Reinforcing Englisch through an academic fair. A connection between classroom activities and the society at the Christian Bilingual University of the Congo

Studienarbeit, 2018

15 Seiten


Table of contents

1. Introduction to the topic
1.1 Background to the study
1.2 Choice of the study
1.3 Statement of the problem
1.4 Questions of the study
1. 5 Thesis statement

2. Literature review
2.1 A gap between learning and using language in EFL settings
2.2 A need for maximizing student talk

3. Research method

4. Research findings
4.1 Reinforcing English through mingles
4.2 Reinforcing English through peer tutoring
4.3 Reinforcing English through learnercentered learning
4.4 Reinforcing English through presentation and discussions
4.5 Reinforcing English through games and awards

5. Limitations

6. Conclusion

7. References

1. Introduction to the topic

1.1 Background to the study

In most countries where English is taught as a foreign language (EFL), teachers complain that English learners have a little chance to improve their English. The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) does not make an exception. The learning environments do not push the learners to perform and practice English outside the four walls of the classroom. Deckert(2004, 12), for example, has observed, "In these(EFL) environments students have a little exposure to English outside the classroom". Moreover, Mattioli(2004, 21) writes, "in the EFL teaching environment students most likely only speak English in the classroom, or on very limited occasions outside the classroom". Shaila and Trudell(2010, 2)have drawn a conclusion, "students have only experienced teachercentered instruction, where they were passive learners or mere memorizers of rules." Thus, teachers are struggling so much to handle their classrooms by teaching English in the system, but with little or no impact on their learners’ targeted language of instruction in the classroom and society.

Bunduki and Higgs(2016, 4) declared, "The higher education curriculum in the DRC is oriented towards academic subjects, theory and memorization". The underlying message is that even though there has been a lot of reformations on modernizing teaching, no practical support is provided to help teachers understand and apply with exactitude active and participant pedagogy. It has been observed that failure in applying a given program would lead higher education leaders to change the program without questioning what went good, what went wrong, why things went wrong, and what to do to improve the way on how learning happens. Should we go from reformation to reformation with hope of replicating teachercentered learning or memorization which in the eyes of many is judged oldfashioned and less productive in building competent and autonomous learners?

The Christian Bilingual University of the Congo (UCBC) receives students from teachercentered backgrounds. These students are grouped according to levels, and then study English to interact and fill in gaps related to unlocking language barriers. However, shifting from this oldfashioned learning design to learnercentered learning is not always an easier task for both teachers and their students. This requires deep understanding of new roles of educational actors in the communicative classroom settings. This is very important because success in language learning depends much on how teachers adapt themselves to new ways of teaching, a kind of teaching that gives confidence, helps and assesses learners and the whole teaching activities.

Facing the same realities in learning English, the UCBC academic service has just organized the first academic fair (also known as the first edition of English fair) for the English medium after it had discovered that English was not much practiced outside the classroom. The various activities of the fair were above all selected in order to strengthen oral communication skills in the UCBC students due to the fact that English was not heard on the campus site as it was common in the very first existing years of the university. The UCBC academic service designed a learning opportunity, chiefly a fair that could help their students learn and use English in the natural way across the campus site, but this time with support from the larger community members interested in English.

Coming from town to the UCBC campus site, the community members came to expose their commodities. These people also exposed services offered by their respective institutions or companies to whoever came to their stands. In terms of decoration, the installment of stands created a new learning design on the campus. Few weeks before the fair started, the UCBC students took a levelbased Intensive English course. The course was taught as a subject in the university catalogue in the beginning of the academic year 2015-2016. As in any EFL class, the Intensive English gave, similar to Malu and Smedley(2016, 11), "enough time for learning vocabulary, grammar, and written English, with a little time devoted to oral communication". So, the academic fair came as an end activity to strengthen materials developed in the Intensive English course, offering three days of practice. The practice touched different senses such as sight, smell, touch, hearing and taste.

1.2 Choice of the study

The need to reinforce previously taught materials motivated this study, with the main purpose of learning from the community by involving students in their own learning. This study has incredibly been important because it enables teachers of EFL to create a learning opportunity that could help their students learn and use English in the real life communication by building strong social relationship with peers and sharing knowledge.

1.3 Statement of the problem

The statement of the problem stems from the idea that in the DRC, it is not surprising to see most students who had several years of lessons from the English curriculum at secondary school, higher education or university failing to communicate fluently and accurately. In most cases, the teaching team often ignores that language is primarily taught for communication purposes, and the misunderstanding of these purposes may create a lack of fluent English speakers from the schooled population. However nothing is done to reverse the situation socially and academically so that EFL learners may be fluent speakers at the end of their formation. This situation has led the researcher to wonder if teachers consider a strategic plan to reinforce English in their students just after they have taught linguistic contents.

1.4 Questions of the study

The research question is drawn from the study problem above. The study is trying to address the following questions as far as a socioacademic event is concerned to reinforce English:

1. Was the English fair linked to classroom activities at the UCBC?

2. How was English reinforced during the first academic fair at the UCBC?

1. 5 Thesis statement

This article presents a dual thesis statement:

1. Firstly, even though most fairs are economic, it can be agreed that the UCBC’s academic fair consisted of sharing knowledge through different ways related to classroom activities.

2. Lastly, based on time and diversity of topics as well as complex tasks, the fair best stimulated fluency and confidence in spoken language skill in EFL students at the UCBC.

2. Literature review

2.1 A gap between learning and using language in EFL settings

In EFL environments, the vast number of students learn English just for scores or for being tested rather than learning and using it for closing the gap of knowledge among many other gaps as Rees(2003, quoted in Borzava, 2014, 20) would have us reveal. Knowing that learning is also filling in gaps, let us now consider the gap of communication which should be developed at the very first stage of language learning. Its development is much more linked to the time devoted to listening and speaking skills as well as other imaginative and interactive exercises. Most teachers have prevented their learners to reach communication by holding maximally talk, known as “teacher talk” in language learning. Malu and Smedley(2016, 11) have noted, "Students often leave school with strong knowledge of the written language and a thirst for gaining fluency and confidence in spoken language".

The fact that there is lack of fluency and confidence in spoken language has resulted in a threat that consists of a stagnation of linguistic competence on the part of the learners. “Stagnation” because students are unable to make a meaningful word order to express their thoughts orally, and this misleading order is judged "unrelated noise", having no sense at all. What is most striking is that Palmer (2012, 22) has an experience which has taught him, a better student in the classroom setting can be "unable to use the targeted language (English) in any real communicative situation". So, speaking cannot be neglected in learning process.

One of the root causes consists of teaching the linguistic contents through some memorization indicators such as repetition drill, or transformational drill, or presentation of rules. In reality, this kind of teaching is materialdominated or teachercentered, and learners are the most losers. At this stage, the gap between learning and using language implies that teachers prevent their students from learning and practicing English by offering a little time to real life situations both in and out of the classroom. In filling the gap of communication, teachers need another way of teaching that could allow students to speak maximally.

2.2 A need for maximizing student talk

It is positive to say that speaking prepares critical thinking as Bruffee (1984, quoted in Shaila and Trudell, 2010, 4) have agreed, " for people to think well, they must first learn to converse and reason in their community". So, maximizing student talk needs to be integrated in language learning so that it may bring learners to the level of critical thinkers, users and speakers.


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Reinforcing Englisch through an academic fair. A connection between classroom activities and the society at the Christian Bilingual University of the Congo
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reinforcing, englisch, christian, bilingual, university, congo
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Jackson Kambale Masinda (Autor), 2018, Reinforcing Englisch through an academic fair. A connection between classroom activities and the society at the Christian Bilingual University of the Congo, München, GRIN Verlag,


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