Academic journal article CEPS Journal : Center for Educational Policy Studies Journal

Researching Oral Production Skills of Young Learners

Academic journal article CEPS Journal : Center for Educational Policy Studies Journal

Researching Oral Production Skills of Young Learners

Article excerpt

This chapter focuses on the development of young learners' ability to communicate in a foreign language. An empirical study was carried out to determine whether, after four years of learning English as a compulsory school subject, children are ready to engage in oral interaction in a semicontrolled task and produce answers and questions in English. A convenience sample of ten-year-old children was selected from 180 participants in ELLiE2 in Poland. Six learners from one class of each of seven schools were selected on the basis of teachers' reports to ensure equal proportions of learners with low, medium and high ability. Schools were chosen to represent different socio-economic milieux. The results of the Year Four oral test (an interactive task) showed that almost all the participating children could respond to questions but only half were able to ask questions. Considering generally positive attitudes to speaking activities, the results suggest that ten-year-old children are already developing their interactive skills and could benefit from more interaction-focused classroom activities. Further experimental classroom-based studies are necessary to gain better insight into potential oral achievements in this age group. The results are discussed in the context of national curriculum requirements, drawing on the Common European Framework of Reference level descriptors.

Keywords: instructed contexts, oral production, speaking tasks, task achievement, young learners of English

Raziskovanje spretnosti govornega izrazanja mlajsih ucencev

V prispevku je predstavljen razvoj govorne zmoznosti mlajsih ucencev v tujem jeziku. Opravljena je bila empiricna raziskava, s katero so poskusali ugotoviti, ali so po stirih letih ucenja anglescine kot obveznega predmeta v soli ucenci sposobni govorne interakcije v delno kontroliranih situacijah/nalogah; ali znajo postavljati vprasanja in odgovarjati v anglescini. Vzorec so sestavljali nakljucno izbrani desetletni ucenci, medtem ko je v studiji ELLiE3 na Poljskem sodelovalo 180 ucencev. Na osnovi uciteljevih porocil, s cimer so zeleli zagotoviti enak odsototek ucencev z nizjimi, srednjimi in z visjimi sposobnostmi, je bilo na sedmih solah v enem razredu izbranih sest ucencev. Sole so bile izbrane iz razlicnih socialno-ekonomskih podrocij. Izsledki govornega preizkusa cetrtosolcev (preizkus sporazumevanja) so pokazali, da so bili skoraj vsi vkljuceni ucenci sposobni odgovarjati na vprasanja, medtem ko jih je polovica znala postavljati tudi vprasanja. Ob upostevanju splosne naklonjenosti ucencev govornim aktivnostim in na osnovi rezultatov lahko ugotovimo, da desetletni ucenci ze razvijajo sporazumevalno zmoznost in da bi lahko z vecjim stevilom razrednih aktivnosti, ki bi bile usmerjene v sporazumevanje, se vec pridobili. Da bi pridobili boljsi vpogled v potencialne govorne dosezke, ki bi jih ucenci lahko dosegli pri tej starosti, bi bile potrebne nadaljnje eksperimentalne raziskave v razredu. Izsledki so analizirani glede na nacionalne kurikularne zahteve, s sklicevanjem na ravni opisnikov Skupnega evropskega jezikovnega okvira.

Kljucne besede: pouk, govorno tvorjenje, govorne naloge, izpolnitev naloge, mlajsi ucenci anglescine

Introduction

Communicative language ability

Communication in a foreign language is a challenge for young learners for two main reasons. First, their lexical and grammatical knowledge is still growing owing to limited target language exposure in or outside school. Second, children between 5 to 10 years of age are still developing awareness of what other people understand from what they say, and are learning how to ask for clarification (Cameron, 2001, p. 52). However, irrespective of learners' ages, communicative ability is the main goal of foreign language education. Parents and foreign language curricula require the demonstration of young language learners' productive skills.

Bachman and Palmer (2010) proposed a framework of two components for language ability: language competence, termed 'language knowledge', and strategic competence, which is described as:

a set of metacognitive strategies that manage the ways in which language users utilize their different attributes (e. …

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