Essays on English Teaching Methodology and Curriculum Research Proposal

 English Teaching Methodology and Curriculum Statement of Problem Arabic is the official language of Saudi Arabia. English is spoken mainly in the commercial sector and is taught in schools as a compulsory second language. The non-indigenous population, which is primarily Asian, speaks Urdu, Farsi and Turkish. Additionally, only a small number of other foreign languages are incidentally spoken. While regional dissimilarities in Arabic dialect exist, especially between rural and urban groups, the basic language has remained unchanged for centuries. Consequently, the first language of nearly the entire population of Saudi Arabia is quite widely diverse and English is used as a second language by most of the region’s citizens. One widespread problem that educators face is that candidates entering credential programs have limited experience working with students from second language groups. This creates a problem when designing and implementing a curriculum. This is exacerbated by the fact that a mistaken belief exists that knowing a modicum of another language makes one competent to address the challenges inherent in teaching second language learners from various backgrounds. By means of utilising a case study scenario in which Student Teachers are able to interact in a classroom situation with these students from a range of backgrounds and get on the ground feedback as to levels of understanding and what methods are effective as opposed to others, this proposal aims to come up with a method of ‘trial and error’ curriculum that includes those methods that are most effective in creating interest and bringing in results and discarding those that do not. Reasons for Choice of Topic As a Saudi national, whose first language is Arabic and who has learned English as a second language without a background in linguistics, the challenge that I and many other teachers have is communicating the linguistic ideas behind syntax and grammar without having lived with those ideas myself. This is what may lie behind the bottlenecks that emerge while teaching others who are learning English as a second or foreign language, while not being a primary English speaker myself. I intend to discover what limitations this places upon the teacher in communicating with the students in an effective manner. This situation is exacerbated by the fact that not all students in the class are Arabic first language speakers, but as seen in the statement of the problem, are from different language backgrounds. This creates a challenge when looking for analogies with which all students can relate, or understand. Research Question It is unusual for candidates to grasp the reality of teaching students from divergent primary language backgrounds. These students are looking for a proficiency that exceeds conversational English and encompasses academic language. Readence, Bean and Baldwin, (2008) explain that this entails acquiring literacy skills as well as content area vocabulary and concept-based language for use in academic settings In order to equip these candidates with the skills they need to succeed, it is necessary to identify the method that would produce the best results. This research will seek to uncover in what way TESOL can be used effectively when the teacher is not a first language English speaker, teaching English to a diverse group of non-native and native students. Literature Review The unique niche that English occupies in the Gulf States stems from its relationship with other languages. In this region, Arabic is spoken either as a primary or secondary language. This is in spite of the fact that large segments of the population are comprised of émigré workers who have little or no background in Arabic. According to Karmani (2005), an estimated eleven million emigrant workers reside in the region. This group of workers is comprised of a small number of indigenous English language speakers and East Asians, as well as those from the Indian subcontinent, and their families. Therefore, the languages spoken in the Gulf States include various dialects of Arabic and English. Karmani (2005) makes the claim that most scholars feel that the amount invested in the teaching of the English language in the Gulf States is not commensurate with the outcomes achieved. There are three reasons for this: firstly, the dearth of practical application of conceptual sections for the teaching of the English language; secondly, the unacknowledged conjecture that the driving force for students is a desire to assimilate while in actuality, it is mostly instrumental; and thirdly, the intricacy of language necessity — students are required to speak English in order to achieve narrow ends, but they are also expected to be able to converse with an amalgam of people of varied abilities for whom English is a first, second or foreign language (Karmani, 2005). According to Al-Issa (2006), who quotes from various sources, there are precise areas in the Arabian Gulf where English is useful. This means that a restricted instrumental need for English exists in the region. As such, students learn the English language because they are obliged to. According to Chamot and O’Malley (1994), when candidates are faced with the actuality of the complex instructional needs of English language learners, they tend to express anxiety about dealing with students from multiple language backgrounds. They also tend to admit to being fearful about entering their first class if they feel incompetent about communicating effectively with a large number of these types of students. Methodology One solution that could be implemented to reduce the candidates’ anxiety and increase their competency in dealing with students from multifaceted language backgrounds is to increase the number of instances in which they interact with these students in a classroom setting. This can be accomplished by conducting a case study, which could induct the candidates into the realm of second language instruction. As a methodology, the case study that is effective in this type of research is well documented in Yin (2009) and Zucker (2001) and other studies. Many researchers recommend the use of case studies in the sciences, business, medicine and forensics. In teacher preparation programs, case studies are useful tools to help nurture the candidate’s data collection, analysis, problem solving and critical and reflective thinking skills (Soy, 1997). This methodology also enables the transfer of theoretical knowledge into practical use. With the use of this method, I hope to follow a group of student teachers from differing linguistic backgrounds as they conduct teaching practise on students in a Saudi classroom who come from a cross section of cultures. Each student will utilise a different teaching method and at the end of the study period, the results of their work can be analysed to gauge what methods worked best and which were ineffective. Conclusion The experience of learners differs according to their cognitive abilities and achievements. As such, diversity is a major factor in a classroom where the teacher has to take it into account when formulating teaching methods. This is true especially in a foreign language classroom setting where the multilingual, multicultural mix further complicates the psychological obstacles to learning. References Al-Issa, A.S.M. (2006). The cultural and economic politics of English language teaching in the Sultanate of Oman. Asian EFL Journal, 8 (1). Retrieved from http://www.asian-efl-journal.com/March_06_asmi.php Chamot, A. U. (2009). The CALLA handbook: Implementing the cognitive academic language learning approach (2nd Ed.). New York, NY: Addison-Wesley. Chamot, A. U., & O’Malley, J. M. (1994). The CALLA handbook: Implementing the cognitive academic language learning approach. New York, NY: Addison-Wesley. Karmani, S. (2005). Petro-linguistics: The emerging nexus between oil, English, and Islam. Journal of Language, Identity, and Education, 4(2), 87-102. Readence, J. E, Bean, T. W., & Baldwin, R. S. (2008). Content area literacy: An integrated approach (9th Ed.). Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt. Soy, S. K. (1997). The case study as a research method: Uses and users of information. LIS 391D.1 -- Spring 1997. Retrieved from http://www.gslis.utexas.edu/ssoy/usesusers/l391d1b.htm Yin, R. K. (2009). Case study research: Design and methods (4th Ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage. Zucker, D. M. (2001). Using case study methodology in nursing research. Qualitative Report, 6(2): 1-16.

References

Al-Issa, A.S.M. (2006). The cultural and economic politics of English language teaching in the Sultanate of Oman. Asian EFL Journal, 8 (1). Retrieved from http://www.asian-efl-journal.com/March_06_asmi.php

Chamot, A. U. (2009). The CALLA handbook: Implementing the cognitive academic language learning approach (2nd Ed.). New York, NY: Addison-Wesley.

Chamot, A. U., & O’Malley, J. M. (1994). The CALLA handbook: Implementing the cognitive academic language learning approach. New York, NY: Addison-Wesley.

Karmani, S. (2005). Petro-linguistics: The emerging nexus between oil, English, and Islam. Journal of Language, Identity, and Education, 4(2), 87-102.

Readence, J. E, Bean, T. W., & Baldwin, R. S. (2008). Content area literacy: An integrated approach (9th Ed.). Dubuque, IA: Kendall/Hunt.

Soy, S. K. (1997). The case study as a research method: Uses and users of information. LIS 391D.1 -- Spring 1997. Retrieved from http://www.gslis.utexas.edu/ssoy/usesusers/l391d1b.htm

Yin, R. K. (2009). Case study research: Design and methods (4th Ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Zucker, D. M. (2001). Using a case study methodology in nursing research. Qualitative Report, 6(2): 1-16.

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