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English Language Education Issues in Kuwait Proposal


Introduction

The English language continues to gain recognition around the world. Institutions and governments across the globe are now formulating policies to facilitate the introduction of English into the curriculum (Bolton, Graddol & Meierkord 2011).

The case for English is that individuals who possess language competencies are more likely to compete favourably in the job market than those who lack these skills (Watkins 2007). Wright (2007) has reported that the majority of countries outside the Anglophone’s inner circle are increasingly expanding the use of English.

The current era of globalization is redefining the role of English in non-Anglophone countries.

Background to the Problem

The Kuwaiti Ministry of Education has introduced English as a compulsory subject for students in grades one to five. Conversely, concerns have emerged over the incapacity of teachers to provide adequate instruction.

The principal issue is that students demonstrate weak and limited proficiencies in both written and spoken English once they transition from the elementary classes (Pajeres 2013). Nizonkiza (2011) has questioned the manner in which Kuwait trains its English instructors.

The preparation of these teachers fails to address the political and cultural implications of using English as a global language (Karathanos 2009).

Statement of the Problem

The worldviews and perceptions of teachers influence the delivery of education content significantly (Ezzi 2012; Teik 2011; Wright 2010). The analysis of the current literature has identified a correlation between the teachers’ beliefs and instructional practices.

The tutors’ learning or teaching experiences presents an imperative challenge for the tutors (Leno & Dougherty 2007; Yan 2009). Nozinkiza (2011) has opined that these encounters influence perceptions, as well as the subsequent actions that teachers adopt in the classroom.

The Purpose of the Study and Research Questions

One of the domains of teaching languages is ensuring that learners develop requisite skills vocabulary (Ghaffarzadeh 2012a). Most schools in Kuwait are performing poorly because their students are not familiar with the English vocabulary.

Thus, the principal purpose of this research is to investigate the relationships between primary school teachers’ beliefs and their students’ vocabulary intake. The pursuit of this goal will entail answering the following research questions:

  1. How do primary school teachers in Kuwait perceive the vocabulary teaching in their content area?
  2. Are the teachers’ beliefs about vocabulary teaching in harmony with the current research on lexicon instruction and development?
  3. Are the teaching practices among Kuwaiti primary school teachers sufficient to facilitate vocabulary intake?
  4. Do the teachers transmit vocabulary knowledge using techniques that encourage both active learning and processing?

Significance of the Research

The findings from previous studies have underscored the importance of vocabulary acquisition to students who are learning English as a second language (L2). For instance, Ghaffarzadeh (2012a) has found out that vocabulary skills provide a firm foundation for learning about sentence structure and grammar.

The methodology of teaching L2 has shifted its emphasis to vocabulary (Phipps & Borg 2009). Conversely, a few studies have explored how teachers’ perceptions affect vocabulary intake (Karathanos 2009; Pajares 2013).

The proposed study will fill this gap by establishing if there exists a correlation between the teachers’ beliefs and vocabulary instruction. The aspect of vocabulary will be critical because it enables students to acquire effectual communication skills (Nizonkiza 2011).

Scope and Limitations

The pilot study will include teachers from a primary school in Kuwait. The researcher will assess the instructors’ beliefs using a questionnaire. However, it will be impossible to generalize the findings because this research will include a small population sample.

Despite these challenges, the inclusion of teachers from other schools could enhance the validity and reliability of the results. The uniqueness of Kuwaiti schools means that different factors (including school policies and culture) influence teachers’ beliefs and attitudes. Thus, results from one school cannot provide conclusive deductions.

Literature Review

Although teachers play a significant role in teaching English as a foreign language, their instructional practices do not reflect these competencies (Ghaffarzadeh 2012b). The principal challenge is that the teachers’ attitudes are undermining the assimilation of instructional materials into the classroom setting (Flemings, Bangou & Fellus 2011).

The majority of Kuwaiti students report a substantial decline of their comprehension abilities as they progress beyond the fifth grade. Thus, teachers can address this deterioration by emphasizing the position of vocabulary in the English instruction.

The Influence of Teacher’s Beliefs on Vocabulary Intake

Individual beliefs and attitudes are very powerful in predicting the manner in which teachers behave in the classroom (Pajares 2013). In addition, Barnard and Scampton (2008) have indicated that these components determine how people conceptualise and solve problems.

Leno and Dougherty (2007) have asserted that the tutors’ perceptions about the teaching or learning process ascertain whether students will succeed or fail to master a foreign language. Ghaffarzadeh (2012b) has noted that perceptions constitute a central construct, which defines human behaviour.

According to Yan (2009), these beliefs influence attitudes, policies, techniques and learners’ development.

A large body of studies conducted over the past two decades focused more on learning beliefs and self-efficacy (Brand & Wilkins 2007; Ezzi 2012). The recent investigations have explored pedagogical beliefs to find out if teachers have similar or different viewpoints.

For instance, Zheng (2009) has suggested that novice teachers often view teaching as the process of transmitting information to passive learners directly. Barbard and Scampton (2008) have indicated that the multiplicity of attitudes among teachers affects instructional strategies and classroom management practices.

Teachers’ Beliefs and Attitudes towards Teaching Vocabulary

The memory and function-based attitudes will form the basis for evaluating the effects of the teachers’ beliefs on vocabulary intake. First, the function-based perceptions entail the use of texts and sentences to construct meaning of particular words.

This technique also uses activities to enable the learners to apply the targeted words in their daily conversations (Ghaffarzadeh 2012a). For example, the instructors in this group may request their students to perform some activities in a haphazard manner as a means of teaching the word “careless”.

In this case, the teacher uses the students’ energy and actions to facilitate vocabulary learning instead of their imagination (Ghaffarzadeh 2012b).

On the other hand, the teachers who manifest the memory-based beliefs employ memorisation techniques and affixes. Other components include the connection of words with their antonyms and synonyms. These tutors believe that students learn vocabularies efficiently when they use keywords.

As such, the learners pay more attention to learning phrases rather than unearthing the meaning of the words (Ghaffarzadeh 2012a). For instance, the tutor may use affixes or derivations of “careless” when teaching vocabulary. The learners then repeat and memorise these words (Ghaffarzadeh 2012b).

Methodology

The proposed research will employ the quantitative approach. The quantitative methodologies involve the examination of human behaviour and actions objectively (Kumar 2010). Kumar has indicated that quantitative studies utilize a fixed research design that organizes research questions systematically.

This model also encompasses rigorous data collection and analysis techniques. The choice of the quantitative approach will facilitate the development of a well-conceptualized research process (Andres 2012).

Research Design

A study design is a vital component of research because it assists researchers to answer their questions conclusively (Mitchell & Jolley 2012). This study will adopt the descriptive research design. According to Andres (2012), this plan maps the terrain for exploring the phenomenon of interest.

The selected methodology will use specific variables rather than broad concepts (Kumar 2010). Two reasons underpin the choice of this model. First, it will provide information about attitudes and beliefs that occur naturally.

Secondly, the descriptive study will identify the associations between the teachers’ perceptions and vocabulary intake.

Population and Sampling Criteria

The proposed study will include ten teachers from a primary school in Kuwait. The administrators of this school have formulated a school-wide programme to support personal growth for both teachers and students. In addition, this school requires teachers to monitor the progress of their respective students.

As such, it will be essential to determine how these initiatives are influencing the teachers’ perceptions about the development of vocabulary and literacy competencies among learners. The school uses the curriculum and instructional regulations recommended by the Kuwaiti Ministry of Education.

The study will use the convenience sampling technique to select the participants. The reason for using this method is that it will facilitate the selection of many subjects within the shortest time (Cochran 2007). The sampling procedure will entail approaching potential respondents and requesting them to participate in the study.

Further, the teachers are easily accessible, which will make the sampling process inexpensive. Most importantly, the use of this sampling procedure will support the collection of primary data efficiently by eliminating the complexities inherent in the manipulation of randomized samples (Kumar 2010).

Data Collection Instruments and Procedures

The elemental objective of collecting quantitative data is to describe and classify the attributes and behaviours adequately (Andres 2012). According to Mitchell and Jolley (2012), data collection should be systematic, objective and repeatable. The primary data collection technique will involve the use of a questionnaire.

The study will employ a closed-ended, written questionnaire to gather raw data. The principal advantage of using this form of surveys is that they do not consume much time and are efficient (Cochran 2007).

The participants will complete the questionnaire, which will contain questions about their beliefs and roles as vocabulary instructors. The survey will cover the following topics: strategies for supporting vocabulary, the use of the vocabulary, the selection of lexicon teaching for the students and the methods for instructing content vocabulary.

In addition, the use of face-to-face interviews and observations will be necessary to triangulate the information gathered using the questionnaires. The former strategy will involve interviewing the school administrators while the latter will entail formal teacher observation during the English lessons.

Data Analysis

Data analysis is an incorporated component of the research design. The purpose of analysing data is to draw inferences from the raw data (Mitchell & Jolley 2012). The initial process of data analysis will entail a critical evaluation of the collected information to remove errors and ambiguities.

Data preparation will also include reading through all the responses to identify recurrent themes. The data analysis technique of choice will be regression using the Statistical Package for Social Sciences (SPSS). According to Mitchell and Jolley, regression analyses establish the relationship between two or more variables.

As such, the SPSS outputs will determine the association between teachers’ beliefs and vocabulary intake.

Anticipated Results and Problems

The researcher anticipates that the teachers will have distinct beliefs and attitudes about teaching the English vocabulary. The participants who have positive perceptions will report superior language proficiencies than those with negative viewpoints.

As such, the analysis of raw data will reveal a direct relationship between the teachers’ beliefs and student’s mastery of the English vocabulary.

Nonetheless, the small sample size will limit the generalization of the findings to the external populations. Despite this limitation, the triangulation of the data collection techniques will enhance the credibility and validity of the results.

In addition, the face-to-face interviews may not be feasible because of time constraints. Conversely, adequate planning will be crucial to address the preceding challenge.

Ethical Considerations

The proposed research will include human subjects. Thus, ethical issues will be central in the formulation of the data collection procedures (Andres 2012). First, the researcher will require all the participants to provide informed consent before completing the questionnaire.

The essence of seeking permission is that the teachers should participate in the study voluntarily (Crowter & Lancaster 2008). Second, the researcher will maintain confidentiality by destroying all the questionnaires once the data analysis process is completed.

Thirdly, the admonition “Do No Harm” (beneficence) will be the core principle of ethical conduct in this research. The researcher will not share the information gathered from the respondents with third parties (Andres 2012).

Reference List

Andres, L 2012, Designing and doing research survey, Sage: Thousand Oaks.

Barnard, R & Scampton, D 2008, ‘Teaching grammar: a survey of EAP teachers in New Zealand’, New Zealand Studies in Applied Linguistics, vol. 14, no. 2, pp. 59-82.

Bolton, K, Graddol, D & Meierkord, C 2011, ‘Towards developmental world Englishes. World Englishes, vol. 30, pp. 459–480.

Brand, B & Wilkins, J 2007, ‘Using self-efficacy as a construct for evaluating science and mathematics methods courses’, Journal of Science Teacher Education, vol. 18, no. 2, pp. 297-317.

Cochran, GM 2007, Sampling techniques, 3rd edn, John Wiley: San Francisco.

Crowter, D & Lancaster, G 2008, Research methods: a concise introduction to research and management and business consultancy, 2nd edn, Elsevier: Oxford.

Ezzi, NAA 2012, ‘Yemeni teachers’ beliefs of grammar teaching and classroom

Fleming, D, Bangou, F & Fellus, O 2011, ‘ESL teacher-candidates’ beliefs about Language’, TESL Canada Journal, vol. 29, no. 1, pp. 39-56.

Ghaffarzadeh, HMA 2012a, ‘The effect of teachers’ lexicon teaching beliefs on EFL learners’ vocabulary Intake’, Journal of Education and Learning, vol. 1, no. 2, pp. 156-160.

Ghaffarzadeh, HMA 2012b, ‘Function-based vs Meaning-based beliefs in teaching vocabulary’, Bellaterra Journal of Teaching & Learning Language & Literature, vol. 5, no. 4, pp. 20-41.

Karathanos, K 2009, ‘Exploring US mainstream teachers’ perspectives on use of the native language in instruction with English language learner students’, International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, vol. 12, no. 6, pp. 615-633.

Kumar, R 2010, Research methodology: a step-by-step guide for beginners, Sage: Thousand Oaks.

Leno, LC & Dougherty, LA 2007, ‘Using direct instruction to teach content

Mitchell, M & Jolley, J 2012, Research design explained, Cengage Learning: Mason.

Nizonkiza, D 2011, ‘The relationship between lexical competence, collocational competence, and second language proficiency’, English Text Construction, vol. 4, no. 1, pp. 113–145.

Pajares, MF 2013, ‘Teachers’ beliefs and educational research: cleaning up a messy construct’, Review of Educational Research, vol. 62, no. 3, pp. 307-332.

Phipps, S & Borg, S 2009, ‘Exploring tensions between teachers’ grammar teaching beliefs and practices’, System, vol. 37, pp. 380-390.

Practices’, English Language Teaching, vol. 5, no. 8, pp. 170-184.

Teik, OC 2011, ‘Pre-service teachers’ beliefs about the teaching and learning of grammar’, The English Teacher, vol. 40, pp. 27-47.

Vocabulary’, Science Scope, vol. 31, no. 1, pp. 63-66.

Watkins, D 2007, ‘Learning and teaching: a cross-cultural perspective’, School Leadership and Management, vol. 20, no. 2, pp. 161-173.

Wright, T 2010, ‘Second language teacher education: review of recent research on practice’, Language Teaching, vol. 43, no. 3, pp. 259-296.

Wright, WE 2007, ‘Heritage language programs in the era of English-only and no child left behind’, Heritage Language Journal, vol. 5, no.1, pp. 1-26.

Yan, H 2009, ‘Student and teacher demotivation in ESL’, Asian Social Science, vol. 5 no. 1, pp. 109-112.

Zheng, H 2009, ‘A review of research on EFL pre-service teachers’ beliefs and practices’, Journal of Cambridge Studies, vol. 4, no. 1, pp. 73-81.

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