A Classroom-Based Action Research on Promoting Confidence in an ESL Classroom

INTRODUCTION

Research in the field of second and foreign language learning shows that speaking skills or the ability to speak the language confidently is the most important aspect in learning a language (Doqaruni, 2014).

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Through speaking, one is able to express his/her ideas and thoughts (Fauzan, 2014), hence, being able to speak to friends, colleagues, visitors, and even strangers using the language one is trying to learn is the goal of many L2 learners (Luoma, 2004).

However, many English learners feel unconfident and anxious in speaking the language.

According to research, the students have problems in speaking English due to reluctance, hesitation, fear of making mistakes, or lack of adequate vocabulary (Fauzan, 2014), many English learners are also reluctant and unmotivated (Nunan, 1999:231-233) because they are afraid that their friends will laugh at them if they make a mistake.

Moreover, in the classroom, research has revealed that second language learners often seem passive and unconfident when asked to speak using the target language (Doqaruni, 2014). Based on the researchers’ experience, L2 learners often ask if they can use their native language to express their thoughts; they also hesitate to answer the question being thrown at them if it requires a subjective answer. However, in this day and age wherein globalization is taking place, there is an urgent need for language teachers to encourage learners to speak another language, especially English because being able to speak a language different from one’s native language will open a lot of opportunities. Thus, encouraging students to talk in a language classroom is a problem that most language teachers seriously face (Tsui, 1996; White & Lightbown, 1984).

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Considering the facts stated above, this present study aims to provide other ways to encourage L2 learners to speak English. Through continuous exposure of students to the language through EOP (English Only Policy), enhancing the vocabulary of the students through ‘Word of the Day” activity and providing feedback to students’ written output and oral recitation, this research will show how these strategies can help build the confidence of the students when speaking the target language.

REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE

Confidence of English as Second Language (ESL) Learners in using L2

The nation’s classrooms are becoming increasingly diverse. (Mazur, 2010) There are different aspects of diversity which include culture; language, ability, interests, background knowledge, and approach to learning. Diversity exists both within and across racial and ethnic groups; making it clear for schools the need to acknowledge and respond to the diversity that exists among students.

Fauzan (2014) mentioned that because of this diversity, the students are having problems in speaking English due to reluctance, hesitation, fear of making mistakes, or lack of adequate vocabulary. Nunan, (1999:231-233) supported this claim by saying that many English learners are also reluctant and unmotivated because they are afraid that their friends will laugh at them if they make a mistake.

To address this situation, Duran (2010) says that schools should provide learning environments in which teachers and students become acquainted with and respect the diversity of others. Students enter school with viable language systems and cultural backgrounds. Furthermore, Tsui (1996) said that students’ competence in standard English is a worthy and appropriate goal of the school; expansion to standard English should be offered as an opportunity for choice in language usage not as a rejection of home language. The culturally responsive knowledge and practice of educators can play a significant role in how well students learn.

CLASSROOM ROUTINES THAT ENHANCE ESL LEARNERS’ COMPETENCE OF USING L2

Students lack the extensive and routine exposure needed to gain the confidence and fluency they desire in spoken English. (Kubo, 2009) Further, students attribute their inability to speak English fluently and confidently to the lack of speaking experience and/or opportunities to engage in second language (L2) conversation outside the classroom. Students who are confident to engage in English conversation invariably report having experienced living or traveling abroad, or studying at private English conversation schools.

Cl?ment (1980) introduced a study that suggests that self-confidence resulting from previous pleasant and successful experiences with the target language outside the classroom is more relevant than self-confidence resulting from classroom success. However, Schneider (2001) states that in Japan, there has been limited opportunities for Japanese college students to practice speaking English, generally they do not possess the confidence to speak despite having studied the target language for six years or more.

Fauzan (2016) conducted a study that aims to enhance ESL learners’ speaking ability through debate and peer assessment. It turns out that the result of speaking test showed that the students had made some progress. The classroom atmospheres were also increasing positively. The result shows that the students gradually could express their thought and opinions in debate practice. This activity encouraged the students’ creativity to explore the language, since they were asked to develop their arguments from certain motions. The motions were made familiar to them so that they found it easy to speak on the topics. By practicing speaking in practice, they improved their fluency as well as their confidence.

RESEARCH QUESTIONS

Adapting the results of previous research, this study now aims to answer the following questions:

  1. How confident are the students in speaking in English in the ESL classroom?
  2. How effective are the following strategies in promoting confidence in speaking in the ESL classroom?
  • English Only Policy
  • Word of the Day

METHODOLOGY

This part discusses the research setting, participants, instruments, data collection procedure, and method of analysis of the study.

RESEARCH SETTING

The research was conducted at Paraaque National High School- Main located in San Dionisio, Paranaque City. The school was considered the largest when it comes to population from 2000 up to 2010 and from 2014-2015.

PARTICIPANTS

In this study, the researchers, with the use of purposive sampling, have chosen the participants according to these criteria; (1) bonafide students of Paranaque National High School- Main, (2) students of the researchers and (3) students who are taking English classes. The participants in this study consist of 42 grade VIII students and 42 grade IX students. For confidentiality purposes, the names of the students are not revealed.

INSTRUMENTS

To collect the data for the first research question, the participants were asked to answer a survey adopted from the “Confidence in Speaking Questionnaire” of Griffee in 1997. After analyzing the results of the survey, the researchers implemented strategies that aim to develop the confidence of the students in speaking in English in the classroom. Th strategies are (1) continuous exposure of students to the language through EOP (English Only Policy) and (2) enhancing the vocabulary of the students through “Word of the Day”.

METHOD OF ANALYSIS

After collecting the data, the results of the survey were analyzed by using the three aspects underlying confidence in speaking English used by Griffee in 1987. The three aspects are (1) ability, (2) assurance and (3) willing engagement.

Moreover, to satisfy the second research question, the researchers conducted an FGD (Focused Group Discussion) consisting of six practice teachers from Paranaque National High School- Main discussing the effectiveness of the strategies used in the research.

RESULTS AND DISCUSSION

Confidence in speaking (Adopted from Grifee, 1997)

This part of the study answers the first research question which measures learners’ confidence in using L2.

In Grifee’s measurement of ESL’s confidence of using L2, the questionnaire is divided into three major categories. Items 1,4,7 and 9 measure learners’ ability of speaking L2. Items 3,6,11 and 12 measure the learners’ assurance that they could use the language. Finally, items 2,5, 8 and 10 measure the students willingness to engage in the discussion using their L2.

Based on the results of the survey, the majority of the students claim that they have the ability to be interviewed in English. Moreover, they can give their own opinions in English when they talk with a native speaker. However, they are undecided in terms of discussing ideas with the native speakers; in addition, they could not decide whether to be with an English-Speaking visitor around the campus and use English to communicate with them. This concludes that they are capable of speaking in English but when faced with other people, they tend to lose their confidence. Students claim to be more conscious of their grammar knowing that native speakers have been fluent to using the English language.

The result shows the willingness of the respondents to engage in the discussion using English. The results of survey show that they are willing to engage and learn more about English. The respondents agreed that they would like to study in an English-speaking country. It has been a motivation for the respondents to study in an English-speaking country because they wanted to visit places abroad and not just here in the Philippines. In addition, they expressed that they would like to be exposed to the language even more. The respondents also agreed that they feel cheerful when speaking in English. The respondents agreed as well that they look for chances to speak in English, and to say something in English everyday.

Based on the survey that was conducted, the respondents agreed that they are willing to speak in English. It has been found out that they will speak to a group of people using English Language. The respondents showed assurance that they will use the language to learn. Because they have limited knowledge in English, the respondents, throughout the survey, showed that they are willing to learn more and that they are willing to engage in English discussion to widen their knowledge. The survey also shows that the respondents feel undecided if they can speak in English easily. Furthermore, they are uncertain to feel relaxed while speaking in English. This shows that the respondents still have inhibitions about speaking the language. They said to be still afraid to make mistakes and they feel conscious about their grammar and pronunciation.

Overall, based on the data gathered, the researchers are able to identify that majority of ESL learners agree of having the ability to speak using their L2. This concludes their willingness to participate in the discussion even with the use of English as a medium of instruction. Most importantly, students have been proven to be yet undecided when joined with native speakers of English.

Effectivity of the EOP and Word of the Day in promoting confidence in speaking in the ESL Classroom

A focused group discussion was held by the researchers, along with co-Practice Teachers, to discuss the effectivity of the strategies EOP and Word of the Day.

The researchers first discussed about their strategy which is the “English Only Policy” or EOP where the students are only allowed to speak in English. If the student is caught speaking in Filipino, he/she will have a consequence which is to give a performance the next meeting. The researchers discussed that the strategy has been effective because the class was behave during the implementation of the strategy because no one dared to speak in Filipino. The students were afraid to speak in Filipino because they were also not confident enough to give a performance in front of the class. According to the discussion, the effectiveness of the strategy lies in its ability to improve the students’ fluency in English, as well as their exposure to the language. It gives the students confidence to speak knowing that all of them are in the same English speaking environment. It has also been said in the discussion that the strategy is also helpful to the teacher because the consequence of having to perform keeps the class quiet and manage.

Practice teachers have also agreed on how effective the strategy is. They have also added that aside from the performance, teachers can have a different type of consequence for their students.

The researchers then discussed about their other strategy which is the Word of the Day where the students will learn a new English word before the class starts. The students will then use the new word in a sentence. It has also been discussed by the researchers during the group discussion that the Word of the Day not only enhances the students’ vocabulary but it also helps them in their pronunciation. Given their limited knowledge in the English language, through the strategy, they are given direct feedback on their sentence construction. It was also explained that because the students often misuse words, the direct feedback helps the students in the construction of their sentences.

During the discussion, other Practice Teachers have also advised to quiz the students at the end of the week about the new words that they have learned to know if they did remember the meaning of the words or not.

CONCLUSION

Conclusion of the Study

Fauzan (2014) claimed that students have problems in speaking English due to reluctance, hesitation, fear of making mistakes, or lack of adequate vocabulary. This was supported by Nunan (1999:231-233) saying that many English learners are also reluctant and unmotivated because they are afraid that their friends will laugh at them if they make a mistake.

In this study, the researchers adopted Grifee’s (1997) survey that measures students’ confidence in speaking L2. The researchers found out that students believe themselves to be capable of using English and that they are willing to engage in class discussions using English as a medium of instruction. On the other hand, students are left undecided about being mixed with native speakers of English.

To address this issue, the researchers conducted an action research which provides ESL learners continuous exposure of the English language through extensive classroom strategies such as English Only Policy and Word of the Day.

To measure the effectivity of the said strategies, the researchers conducted a focus group discussion (FGD) among the practice teachers of the participants.

The results went to be positive that it enhances learners’ confidence in using English.

LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY

The population used for this study was 84 high school students in a public high school in the Philippines. Since the sample size is small, the results of the study cannot be generalized to other settings. Even though the study is able to provide new strategies when it comes to building confidence of students in learning a second language it would be more all-encompassing if future research on similar topics include larger research samples and more locations.

Also, this action research was conducted in a span of two months only. Therefore, the researchers suggest that future researchers extend the time frame of the research so that more results can be drawn out from the data that will be gathered.

References:

  • Doqaruni, R.V. (2014). A quantitative action research on promoting confidence in a foreign language classroom: implications for second language teachers. Inquiry in Education, 5(3), 1-20.
  • Fausan, U. (2016). Enhancing Speaking Ability of EFL Students through Debate and Peer Assessment. EFL JOURNAL, Volume 1 (1), 2016. DOI:
  • Kubo, M. (2009). Extensive pair taping for college students in Japan: Action research in confidence and fluency building. Accents Asia, 3(1), 36-68.
  • Luoma, S. (2004). Assessing speaking. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.
  • Teaching Diverse Learners: Principles for Best Practice, Amy J. Mazur, Patricia Rice Doran, Corwin Press, 7 Sep 2010 Source:
  • Tsui, B. M. (1996). Reticence and anxiety in second language learning. In K. M. Bailey & D. Nunan (Eds.), Voices from the language classroom: Qualitative research in second language education (pp. 145-167). Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.
  • White, J., & Lightbown, P. (1984). Asking and answering in ESL classes. The Canadian Modern Language Review, 40(2), 228-244.

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A Classroom-Based Action Research on Promoting Confidence in an ESL Classroom. (2019, Dec 12). Retrieved from http://studymoose.com/a-classroom-based-action-research-on-promoting-confidence-in-an-esl-classroom-essay

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