual objects also called realia, worksheets and workcards. Besides, the cassette
recorder is a useful tool in English class. Finally, videos can be taken into account
since they are considered as practical resource to catch students‟ attention.
Likewise, according to Richard-Amato & A.P. (1996), there are many
resources to be taken into account. However the most representatives are textbooks
which consist in published material with multiple components to allow students
learning process. Furthermore, computer programs that can allow teacher to test
students can also be considered as practical tools. Finally, videos are useful tools to
receive native input for completing the learning process.
According to Gebhard & Oprandy (1999), a purpose of observation is to
identify the strengths and weaknesses of the teacher being observed. Normally, this
procedure is done in order to get efficiency when teaching and to get a better way for
Moreover, another observation purposes are: learning to teach, becoming
skilled at observing and a final purpose is gathering information for research
Additionally, for Bellon, Eaker, Huffman, & Jones (1976), a purpose of
monitoring is to get the teacher to grow professionally trough arranged meetings
Moreover, Wajnryb (1992, p.7) says: “Monitoring helps teachers gain a better
understanding of their own teaching, while at the same time refines their ability to
observe, analyze and interpret, and ability which can also be used to improve their
According to Williams & Burden (1997), learning a foreign language has a
significant impact on the social nature of the learner, as this has to do with his/her
self-image. The learner adopts a new behaviour both sociallyand culturally, in other
words it goes beyond from just learning grammar rules.
Furthermore, Richards & Renandya (2002) state that motivation can be seen as
intrinsic when students are aware that learning a new language increases their
opportunities and extrinsic when rewards are necessary to stimulate learners.
Moreover, Lightbown & Spada (1999) describe motivation in second language
learning as relying on two factors: learners' communicative needs and their attitudes
towards the second language community. Learner‟s needs are represented by
personal ambitions which lead proficiency at the target tongue. Also, attitudes
toward the community can be gathered by interaction with native people.
To talk about learning styles Lightbown & Spada (2006) define different
learning styles depending on the way people absorb the knowledge they receive
between cognitive learning styles depends on whether learners separated details from
a general background or if learners see things more generally.
Likewise, according to Jordan (1997) the educational system, the socio-cultural
background and different personalities are the main influences on condition and the
way the learners think and study.
Moreover, according to Grant (1987) learning styles are also related to the
differences at the moment of processing and retaining information in learners which
allow them to be successful in the learning process.
Students’ Intelligence or Aptitude to Learn English
To deal with students‟ intelligences to learn English Lightbown & Spada
(2006) argue that Gardner's (1993) has influenced many educators with the proposal
that individuals have "Multiple intelligences" and that only a limited range of skills
have been assessed by IQ tests. Gardner speaks of skills in the areas of music,
interpersonal relationships, athletics, and especially a skill that has to do with success
in school which is verbal intelligence.
Besides, Williams & Burden (1997) and Mcdonough (1986) state intelligence
is directly related to academic success, and success in learning languages. Even
though, their conclusion is that a person having problems in learning a new language
cannot be considered as someone lacking intelligence; it may happen mostly because
of scarce teacher`s training in strategies. In addition, the authors emphasize that
everyone can learn as long as proper education is provided, and that students can be
In order to complete the information presented above it is important to analyse
some previous studies which show different factors that affect the English language
teaching learning process.
The first one is a study done by Khamkhien (2010). This investigation was
carried out in two public universities in Vietnam and Thailand with the purpose of
investigating about two objectives, the first aim focuses on three factors such as
gender, motivation and experience in learning English and how they affect the
choices for language learning strategies and the second objective was to compare
these aspects with the learning strategies used in Vietnam and Thai.
The methods were based on 200 questionnaires which had to be sent to two
public universities in Thai and Vietnam, achieving the participation of 136 students
who met the required characteristics such as being from 17 to 21 years old, not being
abroad for more than four months. Furthermore, the data analysis was carried out
through inferential and descriptive statistics using a computer program; the means
and standard derivation were also computed. It is necessary to say that to obtain
results questionnaires were divided into two different categories according to the
factor to be determined and examined.
As a conclusion, the research could inform that the finding related to gender
showed that this was not a variable which influences on choices of learning
strategies. Furthermore, motivation in both types of students demonstrates a
significant result. At last, experience studying abroad has great influence in both
Meanwhile, Aduwa-Ogiegbaen & Iyamu (2006) conducted a research whose
purpose was to determine if teachers use instructional resources and appropriate
methods in secondary school in Nigeria. In addition, the investigation has to
conclude if students in Nigeria learn English in an appropriate atmosphere.
Questionnaires with twenty seven items were used as a prior element to
investigate; the reliability of the survey was of 0.86 %. Furthermore, observation
directly at the educational environment done by 18 doctoral students of the faculty of
education of the University of Benin was included.
Therefore, public schools in Nigeria have to be provided with a variety of
instructional media which will allow the teacher to use new technological items
rather than printed material. Finally, it was severely recommended to improve
environment in school to get a comfortable feeling by students.
To continue with, Sariçoban & Sakizli (2006) carried out an investigation to
analyze three types of factors: concerning students, concerning the school
environment, and factors concerning teachers in order to get solutions for different
Since this investigation is based on prior studies, the information is collected in
the journal to show the factors that influence how teacher manage their classroom.
The author´s conclusion can be stated by saying that teaching is a learning
process which is influenced by maintaining a positive classroom atmosphere and
avoiding disrupts. Additionally, effective teaching is directly related to successful
Besides, factors affecting students learning are related to the needs of students
and their background. Factors affecting school environment include physical factors
such as sight, sound, feeling and social aspects. Finally, factors concerning teacher
have to do with effective lesson design, teacher roles and styles. As a result,
classroom management is a wide area that is affected and influenced by many factors
around every individual related to education.
Then, according to Bektas-Centiyaka & Oruc (2011), who have done a
research about socioeconomic factors with purpose to determine the motivation
level, reasons for studying English and the role of English in daily life between
students in public and private universities, it waspossible to demonstrate that
motivation in public and private university students in Turkey was moderated.
Students in public schools studied English just to obtain a grade, in other words to
approve a subject, whereas students in private universities clearly understand the role
of English in their daily life.
This study collected not only quantitative but also qualitative data which was
obtained from 228 students through answered questionnaires that include open -
ended items and two semi structured focus groups with five students per type of
In order to determine the degree of motivation a scale adopted from Dörnyei
(1990), which had twenty six items, was used. Additionally, reasons for learning
English were also tested in a questionnaire including eighteen items in order to
higher for public universities than for private ones. Then, to identify the amount of
English usage a questionnaire containing open-ended questions was applied.
Furthermore, two semi structured focus groups were conducted; one with five
students of a public university and one consisted on five students of a private
university, which allowed the researches to explore more about motivational aspects.
Finally, it is imperative to say that descriptive statistics were conducted
through a computer program to analyze quantitative data.
The results obtained in this research are congruent with prior studies; according
to the first finding, middle and upper level students have a higher motivation to learn
a foreign language since the school is provided with more technological devices. In
addition, the number of students is a relevant factor to get an effective language
learning process. At last, both groups public students and private learners are highly
influenced to learn English as a second language since they recognize it is important
in our world.
The last study was done by Muñoz (2001), who has done a research to
determine the effects of starting age on learning a foreign language. Furthermore,
other individual factors and the relation to age such as the student`s attitude and
motivation, the influence of first language, socio cultural class, gender, and
extracurricular exposure to English were analysed in the investigation.
The methods used for the research were series of test that were submitted in
different section that were oral, written, and grammatical. The test consisted in a
where students had to answer multiple choice questions, and the dictation test in
which blanks have to be fulfilled. Finally, students had to answer a questionnaire
about socio economic aspects and extracurricular exposition to the foreign language.
It is essential to say that a correlation analysis was used to establish relation among
variables as well as some statistical analysis to explore deeply the results.
The conclusions of this research showed that the age is not an influential factor
when learning a foreign language, since at the beginning younger students mastered
in the listening test but then older ones got the advantage in all the skills. With this
result people can set aside the idea of mastering in learning a second language
learning process because of age. Furthermore, the author states that different
methodologies have to be used by the teacher depending on the type of students in
Description, Analysis, and Interpretation of Results
This section includes the description of the results obtained from the
questionnaires done to teachers and the observation to their classes, in order to get
the main goal of the research and analyze the four variables of the study.
For the quantitative analysis, fifteen teachers were selected to be observed and
interviewed, along with fifteen students to be analyzed in order to determine factors
affecting the English learning process in public high schools.
The analysis done in a quantitative manner included a graph to determine
percentage of occurrence in the answers of the teacher‟s questionnaire, where a
relation between the scores and the variables were shown. The graph was
complemented with the use of a table to show frequency of answers and percentage
obtained from the replies.
Finally, in order to understand the most important characteristics of the
Factors Concerning Teachers
Which level of education do teachers have?
Frequency Cumulative Frequency
Percent Cumulative Percent
High School Diploma
1 1 6.67 6.67
English Bachelor‟s Degree
10 11 66.67 73.34
English Master‟s Degree
2 13 13.33 86.67
Others 2 15 13.33 100.00
TOTAL 15 15 100.00 100.00
Graph 1 shows that 6,67% of the teachers have obtained a High school
diploma, which means that they did not finish a career in the university. Most of the
participants, 66,67%, have achieved a Bachelor`s degree in English. The 13,33% of
the teachers have got an English Master´s degree and the remaining 13,33%
corresponds to the category of others that includes people who have got different
degrees at university.
It is necessary to say that in Ecuador, the institution which regulates college
studies, SENESCYT, does not have a standard exam to test students before getting
an English Bachelor`s degree, for that reason it is not easy to determine the language
proficiency of students before becoming teachers in our educational setting.
Therefore, a complexity can be found when teachers have to face reality and teach
their subject in a foreign language.
Using an interview to determine levels from the interviewed teachers, 26,67%
are in B2 level, which corresponds to an independent user of the language who can
interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes regular interaction with
native speakers quite possible without strain for either party. (See Annex 5), 60% of
them were able to reach B1 level which corresponds to an independent user who
talks mainly about familiar events, and 13,33% reached A2, which corresponds to a
basic user of English (See Annex 5). However, Pesantez in March (2012) states that
in the recent analysis done by SENESCYT, where 5,022 English teachers were
evaluated, 74% who were part of an examination are only in A1 and A2 level
according to the Common European Framework, which denotes a lack of knowledge
According to Ministry of Education (2012) in an attempt to improve
opportunities for students to learn a foreign language in public schools the
government announced all English teachers in Ecuador were going to be tested with
an international exam called TOEFL in July, which is widely recognized for being a
valuable tool to test knowledge of the four skills in English.
The exam was part of the Project of strengthening English teaching in public
high schools, which sought the improvement of quality in English teaching, by which
students would be able to reach B1 level by the time they graduate from high school.
If students reach the level mentioned before, they would be able to improve their
opportunities for work and future studies.
There is a limitation at this stage, interviewed teachers claimed that the exam
they had to take last month was really complex and hard for them to solve, reason by
which they are feeling stressed and worried about their carrier. In addition, they are
not aware that this exam is an attempt to improve their knowledge rather they believe
it is in order to demonstrate their shortcomings, so they do not agree with
government‟s new plan for education.
As explained before, the government is trying to develop quality of education
in public high schools. However, it is necessary to mention that because of the
government‟s attempt to change English learning in public high schools is new and
very recent idea, changes has not been done yet.
As seen in the observed classes teachers were able to talk in English uttering
simple words as orders and colors by which deficiency in the mastery of language
explain the different issues in class. It is essential to mention that teachers are using
memorized phrases to talk to students and limited communication can be recognized.
Which one of the following methods was used in the observed classes?
Frequency Cumulative Frequency
Percent Cumulative Percent
Communicative Language Teaching
9 9 60.00 60.00
The Natural Approach
1 10 6.67 66.67
Cooperative Language Learning
2 13 13.33 80.00
0 0 0 0
Task-Based Language Teaching
1 14 6.67 86.67
Cognitive Academic Language Learning
1 0 6.67 93.34
Total Physical Response
0 0 0 0
Whole Language Approach
1 15 6.66 100.00
Grammar Translation Method
0 0 0 0
Others 0 0 0 0
Authors: Vanessa Peña and Gladys Sánchez Source: Teacher‟s questionnaire
In graph 2 it is shown that the method which was widely used (60%) is the
Communicative Language Teaching. According to Díaz-Rico &Weed (1995),
Communicative Language Teaching is used by teachers with the objective to
promote development of communicative skills through the usage of dialogues. In the
observed classes the percentage of teachers who used this approach, corresponds to
53,33%, which denotes that they have answered the questionnaire sincerely or that
they are aware about the type of method they use. According to notes taken while
observing, it was evidenced that teachers used brainstorming which encouraged
students to use English to get communicative competence and others used pair work
In the pie chart, the next section shows that 13,33% of teachers reported that
they used Cooperative Language Learning in their classes. Rodgers and Richards
(2001) state this is an approach to teaching based on the use of cooperative activities
in small groups in the classroom; it means that the class has to be based on social
exchange of information. However, according to the observation of classes none of
teachers used this method, since instructors prefer to talk in front of the class to
explain the different issues rather than giving students the opportunity to interact to
acquire or reinforce knowledge.
The following percentage is the 6,67%. It corresponds to the Natural
Approach. According to Díaz-Rico &Weed (1995), this method focuses on the
hypothesis that if students receive comprehensible input, they would be able to
develop their own strategies to learn how to talk in English; the teachers have to
include listening exercises in the class. However, none of the teachers was observed
to include this method in class. Most of the instructors did not use comprehensible
input, they just used very little English and pronunciation was not accurate in some
Other methods that resulted in 6,67% each one were: Task Based Language
Learning, Cognitive Academic Language Learning. The first method, according to
Richards &Rodgers (2001), corresponds to the use of activities related to real
communication situations which promote learning. Richard & Rodgers (2001) state
the second method, Cognitive Academic Language Learning, emphasizes a
conscious awareness of rules and their application to second language learning. On
the other hand, taking into account the observed classes none of the teachers used
The next section in the graph shows that 6,66% of the questioned teachers
declared to use Whole Language Approach as a tool to reinforce their classes.
According to Richard & Rodgers (2001), The Whole Language Approach
emphasizes learning to read and write naturally with a focus on real communication
and reading and writing for pleasure. Nevertheless, according to the observations
there were no teachers using this method, none of them practiced neither writing
activities nor reading tasks just for fun.
There are some areas in the pie chart which can be observed to record 0% in
some methods as Total Physical Response. TPR is the process in which students use
body movements in order to show a response to given instructions. It allows the
teacher to check understanding. Moreover, students cannot be obligated to speak
creating a positive environment and facilitating the teaching - learning process,
according to Richards & Rodgers (2001), Diaz-Rico & Weed (1995), and House
(2011). Nevertheless, according to the observations there were no teachers who used
this method in class. Another method that did not gain any score was Content Based
Instruction which is the approach where teaching is organized around the content or
information that students will acquire, rather than around a linguistic or other type of
syllabus (Richards & Rodgers, 2001). Taking into account the observed classes there
were no teachers using this method, it can be stated that Content Based Instruction
requires a proficient teacher since some technical words are required depending on
the subject, and in this case as explained before there were few teachers reaching
higher levels of proficiency, as consequence they cannot use this method because of
Finally, the last section denoted with no score was represented by Grammar
Translation Method. At this point, after the observation of classes in the six public
high schools it was noted that 46,67% of the monitored teachers used The Grammar
Translation Method, which can be clearly evidenced since their use of English while
explaining grammatical points was very limited. In addition, to teach students new
vocabulary, they just translated the utterances literally to Spanish to get students
understand the meaning. No listening or speaking exercises were done to help oral
production. In the observed classes a teacher stated telling students some sentences
in Spanish and he asked them to translate sentences to English; it was clearly
evidenced that the method used was not the appropriate since sentences were in past
perfect and students did not have knowledge about how to transform Spanish
statements into English in a complex tense as past perfect, and this could be stressful
for learners. According to Richards & Rodgers (2001), this method can be frustrating
for students since they must memorize endless lists of words and grammar rules for
achieving a perfect translation. However, according to the surveyed students, 80% of
them have said that they enjoyed the way utilized by teachers to explain English
since they considered it as funny and practical to learn. The remaining 20% stated
that they felt bored in class, and exhausted in some cases. Those students agreed with
the statements of Richards & Rodgers (2001), whose explanations refer that using
The Grammar translation method could be boring and tiring because students have to
Do teachers use whole-group activities to teach their lessons?
Frequency Cumulative Frequency
Percent Cumulative Percent
YES 15 15 100.00 100.00
NO 0 0 0 0
TOTAL 15 15 100.00 100.00
Authors: Vanessa Peña and Gladys Sánchez Source: Teacher‟s questionnaire
All the observed teachers stated to use whole group activities to teach their
lessons because they feel saving time on class in this way. Using whole group
spent is fewer than explaining issues individually. According to Gower, Phillips &
Walters (2005), students need to interact in the class since it is a way to communicate
and use the foreign language. They also state that interaction helps students to
develop communicative skills.
Harmer (2007) states that there are some advantages in using whole – class
grouping because the interaction between a large group can be recognized as
unification, since students get involved in the learning atmosphere and they can share
their emotions with the class.
It was seen in the observed classes that 80% of the teachers used whole group
activities to teach their lessons. It is necessary to say that whole group activities are
considered to be important when achieving a common goal in the class, since
students can express their opinions and varied arguments about the class. Whole
group activities are useful when teaching classes of 15 students or less, since students
can interact between them, with the instructor, making the class to function as a
whole unit rather than a division of groups (Teaching English Editor, 2003).
At this point, it can be recognized that the usage of whole group activities can
be practical in smaller classes, but in the observed classes, the number of students
varied from 31 or more. According to Harmer (2007), using whole group activities
for large classes can be disadvantageous because students may not feel comfortable
with acting in public and they are not going to participate because of fear of failing in
front of their classes. In addition, it is stated that communication would become more
difficult to occur in groups of more than 20 or 30 students, since they do not have
As seen in the classes, the problem in whole group teaching is that students
are doing the same thing at the same time, and the differences in needs are not taken
into account. Additionally, it was seen that when teachers were working in whole
group activities some students were involved in the class while others were doing
different types of activities no related to the topic of the lesson. The different ways of
participation can be because as explained before some students like acting and
participating in the class showing their feelings and sharing with everybody.
Whereas, other learners do not feel involved in the class and they cannot expressing
their ideas in front of public.
Students got little time of participation because of the number of learners in
class. As a result, they have no chance to develop their communicative skills, which
are considered important when travelling abroad or interacting with foreigners as
well as with native speakers. According to Harmer (2007), whole group activities
just benefit the transmission of knowledge from the teacher to the students rather
than having students discover or research things by themselves.
This statement can be proved as true since in the observed classes there was
no opportunity for learners to talk; they just remained in silence most of the time
listening to the instruction given by the teacher and trying to comprehend the lesson
they were receiving. Likewise, Harmer (2007) states this type of style allows
teachers to feel secure while giving lessons, since they can be seen as an authority
because the whole class is attending them. In the observed classes it was seen that
teacher was most of the time in front of the students which is a clear way to
According to the students‟ questionnaire 93,33% of the surveyed individuals
said that they enjoyed the activities performed in class, but it is necessary to say that
even though students like what they do, they are not achieving the capability to use
the foreign language with others, since teachers do not permit interrelation among
students. This system allows students to be receptors of the knowledge rather than
active participants in the process of acquiring a second tongue.
The other 6.67% of the participants revealed that they did not feel
comfortable working as a whole group and it can be inferred that they felt that way
since whole group teaching requires all learners to work at the same pace and do the
same activities at the same time, which in the case of some students is difficult to
keep track of others.
Do teachers use individual activities to teach their lessons?
Frequency Cumulative Frequency
Percent Cumulative Percent
YES 12 12 80.00 80.00
NO 3 15 20.00 100.00
Authors: Vanessa Peña and Gladys Sánchez Source: Teacher‟s questionnaire
In graph 4, it can be clearly observed that 80% of teachers use individual work
when teaching their lessons, because they can evidence students‟ errors by individual
grading and try to improve the knowledge.
According to Harmer (2007), individualized learning allows students to do
exercises by their own, and to develop their autonomy for working. In addition, there
are some activities related to individual work such as reading privately and then
answer comprehension questions individually. In the observed classes there were no
activities for reading since teachers did not provide this type of material and students
On the other side, the remaining 20% reported that they did not use this type
of work in classes, because they considered there are a lot of students and it is really
tiring to grade them one by one to correct their errors. In addition, one of the
participants said that it is better to work in groups rather than individually since
students can interact and improve their knowledge, as well as develop their skills to
communicate in the second language in a better way. Gower, Phillips & Walters
(2005) state that students are individuals with different capabilities, speed and
different work rates, and that there are some tasks which need to be done alone as the
ones which develop reading and writing skills in order to get the objective to learn.
Harmer (2007) stated that when working individually students do not develop a
sense of belonging, and it does not encourage cooperation. In the observed classes
the students who developed this individual activity had to complete lyrics of a song
in English, and the lack of cooperation was evidenced since they tried to listen to the
song and fill in the blanks to complete some parts of it, but they did not share or
compare answers between them, which denoted lack of teamwork.
The observation sheet demonstrates that 13,33% of the teachers use
individual work in their lessons. According to Harmer (2007), individual work is
useful to promote learners autonomy and skills of self – reliance, which means that
the unique teacher from the observed ones who use this activity, is the one who
really understands the important role played by individual task in second language
On the other side, the remaining 86.67% of teachers did not use this activity
allows students to learn at their pace taking into consideration the differences and
allowing learners to understand in their own way. Since the observed classes did not
have this type of activity, students were not developing their ability to be
autonomous and learn at their own pace, instead of that they had to go at the same
pace as the rest of the class. In addition, the development of two of the four skills in
English as the reading and writing abilities could not be fully built up in the total of
participants since as stated before; individual reading tasks help the improvement of
knowledge in foreign language learning.
Additionally, taking into account the students‟ answers learners considered
that activities performed in class can vary from very easy to really difficult in
different percentage, for instance, 60% of learners stated that activities in class were
easy to complete, 6,67% agreed that tasks in classes were very easy to carry out, and
the remaining 33,33% reported that assignments were difficult to do. At this point, an
aspect can be considered: it may be more difficult for students to achieve and
complete a task when they were not actively involved in class while it was handled
in whole group, consequently they cannot remember some aspects to complete the
assignments and they believe it is hard to succeed on the tasks. In addition, students
who contributed in class could find it easy to develop activities and finish them
Do teachers use group work activities to teach their lessons?
Frequency Cumulative Frequency
Percent Cumulative Percent
YES 15 15 100.00 100.00
NO 0 0 0 0
TOTAL 15 15 100.00 100.00
Authors: Vanessa Peña and Gladys Sánchez Source: Teacher‟s questionnaire
Graph 5 shows that 100% of the surveyed teachers reported to use team work
as a strategy to introduce or reinforce knowledge in the English class. Instructors said
that this type of activity was vital since students could be allowed to interact between
practice can be considered as an active way to handle classes and it is also a resource
for students to learn how to work in groups and help each other get the task
completed successfully. According to Harmer (2007), working in group can be
usually less problematic, and there is a greater chance to have different opinions in
and varied contributions among students, which completely agree with the requested
In the observed classes just one teacher applied group work technique in his
class. At the beginning, it was detected that when students work in groups they get
nervous, but then due encouragement given by the teacher, learners can overcome
their fear and start working properly to practice dialogues and promote their listening
and speaking skills. According to Harmer (2007), when students are allowed to work
in groups autonomy is promoted, since they can make their own decisions without
being told by the teacher.
In other words, learners allowed to use this technique are becoming self –
sufficient and they would be able to handle conversations and act using the second
On the other side, the inquired instructors said they used group activities; even
tough 93.33% of them did not apply this technique in their classes. It means teachers
do not promote interaction between students. According to Gower, Phillips &
Walters (2005) interaction is essential if all students in the group are to have
adequate practice. They stated interaction develops a much greater awareness among
students about what is happening in the class and how they could get related in it. As
get completely involved in class and some of them prefer to do different activities at
the moment of learning rather than paying attention to the class which causes low
level of interaction.
There are many advantages given by usage of group activities especially to
permit interaction as explained. Nevertheless, teachers do not utilize group work to
help their students develop their communicative competence. According to Harmer
(2007), working in teams can be useful since the number of interaction opportunities
during class for each student will increase. At this point, it is necessary to say that
because the majority of the instructors do not use this type of activity students are not
fully involved in the ambiance of the class.
On the other hand, just 6.66 % of the requested teachers used pair work
activities to work in a specific topic in class and develop speaking skills since they
have to practice a dialogue to exchange personal information. According to Harmer
(2007), pair work dramatically increases the amount of speaking time any student
gets in the class, and it allows the students to work and interact independently. It was
exactly what was observed in classes; students got the opportunity to practice phrases
as well as questions to improve their communicative competence.
A specific aspect to bear in mind is that 93,33% from the surveyed participants
said they enjoyed the activities teachers did in classes to obtain knowledge on the
target language, which can show that students have got accustomed to the way of
working in class which corresponds to whole group activities rather than pair or
are required when talking to others in English, students and teachers are acquainted
with having classes with little or no active participation.
Teachers are ignoring the advantages of working in groups and the way
students get benefit from interacting with other classmates. Students do feel
comfortable since they are not all involved in the class activity.
Do teachers use English most of the time in their classes?
Frequency Cumulative Frequency
Percent Cumulative Percent
YES 13 13 86.67 86.67
NO 2 15 13.33 100.00
TOTAL 15 15 100.00 100.00
As seen in the above pie chart, 13 teachers, 86,67% of the total of participants,
affirmed they use English most of the time in their classes. Halliwell & Jones (1991)
claim that using the target language to teach is necessary to promote real
communication, and that to achieve success in learning a second tongue, students
have to be encouraged to take risks and practice speaking and understanding of the
target language. At this point, some methods to teach a foreign language such as the
Audiolingual Method, The Communicative Language Teaching, among others agree
with the prior statement. In this way, the Audiolingual Method, which according to
Richards and Rodgers (2001) corresponds to an approach focused on drills usage and
patterned input reception, to help students to achieve communicative competence
through memorization. It is essential to say that the role of the teacher is central and
active. Additionally, the other method to take into account is Communicative
Language Teaching where communicative competence is the goal trough fluency in
the foreign language, (Richard & Rodgers 2001). In the observed classes there was
seen that 40% of the observed teachers used English in their classes. The problem
was that they used the foreign language to express basic ideas and used elemental
vocabulary. In other words, even though instructors stated they used English in class
the failure comes when they do not use the language accurately in some cases.
On the other side, two out of fifteen participants, which correspond to
13, 33% of the total group of requested individuals stated they did not use the target
language to teach their lessons. According to Richard & Rodgers (2001), there is a
method used to teach second language by using mother tongue, it is the Grammar
Translation Method, where sentences are translated from L1 to L2 in accordance