Improving the English Language Skills of First-Year Students

Abstract

In teaching English, most of the teachers has been traditionally used the passive lecture format that mainly focuses on the teacher. In teacher-centered classroom, the teacher is the provider of knowledge and the students passively receive information. Thus, this often leads to the students as the passive learners and learning process cannot be successful. In order to be successful learning, the active learning is essential and it is necessary to use learner-centered approach to change passive learners to active learners.

In this research paper, learner-center approach is used for improving first-year engineering students’ English language skills. In order to get information about the students’ attitude towards learner-centered approach, data analysis is firstly conducted. Then, the learner-centered strategies and lesson plan with learner-centered activities are suggested according to the findings from students’ questionnaires. So, it is hoped that this paper will be helpful for all students and teachers who want to implement student-centered classroom.

Introduction

In a highly competitive global labour market, universities are expected to produce graduate who are flexible, adaptable and prepared to take responsibility for their own learning as well continuous professional and personal development.

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A consequent of this move is the need to provide opportunities for students to develop a sense of ownership over their individual learning processes (Pedersen and Williams, 2004; Cavanagh, 2011). The emphasis is now more on paradigm shift to the constructive approaches of teaching that are student-centered, away from behaviorist approaches that are teacher-centered (Schmittau, 2004).

Learner-centered approach is a process of teaching in which students have controlled over the learning.

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In this situation, teachers do less talking and students do more discovering (Brown, 2008). The role of the teacher in the learner-centered approach is to design the lesson in such a way as to encourage students to learn from and with each other and provide more feedback throughout the process (Harpe and Phips, 2009).

Data Analysis

In order to investigate the students’ attitude towards learner-center approach, questionnaires are given to fifty students of first-year engineering students from Technological University (Monywa) and the data are collected. The following table is data from questionnaires.

According to data from questionnaires, all students like a teacher who creates a lesson that makes them want to learn. 98 percent of the students prefer a teacher who acts as a facilitator and allows them to play an active and inquiring role than one who acts like the sole expert in the class. 92 percent of the students like a teacher who creates a lesson that motivates students to accept responsibility for their own learning. 98 percent of the students enjoy activities in which they can interact with the material, teacher, and fellow students. 94 percent of the students like being encouraged to take ownership of their own learning. 98 percent of the students like a teacher who helps them develop skills for future learning. 96 percent of the students like being made aware of their abilities to learn. 90 percent of the students enjoy assessing their own learning. 94 percent of the students agree that it is useful if they are given opportunities to learn from their mistakes. So, their feedbacks suggest that they prefer learner-centered approach than teacher-centered approach. To meet their needs and wants, some of learner-centered strategies are selected. Then, the lesson is planned with the activities based on the learner-centered strategies to improve first-year engineering students’ English language skills.

There are many learner-centered strategies in language teaching. Among them, the learner-centered strategies suggested in this paper are group work, pair work, game, role play, and presentation to adopt the learner-centered approach in improving students’ English language skills.

Group work is a learner-centered strategy that the students are working together as a group or team for a joint purpose or outcomes. The students will work on a task that requires one solution, brainstorming, or discussing views. Students can learn to get on with each other not by being taught in group work activities. They are given opportunities to discuss and recognize alternative points of view. Quite apart from these academic benefits, group work can be great fun and very rewarding.

Pair work is a type of collaborative learning that involves students working in pairs to discuss concepts or find solutions to problems. In this activity, students teach each other by addressing misunderstandings and clarifying misconceptions. Educational experiences getting from pair work activity are active, social, contextual, engaging, and students lead to deeper learning by themselves.

Games are very effective for teaching and learning a new language. They create motivation, lower stress for students, and provide opportunity for real communication to learners. They inspire learners to work together, be creative, cooperative and impulsive in using the language in a significant way. Students want to participate in activities to play games and are normally relatively competitive. So, games are used as a technique to engage learners in learning a new language with fun and easy.

Role play brings students into a lesson and encourages them to become part of the learning and teaching. For a brief time, the classroom becomes a stage where an audience member is given an opportunity to practice newly introduced knowledge or skills. This arouses the interest of learners and makes the language acquisition impressive. So, role play is a fun and motivating activity. Quieter students get the chance to express in a more forthright way from this activity.

Presentation skills are extremely useful both in and outside the classroom. Almost everyone agrees that student presentations benefit the presenters in the significant ways. By doing presentations, students learn how to speak in front a group and how to prepare material for public presentation. After completing a project, a presentation is a channel for students to share with others what they have learned. It is also a chance to challenge and expand on their understanding of the topic by having others ask questions. her students to discuss in pairs about these questions concerned with a time when they are argued with their sister, brother, roommate, or friend to arouse their interest about the topic. “Who did you argue with?” “What did you argue about?” “How did you resolve the argument?” If they have difficulty thinking of something to share, she needs tell a personal story about an argument she has had or provides a made-up example. For example: In college, I had an argument with my roommate. I was trying to study, and she was playing very loud music. We argued. My other roommate suggested that we both put headphones on. This helped solve our issue.

While Activities

  • In activity I, she asks them to listen to the conversations as a group work by using their mobile phones, to pay close attention to find out about Monica’s problems with her sister, note them, and use the notes to fill in the blanks. She tells them listen to the audio multiple times if needed. She lets them use replay and pause buttons on the mobile phones for playing again or stop the track as they like. When they have finished, she checks the answers as a class. In this activity, students need to listen to the specific information of the conversations.
  • In activity II, she assigns them as the pairs and asks them to discuss the questions based on the conversations. In this activity, the teacher asks students to listen for understanding the main ideas of the conversations. She tells them that they may write the answers down but that she will discuss the answers as a class.
  • In activity III, she asks them to listen to the conversations again and play the listening game to write down them with their group. She tells them to listen carefully to the conversations for understanding all the information of the conversations in this activity.

Post Activities

  • In activity IV, teacher asks each group to write a dialogue similar to that on the audio and make presentation for each role in the dialogue that is assigned for each student of the group. So, they will try to understand the conversations more and more to write similar conversations in this activity and they practice each role by making each presentation.
  • In activity V, the teacher asks her students to play their roles with the whole group after pracitsing each role by making each presentation.

Cite this page

Improving the English Language Skills of First-Year Students. (2022, Jan 07). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/improving-the-english-language-skills-of-first-year-students-essay

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