Academic journal article English Language Teaching

Graduate Student End-of-Term Satisfaction with Group-Based Learning in EFL Classroom

Academic journal article English Language Teaching

Graduate Student End-of-Term Satisfaction with Group-Based Learning in EFL Classroom

Article excerpt

Abstract

The current study explored graduate student end-of-term satisfaction with group learning, compared with traditional instructor-led instruction in EFL (English as a foreign language) classroom. Participants were 74 graduate students, including 33 males and 41 females from a normal university in southern China. The study was carried out with two classes by different teaching methodologies respectively, one was group-based (n/35) with nine groups, and the other was instructor-led class (n/39). Students were assigned randomly to the two types of classes ahead of the formal lessons and taught by the same instructor during the period of an academic term. At the end of the term, a questionnaire survey was administered to all the students of the two classes to measure their satisfaction with English class learning. The results showed students with group-based instruction were more satisfied than those who took the course under the instructor-led format. Also, no significant differences existed between groups with respect to satisfaction. The results of the analysis were discussed and directions for further study were suggested. The significance of the present study lies in the fact that it was able to explore the difference in student satisfaction between group-learning and instructor-led settings in EFL class, and both instructor(s) and students should shift their focus "from what is being taught to what is being learned" in EFL classroom.

Keywords: EFL classroom, group-based learning, instructor-led instruction, satisfaction

1. Introduction

1.1 Context of the Study

Since China opened its doors to the world in the early 1980s, English has been the dominant foreign language and is required to take as a compulsory course in primary schools, secondary schools and higher education institutions. Millions of EFL learners take regular English courses, 4 class hours a week, 18 weeks a term, for 12 terms in high school and 4-8 terms at university (Chen & Goh, 2010; Rao, 2013; Wu, 2001). In a traditional EFL (English as a foreign language) classroom, during the whole class time, the instructor explains new English words and grammar directly and orally to all students, or translates English texts into Chinese sentence by sentence; students listen and take notes for most of the time; once in a while, students are asked to answer some questions or to translate English sentences into Chinese, or vice versa. After learning the text, students are asked to finish some exercises to consolidate newly-learned knowledge; for listening practice, the instructor plays the audiotapes or videotapes for students to listen or watch, and then to do some exercises to develop their listening skills; sometimes, students are asked to practice dialogues in pairs to develop speaking skills. In short, English teaching in China is dominated by a teacher-centered, book-centered, grammar-translation method and an emphasis on rote memory (Rao, 1996).

In practice, unfortunately, these efforts are not always fruitful. The concept of English study was nothing "more than memorizing grammar rules and facts in order to understand and manipulate the morphology and syntax of the foreign language" (Richard & Rodgers, 2001). According to a research report (S. Wang & H. Wang, 2011), approximately 83% of college and university students in China feel dissatisfied with their English learning, they think after learning English for quite a few years, they might have learned quite a lot of English words and grammatical points and how to translate English texts, but they can neither understand what the English speakers say nor can they express themselves freely; So in spite of the years of formal language instruction, Chinese university students' English proficiency particularly in listening and speaking is far from satisfactory (Chen & Goh, 2010; Liu & Dai, 2003; Wen, 1999).

This kind of situation is reflected in one of the co-authors' teaching practice, too. …

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