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Students autonomy in learning english pronunciation skills at bim son upper secondary school, thanh hoa

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VIETNAM NATIONAL UNIVERSITY, HANOI
UNIVERSITY OF LANGUAGES AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES
FACULTY OF POST GRADUATE-STUDIES
****************************************

DOÃN THỊ VÂN

STUDENTS’ AUTONOMY IN LEARNING ENGLISH
PRONUNCIATION SKILLS AT BIM SON UPPER
SECONDARY SCHOOL, THANH HOA

(Tính tự chủ của học sinh trong việc luyện tập kỹ năng
phát âm tại Trường THPT Bỉm Sơn-Thanh Hóa)

M.A. Minor Programme Thesis

Field: English Teaching Methodology
Code: 60 14 10


Hanoi-2011


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VIETNAM NATIONAL UNIVERSITY, HANOI
UNIVERSITY OF LANGUAGES AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES
FACULTY OF POST GRADUATE-STUDIES
****************************************

DOÃN THỊ VÂN

STUDENTS’ AUTONOMY IN LEARNING ENGLISH
PRONUNCIATION SKILLS AT BIM SON UPPER
SECONDARY SCHOOL, THANH HOA

(Tính tự chủ của học sinh trong việc luyện tập kỹ năng
phát âm tại Trường THPT Bỉm Sơn-Thanh Hóa)

M.A. Minor Programme Thesis

Field: English Teaching Methodology
Code: 60 14 10
Supervisor: Nguyễn
Minh Tuấn, M.Ed

Hanoi-2011


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ABSTRACT

English is now considered to be one of the most popular means of communication
in the world. One of the most important goals of learning a foreign language is to
communicate while oral communication of human beings bases on sounds. Learning good
pronunciation is a vital part of learning a new language. If people do not pronounce
correctly they will have many difficulties in exchanging ideas or sometimes it may lead to
the communication breakdown.
In fact, up to now, in language teaching and learning at upper-secondary
school level, pronunciation is paid less attention compared with vocabulary, grammar and


language skills. This is because of a number of reasons: First, the textbooks (English 10 11 - 12) have few focuses on pronunciation knowledge and practice and therefore,
teachers often find that they do not have enough time in class to give proper attention to
this aspect of English instructions. Second, all important English exams at schools as
well as college entrance exams to universities are always in written form, so most
teachers and students have little motivation to teach and learn pronunciation. As a result,
students are often shy and unconfident to speak in English. This situation calls for the
urgent need of cultivating learner autonomy in their pronunciation learning.
The concept of learner autonomy has long been introduced and applied to the
process of language learning. However, research focusing closely on learner autonomy in
pronunciation learning is few and far between. This is inappropriate because pronunciation
is central to language learning and learners’ abilities to build, expand and refine their
pronunciation on their own outside their classrooms can be the deciding factors in their
language learning success. In an attempt to investigate this topic, the researcher has
decided to conduct a study on “Students’ Autonomy in Learning English Pronunciation
Skills at Bim Son High School, Thanh Hoa”.
As one of the first attempts to explore the application of learner autonomy in the
context of learning English pronunciation skills at Bim Son High School, this paper seeks
to explore the current techniques utilized by teachers and learners in fostering learner
autonomy in pronunciation learning and students’ perceptions about those techniques. The
paper begins by reviewing the current literature on learner autonomy, pronunciation
learning and related studies. This is a case study conducted with 6 teachers of English and


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160 students, at Bim Son High School, who undertook the triangulated data collection
method of interviews, questionnaires and classroom observations. The analysis of the
collected data demonstrated teachers’ and students’ learning and teaching realities in the
process of developing learner autonomy within the learning of pronunciation.
The findings analyzed suggest a way of gauging students’ responsibility for their
own learning and that learner autonomy, as a life-long mode of learning, can only be
achieved with the efforts of both the teachers and the learners.


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TABLE OF CONTENTS

Declaration…………………………………………………………………………..i
Acknowledgements…………………………………………………………………ii
List of charts and tables…………………………………………………………....iii
Table of contents……………...……………………………………………………iv
Abstract…………………………………………………………………..…………v

PART A: INTRODUCTION
1. Statement of the problem and rationale for the research …...……………………1
2. Aims and objectives of the study………………………………………………...1
3. Scope of the study…………………………………………………………..……2
4. Signification of the study………………………………………………………...2
5. An overview of the rest of the paper……………………………………………..2

PART B: DEVELOPMENT

CHAPTER 1: LITERATURE REVIEW………………………………...………4
1. Learner autonomy ………………………………………………………………..4
1.1. Definition of learner autonomy ………………………………………..4
1.2. Classifications of learner autonomy……………………………………5
1.3. Characteristics of learner autonomy……………………………………5
1.4. Roles of learner autonomy……………………………………………..6
1.5. Teacher’s roles in learner autonomy…………………………………...7
1.6. Ways to develop autonomy…………………………………………...10

2. Pronunciation……………………………………………………………………12


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2.1. Definition of pronunciation…………………………………………...12
2.2. The importance of teaching pronunciation …………………………...12
2.3. Roles of learner autonomy in teaching and learning pronunciation…..13

CHAPTER 2: METHODOLOGY………………………………………………15
1. An overview of the situation of teaching and learning English at Bim Son Upper
Secondary School………………………………………………………………………….15
1.1. Current learning and teaching of English at Bim Son Upper Secondary
School……………………………………………………………………………...15
1.2. Participants……………………………………………………………16
2. Data collection instruments …………………………………………………….17
2.1. Questionnaires ………………………………………………………..17
2.2. Interviews……………………………………………………………..18
2.3. Classroom observation ……………………………………………….19
3. Data collection procedure……………………………………………………….19
4. Data analysis methods and procedure…………………………………………..21

CHAPTER 3: RESULTS AND FINDINGS……………………………………22
1. The nature of learner autonomy…………………………………………...22
1.1. Students’ main goals in learning pronunciation ……………………...22
1.2. Students’ behaviours as autonomous learners………………………...22
1.3. Affective factors………………………………………………………24
1.4. Attitudes towards tasks and assignments……………………………..25
2. The factors that affect learner autonomy in learning pronunciation skills
…………………………………………………………………………....……25
3. Techniques have been utilized by the students for their learning
pronunciation autonomously……………………………………………………………....26
3.1. Students’ sources of pronunciation learning ………………………....26


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3.2. Techniques utilized by the students to learn pronunciation…………..27

PART C: CONCLUSION………………………………………………………..29
1. Major findings of the research …………………………………………….……29
2. Pedagogical implications ……………………………………………………….30
3. Limitations and Suggestions for further studies………………………………...32

REFERENCES……………………………………………………………………...……34

APPENDICE………………………………………………………………….……………I
Appendix 1: Student Survey Questionnaire…………………………………………I
Appendix 2: Teacher Survey Questionnaire……………………………………...XII
Appendix 3: Questions for Semi-Structured Student Interview…………………XIX
Appendix 4: Questions for Semi-Structured Teacher Interview…………………XX
Appendix 5: Classroom Observation Sheet……………………………………..XXI


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ABSTRACT

English is now considered to be one of the most popular means of communication
in the world. One of the most important goals of learning a foreign language is to
communicate while oral communication of human beings bases on sounds. Learning good
pronunciation is a vital part of learning a new language. If people do not pronounce
correctly they will have many difficulties in exchanging ideas or sometimes it may lead to
the communication breakdown.
In fact, up to now, in language teaching and learning at upper-secondary
school level, pronunciation is paid less attention compared with vocabulary, grammar and
language skills. This is because of a number of reasons: First, the textbooks (English 10 11 - 12) have few focuses on pronunciation knowledge and practice and therefore,
teachers often find that they do not have enough time in class to give proper attention to
this aspect of English instructions. Second, all important English exams at schools as
well as college entrance exams to universities are always in written form, so most
teachers and students have little motivation to teach and learn pronunciation. As a result,
students are often shy and unconfident to speak in English. This situation calls for the
urgent need of cultivating learner autonomy in their pronunciation learning.
The concept of learner autonomy has long been introduced and applied to the
process of language learning. However, research focusing closely on learner autonomy in
pronunciation learning is few and far between. This is inappropriate because pronunciation
is central to language learning and learners’ abilities to build, expand and refine their
pronunciation on their own outside their classrooms can be the deciding factors in their
language learning success. In an attempt to investigate this topic, the researcher has
decided to conduct a study on “Students’ Autonomy in Learning English Pronunciation
Skills at Bim Son High School, Thanh Hoa”.
As one of the first attempts to explore the application of learner autonomy in the
context of learning English pronunciation skills at Bim Son High School, this paper seeks
to explore the current techniques utilized by teachers and learners in fostering learner
autonomy in pronunciation learning and students’ perceptions about those techniques. The
paper begins by reviewing the current literature on learner autonomy, pronunciation
learning and related studies. This is a case study conducted with 6 teachers of English and


4
160 students, at Bim Son High School, who undertook the triangulated data collection
method of interviews, questionnaires and classroom observations. The analysis of the
collected data demonstrated teachers’ and students’ learning and teaching realities in the
process of developing learner autonomy within the learning of pronunciation.
The findings analyzed suggest a way of gauging students’ responsibility for their
own learning and that learner autonomy, as a life-long mode of learning, can only be
achieved with the efforts of both the teachers and the learners.


5
PART A: INTRODUCTION
1.

Statement of the problem and rationale for the research
I have decided to undertake a study on Students’ Autonomy in Learning English
Pronunciation Skills at Bim Son Upper Secondary School, Thanh Hoa.

2.

Aims and objectives of the study
In brief, the study would seek to answer the following questions:
- What is the nature of learner autonomy – the ability to take charge of their own
learning English pronunciation skills at Bim Son Upper Secondary School?
- What are the factors that affect the learners’ autonomy?

3.

Methods of the study
In order to collect data for this study, a survey questionnaire is delivered to 6
teachers and 160 students at Bim Son Upper Secondary School. Some observations and
interviews with some teachers and students were also conducted for supplementary
information. Then, the results obtained from questionnaires and observations were
discussed and some useful pronunciation teaching techniques were recommended.

4.

Signification of the study
This study provides a closer look at learner autonomy in teaching and learning
pronunciation skills at upper secondary school, from which constructive suggestions are
hoped to be found in order to improve the quality of teaching and learning these skills.

PART B: DEVELOPMENT
CHAPTER I: LITERATURE REVIEW


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This chapter addresses a review of the literature related to learner autonomy and
pronunciation learning and teaching. In each section, the definition or explanation of the
key terms is presented together with the studies worldwide.
1. Learner autonomy
1.1. Definition of learner autonomy
1.2. Roles of learner autonomy
1.3. Characteristics of learner autonomy
1.4. Teacher’s roles in learner autonomy
1.5. Principles of developing autonomy
2. Pronunciation
2.1. Definition of pronunciation
2.2. Roles of learner autonomy in teaching and learning pronunciation
2.3. The teacher’s roles and student’s roles in teaching and learning pronunciation
2.3.1. The teacher's roles in teaching pronunciation
2.3.2. The student's roles in learning pronunciation.


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CHAPTER 2: METHODOLOGY

This chapter is devoted to presenting the methodology of the current research,
including the research design, the participants, the data collection instruments and
procedure, and data analysis.
In the preceding chapter, the literature on the research topic was reviewed for the
theoretical basis of the study. In order to lay a practical background for the study, the
research was carried out with strictly justified methods of data collection and analysis.
The study was carried out in 4 months from May to September of 2011 among 160
students of all grades and 6 teachers teaching English at Bim Son Upper Secondary
School.
1. An overview of the situation of teaching and learning English at Bim Son Upper
Secondary School
1.1. Current learning and teaching of English at Bim Son Upper Secondary School
There are 6 teachers of English at Bim Son Upper Secondary School. All the
teachers are very eager for knowledge, enthusiastic with teaching, ready to change for the
better, willing to apply better ways to fortify their teaching quality and improve the quality
of English teaching and learning.
1.2. Participants
Teachers are considered to play an important part in guiding and monitoring the
development of learner autonomy in their students. The study, therefore, invited for the
participation of six teachers in the foreign language group.
The subjects are 160 students at Bim Son Upper Secondary School. All of them
have learned English since 6th grade (about 12 years old) at least. They are chosen at
random basing on their order number in the attendance register then the name attached to
these numbers were collected. Most of them can do written English tasks quite well, but
rather badly with spoken language with a lot of mispronounced words. They demonstrate
very little knowledge about phonetics.
2. Data collection instruments
In order to obtain in-depth, rich data and information for investigating the situation
and the difficulties that teachers and students have in teaching and learning pronunciation,


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the study used three methods of data collection: questionnaire (conducted in late June
when students generally fulfill their pronunciation lessons in English Textbook), classroom
observation (done from June to late August) and informal interview (done from July to
August).
2.1. Questionnaires
2.1.1. The students’ survey questionnaire
The survey questionnaire for students consists of 7 big questions with 20 extra
questions are for participants to choose one option among the given; and leaving comment
space for students as they wish basing on their own problems and situation.
2.1.2. The teachers’ survey questionnaire
2.2. Classroom observation
2.3. Interviews
3. Data collection procedure
The procedure of data collection could be put into four phases as follows.
Phase 1: Preparation
Phase 2: Disseminations of questionnaires
Phase 3: Carrying out the interviews
Phase 4: Observation

4. Data analysis methods and procedure
The collected data was first classified according to the research questions. The
students’ responses were considered first. Teachers’ responses were analyzed in
comparison and contrast with the students’ responses. Interview responses and classroom
observation served to solidify the conclusion.


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CHAPTER 3: RESULTS AND FINDINGS

In this chapter, data was analyzed and discussed, the findings of the study are the
answers for three research questions proposed in the introduction.
Firstly, the analysis of the data shows that both teachers and students at Bim Son
Upper Secondary School have positive attitudes towards pronunciation and they are aware
of the importance of pronunciation to their teaching and learning of English. However,
they meet some difficulties in pronunciation teaching and learning, which makes them fail
to meet their purpose of teaching and learning pronunciation is to communicate better.
Secondly, each technique has its own advantages. What techniques the teachers
often use have great influence on the way the students get the knowledge. The teacher
should find out which techniques are suitable to make the lessons more interesting and
effective and to encourage their students’ independent learning.
In the final analysis, responses to two research questions show the real picture of
students’ autonomy in pronunciation learning in Bim Son Upper Secondary School. And as
can be seem, the issue of learner autonomy still remains as a big question for teachers and
educators
Major findings will be summarized and some suggestions will be presented as suggestions
by the teachers, the students and the researcher in the next chapter – CONCLUSION.


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PART C: CONCLUSION

In this last chapter, the findings of the study will be summarized first and followed
by some suggestions for teaching English pronunciation skills to students at upper
secondary schools. This chapter also discusses the limitations of the study as well as some
recommendations for further research.
1.

Major findings of the research

The first issue to investigate in the study is the fact that although most of the
studied students found pronunciation important to their learning, few of them could see the
link between learning pronunciation and the improvement in learning English in general.
Secondly, learners’ ability to take charge in learning pronunciation is influenced by
several factors. One of the biggest factors is that students did not receive enough support
from their teachers in terms of learning and practicing pronunciation.
From my observation and interview, I found out that although the teachers did
some attempts to help their students overcome pronunciation problems, they did not
employ enough various techniques to make the lessons more interesting and easier to
understand.
2. Pedagogical implications
In accordance with the above findings, the thesis is concluded with several
recommendations for improving students’ autonomy in pronunciation teaching and
learning at Bim Son Upper Secondary School.
2. Limitations and Suggestions for further studies
Although the study has done, it is unavoidable that there are some limitations of the
research due to the limited scope, the time constraint and other objective factors. The
participants were just chosen randomly from some classes to represent others.



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