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ESL Learners’ Perceptions of Using English Outside the Classroom Dissertation

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Updated: Jul 1st, 2019


The study will seek to find out why ESL Asian students are reluctant to speak English once they are out of classrooms as compared to their European counterparts. Although there is correlation between speaking English outside class and proficiency of the same language, it has come to be realized that some student have negative perception on using the language out of classroom (Barkhuizen, 1998).

The study will utilize qualitative and research approach to bring to light such factors as frequency of using English, skills used to perfect the language, challenges the students faced and eventually the strategies that can be implemented to encourage student use English outside classrooms (Cohen & Manion, 1994). The findings will be of essence to a myriad of stakeholders ranging from students to the government.


Due to globalization a concept used to describe free movement of people, goods, services and capital the world has turned into a global village with a higher rate of interconnectedness (Chan, Spratt & Humphreys, 2002). As people interact, it was realized that there was differences not only in culture but language. For this reason, of all languages in the world, English is being sort after as a language that will unify the world in day to day activities.

Initially, individuals used to visit countries that offered English languages but as a result of technological advancement individuals can enroll and get lessons in their home country, a case in point is Taiwan which is in the Middle East.

According to Mitchell & Myles, 1998 despite the efforts from all relevant stakeholders it has come to light that many ESL learners in Asia are faced with a situation that they are afraid of using English to communicate with people especially when they are out of classroom (Nation, 1997). ESL learners in Asia are usually too quiet and do not have much self-confidence to speak up their opinions and thoughts.

How to motivate ESL learners to speak up would be my research interest, and the purpose of this study was to investigate the strategies that ESL students in UK use while they are communicate with people. I will employ a qualitative approach for data collection and data analysis, such as the questionnaire.

The questionnaire is designed to see the quality and quantity of how they use English to communicate with people or classmates. Are there any differences for learners of different English proficiency, personality, motivation and environment?

It is worth noting that the ground for this research rests on the notion that previous studies have shown that using English out side class room provides learners with perfect opportunities to perfect the language. ESL has been defined as the use of English or studying English by individuals whose native language is not English (Rifkin, 2000).

Rationale for the study

The proposed study will be of paramount significance as it will bring to light the reasons why Asian students are reluctant to use English when they are out of classrooms. Additionally, it will seek to uncover the strategies used by such learners in trying to perfect their speaking skills, challenges they face and the major strategies or plans that can be put in place to help curb the problem.

It is worth to remember that the findings of the study will be of essences to various stakeholders ranging from the students, teachers, parents, the community, the schools, the government as well as non governmental organizations (Ellis, 2005). Similarly, it will lay grounds for further research not mentioning that it fills the gap in the field of ESL regarding perceptions of students towards using English outside classrooms and how the problem can be curbed.

It is also no doubt that the study will have implications for social change. If the recommendations are executed in the most rational way then schools and students who had a negative perception or fear of using English outside class will definitely hold a contrary opinion. This will have long term benefits especially in the world of business (Allwright, 1984).

Aims and objectives

The main objective guiding the study is finding out why Asian students are reluctant to speak English outside classrooms as compared to European students. The specific objectives include;

  1. To establish how frequent Asian student use English when outside classrooms
  2. To establish the students perception of using English outside classroom
  3. To establish how these student practices their English speaking skills
  4. To find out the difficulties or challenges they face while communicating with other people
  5. To find out how to motivate or encourage learners of ESL to use English out side classroom

Research questions

  1. Why are Asian students reluctant to use English outside their classrooms?
  2. How often do Asian student use English when they are not in class?
  3. What is their perception of using English outside classrooms?
  4. How do Asian students practice their English speaking skills?
  5. What are the major challenges or difficulties they face while communicating with other people?
  6. What are the strategies that can be used to motivate and encourage Asian students to use English outside their classrooms?

Literature review

More than never before acquisition of English is being sort after as a hotcake. However, majority of non native speakers have been shown to exhibit reluctance to using the language especially when they are out of classrooms. When the background of public schools in Taiwan is compared to that of the United Kingdom, it is apparent that there are indeed some significant differences.

For instance UK schools are more task based meaning that focus is made on tasks with purposes for instance information gaps negotiation for EAP courses. Theories of ESL rarely tackle using English out of classrooms. Those that do touch on the issue are only in an implicit form. According to Van Lier, 1996 being exposed to a language is as necessary to learn that language as being taught in class.

One such theory was hypothesized by Krashen, 1985 who held that one develops language proficiency by receiving comprehensive input usually going beyond the knowledge a learner currently have. Input is thus very necessary for acquiring a second language.

It has been shown that there are various forms of input that can be used in classroom setting and are adequate to teaching or learning foreign language. Nonetheless, it is apparent that there are a myriad of input available outside classrooms that offer great opportunity for learners to learn English and perfect their communication.

While out of classrooms learners have such inputs as books, television programs, and radio programs talking to doctors, peers, parents/children, shopping and watching movies among others. Some of these inputs are very challenging but necessary for language acquisition. It is thus no doubt that when learners interact with English while inside or outside classrooms tend to have increased opportunities to language learning.

Similarly Tsui, 1996 believed that formal practicing and functional practicing of English and for that matter any foreign language is necessary in mastering that language. The former exclusively deals with grammar and spelling which takes place in classrooms while the later has been thought as increased exposure to a new/foreign language taking the form of shopping or talking to peers which normally takes place outside classrooms.

To acquire both implicit and explicit knowledge there is need for student to take interest of the language out of class. Functional form as previously stated works ell outside classrooms and coupled with immersion in the target language offers students a perfect way of quickly being proficient in communicating using the language in question.

For instance, while outside classrooms, learners are able to incorporate new forms of learning giving them a perfect environment to learn by using communicative form rather than formal practices. The model by Bialystok, 1978 holds that whenever a learner has a greater source of implicit knowledge then there are higher chances for such a learner to be fluent in second language. Hence out of class learning provides opportunities for learners to successfully supplement what they have learnt in class (Young, 1991).

Miller, 2000 came up with the interaction hypothesis which believed that out of class language experiences are of paramount significance in the process of acquiring L2. It is thus apparent that the face to face interpersonal activities such as talking to a doctor, negotiating prices while shopping offers learners with a perfect chance to put in practice what they were taught in class and of course improve and perfect on it.

Other scholars such as Norrizan 1992; Nation, 2007; Rao, 2002 and Oxford, 1999 have argued that there can be intrapersonal interactions where an individual tries to process things in his/her own mind termed as inner speech. Tsiplakides & Keramida, 2010 observed that majority of non native speakers of English once they are out of class rarely use the language in their day to day activities.

This in the long run has been shown to jeopardize the efforts of attaining fluency. There are a number of strategies to reverse such a scenario. One reason why non native speakers tend to be reluctant to use L2 outside class can be attributed to task difficulty (Savignon, 1997).

To curb this, there is thus need to reduce difficulties in tasks which can be attained in various forms such as giving students enough time to complete tasks, bringing tasks that are within learners experiences, allowing learners with an opportunity to collectively and in a collaborative manner solve tasks related to communication, offer learners with a task guidance schedule, attending to individual learners’ needs as well as abilities (Thomson, 1996).

Secondly promoting positive attitudes and perception amongst learners is of significance. This is accomplished by changing their negative beliefs as well as attitudes with regards to mistakes, lowering their anxiety while in classroom, boost learners self confidence, reward them especially those who are showing remarkable improvements. Building an environment in which learners feel supported is also key (Spratt, 1999).

This takes various forms such as encouraging learners support not only in class but also out-of-class, being sensitive when students are being assigned into groups, show tolerance when learners use L1 appropriately as well as making the classroom a non threatening one (Hyland, 2004).

Research design

The research will be a theoretical study. It is research approach in which the goal is to prove/disprove a hypothesized truth or proposed future research plans that may be carried out in the future but not at the current moment. The choice of this method was as a result of its cheapness. It is important to note that theoretical study calls for deeper digging of various literatures ranging from journals, publications, books, other forms of literature and from the internet (Patton, 2002).

Qualitative research will also be employed in the study; the approach seeks to contextualize the research by immersing the researcher into the study scenario as well as with the study subjects. Hypotheses are developed and data is collected and the results tend to be subjective.

A case study as a sub type of qualitative research is used to ensure that the study is flexible enough to give the researcher room to investigate issues that were not previously thought of and could be worth being brought to light (Tabachnick & Fidell, 2000).

Population and sampling procedure

The population of interest is those institutions of higher learning in Taiwan that teach English as second language. This is because they will be in a better position to provide me with necessary and relevant information as regards perception on using English when they are out of class.

The sampling strategies that will be used include; random sampling, stratified random sampling and careful biased sampling (Creswell, 2003). Use of random sampling ensures that a group of the entire population is selected to represent it in the research being done.

Data collection methods

The data required to fully address all the objectives and research questions will be obtained through perusal of secondary as well as primary data sources.

Primary sources

The primary sources of data collection to be used depending on where they were most applicable will include: observation and questionnaires. Questionnaires will also be used to collect relevant information; I will distribute them to respondent situated in the targeted institution of higher learning and would be collected later at an agreed date.

According to Beiske, (2002) questionnaire covers a large population at a time as they would be distributed to different participants at a time and be collected later or at the same day depending on the willingness of the responded in addressing the questions, due to it being standardized they are more objective, data collected from questionnaire are easy to analyze, due to familiarity with the tool, responded will not be apprehensive, it is also very cost effective as compared to face to face interviews, the tool also reduces bias.

According to Cohen & Manion, (1994) the major problem with questionnaires as a tool of data collection is that there is tendency of respondent to forget vital information, they may answers the questions superficially when it is a long one, to counter this I will developed a short but very inclusive questionnaire.

Observation will also be used this seemed to provide more accurate information. However, this tool had some challenges. One with this kind of data collection analyzing data obtained form it prove in most cases to be a serious challenge (Patton, 2002). To counter this I opted to have qualified personnel that were capable of interpreting physical as well as outward characteristics associated with use of blended learning in teaching English as Second language.

Secondary source

Materials from the library, internet and related research reports will be used to provide the required data and information concerning blended, traditional and e-learning. Internal sources to be sort after as the study is being carried include information compiled by the universities. External data sources included information from the government sources, previous research studies and academic institution (colleges and universities material related blended learning) (Creswell, 2003).

Data analysis and presentation

The collected data will be analyzed using parametric statistics. The data will be filtered to clean it, modeling and transformation will be done in a way that will expose useful information in drawing of conclusion and recommendation, then codification follows (Benson, 2001). Descriptive statistics will also be employed in analyzing the data.

T-test will also be used to test research questions. Statistical Program for Social Science (SPSS Version 10.0) package will aid in data analysis. To find out what are the significant issues (ranking the issues from the most significant to those not significant) that hinder ESL learners to speak English while out of class a principle component analysis will be carried out.

The same will be applied to analyze the most effective strategy in encouraging learners use English outside the class rooms. Logical regression and correlation analysis will also be done to see the relationship between use of English out side class rooms and the named advantages that comes with it. The presentation of the results will be done by using tables, graphs and charts (Ellis, 1999).

Ethical consideration

As suggested by Gay & Airasian, 2003 since the research involves human subjects, so there is need of high level of ethical consideration must be maintained. Some of the ethical consideration includes the following; the targeted sample populations that will be involved in the study to provide relevant information are to be informed about the same in advance. The reasons for carrying out the survey as well as how they stand to gain from the study will also be brought out clearly.

Additionally, research ethics demands that the information be sought after by the researcher will be provided in good faith, and voluntarily without any influence be it monetary or otherwise for instance giving of incentives, rewards, and gifts. I will also work towards protecting the identity of the participants as well as the information they provide.


It is expected that the major reasons why Asian student are reluctant to use English when they are out of class will be made known and best strategies to counter this be also brought to light. The major benefits associated with motivated student who stop at nothing in trying to perfect English although they are non native warrants one to accept this proposal.


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