Thesis (M.A.), 2012
Chapter One: Introduction
1.1. English as a Foreign Language in Bangladesh
1.1.1. Evaluation of English Teaching and Learning in Bangladesh
1.1.2. Introduction of New Textbook
1.2. Identification of Problem
1.4. Research Questions
1.7. Significance of the Study
Chapter Two: Literature Review
2.2. Types of Authenticity
2.3. Authentic Material
2.4. Background History
2.5. Examples of Authentic Material
2.6. The Role of Authentic Material in EFL Teaching and Learning
2.6.1. Arguments in Favor of Authentic Material
2.6.2. Arguments Against the Use of Authentic Materials
Chapter Three: Methodology
3.1. Data Collection
3.3. Rationale for Selecting Target Students
3.4. Experimental Classes
3.6. Time Management
Chapter Four: Findings
4.1. Material Planning
4.1.1. Textbook Evaluation
4.1.2. Personal Material
4.2. Selection of Authentic Material
4.2.1. Materials Used in the Classroom
4.3. Teaching Grammar Points
4.4. Evaluation of the Students
Chapter Five: Data Analysis
5.1. Comparative Study on Two Tests
5.2. Speaking Skill
5.3. Analysis of the Questionnaires
Chapter Six: Conclusion
6.1. Impact of Authentic Materials on the Students
6.2. Teachers’ Opinion on the Use of Authentic Material
6.3. Problems in Introducing Authentic Material
First and foremost, all praise is due to Allah who gave me the ability to accomplish this work.
I would like to express my deepest gratitude and appreciation to my supervisor Mahjabeen Hussain , Lecturer, Department of English, North South University, for her acceptance to be my supervisor, and for providing me with insightful and valuable comments. She had always been there whenever I needed her help and support.
I would also like to express special thanks to my maternal uncle Meah Md Yousuf Chowdhury, Associate Professor and Head of the Department of Business Administration, Chittagong Cantonment Public College, Chittagong, for inspiring me to get admitted at North South University to do my Masters in TESOL. In addition, my sincere appreciation goes to my friends, including- Anupam Biswas, Nanda Kumar Das and Zia Uddin Khuzima, for their guidance and support throughout the development of this study.
Finally, I would like to express my deep gratitude to all those who contributed, directly or indirectly, to this project. Particularly, I am thankful to the students and teachers who participated in the study. Without them, the study would have been impossible.
Students in Bangladesh often have difficulties in learning English as a foreign language for lack of appropriate learning materials in the classroom. Too often foreign language teaching texts in our country are designed either too difficult or too easy for students. Without appropriate texts that suit them, learners spend long hours in the classroom accomplishing very little in the long run. Most of them remain weak in reading, writing, listening and speaking in English properly even after receiving higher education. Students’ performance varies according to the type of materials given to them. A significant amount of research shows that there is something about the type of textbooks/materials that should be looked into and evaluated carefully so that necessary adaptation can be made for effective learning to take place. When learners are introduced to variety of materials, it is necessary to understand what impact they have on the learners. This research, therefore, aims to find out whether there is any impact on performance when students read authentic materials beside the textbooks.
The popularization of English in this subcontinent was a result of the efforts made by Lord Macaulay (a British Governor General) in the early 19th Century. In fact, Lord Macaulay’s policy aimed at forming a class who might serve as interpreters between the British and the millions of subjects, a class of persons Indian in Blood and color, but English in taste, in opinions, in moral and in intellect (Aggarwal, 1983). Precisely speaking, the objectives were designed to serve the interest of the masters, not of the subjects.
But those days are gone now. There have been lots of political and socioeconomic changes so far. The partition of Bengal in 1905 and its unification in 1906, the creation of Pakistan in 1947 and finally the birth of Bangladesh in 1971 have all had their impacts on the attitudes and motivation of English learning. In Bangladesh, English has now assumed the status of a foreign language. It is considered as a stair of prosperity, a tool of acquiring knowledge, a means of establishing international relation and a sign of sophistication.
Though English in our country is taught as a compulsory subject in schools, colleges and madrashas from the primary to the tertiary level, it is a matter of sorrow that most of our people cannot speak or write English properly- even after receiving higher education. So we can perceive that there are some problems in the procedure of English language teaching and learning in our country.
English language teaching and learning in this independent nation initially started its journey with Grammar Translation (GT) method. It is to be noted that English language teaching and learning in our educational institutions suffered badly after the Liberation War in 1971, and English lost its previous dominant status, though it was still a compulsory subject from secondary to higher secondary levels. It so happened because of the strong public sentiment in favor of the mother tongue, Bengali.
This situation started to develop in course of time. The decision of making English as a compulsory subject from Class-1 to Class- 10 in 1990, its implementation in 1992 and the reintroduction of English in B.A., B.S.S., B.Com., and B. Sc. courses as a compulsory subject of 100 marks after 1993 contributed greatly to establish English as a well-accepted foreign language in our country. Yet, there was no change in the method (i.e. GT) of teaching. It was only in the late 1990s when Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) was introduced in this country with a view to increasing the communicative competence of our students. And NCTB is still following this method.
To come out of the traditional GT method according to the decision of the Ministry of Education, a standard book, namely English for Today, was introduced by NCTB (National Curriculum of Textbook Board) claiming to reflect the communicative principles in 2001.
These new English textbooks books from class 6 to 12 were developed by English Language Teaching Improvement Project (ELTIP) jointly funded by the government of Bangladesh and Department for International Development (DFID) of the UK Government. The books claim to follow the communicative approach to teaching and learning English in Bangladeshi situations. Our young learners are still guided by those books.
Uddin (2008) says that these textbooks at different classes provide learners with a variety of contents, information and activities. And these have been designed and developed for the development of four basic language skills- listening, speaking, reading and writing.
Later on, NCTB published English Grammar and Composition (Book-2) from the academic session 2005 for the students of classes 9-10. The rationale behind designing this book is that in a non-English speaking country like Bangladesh where English is taught as a foreign language still prevails a notion that it is important to know the grammar and structure of a language to become competent in it. This book will enable learners to learn necessary grammatical rules and also to use grammar in context.
It is undoubtedly true that the situation of English language teaching and learning in Bangladesh is not so good (EIA, 2009a). It is a very common phenomenon that teachers in our country tenaciously follow the textbooks determined by NCTB in the classrooms. As we know, in any given context, students vary from each other in their attitude, aptitude, motivation and many other aspects. So, if the teachers use textbooks as the only tool for teaching English in the classroom, they carry the risk of depriving many of the students from their actual learning. Some of the negative aspects that such practices have are as follows:
1. The teacher who follows any course book slavishly will inevitably bore himself or herself as well as the students (McRae ,1991, p.23).
2. To go through the course book entirely will surely encourage rote learning at the expense of communicative use of language (McRae, 1991, p. 23).
3. The reading selections in the ESL/EFL course books are often quite short and they often fail to present appropriate and realistic language models. The lack of challenging reading materials could also slow the students’ language development creating a plateau effect (Kayapinar, 2009).
4. Text-book oriented classes often tend to be teacher-dominated. So, teacher- dominated lecture-based pedagogy remain the norm in Bangladeshi school culture where students are in a passive role, limited to memorizing facts and reciting them back to their teacher (Shohel and Howes, 2008).
5. When students are given course books that are similarly designed as their past learning materials, they may sometimes lose their interest and motivation to study. But without any motivation, it is not possible to acquire a second/ foreign language (Masgoret and Gardner , 2003).
My hypothesis is that the textbook oriented classes in Bangladesh pose a great impediment in the way of acquiring or learning English as Foreign language efficiently. Such practices often discourage students and keep them away from learning English as a foreign language. Considering English as a subject rather than a language, students often get tempted to study it for scoring good marks in the examinations. As a result, most of our students cannot grow up with a strong base in this particular language and, with their bookish knowledge, can only write and speak incorrect English. I assume that the use of authentic materials in the classrooms besides the textbooks will pave a way for the students to be efficient in listening, reading, writing and speaking in English.
I have a particular goal in my research. To reach that goal, I have followed some specific research questions so that I can keep myself within the track and do not end up my research in vain. These questions are as follows:
1. What is authentic material?
2. Does the use of textbooks alone, published by NCTB, help students to develop proficiency in English language?
3. Is there any necessity for other materials apart from the textbooks to teach English to young people?
4. Will the use of authentic materials beside the textbooks in the classrooms contribute to the actual learning of English as a foreign language?
5. What impact does using authentic material have in addition to textbook?
The main purpose of my research is to investigate whether it is possible or not to use some other materials in the Bangladeshi classrooms beside the textbooks in order to make the classes more effective and fruitful.
Davis (1997) has suggested that materials other than traditional texts have to be used in the class to expose students to language used in the outside world. With regard to this, I am intensely interested to apply authentic materials on a particular group of students and observe the effect on them. Authentic materials can be defined as a text or non-text that are not specifically designed for language teaching and contain example of real language in ways that it would be used for communicative needs (Jacobson, Degener, & Purcell-Gates, 2003). Going back to my own school life, I can recall how miserable the subject English was for all of us in a rural school. Our grim-faced teachers would appear before us with a textbook and a cane and force us to memorize the rules, the structures, the vocabularies and, what is more, the language itself. In fact, this is the same scenario in almost every school in our country and that is how our students get deprived of the real language learning experience.
So, my intention is to drift a wind of change in the traditional way of English teaching and learning in Bangladesh. And to do this, I have tried my best to use the tool of authentic material.
It is certain that every student in our country wants to learn English; but their learning becomes quite exam-oriented in course of time. That is what creates great obstacle in the way of true learning of English. My support goes to the use of authentic materials in the classroom besides the textbooks, for it will contribute to the actual English learning of our students.
A review of the pertinent literature supports the use of authentic material in the EFL classroom. Authentic materials “(a) give the students the opportunity to practice English, (b) help the students gain confidence in their English ability, (c) expose the students to cultural differences and customs, and (d) help the students develop their ability to find pertinent information quickly” (Kelly, Offner, & Vorland, 2002, p.12). Moreover, authentic materials lower the degree of anxiety when students face new situations in the target language (Moya, 2000). And it is true that authentic materials have a positive effect on increasing students’ motivation, and make learning more enjoyable (Karpova, 1999). For all the reasons, it goes without saying that authentic materials play an important role in developing the language competence of any student who is learning English as a second/foreign language.
Research in this field is very significant in Bangladesh because very few people have concentrated in this area before. Everybody is concerned about the fact that the inclusion of English as a compulsory subject form the primary to the tertiary level cannot bring about any change in the English language proficiency of our students. Some give blame to the entire education system of Bangladesh for this reason and the others give blame to the methodology/ methodologies that are followed here. It is quite surprising that almost all of them do not focus on the fact that the materials (textbooks) that are used in the classrooms can also be challenged and blamed.
My present study will try to dig out the significance of using authentic materials beside the textbooks in the classroom and their impact on the students. I hope that this new sort of study will be able to catch the attention of other researchers, and more investigation will be held in this particular area very soon. Hence, I think that traditional thought of taking textbooks as the only instruments for teaching and learning English will be changed in the near future.
The word ‘authenticity’ is the most frequently used term in language teaching and learning in the recent period. Throughout the history of English language teaching, authenticity is taken as being synonymous with genuineness, realness, truthfulness, validity, reliability, undisputed credibility, and legitimacy of materials or practices (Tatsuki, 2006). However, Mishan(2005) intends to set some criteria for authenticity rather than defining the term and says that authenticity is a factor of (i) provenance and authorship of the text, (ii) original communicative and socio- cultural purpose of the text, (iii) original context of the text, (iv) learning activity engendered by the text, and (v) learners’ perceptions of and attitudes to the text and the activity pertaining to it (p.18). Yet, there are a lot of confusions connected to the idea of "authenticity".
Authenticity is not confined to one thing. It may appear at different points and at different stages. Authenticity in language learning can be of different types, for instance, authenticity of text (Guariento & Morley, 2001), authenticity of competence (Canale & Swain, 1980), learner authenticity (Widdowson, 1979), authenticity of classroom (Taylor, 1994) and so on.
Here, authenticity of text is related to the selection of language materials, activities and methods used in the classroom establishing a relation with the real world situation. Being authentically competent means that a learner’s performance should as much as possible correspond to the way native speakers perform. Therefore, learner authenticity refers to the learners’ positive feelings and reactions towards materials and the pedagogical intentions inherent in them. And lastly, the authentic role of the classroom indicates to the provision of those facilities in which the participants can publicly share their achievements and problems, and get a chance to be involved in the overall process of learning a language together as socially motivated and socially situated activity.
So, we can harmonize our opinion with Breen (1985) that all the possible sorts of authenticity within language teaching are in continual interrelationship with one another and hence they all collectively yield opportunity for students to learn a language.
Different researchers and linguists have tried to define authentic material from different perspectives. For instance, Harmer (1991) says that authentic materials (either written or spoken) are items designed for native speakers of English and are not designed for language students per se. Nunan (1989) also concentrates on the issue of purpose and states that authentic is any material which has not been specifically produced for the purpose of language teaching.
On the other hand, Morrow (1977) defines authentic text as the language produced by a real speaker or writer for a real audience which was expected to express a real message. Rogers & Medley (1988) moved further and looked at the terms authenticity and authentic as used for describing oral and written language samples that were the reflection of language forms which were used naturally and appropriately based on the cultural and situational context. MacDonald et al. (2006) contend if there is a correspondence between the texts used in the classroom and types of texts used outside the classroom then it is possible to call such texts authentic.
In spite of some differences among these definitions by different researchers and linguists, there remains a sort of harmony among them. What is common in these definitions is the exposure to real language and its use in its own community.
It is more than hundred years ago when the concept of authentic material first appeared. But, this concept took longer period of time to be widely known and flourished in the arena of second language/foreign language teaching and learning. Henry Sweet is believed to be one of the first advocates who favored the use of authentic materials in the 1890s and discussed their benefits over traditional ones. According to him, natural texts do justice to every feature of the language while artificial materials include repetition of certain grammatical constructions, certain elements of the vocabulary, certain combinations of words to the almost total exclusion of others which are equally, or perhaps even more essential (Cited in Gilmore, 2004).
Later on, as Gilmore (2004) presents, the reappearance of authentic materials dates back to the discussion raised by Chomsky (1965) and Hymes (1972) who remarked that communicative competence does not only comprise of the knowledge of the language but also of the needs for contextualized communication.
As a result of their argument, the importance of teaching authentic texts in culturally authentic contexts has been emphasized by communicative approaches during the 1980s (Lin, 2004).
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