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

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La Universidad Católica de Loja


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




Nina Nesterenko


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

fines pertinentes.

Loja, julio de 2013

f) . . .



“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

la Universidad”.

______________________ ______________________

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

long-cherished dream.


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

my life.



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







Literature Review………..……..7

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



Literature Review

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).

Teaching Techniques

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


Managing Learning

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.

Lesson Design

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, &

Walters (2005).

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

learning styles.

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


Class Size

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

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.

Seating Arrangement

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.

Classroom Observation

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

imparting classes.

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

own teaching”.

Student’s Motivation

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.

Learning Styles

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


Quantitative Analysis

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


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

Content-Based Instruction

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


Graph 2

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

Graph 3

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


Graph 4

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

Graph 5

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

teachers explanations.

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

Graph 6


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