Oral work and learner`s interests

By Diana Freeman,2014-12-02 07:50
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Oral work and learner`s interests


     I have been teaching in middle schools.In my teaching I've found there are some problems.Now I'll finish my study in Shaanxi TV University.I hope I can solve the problems that have troubled me for some time through the action

    which I research so that I Can apply my knowledge and theory into practice

    learned from Shaanxi TV University.

     2.Summary of the Preliminary Research

     This part of my study was conducted during Apr.282003May I I2003.

     2.1 Problem

     The problem I have in my teaching is that most of my students do not like doing the oral practice I assign them to do.

     2.2Problem analysis

     In my teachingthe problem identified Was really a serious problem.My preliminary research confirmed that there were three main reasons that accounted for students' reluctance to do the oral assignments out of class.

     Firstlysome students did not feel interested in practicing oral English alone after class.They

     thought they could not communicate without partnersSecondlysome

    students had some difficulties in doing oral practiceso they hoped that they

    could do it after class under more concrete direction of the teacher.Thirdly

    most students felt overloaded because of a heavier homework assignments.

     The Problem had been troubling me for a long time and now it was determined to find a solution to the problem.In my studyI used three methods

    of analysis.

     2.2.1Analytic method

     Through careful analysis1 was led to a series of questionsFor instance

    I found a majority of my students do not like doing this assignmentand 1

    wanted to know why it should be the caseand whether they thought it

    important and necessary to practice oral English or not? If they thought it important andnecessarythe problem was actually caused by myselfnot by

    my students.Probably the oral work I assigned my students to do was poorly organized.

     2.2.2Cause analysis

     In this situationI asked myself a series of questions and tried to provide some answers to them. Why did most of my students not do oral practice I assigned them to do after class? In order to know moreabout this issueI

    designed a cause exploration procedure like this.

     Questions Answers

     ?Is it because they do not like oral English?Maybe.

     ?Is it because the oral tasks are poorly designed? Maybe.

     ?Is it because they are not motivated? Possibly yes.

     ?Is it because my instructions are not clear? Yes.

     ?Is it because they do not like to practice oral tasks alone?Maybe.

     ?Is it because they have lots of other things to do?Yes.

     ?Is it because they do not think oral practices are important and


     ?Is it because they have some difficulties unsolved by themselves?Yes.

     2.2.3 Socratic Dialogue

     1 want to use the method of Socratic Dialogue to analyze my problem like followingI can't get my students to do oral practice in English.It means that I can't get my students to talk in English.What do I mean by doing oral practice? What sort of oral practice do I expect them to do? Well1 want them to discuss

    and sometimes 1 want them to speak something about in pairs or in groups

    current affairs or something about their everyday lives or something about their text.The following is the use of the method of Socratic life Dialogue

     Mrs.ZhangYuan Liwhat should they discuss?

     Yuan Li I give them topics to talk about.

     Mrs.ZhangWhat sorts oftopics?

     Yuan Li Usually the dialogues in their textbook.

     Mrs.ZhangWhat purpose do they have in dicussing these topics?

     Yuan LiTo improve their speaking ability in English.

     Mrs.ZhangIsn't it like me going shopping?

     Yuan Li Going shopping'?

     Mrs.Zhang I often go shopping for hours,but come back without buying anything.You see it's just because I don't have a definite purpose.

     Yuan LiOh1 know.Here is the point.When I ask my students to do oral practicethe purposeof causeis to improve their English speaking ability.It is like the purpose of goingshopping.I should give them some clear purposes

    genuinely communicative goals analogous to such specific purposes in

    shoppingsuch as buying a storybook or a dictionaryor a pair of sportshoos

    and etc.

     Mrs.ZhangYou should see this earlier.If the students have no reasons to talkthen why will they bother'?

     Yuan LiThat's true! How about the conversation going like this

     Student A(to B)I have just seen the new film Harry Poher.

     Student B(to A)So have I.

     What more can they'say ? The topic doesn't clearly interested them to give their opinions on it and there is no other reason for them to discuss it any more.So this dialogue can't go on any more

     Through Socratic DialogueI realized that the oral practice I asked them to do are not really very well designed.

     Questionnaire survey

     I made a pilot investigation in this respect to know more about the situation.For this purposeI designed a research procedure like the

    follows.One dayI gave them two oral tasks--Recite Lesson 86 and form groups voluntarily to make a group discussion.The tide was“Britain and Ireland”.The next dayI got the following feedback

     Only twelve students recited the lesson.

     Only one group of four students made a group discussion.

     The rest did not do the oral tasks.Then I asked them two questions.One was why some students had done the oral tasks.The students’response

     Firstthose who had made new dialogue said they enjoyed speaking English and they also liked to practise oral English with partners.

     Secondthose who had recited the lesson said they had recited it because the lesson was very long and there were many new patterns in this lesson.If they did not review them in timethey would forget some of them.The other

    question was why most students hadn't done the oral tasks.The students’reasons

     Firstmost of them thought written homework was much more important than oral tasks were.

     Secondthey thought a huge amount of written homework given by the teachers of different subjects must be handed in the next day.And all the teachers would check it carefullywhile the English teacher might spend a little time checking the oral taskso they had to finish written homework first and sometimes they had no time to do the oral tasks.

    they felt it was very difficult to recite such long lessons. Third

     Fourththey felt tired of practising dialogues without partnerswhile they

    could not find partners.Most of my students did not do the oral practice I asked them to do after classbecause 70of the students thought regularly

    practising oral English after school could improve their English speaking and about 63of them thought oral practice was very necessary.But they might run up against difficulties that they could not overcomeso they lost their

    confidence and interests.

     2.2.4 Brainstorming activation’

     When 1 was engaged in the problem analysisI consulted my thesis

    supervisor Miss Li and often talked to my classmates and colleages about all the problems I met.They gave me a lot of advice and help so that I pondered the problem more deeply and carefully.After a lengthy problem analysisI

    determined to launch a project to overcome this problem.

     2.3 Project objective

     My research objective is to enhance my students’interests in doing oral practice after class.

     2.4 Project hypothesis

     It is hypothesized that learners'interests in oral practice after class is increased by better organization.

     2.5Possible solutions

     With these reasons in mindI have correspondingly provided some

    possible solutions which are as follows.

     2.5.1 Help my students to make up nine groups.

     2.5.2Give them some priming materials.necessary background information and useful

     linguistic forms.I also provide topics that are dose to reallife and closely

    relate to my purpose ofpractising spoken English to expand their view.

     2.5.3 Give them chances to act out their own dialogues or plays before the class.

     2.5.4 Check their performance regularly.

     2.5.5 Give them less written homework when they need to do oral practice after class.

     3.FullScaled Implementation of the Solutions

     This part of my study was conducted during May 16.2003Jun Ist2003.

     3.1 Make up groups

     In order to guarantee that most of the students would be highly involved into the oral practicesI decided to make up groups.Through the

    investigationsI found there were two main problems for them to do oral practice by themselves at home.One was the family members of most students did not know or hardly knew English.When the students met difficulties or had problemsthey couldn’t be corrected in time.The other was they thought there was little pleasure to practice without a partner.Through analysis

     I thought 1 would like to give the spoken purpose of communicationSo it

    was the most effective that Ishould create chances for them to communicate with each other in English.1 was also conscious that the students were all 13 or 14 years old and were all English learning beginnersSo they had strong

    not only both of mutual dependence.If they were organized into small groups

    the problems above could be Solved but also they could achieve the purpose of communication.MoreoverI could cultivate their spirit of cooperation and achieve unity among students by making them learn from each other and help each other.

     In my class there were 49 studentsso I divided them into 12

    groups.When I did the workI followed three principles

     3.1.1 Members of each group lived in the same area.For example

    students who lived in the

     school formed school groups.They could select freely any spare time to practise oral work together whereas the students who lived out of school formed groups by themselves.They could practise after classbefore going

    home.They could also practise by telephone.

     3.1.2 Each group was composed of the students of different English levels So that good students could help those who had lagged behind.

     3.1.3Each group was made up of the students of different personalities in order to exert thespecialties of every student and make up for each other's deficiencies.

     3.2 Provide materials

     In order to make it sure that the students could do the oral tasks betterI

    provided them with a lot ofmaterials for reference.The students of 13 or 14 years old are usually curious.They have strong desire ofseeking knowledge and novelty.They hope to express what they are interested inbut they can

    onlyspeak a little English.Besidesthe students have little social experience

    their trains of thought are limited.So they are not satisfied with the materials supplied only from texts.In order to solve theproblemI provided them with a lot

    of related wordstopics and model dialogues.MoreoverI also especially

    selected those materials that were close to reallife and could interest the students.I thought the materials were very useful for helping the students to expand their trains of thought and learn more.I found with such help they could make up very good dialogues and could speak English more smoothly and confidence than before..

     3.3 Ask them to perform

     I created chances for the students to act out their dialogues and small plays.Most of students are willing to show their abilities before others.And most of students hope to be praised and encouraged by the teacher and other students.Therefore I asked them to act out their own plays in class.I asked the students to elect the best“actor and actress”the best writer and the best

    director.They looked very excited and anxious to act.Sometimes some students were so eager to correct the mistakes made by the players.Laughter could be heard now and thenthus the classroom atmosphere seemed quite

    active.More students were very happy and earnest to practise after class.

     3.4 Check their oral work

     I decided to check their oral work because many students would usual do better under the

     supervision of their teachers or parents.Sometimes I tell them to recite some passages before me.Sometimes I give them five minutes to write from memory.Sometimes I ask their parents to record the time of every oral work at home.

     3.5Reduce their stress

     I decided to simplify the students’oral homework.The students omen complained they had too much written homework--not only English homework

    but also the homework of other subjects.They thought written homework must be finished on they had no enough time to do oral work.I thought I should make allowances for the students' pressure.So I adopted two effective measures to reduce their stress.

     One was that I gave them less written homework when I asked them to do oral practice after class.The other was I simplified the exercises in class.For exampleif 1 wanted them to recite a lessonI taught them how to retell or

    abbreviate the lesson.The short passage must contain the main ideathe main

    patterns and some new expressions.And then I asked them to recite the short passage.When we did that like thiswe could get three benefitsfirstlythey

    learned to retell a text or abbreviate an article.Secondlythey felt happier to

    recite a simplified passage.Thirdlythey could review what they had just

    learned in class in time.

     4.Oral Practice Design

     My hypothesis is that learners' interests in oral practice after class is increased by better organized activities.Moreovermy new assignment

    activities should have a real information value so that Students have a real purpose to communicate.I designed three activities to be tried out in three weeks.And these activities are reported as follows.

     Week l Activity 1 Talking about the weather

     This activity is based as in New Concept English Book I lesson 53“An Interesting Climate”.

     Purposeto practise using useful expressions in talking about the weather.

    Students worked in groups.They made new dialogues by Instructions

    themselves after class.Then they acted out their dialogues in class.

     ProcedureI taught the text of Lesson 53.Then I provided the students three cities and a lot of related materialwhich classified into four aspects

    locationsseasonsweatherand plants.And I also provided some related

    topics and model dialogues for their reference.Next I allowed them to rehearse their dialogues for four days.At last I arranged a whole class for them to perform.When they were performing in ClassThree students and I gave the

    actors or actresses marks.Through discussionmarks were given following

    three standardsfirstlytheir pronounciation and intonationsecondlytheir

    thirdlytheir level of performance.After performance.I mistakes in dialogues

    asked all of the students to elect excellent actorsactresswriters and

    directors.For studentsThe students had to work in groups.They could act

    different people in different places.Each role had to say at least five sentences and each group had to write down their play or dialogue and hand it in.

     Week 2 Activity 2 The visit to Monkey Island.

     This activity is based as in junior Engush for China Book 2BUnit 25

    Lessons 9799”the visit to Monkey Island’.

     Purposeto practise the function Conjecture and the

    gramunarInfinitive.InstructionsAt first Igot the individual students to retell each lesson after class.Then I got the students to act out the play in groups.

     ProcedureWhen I finished teaching a lessonI asked the students to

    retell the lesson after class.

     The next day I asked some students to retell the lesson in class.and then I gave them some

     necessary advice.When I finished the three lessons, the students could retell a whole story.Then thestudents worked in groups after class.One of them played the part of narrator.The others played Lucy JimKateBruce and Ah

    Fang.At last I asked three groups to give their performance in front of the class.

     Week 3 Activity 3 An American boy

     This activity is based on Junior English for ChinaBook 2B?、Unit26

    Lesson 103“An Americanboy”.Purposeto practise the method of retelling a


     InstructionsI got the students to retell the text alone or work in groups after class.then I toldeveryone to retell the text in front of me.

     ProcedureIn class I taught the text.Then I taught them how to retell a story.I led them to find out the main words and sentences.I told them that they

must retell something about whowhatwhenwherehow and the main ideas

    of the text.The students could use the new words and new patterns of the text and they could also use their own words.I let the students retell the story alone or do it in groupsafter class.The next day I gave them a model of retelling the text in class.Then I told every student toretell in front of me during the break

    hera mark. instead of reciting the original text.After that I gave him

     Week 4 Activity 4How great Lei Feng!

    Book 2BUnit 27 This activity is based as in Junior English for China

    Lessins 106“A page froma student's diary”.The same as Activity 3.

     (See Appendices BC and D)

     5.Data Analysis

     After four weeks’action researchI designed Questionnaire Two(See

    Appendix E).The second questionnaire was partly based on Questionnair One in the preliminary research so that comparisons couldbe made to see the improvement.In designing this new questionnaireI also used freed back


     from my solutions to the problems discussed so that their effectiveness could be reflected by the results.

     Compared with the first questionnairethe second one had its own

    featuresfor by now 1 was moreconscious of the usefulness of the oral practice management I suggested.I especially hoped to know what my students are.The results are listed as follows

     After I implemented the project.60of my students can do very well.If we

    ask the percentage of the students choosing 5 and 4 together in Questionnaire Twowe may conclude that 75of the students can do oral tasks on their own initiative and enthusiasm.But I also learn that about 25of them sometimes

    did not do their oral homework.This may be caused by both students and me.Some of them did not study hardsome aro very weak in Englishwhile

    others might dislike my oral tasks.So I should try my best to do my work better.I think the improvement is mainly due to these four factorsFirstly

    providing very effective help o Secondlyimproving the recited

    homework.Thirdlypractising oral tasks every time.

     6.Problem Unsolved

     After I thought seriously and had exchanges of views on the project with my students.I found out that although atmosphere in the oral tasks had been improved a lot through the fullscaled implementationthere was still much that

    would need further improvement.Only when I make continuous reflection in my teachingcan I make greater progress.The most frequently mentioned problems can be categorized into three aspects

     Firstlythe problem of the textbookvocabulary is smalland oral practice

    in textbook is

     too simple.

     Secondlythe way of teachingI should provide more interesting and

    practical oral tasks.

     Thirdlythe way of learningSome students are lacking interests in

    studies.They have some wrong ideas about their studies.


     The present study is chiefly based on the project that I proceeded from May2003 to June2003 which aimed to enhance my students’interest in doing oral practice after class.Six weeks ageI determined to work on the

    crucial problem that most of my students had not done the oral practice I assigned them to do after sch001.In my study I used the analytic method.Socratic Dialogue cause analysis.I also formulated a specific research objective and a research hypothesis.And then 1 worked out five possible solutions.Next I implemented my project.I did much improvement in four aspects when I designed my oral tasks and organized my students to do the oral tasks.After implementing my fourweek projectI did a questionnaire survey

    to see the result.From the data1 think the methods used in problem analysis are suitablethe problem objective is realisticthe hypothesis is provableand

    the project has a sound basis.Now I can be very happy to say that my problem has been successfully solved(For instancemost of my students75of them

    began liking to do the oral practice I assigned them after school.In addition, the annual competitions in English style in our school have more than 90% of the students involve in crazy oral English practice… ).

     The final report is drawing to an end but my action research is not.In fact, it 's ONLY JUST BEGU N.


     [1]Gu YuegnoPractical Project DesignForeign Language Teaching and

    Research Pr-~s 1999.

     [2]Gu YuoguoEnglish Language Teaching MethodologyForeign

    Language Teaching and Research Press1999.

     [3]JuniorEnsUshforChinaTeacher's Book 2B.PeopleEducationPress

     [4]Junior English for ChinaStudent's Book 2BPeople Education Press.

     [5]Senior English for ChinaStudent's Book 113People Education Press.

     [6]Senior English for China Teacher's Book 1BPeople Education Press.

     [7]New Concept EnglishBook I.

     [8]the annual competitions in English style in our school


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