Academic journal article International Journal of Linguistics

Effectiveness of Cooperative Learning in Enhancing Speaking Skills and Attitudes towards Learning English

Academic journal article International Journal of Linguistics

Effectiveness of Cooperative Learning in Enhancing Speaking Skills and Attitudes towards Learning English

Article excerpt

Abstract

This study investigates the effectiveness of cooperative learning in English language classrooms to enhance Yemeni students' speaking skills and attitudes. A quasi-experimental interrupted time series design was used with sixty undergraduates enrolled in the foundation English programme at Hadhramout University, Yemen. The data of the current study were gathered at multiple points of time before and after the end of the experiment to determine the effectiveness of cooperative learning on the sample's speaking skills and attitudes. In practical terms, the sample's speaking skills were first examined through an English oral test prior to and after some cooperative learning instructional activities were provided. Next, a five Likert scale- questionnaire was administered to the sample before and at the end of the course to identify students' attitudes towards the use of cooperative learning in English classes. The data were analyzed using basic and inferential statistical methods including mean scores, standard deviations, paired sample t-test, and effect size. The findings showed a remarkable development in the students' speaking skills and attitudes after the introduction of cooperative learning techniques. In light of the findings, the researchers recommend that teachers should benefit from applying CL in English classes, which may in turn develop students' speaking skills and attitudes.

Keywords: Cooperative learning, English speaking skills, Attitudes

1. Introduction

In Yemen, according to Al-Quyadi (2000:5), "English is used as a second language in the sense that it is the most dominant foreign language used in official, professional, academic and commercial circles". It is taught as a subject in public and private institutions, schools and universities. As it is the language basically required for lucrative and powerful jobs, it is much in demand and becomes a must-have language for many individuals. Following this trend, all Yemeni universities offer compulsory prerequisite English language courses in the first year of BA programms to promote students' English speaking competence (Al-Tamimi and Pandian, 2008). However, Yemeni students are still weak in speaking skills and find difficulty in expressing themselves in English (Zuheer, 2008). According to Bose (2002) and Al-Sohbani (2013), EFL speaking courses in Yemeni schools are typically taught in large classes by teacher-centered lecturing, which ends up with skills of memorisation and recall, whereby students memorise their lessons and simply regurgitate the contents on demand. In this view, there is a central focus on grammar and vocabulary at the expense of communication. Students are provided with detailed rules and formulas about grammar (Bose, 2002). Teachers seem to do the most talking and act as the only source of knowledge to students, while students are treated as passive recipients in the learning process (Ning, 2011). This type of methods, according to Gomleksiz, (2007), has negatively affected students and produced incompetent users of the English language who are unable to improve their speaking skills in EFL classes.

In recent years, one of the greatest changes in foreign language pedagogy has been the shift from a teacher-centered learning model to a learner-centered model. This shift signals a new era in which English speaking instruction must give a chance for students to express themselves in speaking the language. A promising method to traditional speaking instruction is cooperative learning. It serves as an alternative way of teaching for promoting speaking and social interaction among students (Gomleksiz, 2007; Ning, 2011). Prior research suggests that cooperative learning is of great effect on developing students' speaking skills (Pattanpichet, 2011; Liao, 2009) and also in improving their attitudes towards learning (Slavin, 1995). In Yemen, however, English speaking instruction within the framework of cooperative learning has not been tried yet at the tertiary level. …

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