Academic journal article English Language Teaching

Investigating Learning English Strategies and English Needs of Undergraduate Students at the National University of Laos

Academic journal article English Language Teaching

Investigating Learning English Strategies and English Needs of Undergraduate Students at the National University of Laos

Article excerpt

Abstract

This paper aims to investigate learning English strategies and the requirement of English needs of the undergraduate students at the National University of Laos (NUOL). The study employed a survey design which involved in administering questionnaires of rating scales, and adapting the items from (Barakat, 2010; Chengbin, 2008; Kathleen A, 2010; Patama, 2001; Richards, 2001), to measure learning English strategies and the needs of English skills from 160 Lao undergraduate students of NUOL. The findings of this study revealed that speaking skill was the most important skills that students needed to improve in their undergraduate program. All participants reported a medium frequency use of strategy on learning English. The most frequently used strategies involved in using vocabulary books and electronic dictionaries to remember new English words. Based on the research findings, the researchers provided some recommendations for course developers to be reconsidered and redesigned the curriculum and syllabus including the instructional materials, learning behaviours and learning strategies of the English courses in all faculties in order to enhance the quality of learning and teaching activities as well as to meet the learners' needs and social demands for their prospective careers and country's development.

Keywords: undergraduate students, learning English strategies, English needs, NOUL

1. Introduction

After Laos established its independence as Lao People Democratic Republic (Lao PDR) in 1975, the English language has played the important role of the country development. Various international organizations were appropriately accepted by the government policy to assistant for developing the Lao country (Thongma, 2013). However, at that moment the English language was limited use, because the majority of the language officially used as Lao language used in official documents of the government and a medium of teaching and learning processes in institutions including secondary schools and higher education levels (Thongma, 2013).

The English language is one of the foreign languages that necessary and needed for the workplace to develop a high level of English skills in business communication. Bouangeune, Sakigawa, & Hirakawa, (2008) identify that the demands for English is increasing among Lao people in the conditions of employments, especially within the government in seeking recruits officers with good command of English skills to attract more foreign capital for economic development. Several of occupations require the applicants who have a good English knowledge (Ratana, 2007; Young, 2008). It is believable that teaching English as a foreign language has become a priority for educational reforms and development strategies (Lazaro & Medalla, 2004). Because of this, Laos is one of the EFL countries focuses on the English language learning in order to develop its possible to be equal to other countries (Phatchara, 2012).

In the past fifteen years, the need to learn English in Lao PDR has been increased because of the inflow of foreign investment from several countries such as China, Vietnam, Singapore, Australia, Malaysia, European Unions, and so on. Those foreign investors hope to use English as a tool for their communication. In 1996, Lao PDR was accepted to become a member of the Association of Southeast East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and World Trade Organization (WTO) members in 2012 and other international submit meetings such as 9th Asia-Europe meeting (ASEM), Round Table Implementation Meeting (RTIM), and etc. has made learning English even more important for Lao people. Now, the English language is taught as a foreign language in schools, universities, and part time evening classes throughout Lao PDR (Ton & Pham, 2010).

Unfortunately, English has not been started to teach for pupils at the primary school level in the public schools. According to the Lao National Curriculum, the English program was introduced at lower secondary school level (Siphong, 2008). …

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