Tải bản đầy đủ

Improving learners academic IELTS writing performance through modeling

VIETNAM NATIONAL UNIVERSITY, HA NOI
UNIVERSITY OF LANGUAGES AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES
POST GRADUATE DEPARTMENT
-------------**0**-------------

ĐOÀN THỊ HƯƠNG

IMPROVING LEARNERS’ ACADEMIC IELTS WRITING
PERFORMANCE THROUGH MODELING
(NÂNG CAO KHẢ NĂNG VIẾT IELTS HỌC THUẬT CHO HỌC VIÊN
QUA VIỆC GIỚI THIỆU BÀI MẪU)

M.A MINOR THESIS PROGRAM 1

Field: English Teaching Methodology
Code: 601410

Hanoi, 2012


VIETNAM NATIONAL UNIVERSITY, HA NOI

UNIVERSITY OF LANGUAGES AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES
POST GRADUATE DEPARTMENT
-------------**0**-------------

ĐOÀN THỊ HƯƠNG

IMPROVING LEARNERS’ ACADEMIC IELTS WRITING
PERFORMANCE THROUGH MODELING
(NÂNG CAO KHẢ NĂNG VIẾT IELTS HỌC THUẬT CHO HỌC VIÊN
QUA VIỆC GIỚI THIỆU BÀI MẪU)

M.A MINOR THESIS PROGRAM 1

Field: English Teaching Methodology
Code: 601410
Supervisor: LAM THI PHUC HAN, M.A

Hanoi, 2012


LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS

EAP:

English for Academic Purposes

IELTS:

International English Language Testing System

TOEFL:

The Test of English as a Foreign Language

L2:

A second Language

EFL:


English as a Foreign Language

iv


LIST OF TABLES
Table 1: Learners’ view on IELTS writing
Table 2: Learners’ feelings when writing
Table 3: Factors causing difficulties for the learners to write
Table 4: Learners’ problems in their writing
Table 5: Teaching techniques in IELTS writing class
Table 6: Learners’ preference on teachers’ teaching techniques
Table 7: The frequency and percentage of errors in pretest and posttest of group A
Table 8: The frequency and percentage of errors in pretest and posttest of group B
Table 9: The learners’ opinions about the use of model texts to improve their
IELTS writing skills
Table 10: Teachers’ opinion about the use of model texts to improve their learners’
IELTS writing skills
Table 11: Teachers’ suggestions for the use of model texts in IELTS writing classes

v


TABLE OF CONTENTS

PAGE

Statement of Authorship…………………………………………………...……i
Acknowledgement…………………………………………………..………….ii
Abstract ……………………………………………………………..…………iii
List of Abbreviations………………………………………………….……….iv
List of tables...……………………….………………………………..………...v
Table of contents……………………………………………………………….vi
PART A: INTRODUCTION…………………………...…………………… ...1
1. Rationale of the study……………………...…………………………....1
2. Aims of the study………………………………………………...……...2
3. Significance of the study…………………………...……………….......2
4. Scope of the study………………………………………………….....…2
5. Method of the study……………………………………………..........…3
6. Organization of the study………………………………………….…….3
PART B: DEVELOPMENT................................................................................5
CHAPTER 1: LITERATURE REVIEW……………………………….....……5
1.1 The nature and theory of writing……………………….....…………….5
1.1.1 The nature of writing…………………………………….………5
1.1.2 Types of writing…………………………………………….……7
1.1.3 Approaches to the teaching of writing……………….....………..9
1.2 IELTS Test…………………………………………………...………..10
1.2.1 General information of IELTS……………………………...….10
1.2.2 IELTS writing test…………………………...………..……..…11
1.3 Model Texts……………………………………………...…….…..…..12
1.4 Situation of teaching and learning IELTS in Viet Nam and in London
Foreign Language Centre………………………………..….…………14
1.5 Previous studies……………………………………………………….14
CHAPTER 2: METHODOLOGY………………………………...…………..17
2.1 Participants………………………………………………...….……….17

vi


2.2 Instruments…………………………………………………...….…….17
2.3 Data collection procedure…………………………………...…………20
2.4 Data analysis procedure…………………………………….…………20
CHAPTER 3: RESULTS AND DISCUSSION…………….....……...………21
3.1 Report of the results………………………...………………..………..21
3.1.1 Report on students-questionnaire data…………………….……..21
3.1.2 Report on the results of pretest and posttest……………….…….27
3.1.3 Report on interviews with learners and the teachers……….……29
3.2 Discussion of the results……………………………………….………33
PART C: CONCLUSION…………………………………………….……….36
1. The major findings of the research……………………………...……..36
2. Pedagogical Implications and Recommendations……………….…….37
3. Limitations and suggestions of the study…………………....…………39

REFERENCE
APPENDIXES

vii


PART A: INTRODUCTION
1. Rationale for the study
During the last decades, there have been a number of English learners
wishing to work and study in English speaking countries. However, one of the
prerequisites for their entrance is that they have to sit for either the International
English Language Testing System (IELTS) or The Test of English as a Foreign
Language (TOEFL). As a result, many non-native learners are trained to pass these
kinds of tests. IELTS, which is widely recognized as a language requirement for
entering universities and working mainly in the United Kingdom, Australia, USA
and New Zealand, is administered by the British Council or IDP Education
Australia in Hanoi. The test aims at testing candidates’ four skills: listening,
reading, speaking and writing. As a matter of fact, those who want to get high score
to be admitted to target universities try to take part in some preparation courses
before taking the test. Therefore, there are a great number of English for Academic
Purposes (EAP) Centers in Hanoi who run IELTS preparation courses to meet the
demands.
Clearly, IELTS writing is one of the important skills for both teachers to
teach effectively and for learners to improve themselves. However, due to the
complexities of learning to write well in a second language (L2), there has been a
vigorous debate on more efficient and effective teaching methods and feedback
among EAP teachers and L2 writing researchers.
Being an IELTS teacher and also an IELTS learner, the author realizes that
IELTS writing requires not only learners’ proficiency in English but also their wide
knowledge of the language, culture and country as well. As a result, the learners
often encounter a lot of difficulties in writing. This fact has encouraged the author
to investigate the difficulties faced by Vietnamese learners in learning IELTS
writing. Moreover, in recent years, several studies on techniques for teaching
IELTS writing which have been carried out have proven that the use of model texts
in a writing class as a teaching tool has positive effects on learners’ writing

1


performance. This inspired the author to do the research to further explore how this
technique affects learners’ writing skill and how teachers and learners assess this
kind of technique.
2. Aims of the study
The purpose of the study is to investigate the difficulties encountered by the
IELTS learners in learning writing skill. It also aims at investigating how the
learners improve their writing performance as a result of being exposed to model
texts and what the learners and the teachers think about this teaching technique.
In order to achieve the above mentioned aims, the study will be conducted to
answer three research questions below:
1. What difficulties do learners face in learning IELTS writing?
2. How is the learners’ writing performance improved as the result of being
exposed to model texts?
3. What are the learners and teachers’ opinions about the use of model
texts in improving learners’ writing skill?
3. Significance of the study
This study analyzes and finds out the real difficulties that Vietnamese
learners face when learning IELT writing skill. By doing this, the author would like
to help learners foresee the problems and overcome them in order to improve their
writing scores. More importantly, the study is done to investigate the progress in
IELTS writing the learners can make after attending the writing course using model
texts as a teaching tool and how the learners and teachers think about this technique.
Therefore, teachers who have been teaching IELTS writing in both the target place
and in other educational settings can benefit from this study. They will adopt
appropriate teaching techniques to teaching this skill.
4. Scope of the study
The study focused on learning and teaching IELTS writing skill to
Vietnamese learners who were taking part in IELTS preparation courses. However,
due to the small scale of the study, only London Foreign Language Centre was

2


chosen as the research setting. The participants of the study, as a result, were 4
IELTS teachers and 30 learners who were able to provide reliable and valid
information for the study.
5. Method of the study
In order to achieve the aims of the study, the researcher applied both
quantitative and qualitative methods as follows:
As for data collection, the author used survey questionnaire, tests, and
interviews. Firstly, survey questionnaire was conducted to find out the difficulties in
learning IELTS writing and the techniques teachers used in the writing class.
Secondly, tests (pre and post tests) were designed for the learners to check how they
improve their writing skill after the course. Thirdly, semi-interviews were
conducted among four teachers and fifteen learners who were attending preparation
courses in London Foreign Language Centre to investigate what they think about
the use of model texts in IELTS writing classes.
As for data analysis, the standard IELTS global codification system on a
scale of 1 to 9 was employed for rating the participants’ performances on both tests.
Then, the data from questionnaire and tests were collected to carefully and
thoroughly analyze in order to provide the answers to research questions. In
addition, the interviews were recorded, then transcribed and analyzed so as to
answer question 3
6. Organization of the study
The study is divided into three parts. The first part is the introduction dealing
with the rationale, aims, scope, significance, methods and organization of the study.
The second part is the main part of the paper with three chapters.
Chapter 1: provides the background for the study, including a review on key
concepts relating to the research topic. This chapter also briefly discusses the
literature in the field to reveal the research gap that needs to be filled.
Chapter 2: present the research methods adopted in the study. Justifications of the
chosen research instruments as well as their implementation are also provided.

3


Chapter 3: reveals the results of the study and the discussions of the results.
The last part is the conclusion that summarizes the major findings of the
study. This chapter also gives recommendations to both learners and teachers in
order to improve the learning and teaching IELTS writing skills. Besides, some
limitation of the study and suggestions for further studies are put forward.
Following this part are the Appendices and References.

4


PART B: DEVELOPMENT
CHAPTER 1: LITERATURE REVIEW
This chapter provides the theoretical background to the study, including the
key concepts and related research in this field to disclose the research gap. It also
provides the current situation of teaching and learning IELTS in Vietnam in general
and at the investigated centre in particular.
1.1 The nature and theory of writing
In terms of skills, producing a coherent, fluent, extended piece of writing is
probably the most difficult thing there is to do in language. It is something most
native speakers never master. For second language learners, the challenges are
enormous, particularly for those who go on to a university and study in a language
that is not their own.
This section will discuss the issue of writing in general and writing in EFL in
particular. The section is divided into three parts: the nature of writing, a brief
discussion of types of writing, and approaches of teaching writing in EFL/ESL
classroom.
1.1.1 The nature of writing
Writing in general has a very important role in society (Tribble, 1996;
Martin, 1985). Writing can make people become more effective in social life.
Writing is also “associated with status and power” (Tribble,1996:13). Writing,
therefore, enables people to “have control not only of information, but of people”
(Tribble,1996:13).
However, writing is not as easy for the learners to acquire as the speaking
skill. According to Tribble (1996) , writing is a language skill which is difficult to
acquire. It also takes a long time to master this skill. The difficulty of writing lies in
its nature. Writing is “de-contextualised “, and it is “one-way communication”
(Tribble, 1996:10). Ronald (1987) also states that writing “is not a natural activity”,
so people have to be taught how to write.

5


Moreover, in terms of language used, good writers should be very skillful at
the implementation of elaborated and complex sentences, as well as at the choice of
lexical items to make their writing tasks as vivid as what is there in their minds.
Besides, learning to write is associated not only with learning new genres and new
ways of using grammar but also with different ways of dealing with the world
because the social functions of writing tend to focus on “recording things,
completing tasks, developing arguments and assembling ideas” (Tribble, 1996:9).
Obviously, “writing is a process requiring writers to explore, oppose, and make
connections between propositions for themselves” (Boughey, 1997:127).
Hedge also claims that the process of writing involves not only composing
but also communicating (Hedge, 1988:9). According to him, when writing in real
life, writers often bear in mind the reader they are writing to. This “provides the
writers with a context without which it is difficult to know exactly what or how to
write” (Hedge, 1988:9).
It is clear that “ for any writing task, a successful writer draws on knowledge
of the genre (content and context), knowledge of the language system, and
knowledge of appropriate writing process” (Tribble,1996: 68).
Thus, writing tasks should be designed in such a way that they can meet the
needs of the following requirements: first, the tasks should “reflect the ultimate goal
of enabling students to write whole texts which form connected, contextualized, and
appropriate pieces of communications”. Second, the tasks should provide students
with “opportunities to practice various forms and functions in writing and within
these to develop the different skills involved in producing written texts”. Third, “the
writing tasks need to be set up in ways that reflect the writing process in good
writers”. That is, “students need to be encouraged to go through a process of
planning, organizing, composing, and revising”. Fourth, there should be a “variety
of audience and clear instruction for communicative purposes of the tasks” (Hedge,
1988:8-10).

6


Apart from this, when designing writing tasks, the teacher should pay
attention to the process of marking, the time spent in the classroom for writing, and
collaborative writing in the classroom (Hedge, 1988:10-12). All these will probably
help to reduce the difficulty that writing may cause to the learners. This may also
help learners to write efficiently, and so may increase their interest in writing.
However, what types of writing tasks should be assigned to students in EFL
classroom needs to be considered. The next section will discuss the various types of
writing, which may be of great help for the EFL/ ESL teachers who are interested in
teaching writing in English.
1.1.2 Types of writing
There are many ways of classifying types of writing. In Hedge’s (1988)
opinion, there are six categories of writing: personal writing, study writing, public
writing, creative writing, social writing and institutional writing (Hedge, 1988: 95-6).
Personal writing refers to “writing for oneself”. It “includes various kinds of
aide- memoirs, as well as diaries and journals” (Hedge, 1988: 95). Though “these
writing activities would normally be carried out in the first language, there may be
good motivational reasons for using them in the foreign language classroom”
(Hedge, 1988: 95).
Similarly, study writing is another type of writing for oneself, such as
making notes while reading, taking notes in lectures. “These kinds of activities are
still useful for students who learn English for study purposes” (Hedge, 1988: 95).
Public writing, however, focuses on certain conventions in writing. This involves
“writing letters of inquiry, complaint, letter to the editor, form filling, and
applications” (Hedge, 1988: 95).
Creative writing refers to writing poems, stories, dramas, which seem rather
rare in EFL classroom. However, with a careful selection of the materials and

7


relevant teaching techniques, these writing activities can bring interest and
confidence to the students because “creative writing helps students boost their selfconfidence”. Students can “take control over their new language by governing its
production” (Ransdell, 1993:44).
Social writing, which includes personal letters, invitations, notes with
congratulations, condolences, telegrams, and telephone messages, help to establish
and maintain the social relationships with family and friends (Hedge, 1988: 96).
These writing activities are really useful for the students in a sense that they can
provide students with correct formats and formulas of certain written texts.
The last category refers to institutional writing, which “relates to professional
roles and is needed by business executives, teachers, engineers, and students”
(Hedge, 1988: 96). The typical examples of this type of writing are reports,
summaries, minutes, memos, etc. However, “each area of activity will have its own
specialized texts, such as legal contracts or academic essays” (Hedge, 1988: 96).
Martin, on the other hand, mentions only two categories of writing, which is
narrative/expressive writing and factual or expository writing (Martin, 1985: 53).
According to Martin, “factual writing is used by a ruling class” (Martin, 1985: 53).
Expository writing is considered as a powerful tool to understand and challenge the
world (Martin, 1985:57). So, when students learn this type of writing they are likely
to benefit from this socially. They will in particular learn how to present ideas
logically, how to make a successful and convincing argument and this may be quite
interesting for students, especially adult students in higher education.
Another classification of types of writing is offered by Harris (1993). Harris
identifies three criteria for classifying different types of writing. According to him,
“for writing to be successful, writers need to know the purpose, the form and the
readership for a piece of writing.” So, “the notion of types of writing needs to be
seen as a complex interrelationship of these dimensions” (Harris, 1993:24).

8


1.1.3 Approaches to the teaching of writing
There are three approaches to the teaching of writing: product approaches,
process approaches and genre approaches (Tribble, 1996:37).
The product approach focuses on form. It is “a traditional, text-based
approach”, in which “the teacher often presents authoritative texts for students to
imitate or adapt”, so the teacher “is likely to use textbooks which give a good range
of models” (Tribble, 1996:37). In this approach, learning to write has four stages:
familiarization, controlled writing, guided writing, and free writing. In the
familiarization stage, the learners are introduced to certain features of a particular
text. And in the controlled and guided writing stages, the learners are required to
practice the skills with increasing freedom until they are ready for the free writing
stage, when they are able to use the writing skill as part of a genuine activity such as
a letter, story or essay (Pincas, 1982a:22), cited in Badger & White, 2000:153). In
short, according to Badger &White, “product-based approaches see writing as
mainly concerned with knowledge about the structure of language, and writing
development as mainly the result of the imitation of input, in the form of texts
provided by the teacher” (Badger & White, 2000:154).
The process approach, as a reaction against the product approach, “focuses
on the writer as an independent producer of texts. It lays particular stress on a cycle
of writing activities” (Tribble, 1996:37). In addition, the process approach focuses
on “ linguistic skills such as planning and drafting, and there is much less emphasis
on linguistic knowledge such as knowledge about grammar and text structure”
(Badger & White, 2000:154). In other words, in the process approach the teacher’s
role is primarily to “facilitate the learners’ writing providing input is considered to
be less important” (Badger & White, 2000:154). There are four general stages that
writers go through in producing a piece of writing: prewriting, composing/drafting,
revising, and editing (Tribble, 1996:39).

9


The third approach- the genre approach- “ is more socially oriented and
focuses on the ways in which writers and texts need to interact with readers”
(Tribble, 1996:37). This approach emphasizes the communicative purposes of the
texts. On the other hand, the genre approach is similar to the product approach in
the sense that it “regards writing as pre-dominantly linguistic” (Badger & White,
2000:155).
It is often suggested that a combination of process and genre approaches to
the teaching of writing would be very beneficial. The combination of these
approaches will help to compensate for what each of these approaches does not take
into account in isolation. In other words, teaching writing following both process
and genre approaches is seen as “a series of stages leading from a particular
situation to text, with the teachers facilitating learners’ progress by enabling
appropriate input of knowledge and skills” (Badger & White, 2000:160).
Therefore, a good writing lesson can be the one in which teachers can
provide students with relevant input in terms of the linguistic knowledge and text
types.
1.2 IELTS Test
1.2.1 General information of IELTS
IELTS is a test of English for academic and vocational purposes managed by
three partners: the British Council, the University of Cambridge ESOL
Examinations and IDP IELTS Australia. The test measures the language ability of
candidates who need to study or work where communication is done in English.
Test scores are reported for overall performance and for individual sections in the
form of bands at nine different levels from Non User to Expert User
(www.ielts.org).
IELTS consists of two modules, General training and Academic ones, either
of which can be chosen by candidates according to their reasons for taking the test.
If a candidate intends to enter an undergraduate or postgraduate course, they are
10


advised to take the Academic Module. If a candidate intends to continue their
secondary education in English, work or undertake training or to emigrate, they
often need to take the General Training Module.
The test is divided into four sections: Speaking, Listening, Reading and
Writing. Speaking and Listening tests are the same for both, the Academic and
General Module, but Reading and Writing tests differ. The writing section consists
of descriptive (Task 1) and argumentative (Task 2) essay-writing tasks. IELTS
scores (academic module) have been used to determine whether the applicants have
sufficient academic skills to follow studies at an undergraduate or postgraduate
level in English speaking countries. IELTS has been adopted by many Englishmedium universities all over the world, mainly in the United Kingdom and
Australia (www.ielts.org).
1.2.2 IELTS writing test
In task 1, examinees are given questions containing some visual information
such as tables, graphs, charts, and diagrams. Examinees are expected to write a
short description of the information presented in the visual data. They must write at
least 150 words for this task.
In Task 2, candidates are asked to write an argumentative essay in response
to a problem, opinion or controversial proposition. They need to show that they can
express and support an opinion by means of drawing on their experience and
weighing their opinion against opposing views. The minimum word length of this
task is 250 words.
Writing tests are assessed by Cambridge trained and certified examiners. Task 1
and 2 are marked individually and the total score is reported on a scale of 1 to 9 at
intervals of 0.5. The total score is calculated from both tasks combined but the
weight of Task 2 is more than that of Task 1 as it is also longer. Below are the
official IELTS assessment criteria for Writing Tasks (UCLES, 2007):
1. Task achievement (task 1) / Task Response (task 2): Task achievement is the
criteria on whether and/or not to what extent candidates’ writing successfully
11


fulfilled the task requirements using the limited number of words. Task
response assesses whether candidates construct an argument responding to
the prompt given in the task and the argument is supported by their
knowledge, personal experiences, solid evidence, and concrete examples.
2. Coherence and Cohesion is the criterion regarding clarity and fluency of the
passage. Specially, coherence means how each sentence and paragraph are
logically linked, and cohesion refers to the proper use for cohesive device
(e.g: conjunction, pronoun, repetition of synonym) to achieve the referential
relationships between sentences and paragraphs.
3. Lexical Resource: this criterion refers to the range of accuracy of vocabulary
the candidate use and how appropriate the use of vocabulary is as response to
the prompt.
4. Grammatical range and Accuracy: this criterion examines how variedly and
accurately the candidate uses grammatical resources at sentence-level.
1.3 Model texts
Model texts in general are good examples of writing provided by instructors
or by textbooks for students to read and imitate. Charney and Carlson (1995)
defined a model as a text produced by a specific writer in a given situation, which
exemplifies a genre that can be generalized across writers in the same situation.
Model texts are commonly used by L1 writing instructors to enhance
students’ writing skills. A survey conducted among 70 university composition
teachers indicated that about 76 % of them used modeling regularly in their writing
classes (Stolarek, 1994). Similarly, Watson (1982) indicates that many ESL teachers
believe that an effective way to teach writing is to make the students read and
imitate models. Wu (2002) also maintains that although using models in writing
classrooms is still a controversial issue, it is not uncommon.
In addition, by reading model texts, L2 students can become familiar with a
particular genre, namely, description, narration, contrast and comparison,
exposition, and argumentation and obtain specific information from specified
12


writing works to be able to take actions within the genre (Miller, 1984). Model
essays supply students not only with genre-specific examples and input but also
topic-specific ones which learners can make use of in their own writings. Models
texts, thereby, focus on the attention of the students on the features of texts and are
mainly concerned with developing the students’ abilities in producing those features
accurately. Hence, it might be claimed that using model essays features a product
approach towards writing and “has its origin in the traditions of rhetorics” (Hedge,
2000:319)
Swales (1990) and Raimes (1998) also indicated that through exposure to
models of standard paragraphs and essays as well as genres of writing, including
flyers, magazine articles, letters, and so forth, learners may be able to communicate
more effectively with their audience. Text analysis is another application of model
texts. By means of analyzing the text, L2 learners become aware of how particular
grammatical features are used in authentic discourse contexts. Atkinson and
Ramanathan (1995) stated that as students progress, they need to become aware of a
variety of forms that “serve the writer’s purpose instead of the other way around”
(p.548). This is in line with the genre analysis approach within text analysis (Hedge,
2000) in which writing is viewed as “being linked to the values and expectations of
a particular discourse community” (p.320). This entails writing which is effectively
organized if we interpret serving the writer’s purpose quoted above as
demonstrating the writer’s voice in addressing the audience in the intended
discourse community. Then one comes to the conclusion that both teachers and
learners need “criteria for effectiveness” (Hedge, 2000: 321) and essay models can
provide such criteria for teachers and learners.
The next part provides the information about the situation of teaching and
learning IELTS in Vietnam in general an in London Foreign Language Centre in
particular.

13


1.4 Situation of teaching and learning IELTS in Viet Nam and in London
Foreign Language centre
Recently, the numbers of Vietnamese learners who want to study or work in
English speaking countries is getting higher and higher. Therefore, there are a lot of
English Language Centers that run IELTS courses such as Language Link, Apollo,
Summit, Clever Learn, London, etc where students of all levels have taken in
different preparation courses to get themselves well-equipped with sufficient
English.
More noticeably, some colleges and universities have started to teach their
students IELTS skills, and the students have had to pass the IELTS test as a
requirement of the university programme. However, the textbooks used at each
centre and university are different, and the majority of the teachers teaching IELTS
courses there are Vietnamese ones.
Established in 1997, London Foreign Language Centre has provided a
variety of English programmes such as general English, business English, Sat
preparation, IELTS preparation, etc. Teachers working there are both native and
Vietnamese depending on each course. Learners who would like to take part in an
IELTS course in this centre have to take a placement test and based on the result of
the test the learners are placed in different classes with suitable levels of English.
During the course, there are three practice tests to examine the learners’ progress
periodically.
1.5 Previous studies
During the last decades, finding methods to teach essay writing efficiently and
effectively has been a challenge for EFL English teachers. Therefore, there have
been several studies investigating the use of model texts or model essays to improve
students’ writing performance. The role of models in IELTS writing test is also
exploited by Makoto Abe (2008) in the study titled “Exploring the role of model
essays in IELTS writing test: A feedback tool”. The participants in his study were
14 Japanese ESL learners. All of them had studied English in Japan for more than

14


six years at junior and high school levels. The study attempted to investigate the
role of a model essay as a feedback tool for L2 writing instruction.
More specially, it aims to reveal how Japanese ESL learners notice their
language problems by comparing their own writing with a model essay in the
context of preparation for IELTS writing test. The results showed that the model
essays led the L2 learners to notice various aspects of language. The findings also
indicated that learners’ proficiency levels and the differences of the writing tasks
were significant factors in explaining the difference in quantity and quality of their
noticing. The analysis of the level of the students’ awareness revealed that the
students’ frequent noticing of a certain aspect of language did not necessarily mean
the noticing was at a high level of awareness.
Similarly, Mohammad Zare and Mohammad S. Bagheri (2009) carried out a
research “The role of using IELTS model essays in improving learners’ writing and
their awareness of writing features” to explore the role of using IELTS model
essays in improving Iranian EFL learners’ writing ability. It further sought to
explore these learners’ perceptions as of what aspects of their writing they noticed
to have improved after being exposed to model essays. The participants were 65
learners, participating in three groups; group A: intermediate students with no
model essay exposure, group B: intermediate students with model essay exposure,
and group C advanced students with model essay exposure. The result showed that
model essays written by native or native-like proficient writers can draw students’
attention to various aspects of the English language writing. Moreover, these
models draw the learners’ attentions to the features of writing in which they have
the most problems. Thus, model essays could serve as a useful resource to
encourage L2 writers to pay more attention to the various aspects of their writing
skills and hence, improve their writing.
In Vietnamese context, Huong (2010) in her MA thesis attempted to shed more
light on what aspects of a language teachers can exploit from model essays to teach
IELTS writing in Foundation Studies Department of Hanoi University. Moreover,

15


this study aimed at investigating some difficulties teachers face when exploiting
model essays as a teaching tool. She concluded that language use, idea delivery,
essay organization and sentence types/ structures are the aspects teachers can
exploit from model essays to teach their students. She also showed that explaining
the description of data proved to be the most problematic in task 1. Meanwhile, in
task 2 teachers felt most uncomfortable to illustrate the delivery of argument
(ideas).
In addition, Farnaz Sahebkheir (2011) in his study titled “The effect of model
essays on developing accuracy and complexity of EFL learners’ writing in the
Iranian context” investigated the effect of model essays on EFL learners’ noticing
different aspects of language which were classified into four categories (lexicon,
grammatical form, discourse and content) and on developing accuracy and
complexity of EFL learners’ writing. The participants were 40 female EFL learners.
The results of the study showed that the students mostly noticed vocabulary in the
model essays and modeling of native speaker writing significantly affected the
accuracy and complexity of their writing. The findings also suggested that model
essays should be included in writing courses and teachers should encourage students
to use models by promoting noticing.

16


CHAPTER 2: METHODOLOGY
This chapter enhances the main points regarding the methodology applied in the
study, namely the participants, research instruments as well as data collection
procedure.
2.1 Participants
The participants in this study were 30 Vietnamese learners aged from 16 to 22.
They were taking a preparation course in London foreign language centre. Their
scores raged from 4 to 5 (this is in accordance with the definition of intermediate in
IELTS writing module). All of them had been studying English for at least seven
years and had been taught some other types of writing in English such as writing
letters, writing a description of a place or a person. They had acquired not only the
basic knowledge of writing but also a certain amount of experience in composing
different English text types.
The subjects were divided into two groups of the treatment: group A (15
students with no model essay exposure), group B (15 students with model essay
exposure).
In addition, four IELTS teachers were also chosen in this study. They all
graduated from Vietnam National University- College of Foreign Language. They
have been teaching IELTS for 4 years. Two teachers taught the learners in this
writing course. The others were teaching for other courses in London Foreign
Language Centre.
2.2 Instruments
The study aims to investigate the role of model essays in improving Vietnamese
intermediate learners’ writing ability with a particular focus on the problem they
have to face in IELTS writing. In addition, it also aims to investigate how the
learners can improve their writing performance due to exposure to model essays as
well as their attitude towards the use of model essays as a teaching tool.
In order to maximize the aims, this study used a variety of research instruments
and sources of data such as questionnaires, tests and interviews.

17


2.2.1 Questionnaire
The aim of the learner questionnaire (see Appendix 3) was to obtain general
information about the learners, their views on learning IELTS writing, the
challenges in learning IELTS writing skills and the techniques their teachers often
used in writing lessons. The questionnaires were distributed to all the participants
and it took about 15 minutes to answer the questionnaire.
2.2.2 Tests
The writing tests given to each participants were exercise versions of IELTS
writing tests (academic module) randomly selected from Barron’s IELTS edited by
Lin Lougheed (2006) (see appendix 1 and 2). The writing test includes two writing
tasks: descriptive and argumentative essays. There is a minimum requirement word
length (at least 150 words for task 1, and 250 words for task 2).
Task 1: for pretest, the learners had to write a descriptive report of a table
about the sales at a small restaurant in a downtown business district. Similarly, a
descriptive report of a table about the sales made by a coffee shop in an office
building on a typical weekday was used for the posttest. In this kind of tasks, it is
not necessary for each writer to show their opinions, experience and knowledge so
what learners compose tends to be similar to the models.
Task 2: The learners had to write two argumentative essays on the topic of
technology for pre and post tests.
The tests were then marked using the standard IELTS global codification
system on a scale of 1-9 with the focus on task response/ task achievement,
cohesion and coherence, lexical resource, and grammatical range and accuracy. (See
Appendix 9 and 10)
2.2.3 Interview
The interview conducted with 15 students in group B was used following the
posttest. The aim of the interview is to clarify the researcher’s understanding of the
students’ reactions and feelings towards the teaching technique and the writing task.
18


The interviews were conducted in the students’ mother tongue (Vietnamese) and
later translated into English. The interview was based on only one question:
Do you think that model texts are helpful for you to improve your IELTS writing
skills? Why? Why not?
An interview was also conducted with the two teachers who are teaching IELTS
writing for this course and two other teachers at London foreign language centre.
The aim of the interview is to seek information about the teachers’ opinions about
the use of model texts as a teaching tool in this course.
The questions for the teachers are:
Do you believe that the use of model texts is helpful in improving the students’
writing skills? Why? Why not?
What suggestion do you have for the use of model texts as an effective teaching
tool?
2.3 Data collection procedure
The data collection procedure consists of four stages.
Stage 1: The researcher carefully designed the questionnaire for the students
who were involved in the study. Then all of them had to do the pretest which was
administrated for both control and experimental groups before the treatment.
Stage 2: This stage took place at the target department. While group A
received the routine writing instruction of the IELTS program during the course,
those in group B were given 20 model essays written by native and native-like
writers apart from the routine writing training of group A. These model essays were
taken from 3 books, namely Barron’s IELTS, a book for IELTS, and IELTS on
tracks. As the teacher was working on model essays, she explained different
academic writing aspects such as organization of the essay, cohesive devices,
domain words, relevant supporting ideas, topic related opinions, structural points,
etc provided by the writers in the essays.

19


Tài liệu bạn tìm kiếm đã sẵn sàng tải về

Tải bản đầy đủ ngay

×