ENGLISH MAJORS’ OBSTACLES IN ORAL ENGLISH LEARNING AND COUNTERMEASURES
Table of Contents
Chapter 1 3
Purposes of speaking the English language 5
Chapter 2 6
Survey data collection and analysis 6
Instrument of the study 6
Study questions for the open-ended questionnaire. 6
Data analysis and findings 6
Teaching modes and teaching methods 6
Teachers and their qualities 7
Lack of oral English speaking initiatives 8
Effects of the native language 8
Textbook issues 9
Lack of confidence 9
Nervousness in public speaking 10
Fear of making mistakes. 10
Lack of motivation 11
Despising oral English training 11
Lack of proper English speaking components 12
Lack of an Oral English environment 13
Closed questionnaire 13
Chapter 3 15
Change in teaching modes and methods 15
Putting more emphasis on teachers and their qualities 15
Teachers taking a position on textbooks and selecting the appropriate ones 16
Teaching through discussions and debates to build confidence 16
Setting up of clear learning motivations 17
Chapter 4 18
Chapter 5 20
This report is a write-up that is geared towards highlighting the obstacles that are faced by us the students and the countermeasures that can be affected to ease our oral English learning processes. The choice to study English both oral and in written form is guided by the fact that it is one of the leading spoken languages globally. Oral English learning is a continuous process that requires constant practice through regular communication to perfect.
To begin with, the introduction forms the first part of the essay. This segment will highlight the need for us, students, to study oral English as part of our curriculum. Additionally, the introduction will form the basis of the discussion for the paper. Besides, the paper will make a brief highlight of the importance of good mastery of oral skills and the benefits that it possesses for us as students and our input on the global stage. Additionally, the paper will address the key components and aspects of oral speaking.
Subsequently, the body of the paper will discuss the various obstacles that are faced by us students in our quest to develop oral proficiency in English. The obstacles to be discussed will be categorized into two. The two categories will be grouped as external factors and internal factors.
After highlighting the obstacles to oral English learning, the paper will discuss the possible countermeasures and recommendations to make oral English learning easy, simple, enjoyable, and fast. The conclusion segment will serve to summarise all the aspects discussed in the paper. The main aim of this paper is to help in making the process of oral English learning smooth and seamlessly easy by highlighting the plight of the student.
There is a raging debate among statisticians over which language between Mandarin Chinese and English has the biggest number of speakers in the world. Some have ranked Mandarin Chinese as the most spoken language while others have argued that English has the largest speaking population. That debate is neither here nor there. But before statisticians agree on which between the two is the most populous, we can at least on one thing, English and Mandarin Chinese are the most spoken languages of the world. Therefore, it is important that we students at least grow our proficiency in the oral English language to supplement our native language and position us at an advantageous position over our global counterparts. Therefore, this forms the basis of our interest as students to study this significant language and its oral or spoken aspect.
The world has become one big village. Therefore, there is a need to learn the various leading languages to fit into the global village. As students, we are committed to learning English which is one of the most widely spoken languages in the world (Li, 2019). The language has been used widely to seal deals and drive the global agenda. Therefore, as a student, there is a need to position ourselves in the global arena and claim our share of the agenda through persuasion from oral skills to be learned in this course. That notwithstanding, this paper will put special emphasis on the oral aspect of English communication.
According to assertions made by a famous American educator Mr. Wilga Rivers (2018), languages are comprised of four aspects. The first aspect being listening and accounts for 45%. Speaking forms takes the second aspect of any language and accounts for 30% of the language. On the other hand reading and writing forms the least composition at 16% and 9% respectively. However, even though listening and speaking bear the largest chunks they are effectively the most common barriers to effective mastery of oral speaking skills and learning processes. Interestingly, teachers are still stuck in the old-age teaching methods while our current demands as students have changed with the evolving nature of learning. This conflicting situation has effectively slowed down our ability as a student to grasp oral skills in a fast and efficient manner.
To achieve good mastery of the oral English language, some obstacles will have to be overcome. The obstacles to be discussed throughout this paper will range from internal obstacles to external obstacles (Marita, 2020). As will be discussed, internal obstacles are easy to overcome as they are primarily controlled by our conduct as students. On the other hand, external obstacles are difficult or not possible to control. However, there are measures that we can take as students to put up with the obstacles and achieve our desired learning outcome.
Purposes of speaking the English language
Communication in any language is not complete unless the oral aspect of the language is mastered efficiently. Besides giving written submissions, some instances will demand us to make oral interactions. Therefore, this unit forms an important aspect for us as students. Oral speaking of the English language seeks to serve the following purposes. First, speaking seeks to persuade a person. Persuasion is an aspect that cannot be achieved through written submissions (Liu, & Zhou, 2018). In a written submission, a person may seek to have clarity but that will not be forthcoming. Therefore, it is important for us students to learn the art of oral communication to be in a position to persuade others. Additionally, learning oral English will help us take part in discussions. Discussions can only be held in a setup where all the students involved are in a position to speak in the same language.
Survey data collection and analysis
We undertook this survey among 50 oral English learning students. The survey was aimed at establishing major obstacles to oral English learning. Additionally, we asked students to propose possible counter measures to the obstacles.
Instrument of the study
Questionnaire was he only tool that was used for this study. To ensure the survey was both quantitative and qualitative, we developed a questionnaire with two parts. The first part was an open ended questionnaire while the second part was a multiple choice question. For the open ended questionnaire, we asked the students to highlight the major obstacles faced in oral English learning. On the other hand, the closed questionnaire comprised of two questions that the students were supposed to choose their levels in oral English and in written English proficiency.
Study questions for the open-ended questionnaire.
What are the major obstacles to oral English learning?
What are the possible countermeasures to obstacles in oral English learning?
Data analysis and findings
This section makes a detailed analysis of the responses provided by the students from the open ended questionnaire. The section highlights responses by participating students on major obstacles they face in oral English learning.
Teaching modes and teaching methods
Teachers have a central role to play when it comes to the development of oral skills among students. It is often said that a student can only become as good as their teacher. Therefore, teachers have to possess excellent oral skills for students to emulate (LI, 2020). To achieve this, teachers must develop easy teaching methods that we students can easily follow through. However, this has not always been the case. Some teachers have on several instances developed teaching models that are complicated for students to follow through. Consequently, students lose interest gradually and their proficiency in mastering oral skills in English fades away. This particular failure has resulted in a slow learning process among the students.
Additionally, a teacher who uses outdated teaching techniques is more likely to have a redundant class that takes time to progress in their learning. During this era of technological advancements, we students are highly opinionated on the importance of having technology integrated into our learning models. This will ease our learning and make it more interactive thereby raising our interest in the learning process. Lastly, over reliance by teachers on a result oriented approaches compared to student-oriented approaches. In the past, there has been a tendency by teachers to incline more on a result-oriented approach leaving out a good number of us lagging in the process of learning.
Teachers and their qualities
Oral English learning is heavily reliant on the trainer as opposed to the trainee. In oral language training, students learn from their teachers. However, some teachers are faced with challenges when handling oral teaching. You will often come across teachers who are struggling with phonetics and pronunciations in the English language (Liu, & Zhou, 2018). As such we students tend to emulate the wrong pronunciations passed to us from these teachers. When we seek information from external sources of learning, we are introduced to different pronunciations from the ones we have been taught. This conflicting situation often leads us to confusion. When a teacher makes good pronunciations and has a good approach to teaching oral English skills, it becomes easier for us to easily pronounce after them and be in sync with the world in oral English.
Interestingly, the quality issue is not unique to non-native English teachers alone. It is an observance that I have taken a keen interest in and noticed that it cuts across the board. Although relatively easy to rectify among native English-speaking teachers, it is nonetheless affecting some teachers indiscriminately. To some teachers, I attribute the problem to a lack of a proper learning schedule. Oral speaking learning does not necessitate meticulous planning, but none the less it requires some seriousness to take students through. Lastly, teacher perceptions of our learning abilities have not been encouraging at times.
Lack of oral English speaking initiatives
As students of a foreign language, we are faced with a unique challenge- A lack of a supportive learning initiative to horn our acquired knowledge. Learning an oral language requires constant practice to perfect. However, we find ourselves in a peculiar circumstance that does not facilitate this position. Therefore our practice is confined within the schooling environment. Outside the school, we are met by native speakers who are akin to using our indigenous language. Therefore we are limited in practice and confined to a small learning horizon. However, that notwithstanding we are still putting our best feet forward in our learning processes.
Effects of the native language
Having been introduced to a different language at the beginning has served as a disadvantage to our learning quest. It is glaring that language phonetics differ big time. Therefore, we are forced to build from scratch with conflicting phonetics taking centre stage. However, the effect of a first language does not last long enough to hamper our learning process (LI, 2020). With continued learning and practice, we can overcome the challenge. There is nothing superficial that can be done to address this issue apart from our collective initiatives as students to practice oral English speaking skills.
Although wide reading is crucial in helping us improve on our oral English skills, sometimes we end up getting confused over different aspects. It is a common occurrence to come across different textbooks teaching similar pronunciation concepts but varying in pronunciation phonetics (Qingfang, 2018). Therefore, as students, we are faced with dilemmas as to which are the correct pronunciations when conducting our studies. Additionally, some textbooks will contain typo errors. Typo errors are not a big deal to native English-speaking persons, but to us, they have a big influence on our development progress. This is because we as foreign English learning students cannot easily discern the typing errors. Therefore, we end up carrying on wrong information. When our knowledge and intellect are challenged and corrected, our morale and self-esteem become lowered as we are sent to the drawing board again. This particular obstacle has had far-reaching consequences on our progress towards learning oral English.
Lack of confidence
To begin with, confidence is a trait that is developed intrinsically to help us, students, cope with our immediate environment. However, this has not always been the case when learning oral English skills as a foreign language. In the process of oral language learning, lack of confidence plays a major role in hampering our progression as students.
Lack of confidence in this context comes in the form of; fear of trying, doubts about our credibility of thoughts, perception from classmates, and general disbelief in ourselves. During learning, we the students are reluctant to put our skills to the test due to a lack of confidence. Additionally, we suffer from an inferiority complex to a foreign language, and the fear to make errors keeps on holding us back. Additionally, we fear being considered novices in the mastery of oral language by our peers. Therefore, we put less practice into speaking. This tendency has had a heavily negative consequence in the progression of oral learning. As a result, we end up taking longer periods than our counterparts in other parts f the world.
Nervousness in public speaking
Public speaking is an art that most of us are yet to catch up with it is an art that require resilience and persistence to achieve. Some of us are poor at public speaking and this has a direct negative bearing on our oral English skills as students. According to scientists, the brain functions well when in a calm and composed state. However, there are instances when we become nervous and lose our composure. This happens more often during public speaking. When in this state, we the students are faced with the inability to compose proper sentences and end up fumbling with our thoughts. This is in line with our adrenaline gushes of the moments. Consequently, pronunciation becomes hampered due to this lack of a general flow of ideas.
According to researchers, we often become more nervous when we are faced with the challenge of putting our oral skills in a foreign language to the test. Although there is no known outright cure to nervousness, teachers should put more effort into helping us stay calm by giving us more room to practice our oral skills. I so doing our learning progress will become smooth and seamless. As adduced earlier, teachers have a central and key role to play in our growth and development progress. Their importance cannot be understated. They are the drivers of our success.
Fear of making mistakes.
Although it is said that human is to error, and practice makes perfect, these sentiment seems to take a back seat among us, students, when it comes to making practice in our foreign language communication trials. More often than not, only a handful of students are willing to practice oral skills due to the fear of the unknown (Tong, 2018). I have noted that few students take it upon themselves to converse in learned oral English skills. The fear of making mistakes often clouds the immense potential that is found in trying. As a result, we are stuck in our amateur and mid-level oral English speaking. Consequently, we end up taking longer than necessary time studying the oral English language. However, at our slow pace, we end up making good mastery of the language. Additionally, the fear of having to gobble up and wobble with foreign vocabulary shrouds our interest in learning oral skills in the English language.
Lack of motivation
Oral English learning requires a high degree of motivation to pursue. However, this is not always the case when it comes to our oral English learning. This is primarily caused by the intensive learning hours and effort that is required in advancing prowess in the pronunciation process and mastery of vocabularies. Traditionally, English learning has been pegged on the written aspect of it. Little attention has been paid to the oral aspect of the language. This is because most entry exams in English put more emphasis on the written aspect neglecting oral English in the process.
Motivation may be intrinsic or extrinsic. In intrinsic motivation, it is upon us students to put in extra effort in ensuring that we further our learning. However, intrinsic motivation supersedes external motivation. This has not been the case amongst us. Intrinsic motivation is the key driving factor that will see us the students achieve our targets and desired outcomes swiftly. Even though his key driving factor is lacking, it is a work in progress and with the help of our teachers, we shall become captains of our ships of oral English learning.
Despising oral English training
As students, we are often tempted to prefer written English to oral English. This is because written English is more personalized and we are not subjected to reviews and criticisms by our peers. Therefore we tend to put more emphasis on written English as compared to oral English.
Consequently, we become better at writing and presenting information while we can barely pronounce our written submissions. This culture has been cultivated by the fact that, in previous learning setups, exams have been primarily pegged on the written aspect leaving out oral examinations (Tong, 2018). Interestingly, the learning setup in the past has not had serious emphasis laid on the oral bit of the language. However, there is an increasing urge among us to horn our oral skills to fit in the global economy. This shift in perception has further been fuelled by our teachers who have brought bare the advantages that we stand to gain by having good oral skills. Additionally, we have been taught the immense advantage we stand to gain by mastering oral English as a second language and the immense opportunities that this brings along.
Lack of proper English speaking components
Oral English has two important components that we as students often lack. First, we lack proper pronunciation skills. Language pronunciation is guided by a proper understanding of language phonetics. However, most of us lack this basic component that is crucial to good oral communication skills. This position that I hold is further strengthened by the works of two famous Chinese scholar s (Wang, 2018), who came to a common conclusion that achieving oral language competence is an astounding fete that phenomenon that, “includes knowing the phonics, tone, grammar, words, rules of spoken language, cultural characters of language and using the proper language forms in the certain situation and non-language forms to overcome some difficulties in the language communication strategically”.
Secondly, the aspect of vocabulary mastery comes into play. To most of us, English is a second language. As such, we suffer from a lack of requisite vocabulary to give us a good mastery of oral English. Proper mastery of vocabulary often leads to a logical flow of thoughts making communication easier. On the contrary, oral communication becomes difficult where vocabulary is limited as is our case. This view of mine is further stressed by Abughararah (1992) who studied oral barriers of communication among Taibah University students and came to the conclusion that “the students majoring in English at the college of education in Madinah Munawwarah, Saudi Arabia, failed to converse in English accurately and fluently. The students tended to make several errors in their daily utterances. Moreover, they were hesitant to speak the target language because they were unable to keep the utterances flowing”.
Lack of an Oral English environment
It is a common concurrence that practice makes perfect. However, as students studying a foreign second language, we are faced with one challenge of a lack of a supportive environment. Our gains in the oral English language are more often than not derailed by our immediate environment. This means that we lack partners to practice our oral English skills with while outside our class setups. Therefore, our learning process becomes slow. Although this is not a profound obstacle to the progression of our oral English mastery, it does play a role in hampering our progress and mastery of the oral English language.
From this explanation, it is evident that the environment plays an important role in shaping students learning curves. As students, we are faced with a unique environment where we are surrounded by indigenous language speakers and we have to master our oral English progression all by ourselves. This monumental challenge that we can do little about hampers our language progression. As a result, our learning becomes slow but steady. That notwithstanding, we are still doing our best to master oral English speaking with eloquence and fluency.
What level are you at in oral English speaking?
What level are you at in written English speaking?
From the analysis of this data, there is a high percentage of poor oral English-speaking students compared to written English. Factors leading to this disparity have been elaborated.
To enhance our skills in learning oral skills in English, several measures have to be taken to help us improve our learning process.
Change in teaching modes and methods
The learning process is dynamic and requires constant adjustments to meet the current needs (Yu, Song, & Miao, 2019). We the current students differ substantially from the previous generation. Our circumstances are unique as were the previous students’ circumstances. Therefore, there is a need to have tailor-made solutions geared at meeting our specific needs. For instance, the present-day teacher should adopt a radical shift from the traditional teacher to student learning and adopt a new student-cantered approach. This does not necessarily imply that we as students take over, but we get more involved in the learning process. Additionally, the class setup should accord us more opportunities to interact freely as we gauge our understanding and progress in learning oral English.
Putting more emphasis on teachers and their qualities
At times, we as students are faced with the challenge of putting up and trying to understand our teachers. Although native English teachers would make good tutors local teachers can also match up to their skills. To attain this fete there is a need for the teachers to upscale their oral and English mastery abilities to set the bar high for us students to emulate. That notwithstanding, eloquent and fluent teachers need to keep abreast with developing models in teaching foreign languages. Tutors should embrace technology and find the best applications that will work out best for us students.
Teachers taking a position on textbooks and selecting the appropriate ones
We as students often stray in our quest to improve our oral English language skills. However, our quest at times ends up leaving us in a confused state than we were in before seeking more information. according to Pathan (2013), he noted that there exist discrepancies between different authors and their failure to “differentiate between long and short vowels or diphthongs, aspirate initial /p/, /t/, /k/ of stressed syllables, pronounce the sounds that are not available in the first language, put stress on the appropriate syllable, convey the message clearly due to inadequate range of vocabulary, form certain grammatical constructions, use different word classes, maintain subject-verb agreement and use some other grammatical categories properly”, has effectively curtailed our abilities as students to have proper mastery of oral English language. As a resolve, there is a need for teachers to come on board and have concerted efforts to coming up with a harmonized book to be used by us students.
Teaching through discussions and debates to build confidence
Although confidence-building is a preserve for us as students, teachers can help accelerate our process of confidence-building. To achieve this, there is a need to convert the class setup into a more engaging place and debates to be included in our learning process. Debates will not necessarily help us prove who is better at presenting arguments, but will also help us build on our confidence. Confidence will go a long way in boosting our morale. Additionally, confidence will give us the power to practice and make mistakes. Besides, confidence building will help us bring down nervousness when having public engagements. A calm and composed mind often results in logical reasoning and reduces instances of stammering among students (Wang, 2018).
Setting up of clear learning motivations
More often than not, we students lack a clear motivation to learning. Therefore, teachers should help us come up with clear and definite learning outcomes to up our motivation level. Although motivation is an internal factor that must come from within, it gets easier if the surrounding environment is captivating and conducive for learning. Teachers should help us set clear and articulate objectives to help us achieve our desired targets and outcomes.
English is one of the major languages that is driving and setting the global agenda. Therefore we as students must get accustomed to the language. There are two aspects to the language. First, there is the written aspect of the language, and secondly, the oral aspect of the language (Shan, 2018). As students keeping up with the global agenda, we are more interested in learning the oral aspect of the language to help us partake in the global agenda. As discussed above it is evident that learning a new language is laborious, slow, and challenging. Among the student population there exist several obstacles to learning the oral English language. These obstacles are both internal and external (Yin, 2020). Although the external obstacles are limited in number, they nonetheless play a significant role as obstacles to learning the oral English language.
As highlighted, teachers play a significant role as external factors in the process of oral English learning. They shape our perspectives, kill or inspire our motivations, set the learning agenda, and help us build on our confidence. Additionally, the use of outdated teaching models has a huge bearing on our learning process. Therefore, there is a need for teachers to update their learning materials regularly. That notwithstanding, the important role that the teachers have undertaken to educate us cannot be understated. They have constantly shaped our learning and understanding of the language. Lastly, the immediate and surrounding environment as an external factor has a significant bearing on the growth of personal oral skills.
As students, we are faced with an environment that does not engage in English language speaking. As a result, we are not entitled to practice outside the class but we move on. On the other hand, internal factors play a significant role in helping us develop our prowess in oral language development. From prior discussions, I have demonstrated the significance and importance of working on personal development to help in developing the ability to master the oral aspect of the language. Mastering oral language requires constant practice (Lan, et al. 2017).
However, without personal development, the practice becomes impossible to effect. Some of the aspects that need to be developed to ease in the process of mastering oral skills in English include and are not limited to the following; first, as students, we need to rise above the fear of making mistakes. No one is perfect and human is to error. Secondly, we need to engage in more public engagements to lower our anxiety levels and nervousness. These are two factors that hamper our ability to develop eloquence and fluency while speaking the English language. Nonetheless, as students, we are bound to work hard and strive for the best in our quest for knowledge. As students, we also appreciate the concerted efforts that our teachers have put in place to play their role in striving to make us better English speakers.
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