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Students attitudes towards the integrated approach to grammar teaching, a quasi experimental research on the first year students at hanoi college of economics and technology

VIETNAM NATIONAL UNIVERSITY, HANOI
UNIVERSITY OF LANGUAGES AND INTERNATIONAL STUDY
DEPARTMENT OF POSTGRADUATE

VŨ THỊ SÂM

STUDENT’S ATTITUDES TOWARDS THE
INTEGRATED APPROACH TO GRAMMAR
TEACHING, A QUASI-EXPERIMENTAL RESEARCH
ON THE FIRST YEAR STUDENTS AT HANOI
COLLEGE OF ECONOMICS ANDTECHNOLOGY
(Nghiên Cứu Thử Nghiệm Thái Độ của Sinh Viên năm thứ nhất trường Cao Đẳng
Kinh Tế Kỹ Thuật Hà Nội đối với việc Giảng Dạy Ngữ Pháp Tiếng Anh bằng
Phương Pháp Tích Hợp)

M.A. Minor Program Thesis

Field: English Teaching Methodology
Code: 60 14 10

HÀ NỘI – 2010



VIETNAM NATIONAL UNIVERSITY, HANOI
UNIVERSITY OF LANGUAGES AND INTERNATIONAL STUDY
DEPARTMENT OF POSTGRADUATE

VŨ THỊ SÂM

STUDENT’S ATTITUDES TOWARDS THE
INTEGRATED APPROACH TO GRAMMAR
TEACHING, A QUASI-EXPERIMENTAL RESEARCH
ON THE FIRST YEAR STUDENTS AT HANOI
COLLEGE OF ECONOMICS ANDTECHNOLOGY
(Nghiên Cứu Thử Nghiệm Thái Độ của Sinh Viên năm thứ nhất trường Cao Đẳng
Kinh Tế Kỹ Thuật Hà Nội đối với việc Giảng Dạy Ngữ Pháp Tiếng Anh bằng
Phương Pháp Tích Hợp)

M.A. Minor Program Thesis

Field: English Teaching Methodology
Code: 60 14 10
Supervisor: Dr. Duong Thi Nu

HÀ NỘI - 2010


iv

TABLE OF CONTENTS
DECLARATION

i

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

ii

ABSTRACT

iii



TABLE OF CONTENTS

iv

LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS

v

PART 1: INTRODUCTION

1

1. Rational

1

2. Aims of the Study

2

3. Research questions

2

4. Scope of the Study

3

5. Method of the Study

3

6. Organization of the Study

3

PART 2: DEVELOPMENT

5

Chapter 1: LITERATURE REVIEW

5

1.1. Learning attitudes

5

1.1.1 Definitions of learning attitudes

5

1.1.2 The role of attitudes in language learning

5

1.2. Theoretical background of grammar teaching

6

1.2.1 Definitions of grammar and the place of grammar in English
language teaching

6

1.2.2 The brief view of grammar teaching approaches

8

1.2.3

12

Stages of a grammar lesson at the current trend of ELT

1.3 Rational for the Integrated Approach

13

1.3.1. There is no best method

13

1.3.2. Related studies

13

1.3.3. Institutional reasons for the integrated approach

14


v

1.3.3.1 Low level students

15

1.3.3.2 Large-size and mixed level class

15

1.3.3.3 Student’s specific learning needs

16

1.3.4 Practical suggestions for the application of integrated approach

17

1.4 Conclusion to the chapter
Chapter II: METHODOLOGY

18
19

2.1

The context of the study

19

2.2

Study design

20

2.3

Research questions

20

2.4

The participants

20

2.5

Data collection instruments

21

2.5.1 The questionnaires

21

2.5.2 The interviews

21

2.6

Data collection procedure

Chapter III: ANALYSIS, FINDINGS AND DISCUSSIONS

23

3. 1. Data analysis

23

3.2. Findings and discussions

23

3.2.1. Teachers’ beliefs and knowledge in teaching pronunciation

23

3.2.2. Formal curricula description

23

3.2.3. Teaching pronunciation’s goal and assessment

29

3.2.4. Approaches and techniques of teaching pronunciation

32

3.2.5. Teachers’ roles in teaching pronunciation

34

3.3.6. Teaching and learning materials

35

PART 3: CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS

32

3.1 Summary of major findings

32

3.2 Implications of the Study for Teaching pronunciation

33

3.2.1 Improving teacher’s knowledge and opinion of different approaches to
TEFL
3.2.2 Enhancing and varying teacher’s roles in teaching

33
34


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3.2.3 Not to depreciate the appropriate uses of L1 in the classroom
3.2.4 Some suggestions for the integration of approaches in grammar
teaching

35
36

3.2.5 Improving Facilities and Teaching/Learning Environment
Conclusion to the chapter

38

4

Limitations of the Study

38

5

Suggestions for further research
39
40

REFERENCES

41

APPENDICES

I

APPENDIX A Pre-treatment questionnaire

I

APPENDIX B Post-treatment questionnaire

V

APPENDIX C Pre-treatment interview and discussion

VII

APPENDIX D: Post-treatment interview and discussion

VIII

APPENDIX E: List of tables

IX


vii

LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS
CLT

Communicative Language Teaching

A2

English for the second semester (Pre-Intermediate)

EFL

English as a Foreign Language

ELT

English Language Teaching

ESL

English as a Second Language

ESP

English for Special Purposes

UTC

University of Transport and Communications


1

PART 1: INTRODUCTION
1.1 Rational
Teaching and learning grammar has been regarded as crucial to the ability to use a
language. In other words, grammar gains a prominence in language teaching, as much as
without a good knowledge of grammar, learners’ language development will be severely
constrained. By studying grammar learners come to recognize the structure and regularity
which is the foundation of language and they gain the tools to talk about the language system
(Burns and de Silva Joyce, 1999, p.4-5). This is undeniable, and can be strongly agreed by any
ESL teachers, who have paid much attention to teaching grammar in their classroom. It is
clear for all that, by teaching grammar, teachers not only offer learners the means to express
themselves but also fulfill learners’ expectations of what learning a foreign language involves.
However, how to teach grammar effectively is not easy at all. This is the big concern
of any language teachers, especially those who teach English to students with practical
purposes of communication and work in the future. As a teacher at a newly born college as the
Hanoi College of Economics and Technology (hereafter in referred as Hanetco), where
English is considered the most dominant and essential subject, the researcher and all of her
colleagues at the college have the absolute consensus that grammar is something that needs
putting to the top of priority. Unfortunately, we found that there are many constraints,
regarding institutional, learner perspectives, and teaching context perspective, that prevent us
from teaching English grammar best communicatively. Moreover, as referred from wellknown linguists, the author has an idea that many of the approaches to grammar teaching,
currently popular or has been waned, all have the advantages and availability and suitability to
be utilized in different teaching situations. That is why in this small research, the researcher
tries to make a suggestion of an integrated approach to teaching grammar to students at
Hanetco.
Learning attitudes has recently received considerable attention from both first and
second language researchers. Most of the researches on the issue have concluded that learner’s
attitude is an integral part of learning, and that should be, therefore, become an essential
component of second language learning pedagogy. There are several reasons why research on


2

student’s attitudes towards language learning is important. First, attitudes towards learning are
believed to influence behaviors (Kaballa & Crowley: 1985) (Source: Weinberg 1998) such as
selecting and reading books, speaking in a foreign language. Second, a relationship between
attitudes and achievements has been shown to exist. Schibeci and Riley (1986), (Source:
Weinberg 1998) report that there is support for the proposition that attitudes influence
achievement, rather than achievement influencing attitudes. The reason is that attitudes
influence one’s behaviors, inner mood and therefore learning. So it is clear that there is an
interaction between language learning and the environmental components in which students
grew up. Both negative and positive attitudes have a strong impact on the success of language
learning. The attitudes of an individual depend heavily upon different stimuli. Stern (1983)
claims that the affective component contributes at least as much and more often to language
learning than the cognitive skills, and this is supported by recent researches. All studies
adduce that affective variables have significant influences on language success (Eveyik, 1999;
Skehan, 1989; Gardner, 1985; Spolsky, 1989). Discovering student’s attitudes about language
will help both teacher and learner in the teaching-learning process. Therefore, we have to
consider the crucial role of this affective domain, attitudes.
1.2 Aims of the study
The aim of the study was to investigate what the attitudes of the students at Hanetco
towards English grammar learning are and how their attitudes would change after some
grammar lectures with the integrated approach. Thanks to the findings of the study, the
researcher hopes to leave some suggestions for further study in this very interesting topic.
1.3 Research questions
Focusing on a case with a target on the first year non-English-major students at
Hanetco, this research examined the learning of grammar before and after the experiment of
the integration of approaches. To achieve this, three research questions were proposed:
(1)

What are the reasons for a change in approach to grammar teaching to students at
Hanetco?

(2)

What are students’ expectations towards grammar teaching and learning?

(3)

What are the students’ attitudes towards the new integrated approach?


3

(4)

1.4. Scope of the Study
This study plays the role as a quasi-experimental study. Due to the time limit and

financial constraint, the author was unable to carry out the experimental study on a larger
scale. Therefore, the researcher intends to describe the student’s attitudes and beliefs towards
English learning and teaching in the real context of first-year students at Hanetco.
1.5. Method of the Study
A qualitative and quantitative methodology was selected for this quasi-experimental
research. This involves the following instruments for data collection:
(1) Survey questionnaires (pre-experiment and post-experiment questionnaire)
(2) Interviews and discussions
The collected data come from 138 first year students, gathering in two groups of
banking faculty, interviews and discussions with random students. Then the analysis is carried
out in the light of finding out the answers to the research questions and the interviews.
1.6. Organization of the study
The study includes three parts:
- Part 1, INTRODUCTION, introduces the rational for the research, the aims of the study, the
scope, the methods and the organization of the study. This part also provides a brief
description of the thesis topic and information related to English grammar teaching and
learning at the author’s teaching context, which is background of the study.
- Part 2, DEVELOPMENT, consists of three chapters as follows:
- Chapter 1: LITERATURE REVIEW
This part offers the reviews of literature related to studies on learning attitudes, the
effect of attitudes on learning result, as well as the brief description of English grammar
teaching histories together with the sketchy analysis of some popular approaches to grammar
teaching. Those help to provide the rational for the supposed integrated approach.
- Chapter 2: METHODOLOGY


4

The actual procedures of the study are presented in this part: study design, subject of
the study, data collection instruments as well as data collection analyzing process.
- Chapter 3: ANALYSIS, FINDINGS AND DISCUSSIONS
This part focuses on presenting, analyzing and discussing the results obtained from the study.
- Part 3, CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS, summarizes some major
findings, provides recommendations for a possibly applicable approach to teaching grammar,
limitations of the study, and suggestions for further research.


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PART 2: DEVELOPMENT
CHAPTER I: LITERATURE REVIEW
I. 1 Learning Attitudes
I.1.1 Definitions of attitudes
There have been considerable researches on attitudes towards language learning and,
according to Gardner (1979), there is an undeniable mutual relationship between attitudes and
motivation in language learning.
There are many definitions of the term. Among them, Gardner (1985:91-93) claims
that attitude is an evaluative creation to some referent or attitude objects, inferred on the basic
of individual’s beliefs or opinions about the referent. In addition to that, in Gibb’s opinion
(1988), attitude is generally defined as a state of mind, which is influenced by feelings,
experiences of the world and belief.

More clearly, Hallorah (1967) states that attitude

represents an individual like or dislike towards an item. Attitudes are positive, negative or
neutral views of an “attitude object”, i.e. a person, situation or event. People can also be
“ambivalent”, meaning that they simultaneously possess a positive and a negative bias towards
the attitudes in question
The above definitions show people’s attitudes towards certain referent object, a
behavioral intentions component and a cognitive component involving belief about the object.
In language learning, we can see students’ attitudes in their feelings and belief about the way
of acting towards the lessons, learning style, teachers and the course books.
I.1.2 The role of attitudes in language learning
Attitudes and learning always go side by side. Garder and Lamper (1972) both agree
that “success in mastering a foreign language would depend not only on intellectual capacity
and language aptitude, but on one’s attitudes towards representatives of that language as well.”
It has been proved that those with less positive attitudes towards second language
learning drop out of further language study, while those who continue have more favorable


6

attitudes. Students may become bored and inattentive in class, do badly on tests and get
discouraged from the course if they keep negative attitudes in learning. In one of their studies,
Gardner and Smythe (1976) found that the dropouts in study demonstrated less positive
attitude and lower motivation than students who continued with their language study the next
year.
Besides, Lightbrown and Spada (1999) state that attitude is fundamental to the success
or failure that we experience in learning. Depending on the learners’ attitudes, language
learning can be a source of enrichment or a source of resentment. Agreeing with the role of
attitudes, Brown (1994) says that language learners benefit from positive attitudes while
negative attitudes may lead to unsuccessful attainment of proficiency. Moreover, Gardener
(1985: 41) emphasizes that favorable attitudes would be expected to result in better
performance than negative attitudes. If learners hold positive learning attitudes, they will be
willing to participate in it, and they themselves find motivation and inspiration in learning.
To summarize, it would be better to quote Marzano et all’s (1994) emphasizing the
importance of positive attitudes in learning that “without positive attitudes and perceptions or
holding negative attitudes towards the learning students have little chance of learning
proficiently, if at all”
I.2 Theoretical background of grammar teaching
I.2.1 Definitions of grammar and the place of grammar in English language teaching
(ELT)
Defining the term “grammar” is actual a challenge as it has been defined in a various
ways by different linguists. According to Penny Ur (1988: 4), grammar maybe roughly
defined as the way a language manipulates and combines words in order to form a longer units
of meaning. Grammar is a field of linguistics that involves all the various things that make up
the rules of language. Different linguistics schools have different views on grammar
depending on their particular fields of interests.
Fromkin et al (1990: 12) defined grammar as “the sounds and sound patterns, the basic
unit of meaning such as words and the rules to combine them to form new sentences constitute


7

the grammar of a language. These rules are internalized and subconsciously learned by native
speakers.” Besides, David Nunan in his work once defined grammar as “a set of rules
specifying the correct ordering words at the sentence level”.
Richards, Platt and Platt (1992: 161, Longman Dictionary of Language Teaching and
Linguistics) define grammar as “the description of the structure of a language and the way in
which linguistic units as the words and phrases are combined to produce sentences in the
language. It usually takes into accounts the meanings and functions these sentences have in the
overall of the language. It may or may not include the description of the sounds of a
language.” The definition shows that grammar implies both meanings and functions and
includes both of its linguistic and social nature. This can be considered as the most appropriate
concept of grammar to teaching at the current era of language teaching.
The role of grammar in ELT has been controversial due to the different view on the
relationship between explicit and implicit language teaching approaches. Some researchers
(Krashen (1982); Lightbown and Spada (1990: 60)) say that we do not need to teach grammar
because learners can acquire it by themselves, meaning that acquisition is separate from
learning. However, many other researchers think that it is important to teach grammar because
we cannot master a language without the knowledge of its grammar. Affected by those
opinions, in the recent years, the view on grammar teaching has changed. According to Canale
and Swain (1980), grammar competence is one of components in the model of communicative
competence.
To sum up, the place of grammar in English language teaching is currently because of
the development of communicative goals in teaching and learning. However, from the
perspective of the author of this small study, the researcher would like to raise her voice
claiming that it is essential to teach grammar to Vietnamese learners, for the following
reasons: firstly, Vietnamese learners are not learning English just for basic communication.
Many of them learn English to read and write or translate for their academic purposes.
Secondly, the English language examinations that they have to take, and to pass, at school,
have a lot of grammatical elements to get marks.


8

Next, it is worth mentioning that Krashen’s view that the effect of grammar learning is
peripheral or fragile and that conscious knowledge of grammar is available only as a monitor,
or editor may be true to ESL context where immigrant learners are extensively exposed to the
target language. However, in a poor-input setting like Vietnamese non-English majored
schools, where students learn English for outside the natural linguistic environment, grammar
teaching must still have important place in the classroom. We cannot expect our students who
learn English probably not more than three hours a week to acquire the target grammar
naturally. For those arguments, the author hopes to be persuasive with the opinion that at the
moment, grammar teaching cannot be ignored or even depreciated in English teaching in
Vietnam, in general, and in her own teaching context, in particular.
I.2.2 Brief view of grammar teaching approaches
In the last over one hundred years, language teaching methodology has changed a lot
with the development of many different methods and approaches to grammar teaching. What
follows is a brief description of how grammar has been taught in some of the most widespread
used second language teaching methodologies, as well as the brief analysis of pros and cons of
some most popular ones.
From the mid to the late 19th century, the dominant trend was a non-communicative
approach. With the Grammar-Translation Method, grammar was taught deductively in an
organized and systematic way, by studying grammar rules. Pronunciation and oral practice
activities were almost ignored. However, at the present time, the Grammar Translation
Method is still common in many countries – even popular. Brown in his book Incremental
Speech Language (1994) attempts to explain why the method is still employed by stating:
“Grammar rules and Translation Tests are easy to construct and can be objectively
scored.” “Many standardized tests of foreign languages still do not attempt to test
communicative abilities, so students have little motivation to go beyond grammar analogies,
translations and other written exercises.” Moreover, another benefit of the approach is that the
phraseology of the target language is quickly explained. Translation is the easiest way of
explaining meanings or words and phrases from one language into another. Meanwhile, the


9

biggest disadvantage of the approach is that it makes the language learning experience
uninspiring and boring when students do not find much joy and motivation in learning the
language, and the communicative competence in the learnt language is hardly developed.
At the beginning of the nineteenth century, The Direct Method based on the belief that
a language could best be taught by its vivid use in the classroom reflected the Reform
Movement. There is no translation any more and the silent study of literature was replaced by
actual use of spoken language practice, and explicit and deductive grammar instruction was
replaced by an implicit and inductive approach. In this light, there should be lots of oral
interaction, spontaneous use of the language, no translation, and little if any analysis of
grammatical rules and syntactic structures.
The most remarkable advantage of the method is that it brings the process of learning
the target language close to that of first language acquisition. Thanks to that, learner’s ability
to think in target language is developed. River (1981) claims that:
At its best, the Direct Method provides an exciting and interesting way of learning a
language through activities. It has proved to be successful in releasing students from the
inhibitions all too often associated with speaking another tongue, particularly at the early
stages.
Meanwhile, regarding its disadvantages, it was claimed that learning with the method,
students may develop inaccuracies if they are not fully instructed. This is the result if they are
trying to express themselves in target language with insufficient knowledge about the
language. This weakness of the method is also stated in River (1981):
In the pure form of the Direct Method, insufficiency is made for systematic practice
and requesting – practice of structures in a coherent sequence. As a result, students often lack
a clear idea of what they are trying to do, and they make haphazard progress.
Thus, after a period of decline, the method has been revived, leading to the emergence
of the Audio-lingual Method. The Audio-lingual Method laid emphasis on the mimicry of
forms and memorization of certain sentence patterns which are used intensively instead of
grammatical explanation or talking about the language. It was based on linguistic and


10

psychological theory and one of its main premises was the scientific descriptive analysis of a
wide assortment of languages. On the other hand, conditioning and habit-formation models of
learning put forward by behaviorist psychologists were married with the pattern practices of
the Audio-lingual Method.
However, the method fell short of promoting communicative ability as it paid undue
attention to memorization and drilling, while downgrading the role of context and world
knowledge in language learning. After all, it was discovered that language was not acquired
through a process of habit formation and errors were not necessarily bad or pernicious.
During the 1960s to 1980s, there was the appearance of the pragmatic version of the
Audio-lingualism, called the Structural-Situational method. The key difference from the
Audio-lingual approach was the language presentation and practice was situationalised and so
was always given social meaning; speaking and listening were the most important skills.
Remarkably, it has been believed that an analysis of English and a classification of its
principal grammatical structures into sentence patterns (or situational tables) could be used to
assist learners to internalize the rules and sentence structures.
Communicative Language Teaching, (referred as Functional method at the first
stage) which aims at focusing on communicative proficiency by replicating contextual features
of real communication in the classroom, has been the dominant language teaching
methodology since the mid-1970s.
Regarding its strong points, it focuses mainly on helping learners create meaning rather
than helping them develop perfectly grammatical structures or acquire native-like
pronunciation. It emphasizes communication and real-life situation. Moreover, CLT involves
equipping students with vocabulary, structures, and functions, as well as strategies, to enable
them to interact successfully. Learners, thanks to that, will be much more interested in the
lesson.
However, the Communicative Language Teaching approach does not cater to learners
who come from cultures with traditional educational systems and different learning styles.
They are primarily interested in studying English through controlled grammar and vocabulary


11

drills and do not like uncontrolled practice. They do not see CLT activities as an opportunity
to use language they have learned in class and they are not always able to draw on any other
grammar or vocabulary taught in previous lessons in order to get their message across.
Another disadvantage of CLT is that CLT does not focus on error correction. This is
a disadvantage as learners are forced to practice with classmates who are not fluent in English.
Besides, it focuses on fluency but not accuracy. In fact, “students may talk and listen but
unless explicitly taught grammar, they may not speak correctly” (Ur, 1996).
Moreover, from the beginning of the 1980s there have been the applications of many
other approaches, which can be considered as supportive to the CLT, and have been widely
utilized by teachers to get the best benefit of CLT, such as the Test-Teach-Test approach, the
Negotiate Syllabus, the Output-Feedback, the Noticing, Task-based approach (which is quite
popular for teaching language naturally, whose outstanding point over the others is that the
students are free of language control. A natural context is developed from the students'
experiences with the language that is personalized and relevant to them. And the more
important is, it is motivating and enjoyable), or Consciousness-raising, which has been
developed from the mid-1990s.
As we may notice, each time a new approach develops, it adds a slightly different
perspective and expands our understanding. All of these approaches were seen to work at
some point, and so none can be discounted. It is my absolute conviction that every one still has
its place in the grand pantheon of language teaching approaches, and that aware experienced
teachers can be able to utilize all of them in an intuitive, and yet consciously integrated way,
to best fit their teaching classrooms. Moreover, the author does think that it is essential to
judge the most recently marketed approaches in the light of what has gone before. Following
that, her suggestion is that we integrate and take account for, rather than sweep away, past
approaches, together with the modern ones.
I.2.3 Stages of a grammar lesson at the current trend of ELT.
According to Celce-Murcia (1988: 27), a grammar lesson usually covers four stages:
Presentation, Controlled Practice, Production and Teacher Feedback and Correction.


12

In the presentation stage, the grammar structure is introduced either inductively or
deductively. According to Jeremy Harmer (1987: 18), a good presentation should be clear,
efficient, lively and interesting, appropriate and productive. Basing on the teacher’s strengths,
student’s interests, and the nature of the structure, the teacher can make appropriate selection
of approach to access the grammatical item.
The presentation is always followed by controlled practice in which students
manipulate the structure under consideration. Celce-Murcia (1988) state that the purpose of
this stage is to allow the students to gain the control of the form for further use. The teacher
still directs and corrects at this stage, but the classroom should be more learner-centered.
Production stage is seen as the culmination of the language learning process. The
rational of this stage is to provide students experience in applying their acquired knowledge in
practice by making meaningful utterances. On the one hand, this may also serve as a
motivation technique, since learners can actually see what they can do with what they have
learned. On the other, the expression stage gives them the opportunity to practice
communicating under the teacher's supervision, which usually assures the students that they
can produce a correct utterance.
The last stage is teacher’s feedback and correction. Although this is seen as the final
stage, this must be taken place throughout the lesson. However, the teacher’s correction
strategies should vary from stage to stage. Celce-Murcia (1988: 28) state that “during the
second part of the lesson, correction should be predominantly straightforward and immediate.
During the third part, however, communication should not be interrupted. Instead, the teacher
should take notes of errors and deal with them after the communicative exercises.”
The four above stages are to be referred later, when the author will suggest some
typical techniques or specific method for each stage, once the integrated approach is applied.
I.3 Rational for the Integrated Approach
I.3.1 There is no best method (Prahu 1990)


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As language teachers, we are very much concerned about teaching method because we
need to employ the most effective way to teach so that we can help our learners to achieve
their learning objectives. In order to clarify the rational for the integrated approach, the author
firstly wishes to prefer to Prahu (1990) who explicitly discusses the notion that “there is no
best method” under three explanations: a) that different methods are best for different
teaching contexts; b) that all methods are partially true or valid; and c) that the notion of
good or bad methods is itself misguided. Prahu also states that no single method is best for
everyone, and that different methods are best for different people and different teaching
contexts. Moreover, Prahu argues that what is best depends on whom the method is for, in
what circumstances and for what purposes.
Moreover, Jack Richards and T. Rogers in their well-known work “Approaches and
Methodologies in Language Teaching” vowed that it is now time of the post-method era, and
that “teachers and teachers in training need to be able to use approaches and methods flexibly
and creatively based on their own judgment and experience”. No fix method or approach can
be applied in every teaching situation.
I.3.2 Related studies
The integrated approach proposed here by the author possesses the similar soul to the
Eclectic Approach which has been paid quite much attention by researchers and linguists so
far. "Eclectic", remarks Atkinson (1988, p. 42), "is one of the buzz words in TEFL at present,
in part due to the realization that for the foreseeable future good language teaching is likely to
continue to be based more on common sense, insights drawn from classroom experience,
informed discussion among teachers, etc., than on any monolithic model of second language
acquisition or all-embracing theory of learning...". The idea of choosing from different
methods to suite for one's teaching purposes and situations is not a new one. For example,
Memorandum on the Teaching of Modern Languages published in 1929 on the basis of a
British study by Incorporated Association of Assistant Masters in Secondary Schools
recommended the eclectic "Compromise Method" as a solution to the language teaching
method debate (Stern, 1983, p. 101)


14

A main proponent of the Integrated or Eclectic Approach is Rivers (1981, Teaching
Foreign Language Skills). According to Rivers, an eclectic approach allows language teachers
"to absorb the best techniques of all the well-known language-teaching methods into their
classroom procedures, using them for the purposes for which they are most appropriate" (p.
55). This is necessary and important because teachers "faced with the daily task of helping
students to learn a new language cannot afford the luxury of complete dedication to each new
method or approach that comes into vogue." (1981, p. 54).
The main criticism of the eclecticism is that "it does not offer any guidance on what
basis and by what principles aspects of different methods can be selected and combined.”
(Stern 1983, p. 512)
I.3.3 Institutional reasons for the integrated approach
Base on the deep comprehension of the importance role of grammar in teaching
English, the careful analysis of specific traits of the author teaching environment (As will be
mentioned in the Context of the Study, the author now is working in such a specific teaching
context, with many differentiated features to others. Those features are: low ability students,
large-size classes, mixed level students, and typical learning needs due to the learning majors),
and the brief study of some popular approaches to teaching grammar, this paper suggests an
integrative approach to teaching grammar in a low level environment, which means the
synthesis of some popular approaches together with some teaching techniques generated
from the teaching environment. Different approaches will function interactively or in
combination to meet the teachers and learners conditions and needs. Some practical techniques
are also suggested to improve student’s ability to memorize grammar and to meet their
learning needs.
In the following part, the author is going to present some reasons as the rational for the
choice of integrated approach applied to her teaching environment.
I.3.3.1 Low level students
It’s easy to motivate good learners, they memorize words and structures well and
successfully use them in practice activities, and more importantly, they have more interests


15

and motivation taking part in learning activities. But things are more complicated with weak
students, who are incapable or hardly capable of learning something as smoothly as others;
and/or those who own negative awareness of learning. They are passive at the lessons, often
“forget” to do homework, cannot remember new English words and structures, do not answer
teacher’s questions, and have big anxiety in speaking activities to practice language at the
class. Together with the problem of large size class, the sole learning purpose for examination,
and the poor corporation among group members, low level students are unwilling to
communicate in the target language as they are afraid of being ridiculed, or simply, of being
wrong.
I.3.3.2 Large-size and mixed level class
The targeted group of the study includes 70 students. Other groups at the college have
the average of 65 – 70 students all. According to Smart (2006), large multilevel classes are
class with more than 30 learners in elementary, secondary, adult or tertiary settings. Also, they
are classes that have been roughly arranged according to ability.
In one of her work, Zakia Sawar (1989) lists four problems faced by teachers of largesize classes: firstly, they feel uncomfortable. Secondly, large classes pose disciplinary and
class management problems, in which the noise level must be kept down so as not to disturb
others. Thirdly, it is difficult to evaluate the oral or written work of so many learners. And
lastly, teachers feel that because the individual attention cannot be given, very little learning
can take place (127-136).
Nevertheless, the most considerable point here is that, according to Sato (2003),
introducing communicative activities with an average of 40 students is quite a hard job, and it
is even become impossible with more students, as it generates too much noise and, in the
process, may distract teachers and students studying nearby. This is the very dominant reason
promoting another form of teacher-centered environment.
Other problems that may arise from a large size classes are different learning
approaches that students have brought from their former learning environment, leading to
different expectations from teaching, different learning behaviors and participation, as well as


16

different social and cultural contexts, and different interests which may also leads to very
different learning attitudes at the class.
I.3.3.3 Student’s specific learning needs
Another question should be regarded before the choice of teaching approach to
students at Hanetco is the student’s specific learning needs. As we, the teachers and education
instructors all know that learning needs is the first and the biggest question to regard before
teaching. As mentioned above, the targeted groups major in baking. The other majors at the
college are accounting, business administration, computing and Internet technology, the fields
which may require much English knowledge during future occupation. However, most staff of
those fields now in Vietnam are required to use English for writing, reading and translating
skills rather than speaking and orally communication. Therefore, grammar teaching is
considered the virtual element for the student’s language use, and during classroom learning
and practice of grammar, teachers are oriented not to focus much on oral practice, but equally
focus on all skills. Thus, it is not a good idea just to apply the Communicative Language
Teaching approach only, as this approach ignore much of language skills as writing, reading,
and accuracy. Meanwhile, the other approaches may provide students with other necessary
elements of language use, such as diversified vocabulary, academic writing skill, reading
comprehension ability and translation competence.
In conclusion, basing on the above analysis of the current teaching approaches, and her
own teaching context, the author arrives to the conclusion that it is the best to apply the
integrated approach to teach grammar, rather than just one of any recently used approaches. It
is noted here that teachers should develop student’s awareness of the integrated approach and
encourage them to involve in the integrated activities at the class to take all advantages of the
integration.
I.4 Conclusion to the chapter
In conclusion, this chapter briefly presents the literature related to the study. Not only
the definitions, the roles of attitudes towards English learning were discussed, but also the
definitions and roles of “grammar” in language teaching, brief history of approach


17

development was overviewed. By presenting the most remarkable features of almost gone
over and currently used approaches to ELT, the author hoped to make a note that each of those
approaches can be adaptable and utilized in a specific teaching condition, rather than being
swept away. Besides, the author also referred the well-known idea of Prahu (1990) stating that
“there is no best method”, from which he suggested that a good teacher should be flexible in
choosing the most suitable method for different lesson and different groups of learners.
Moreover, the author also presented the brief analysis of her specific teaching environment,
which can be considered as the rational for her hypothesis of the integrated approach in her
own teaching context.


18

CHAPTER II: METHODOLOGY
II.1. The context of the study
The Hanoi College of Economics and Technology was founded in 2007, by a group of
retired Doctors and Professors of Economics, and is surely at its very primitive stage of
development. Everything here is on the early stage of formation: infrastructure, curriculum,
syllabus, evaluation and testing system, principles, regulations, promotion policies for the
teachers, etc.
Students are unsuccessful candidates at university entrance exam, invited to join the
college without any admission tests. At the second year of development, the college now has
about 2,000 students, studying at 5 professional faculties: accounting, banking, business
administration, computing and Internet techniques, of which banking is the biggest faculty,
with more than a half of the students majoring in it.
English is not a major subject here, but it is paid quite much attention and favorite by
the leaders of the college. They show apparent opinion towards English as one of the most
important subjects to teach and to learn, as Mr Principle of the college once said that “English
is the first tool that teachers must provide students before they start to earn for their living”
(Professor Pham Gia Thieu, Principle of Hanetco)
At the college, like many other subjects, English is taught in a formal setting, namely a
classroom. The teaching of English is divided into two stages. During the first stage, students
study General English which focuses on four language skills, using the popular textbook New
Headway Elementary by John & Liz Soars, the second Edition. After the stage, students get
the level of Pre-intermediate English, during which they learn their ESP. Each stage lasts two
academic terms.
Last academic year, there were nearly 1000 new comers to the college who are to study
English as a compulsory subject. (Statistics from the Academic Training Department,
Hanetco, 2009). They come from different learning background and they have already learned


19

English at secondary school, however, there is no classification of levels of English at this
very beginning time. Each group is usually larger than 60 students together.
All materials and learning and teaching aids are the textbook New Headway
Elementary as mentioned above, some cassettes and self-prepared teaching materials by the
teachers. All can be said as very poor support to the learning and teaching process.
II.2 Study design
The study aims at measuring the effect of the integrated approach on students’
attitudes. The researcher gives pre-questionnaire and post-questionnaire. The following design
is applied to carry out this study:
Pre-treatment questionnaire: O
Treatment: X
Post-questionnaire: O
O is dependent variable (attitude) and X is independent variable (the integrated
approach). X is the treatment administered to the subjects. The difference between the pre- and
post-questionnaire scores is taken as an index of the effectiveness of the treatment condition.
II.3 Research questions
1. What are the reasons for a change in approach to grammar teaching to students at
Hanetco?
2. How are the approaches integrated?
3. What are the students’ attitudes towards the newly integrated approach?
II.4 The participants
The study was carried out with 138 first year students at the college, belonging to 2 big
groups of banking faculty. 101 of them are females and 37 are males. According to the survey,
49 of them come from and had secondary education at big cities. 42 others come from rural


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