Enhancing English as a Second Language among Asian Students Abstract

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EnhancingEnglish as a Second Language among Asian Students

Abstract

Globalizationand technological advancement have become influential in people’sdaily lives hence opening new avenues for international students toundertake English as their second language. Unfortunately, it isevident that English second language researchers and teachers focusso much on the quality and quantity of English language acquisition.As a result, they have always failed to assess and judge theeffectiveness of different pedagogies that are normally used. This isstill the case despite the fact that further pedagogical researcheshave revealed it is not rational to rely on results from differentpedagogical approaches in determining the viability of the Englishsecond language-teaching program. However, recent studies haverevealed that pedagogical approaches in teaching language areshifting from being a “focus on form” teaching approaches tobecome “focus on students” learning approach.

Designingan appropriate and reliable English learning program requires anunderstanding of the similarities and differences in perceptionsamong foreign students and teachers in English language program. Inorder to do so, an exploratory research design adopting mixedresearch methods is necessary for enhancing the understanding ofEnglish second language pedagogy. Thematic data analysis should besupplemented with descriptive statistics analysis to providecomprehensive and viable information for rational decision-making. Itis clear that there is a difference between theoretical understandingand practical application of pedagogical approaches in English secondlanguage teaching. Most importantly is the fact that foreign studentstaking English as their second language are more interested inpedagogical approaches that help them enhance their listening,speaking, reading and writing skills. Then, it implies that relyingon communicative pedagogical approaches is the most preferred andreliable mode for teaching English as second language tointernational students.

Justification

Inthe current society, globalization and technological advancementshave greatly transformed lives. For instance, new platforms have beenopened increasing the chances for international students. It meansthat students are required to learn new languages other than theirrespective native languages. English is an international languageused globally hence the need for foreign students to take it as theirsecond language. Following the increasing need to use English as thesecond language, researchers have been very active to help design anappropriate teaching program. Unfortunately, most studies have alwaysfocused on the differences between and among respective languages.For example, GracefulOnovughe (2012) conducteda study to demonstrate the foundation of task based languageunderstanding among Japanese students. On the other hand, astudybyLi(2009)investigatedthe role of corpus based lexico grammatical approach to grammarinstructions among Chinese students.

Ashighlighted above, it is evident that researchers focus so much onthe quality and quantity of English language acquisition. Theseaspects define the units used to measure the effectiveness of variouspedagogies that are used in teaching English language to foreignstudents. Unfortunately, these studies have always failed to assessand judge the effectiveness of different pedagogies that are normallyused. It is important to understand and appreciate the fact that thepedagogy used usually has great effects on student’s attitudes andachievements. The reality is there is no single pedagogy that suitsall international students. However, there are best practices inteaching English language for foreign students to enhance theviability and credibility of English language program (Markle,2016).Therefore, the objective of this delve into is to provide standardpractices to be applied across various English second languagepedagogies in English language program for international students.

LiteratureReview

Thestudy of pedagogical methods used in applied lingusitcis has been thecentral focus since 1940s. Through these studies, it has beenestablished that in the past decade English second languageresearchers as well as teachers have been using theoretical languagepedagogical methods. This has been clearly illustrated by Nassaji(2017) intheresearch about content-based language teaching approach. Wenzhong &ampMuchun (2015) when investigating the task based language teachingapproach did another study illustrating this. However, it isnecessary to incorporate practical experience in classroom activitieswhen teaching English as second language to international students.This is essential because every participating student has her or hisown reasons. Research ash revealed that the reasons varies form onestudent to another hence the need to take into consideration some ofthese purposes. For instance, some students have academic reasons whyothers do so because of occupational purposes.

Inresponse to the above outcomes, a study by GracefulOnovughe (2012) showsthat different pedagogical approaches are used depending on student’sneeds. This implies that the approaches used for students withacademic reason differ from those used for students who undertake foroccupational purposes. Unfortunately, English second languageinstructions are designed to satisfy academic needs (Markle,2016).This is so because it is believed that most English second languagestudents usually undertake the program with the aim of advancingtheir education in future. It is clear that the present Englishteaching program overlook some needs hence the difference amongstudents’ perceptions. However, this should not be the case becausethere is an increasing use of English language for innovation anddevelopment among international students. Then it follows that thecurrent pedagogical approaches requires an assessment system toenhance effectiveness of English as second language amonginternational students.

Englishcan be incorporate in the English teaching program for internationalstudents through two possible ways. Li(2009), theinterdisciplinary incorporation requires English second languageteachers to integrate the academic courses into the English secondlanguage-teaching course. This approach requires students to havebasic knowledge in specific subjects, which is then supplemented byEnglish language skills. It has been established that this approachrequires teachers who are fluent in English language with abundanceof knowledge in the respective subjects. Unfortunately, it has beenvery difficult to get such teachers or offering adequate courses tohelp most English second language students accomplish therequirements (Nassaji,2017).Another approach is use of disciplinary specific courses whendesigning English second language instructions. This approach ensuresthat English language skills are used as the foundation for thecontents while the academic subjects are used as supplementary tools.Students who are taught using this technique normally finds it easierto enter into other programs hence making it more reliable andeffective.

Furtherpedagogical researches reveal it is not rational to rely on resultsfrom different pedagogical approaches in determining the viability ofthe English second language-teaching program (Wenzhong&amp Muchun, 2015).This is essentially because new pedagogical approaches are beingdeveloped from time to time while others are constantly disappearing.This shows that teacher should seize from being mere informationtransmitters to diversified role players. For instance teacher arealso required to course monitors, participators and evaluators.Teachers are supposed to have basic knowledge about respectiveacademic subject undertaken by students rather than possessing deeperknowledge. Since students have different specific purposes forparticipation is necessary to create chances for them to communicate.Communication in classroom is necessary for students to learn anddevelop effective communication skills, which is the main goal forEnglish teaching program (Nassaji,2017).This is the only way to ensure that students freely and genuinely usethe language instead of restricting them from realizing the languageskills.

Recentstudies have revealed that pedagogical approaches in teachinglanguage are shifting from being a “focus on form” teachingapproaches to become “focus on students” learning approach(GracefulOnovughe, 2012).This is because it has been realized that the “focus on students”learning approach lays emphasis on communicative competence amongstudents. This is a necessity for teaching English second languagestudents for academic purposes. This shows that English teachingprogram is no longer using approaches such as direct method, grammartranslation and audio-lingual teaching methods. Instead it hasadopted learning approaches such as content-based language teaching,task based language teaching and communicative language teachingapproaches. Wenzhong&amp Muchun (2015) withthese changes, it is clear there is need for developing standardteaching and learning practices that will be used to helpinternational students. These guidelines should give al studentsequal opportunities regardless of the differences in their ethnicity,needs and reasons for undertaking English as their second language.

ResearchQuestions and HypothesisResearchQuestions

  1. Is there a difference between the pedagogies perceived to be effective among English second language teachers compared to students?

  2. Are there any similarities between the results obtained for using different pedagogies in English teaching program?

  3. Is it possible to harmonize the differences and similarities between different approaches used to teach English as a second language for international students?

Hypothesis

H1Students have different perceptions about the effectiveness ofvarious pedagogies used in teaching English as the second languagecompared to teachers.

H2Even though the pedagogies used in English language teaching programdiffers the outcomes are relatively the same or interlinked in oneway or another.

H3Thus, it is easier and possible to develop a comprehensive programthat provides standardized information on how to teach English assecond language for international students.

ExperimentalMethodDesign

Anexploratory research design adopting mixed research methods isnecessary for enhancing the understanding of English second languagepedagogy. This implies that the research design used should make itpossible to develop a quantitative research approach using theoutcomes obtained from qualitative study. Combining these approacheshelps to supplement the descriptive data with statisticallysignificant details based on proven facts. As a result, the resultsare highly comprehensive for rational decision making when designingEnglish language teaching programs for international students.Similarly, according toUAlwehaibi (2012)mixedmethodology makes it possible to explore practical pedagogicalapproaches used by English second language teachers in Englishlanguage program. It also helps investigating the roles of eachapproach in satisfying the specific needs among internationalstudents. Precisely, mixed exploratory research design not onlyevaluates the quality of English language program but also examinethe viability and its impacts to the entire society.

Itis vital to understand that assessing the English second languageteaching approaches is very complex hence, the need to use a mixedapproach because using either qualitative or quantitative methodsalone cannot help address the complexities. Therefore, thequalitative methods are effective for understanding participants’perceptions on practical and theoretical teaching pedagogicalapproaches used by English second language teachers. Qualitativemethods supplements this data by examining the participants’perceptions on the effectiveness and efficiency of the teachers’approaches used in English language programs. Thus, it is notreasonable to explore the topic extensively for theoretical purposes,but instead it is relevant to understand the practical application ofthe information. Qualitative research methods provide an opportunityfor conducting an extensive study about the topic(Hutabarat,2016).However, quantitative methods enable the researcher to extractspecific information that justifies the viability of generalizingcertain aspects about the English second language teachingpedagogies.

Subjects

Thestudy gathers data from both teachers and students in the Englishlanguage program. Teachers must have the experience for teachinginternational students at different levels majorly levels 3, 4 and 5.It is necessary to use senior English language program teachers whohave interacted with students at these levels due to high level ofdiversity. It is at these levels that students have different reasonsfor undertaken English as their second language(Paik,Jisook, 2007).Therefore, the study gathers data from five senior teachers inEnglish language program. Teachers provided their perspectives basedon experiences from theoretical and practical pedagogical approachesthey used in English second language teaching. The study also gathersdata from 200 students from different ethnic backgrounds. They wereJapanese, Chinese, African and French origin. Students perceptionswere used to expound on the previously gathered data form teachersabout the practically and applicability of teaching approaches usedby teachers.

Non-probabilitysampling is most convenient because it ensures that the participantsmeet the specific requirements to qualify as stakeholders. In mostcases, GAOHai-long (2016)it is usually very hard to extract a comprehensive list of Englishsecond language students hence making it impossible to rely on randomsampling technique. Similarly, it is necessary to understand thatthis study requires a purposive sample implying that participantsmust have specific characteristics that the researcher requires.Convenience sampling was also necessary for this study because itrequires the researchers to have basic knowledge about theparticipants. For instance, it was vital for the researcher to usestudents known to be available during the study period. In brief, itis necessary to use participants who make it possible for the studyto accomplish a specific purpose. The information presented isimportant for designing and developing comprehensive English languageprograms for international students who opt to undertaken English astheir second language.

DataCollection

Sincethe data gathered would be synthesized into information to be usedfor important decision-making, conducting a pilot study comes inhandy. Through pilot study it becomes easier to refine the datacollection materials i.e. questionnaire and interview guidelines(Kovac,2011).Detailed questionnaires are reliable for data collection as it can bereviewed from time to time. Similarly, this approach gives theresearcher an opportunity to customize the data collection tools inorder to extract just the required data. Questionnaires also providea platform for exploring diversified aspects within the specifiedperiod. For instance, in this case, questionnaires’ design focuseson evaluation of teaching practices, assessment of strategies,examination of roles of students and teachers and analysis of theinteraction among research elements. KumarSingh &amp Mishra (2012)argues that questionnaires enhance the quality of data by ensuringthat the mistakes that could be committed by researchers do notaffect the participants understanding and interpretation. Thus, thedifferences between teachers and researchers cannot be greatly feltby the foreign students in the study.

Digitalvoice recording is another appropriate data collection method in thisstudy. This approach is vital when conducting interviews specificallywith English second language teachers due to their small number.Voice recording gives the researcher an opportunity to review theentire session from start to end if need arises. Interviews arenecessary for gathering data in real time rather than based onspeculations(Xu,2016).Thus, it is essential for clarifying some of the unclear issues thatmight be present in the questionnaires, which were developed basingon existing literature. The researcher must be very careful to ensurethat their personal ideas do not jeopardize the credibility of datacollected. However, the research should allow participants to expoundon the existing details whenever they feel it is necessary.

DataAnalysis

Thematicanalysis is necessary for qualitative data obtained throughinterviews. This implies that data must be analyzed based on aspecific them in order to understand the descriptive aspects aboutthe topic. In order to conduct qualitative data analysis it isessential to first prepare and organize the data. This should then befollowed by data exploration and coding for easier identification ofevery research element. The codes should then be used to derive anddevelop descriptive themes for extensive examination of the topic(Du,2010). The relevance of developed themes is essential for data validationand rational judgment of the research findings. These processes arenecessary for ensuring that the topic has been explored intensivelyto provide all the required information. It makes it possible tointegrate existing literature with new information. This is necessaryfor not only expounding on the body of knowledge but also forupgrading and enhancing the quality of knowledge.

Inorder to so, the researcher must have knowledge on how to transcribethe digital voice recordings. It is essential to ensure noalterations are made to the data because it might lose the initialmeaning. The researcher for effective coding which simply requiresgrouping data basing on their similarities and differences shouldthen read transcripted data. Wang(2009)coding is justification that the researcher has comprehended themeaning and uses of beliefs and perceptions given by teachers aboutthe pedagogical approaches in English second language teaching. Theresearcher is then charged with the responsibility of creatingdescriptions that are later used to develop themes. Finally, theresearcher compares the thematic categories among participants’interview responses. This helps the researcher to identify theinconsistencies and consistencies available in the data.

StatisticalAnalysis

Descriptivestatistics is most appropriate for analyzing data obtained throughquestionnaires. It is suitable because it makes it possible toaccount for the trends in data. As a result, it is required forpointing out the effectiveness of pedagogical approaches used byEnglish second language teachers(Debreli&amp Demirkan, 2015).Therefore data will have to undergo three major stages namely datascoring, statistical description and statistics inferring forunderstanding. Therefore, the researcher is required to enter everyresponse on the questionnaire in the computer database. This is thenfollowed by identifying possible tendencies in the data throughdescriptive analysis. For this specific study single item score seemsmore appropriate which simply implies that every question for everyparticipant is allocated an individual score(Wei,2008).Thus, the questions were rated using the 5-point likert scale thatranges from very negative to very positive.

Datahas to be checked for central tendency using the mean scores for somequestions and through frequency counts for others. The nature of thequestion in relation to the thematic analysis determines the type ofdescriptive statistics used for them(Wang,2009).Range analysis is key for measuring the variability of data and hencethe significance of each response. Through this, it is easier todistinguish between the lowest and highest responses for eachspecific question. Eventually, through standard deviation analysis itbecomes possible to establish the extent to which the responsespreads across other questions. Eventually it enables the researcherto understand the dominating theme as well as the sequence at whichthey follow one another. Eventually one is able to comprehend themost significant information hence making viable conclusions forfuture decision-making(Inozu,2011).Statistical analysis gives the researcher an opportunity to predictthe effectiveness and efficiency of pedagogical approaches used byEnglish second language teachers.

Results

Thestudy established that there is a difference between theoreticalunderstanding and practical application of pedagogical approaches inEnglish second language teaching. It is evident that at timesteachers are forced to apply pedagogical approaches they know to beless effective. This is all because they are restricted by thecurriculum or teaching rules to stick to certain approaches ate theexpense of others. Teachers revealed that most of the traditionalteaching methods are theoretical and thus they cannot give studentsan opportunity for practical experience. Student centered approachesthat encourage group discussion, communicative conversations andcurriculum integration are preferred. Teachers confirmed that it isnecessary to take into consideration the diversities within theirspecific classrooms. Thus, it means that the teaching approachesshould be customized to suit each individual classroom because theyusually differ in terms of needs, background information andmotivations.

Onthe other hand, it was identified that students feel greatlysidelined when designing or choosing the pedagogical approaches usedto teach English second language. It is also clear that denyingstudents an opportunity to observe, listen and directly interact withtheir teachers and others has a great impact on the effectiveness ofthe teaching methods used. Giving students an opportunity to performself-evaluation emerged as major source of motivation. Through this,students are able to understand whether the curriculum is designed tosatisfy their individual needs or not. It was also realized that moststudents valued listening and speaking skills even though theyadmitted that reading and writing were also essential. Greaterpercentage of international students feels that grammatical skillshave no any substantial value for them. Therefore, foreign studentstaking English as their second language are more interested inpedagogical approaches that help them enhance their listening,speaking, reading and writing skills.

Discussionand ConclusionsDiscussion

Thesummary of the above results shows that relying on communicativepedagogical approaches is the most preferred and reliable mode forteaching English as second language to international students. Theoutcomes are thus in agreement with existing literature which holdsthat practical approaches are highly effective compared totheoretical methods. For instance, a study byAlnahhas, 2016) establishedthat communicative teaching approaches usually enables English secondstudents improve their language proficiency. Thus, it implies thatteacher are required to take into consideration the environment,methodology as well as content as they develop or select pedagogicalapproaches for classroom application. This is confirmation thatstudents from different countries or background have differentspecific needs. Thus, it is the responsibility of teachers to ensurethat they meet the needs of each student. The effectiveness of thepedagogical approach used is determined by its ability to satisfy theneeds of the students.

Theoutcomes also show the possibility that foreign students usuallystruggle so much when it comes to acquiring listening, speaking,reading and writing skills. Teachers can effectively help studentsovercome these issues if communicative teaching and learningapproaches are adopted during English second language teaching.Existing literature shows that communicative approaches are reliablefor enhancing the mentioned language skills (Jiang,2015) eventhough they lay a lot of emphasis on communicative competence ofspeaking and listening skills (TimothyKolade, 2012). Withsuch facts, and in respect to the above findings, it follows thenteachers have to restructure their teaching content. The new contentmust enable teachers to lay emphasis majorly on listening andspeaking skills rather than evenly distributing the attention to allskills in English language. However, this is essential for studentswho undertake the course to satisfy occupational related needs. Inorder to satisfy academic related needs, it is vital for teachers toemphasize on the importance of reading and writing skills.

Similarly,it is necessary to apply diversified instructional activities andstrategies when teaching international students undertaking Englishlearning program. Basing on the discoveries above, it is a prudentidea for teacher to apply different teaching methods when teachingstudents at different levels. AsGill(2013) states,the teaching content must be “big enough” to give students achance to pick whatever is suitable to satisfy their specific needsyet they remain within the instructional perspective. Achieving thismakes it easier for the language pedagogical approaches to take careof the needs of the students while at the same time operating as perthe restrictions of the curriculum. Using the disciplinary specificapproach is paramount in ensuring that teachers keep studentsmotivated. This approach enables students to learn Englishintrinsically because they become curious about every course(Dewaele&amp Ip, 2013).This is a gesture that teachers should not just use instructionalstrategies for the purposes of teaching. Instead, they are requiredto explore activities beyond the English learning program classroomsto encourage student participation.

Itis evident that grammar lessons do not satisfy the needs of foreignstudents despite the fact that they are required to enhance theircommunicative accuracy and effectiveness. According o resultsobtained byShing,Richard (2006) thefrequencyat which grammatical structures are practiced determines the rate andaccuracy with which the message is expressed. This is based on theassumption that frequency helps in reducing the processing effortswithin the brain. Therefore, grammar textbooks and lesson should bedesigned such that they genuinely give students an opportunity to putinto practice their speaking and writing skills. Most importantly isfor these books and lessons to have the power to raise thepsychological authenticity among students basing on their specificinterests. The possibility is that both teacher and students thinkthat grammar is less important compared to other language skills. Asa result, none of the parties bothers to consider the type of grammartextbooks or lesson contents.

Conclusion

Precisely,the most appropriate pedagogical approach is the one that satisfy theneeds of students. This implies that students’ opinions are veryessential when designing teaching approaches for future use. Enablingstudents satisfy their needs make the English language program toprove as an effective and important for foreign students’ futureuse in different fields. According to the information, it is obviousthat the communicative, content based and task based languagepedagogical approaches are effective for teaching English secondlanguage foreign students. This is because they entail practicalinstructional strategies and activities that give the students anopportunity for direct involvement. Similarly, they are essential forsatisfying specific needs among students regardless of theirbackgrounds or reasons for undertaking English as their secondlanguage. The teaching approaches used should be student centeredrather than adopting teacher centered methods. This means thatstudents must be encouraged to participate actively in developingpedagogical approaches right from the design preparation.

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