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LEARNING AND TEACHING ENGLISH WITHOUT A TEXTBOOK
By:Ma. Graciela González Cristo <Show E-Mail>

Learning and teaching English without a textbook:
An action research study

By

Ma. Graciela Gonzalez Cristo

Abstract

An effective and efficient teaching without a textbook of English as a foreign language can take advantage of a combination of methods, approaches, and syllabi in order to accomplish the curriculum goals. In a modern society, there is a general idea that textbooks are indispensable. When a community lacks the opportunity to reach textbooks for students, teacher and students feel like if the acquisition of the language could be impossible. This action research has the purpose of identifying the best combination of methods approaches and syllabi to teach Basic English to adults without a textbook, using as reference a very well known book: New Interchange Intro Book. We based the lesson in the summaries of the book and selected different oral and written activities based on the natural and audio-lingual method, the communicative approach, and taught it focusing in constructivism. The materials used in the classroom were board, markers, notebook, pen or pencil, realia, and didactic material designed by the teacher. The researcher planned it in order to create an environment of a school that lacks of modern textbooks, technology, and other kind of materials. To evaluate this study we used a criteria reference test specially designed for the reference book to compare with a pre-established rating. The results indicated the implementation of program was successful. Students had a good performance in the achievement tests. Some of them needed more study time in each unit, because their learning style required the use of a textbook in order to replace it. They needed extra practice time. The final average obtained by the sample was 91.9, which indicates they got a satisfactory rate of learning. Students’ comments in their journals demonstrated they found the program efficient, effective, and dynamic, with a relative degree of difficultness. In all the cases, students mentioned they improved in good scale their academic knowledge as well as writing, reading, listening and in a lower degree their speaking skill. Therefore, the approaches, methods, mixed syllabuses, and teaching activities employed during the course allowed real beginner students of English as a foreign language, who normally attended classes, to acquire the language without using a textbook.

Introduction

Through the last century, many researchers have developed theories, methods, and approaches to demonstrate that a second language acquisition is easier and faster if teaching focuses on their principles. Therefore, researchers such as H. Douglas Brown, James Dean Brown, Jack C. Richards, and others had written about the topic. In addition, recent investigations claim that the use of a sole method or approach is not appropriate for a good teaching and learning. They propose to base teaching on the needs analysis and combine different characteristics of diverse methods, approaches, and techniques to achieve the objectives. To set the background of this action research, it is necessary to mention the main issues related to language, and the differences not always clear between second language and foreign language. Moreover, the acquisition of a second language, and the factors which affect and facilitate learning like the teacher and learners’ education, beliefs, personal factors, roles, among other as well as curriculums, textbooks, and materials.

The current panorama relates to the way students acquire a foreign or second language, which is something that seems very simple in an every day class. Nevertheless, it has a complicate background. Researchers have collected facts and studied them. They have developed theories, methods, syllabuses that help teachers teach effectively, and learners acquire the target language. The staff responsible of the program should decide among all these alternatives to establish guidelines when developing the curriculum. At this stage, it is necessary to study and evaluate needs analysis, goals, objectives, testing, materials, and teaching of the program. All this previous work is taken into the classroom by teachers who face a very different situation of the one considered in the curriculum, as different characteristics of the students, like previous knowledge, learning styles, personal factors, among others. At this moment, teachers need to rest their teaching practice on their knowledge, experience, and why not… intuition.

In order to motivate a successful learning, teachers can adapt or develop the materials adopted for the course. A very important one, among others is the textbook; it is a helpful tool for teachers and learners, when selected appropriately, considering it includes all the topics stated in the syllabus. This situation helps teachers to plan lessons as well as to give ideas to make classes more effective, interesting, and appealing to the students.

At the end of the program, need analysts must revise the curriculum. They take in consideration the difficulties appeared during the course and the changing needs of the students. In few words, they completely evaluate it, in order to create a new updated curriculum.

Nevertheless, what happens when a community of learners cannot afford buying expensive English textbooks? There are for instance, rural towns where English textbooks are not available, and in case they can get them from other place, the price will be inaccessible. Because we are aware that globalization forces people to learn a foreign language, in our case English, and we know the importance to teach the language to all the population without leaving anyone behind, what is the problematic situation that teachers face in this case?

The essential question to answer in this study is what is the best combination of methods, approaches, and syllabuses to teach real beginners EFL students without a textbook? This, considering that schools should not left the development of a program only on teachers’ hands. Besides, knowing that a curriculum integrates several components in which the students’ needs remain one of the most important ones.

Our research will help to facilitate teaching work and to improve students´ acquisition of the language in public schools, English teachers, and teachers who work in places where English textbooks are not available or are very expensive. The methodology selected for this study is appropriate because the purpose of the study is to investigate how students can learn without a textbook, and to identify the best way to teach the language. We need to analyze day by day, what is happening in the class. A teaching journal can reflect the main events in class and the teacher can obtain information that could show if the selected method works. If not, he or she will be able to make the required changes. A learning journal, written in Spanish, will offer information of the students’ feelings about the class; and finally a lesson report will provide information about the way the lesson plans are working, showing if the teacher can continue implementing them the way planned or need a change in some way.

Literature Review

This study consists on an action research, which is a procedure in where schoolteachers study about a problem because they want to evaluate the achievement and /or appropriateness of certain activities and procedures perceived or done in the class, in order to improve the teaching and learning processes.
According to Harmer (2001), action research has a sequence. It needs to identify a problem or issue, then to think of questions to ask and information to gain, after that, data should be collected and analyzed and finally decide on future actions.

Data collecting often involves more than one of the following methods: teaching and learning journals, observation task videotape or audiotape, interviews, written questionnaires.

Brown, D. (2001), cited that language and learning have universal characteristics. Whereas language is a system integrated by a set of arbitrary symbols, it is primary vocal, but it can be visual too. Moreover, people acquire it in the same way, using it for communications within a speech community or culture. Learning is acquisition, it origin a change in behavior, involves practice and reinforce, implies a storage system, memory and cognitive organization, resulting relatively retention of information or skills. However, it is subject to forgetting. Teaching and learning definitions relate each other. Teaching is guiding and facilitating learning, enabling the learner to learn, setting the conditions for learning.

It is essential to know about schools of thought. They studied the way people acquire a second language in the early 1900s, 1940s and 1950s. “English as a Second Language (ESL) is the teaching of English to people who are living in an English-speaking country, but whose first language is not English.” (Dictionary of Contemporary English, 2003, p. 530) “English as a Foreign Language (EFL) the teaching of English to people whose first language is not English, and do not live in an English-speaking country.” (Dictionary of Contemporary English, 2003, p. 503) Structuralism or Behaviorism school based their researches in the precise application of the scientific principle of observation of human languages. They examined only the visibly apparent data, publicly observable responses they objectively perceived, recorded, and measured. In addition, behaviorist typical themes were empiricism and surface structure besides conditioning and reinforcement. Some of the promoters of this school were Leonard Bloomfield, Edward Sapir, Charles Hockett, Charles Fries, and others. (Brown, D., 2001)

In the decade of the 1960s, a school of linguistics emerged through the influence of Naom Chomsky. Their principal focus was the generative linguistics, which was interested in describing language and explained the level of adequacy in the study of language. That is a “principled basis, independent of any particular language, for the selection of descriptively adequate grammar of each language” (Chomsky, 1974). Cognitivists tried to discover psychological principles of organization and functioning, and to find motivations and deeper structures of human conduct by using rational approach. They employed the tools of logic, reason, extrapolation, and inference in order to derive explanations for human behavior.

In the last part of the twentieth century a new school of thought appeared. When we name Jean Piaget and Lev Vygostsky, we necessary talk about this new school of thought, Constructivism. This school thought that all human beings construct their own version of reality. Therefore, multiple contrasting ways of knowing and describing are equally legitimate. Learning focus on individuals engaged in a collaborative group. In addition, believe this learning as relatively solitary act. In other words, each person builds its own knowledge.

The study of how students acquire a second language is relative new. Two centuries ago, investigations took to the classrooms many ideas claiming to be the best. As soon as that happened, another one, somewhere else appeared. To have an overview of the path followed by researchers, we should know the definition of an approach and a method. The ideas of these two terms have been changing through time. However, the current meaning for approach is “the assumptions beliefs and theories about the nature of the language and language learning, and the applicability of both to pedagogical setting”, (Brown 2001, p.16). A method is “a generalized set of classroom specification for accomplishing linguistic objectives” (Brown, 2001, p.16).

Below we provide an overview adapted from Nunan (1989). The author described the most important methods and approaches for teaching English as a second language.

Audio-lingual:

Theory of language: Language is a system of rule-governed structures hierarchically arranged.
Theory of learning: Habit formulation; skills are learned more effectively if oral precedes written; analogy, not analysis,

Objective: Control of structures of sound, form and order, mastery over symbols of the language, goal: native- speaker mastery.

Total physical response

Theory of language: Basically, a structuralism grammar-based view of language
Theory of learning: L2 learning is the same as L1 learning; comprehension before production is “imprinted” through carrying out commands right-brain functioning); reduction of stress

Objective: Teach oral proficiency to produce learners who can communicative uninhibitedly and intelligibly with native speakers.

The silent way

Theory of language: Each language is composed of elements that give it a unique rhythm and spirit. Functional vocabulary, core structure are the key to the spirit of the language.
Theory of learning: Processes of learning a second language are necessarily different from L1, learning. L2 learning is an intellectual, cognitive process. Surrender to the music of the language silent awareness then active trail.

Objective: Near-native fluency, correct pronunciation, basic practical knowledge of the grammar of the L2 learner how to learn a language.

Community language learning

Theory of language: Language is more than system for communication. It involves the whole person, culture, educational, developmental communicative processes.

Theory of learning: Learning involves the whole person. It is a social process of growth from childlike dependence to self-direction and independence.

Objective: No specific objective, near-native mastery is the goal.

The natural approach

Theory of language: The essence of language is meaning. Vocabulary, not grammar is the heart of language.
Theory of learning: there are two ways of L2 language development: acquisition natural subconscious process, and learning, a conscious process. Learning cannot lead to acquisition

Objective: Designed to give beginners and intermediate learners basic communicative skills. It focus in four broad areas, basic personal communicative skill (oral/written), academic learning skills (oral/written).

Suggestopedia

Theory of language: Rather conventional, it recommends memorization of completely meaningful text
Theory of learning: Learning occurs through suggestion, when learners are in a deeply relaxed state. To induce this state it uses Baroque music.
Objective: To deliver advanced conversational competence quickly. Learners are required to master prodigious list of vocabulary pairs, although the goal is to understand, no memorization.

Communicative language teaching

Theory of language: Language is a system for the expression of meaning; primary function-interaction and communication.

Theory of learning: Activities involve real communication; carrying out meaningful tasks; and using the language which is meaningful to the learner promote learning

Objective: Objectives will reflect the needs of the learner; they will include functional skills as well as linguistic objectives. (Cited in Brown, D., 2001, p.34)

The grammar-translation approach

Theory of language: Teachers and students use their native language with little active use of the target language. The way to learn vocabulary is in form of isolated word list.
Theory of learning: Teacher gives elaborated explanations of grammar, which provides the rules for putting words together. Instruction often focuses on the form and inflection of words. Students start reading of difficult texts early in the course of study. This theory pays little attention to the content of texts treating them as exercises in grammatical analysis.

Objective: The only drills are exercises in translating disconnected sentences from the target language into the mother tongue, and vice versa. In addition, give little or no attention to pronunciation. (Brown, D., 2000, p. 15)

After citing the background, we can immerse now in what it is handled now in this theme. Learning a second language is a process in which the complete person changes. His/her thoughts, the way the person views the world, the knowledge of a new culture, her/his voice (tone, stress); in few words, something new involves the whole human being. (Chan, Kaplan-Winger, & Sandstrom, 1995) It is a very important reason to take into consideration; the personal factors, which affect teachers and learners. Therefore, when a method is chosen a lot of question should be asked first: who, what, how, when, where and why questions associated to any imaginable issue related to teaching and learning: the learner, the teacher, the place, the purpose, and length of the course, the learning styles, etc. Brown, D., 2000, p.2)

It has been discussed during many decades the association that links theory and performance in the second language awareness and instruction. How can we fit theory to the classroom? Professors, researchers, have developed all the existent theories but teachers are the ones that live day by day, what happens in the classroom, and knows about the real needs of the students. Teachers are researchers when they try to find out solutions to the problems they perceive in the class, so anytime the means for understanding of those problems are put together to find a solutions, a teacher becomes in a theory builder.(Brown, D., 2001)

When we need to decide to trust or not a hypothesis or someone’s claims, it is acceptable to doubt about the errors, but also to emphasize the successes analyzing them to find their usefulness. Teachers generally want to know if a method is right and if following it could lead the learners to a successful acquisition of the language. This analytical approach to the language favors also an intuitive approach. Intuition involves certain kind of risk taking from teachers and students. There is sufficient evidence that good teachers have developed good intuition, grounded in the knowledge of the theories and their own experience, which is very important and has not substitute. It allows the teachers to become creative, searching for the different ways to improve their teaching and building their own theory. (Brown, D., 2001)

To plan a language program we should first considerate theories, approaches, methods; then the way we organize the program will be by developing a curriculum, although, how can we do that? Understanding that curriculum is a complete organization of a program, we have to take in account the needs analysis, objectives, testing, materials, and the teaching, all together integrate the whole program.

In needs analysis are involved the target group, (students in the program) the audience, (teacher, teachers aids, program administrators); needs analysts, (persons responsible for conducting the needs analysis) and resource group (any people who may serve as source of information about the target group. All these people working as a team should gather information and analyze the different types of questions to identify problems experienced. They have to set priorities, that is, to select the topics, language use, skills and so on; considering everything, which is important, like abilities of the students regarding to the language and attitudes toward it. This group should try to find the solution to hypothetical problems making changes based in conciliation and determination. The instruments used for gathering information are existing data, tests, observation, interviews, meeting, and questionnaires. (Brown, J., 1995)

We know for whom and how is going to be our program planned, it is time to state the goals of the course which is not other thing that to establish the purpose of the program in a very clear way, that could be understand by anyone. After structuring the goals, we outline the objectives, specific information about what the learner will know or acquire at the final of the course. Since the beginning, it is necessary to plan testing; proficiency, placement, achievement, or diagnosis tests have different purpose and help to evaluate students at different stages of the course. The materials are the techniques and exercises used in the classroom teaching. A syllabus is the organizing of the language content of the course or program. Syllabuses are part of a curriculum they are structural, organized around grammar; situational, around common situations (bank, supermarket…); topical around themes (weather, health…), Functional, by communicative functions; skills such as listening, reading, writing and speaking and finally task syllabuses organized around activities (drawings, following directions…). (Hammer, J., 2001)

There is a little empirical evidence that a type of syllabus works better than other, many good teachers use a combination of syllabuses type. (Brown, J., 1995) It is very important to know about the different kind of materials, analyze and evaluate them, looking for pros and cons before taking any decision. Books, workbooks, journals, maps, realia, vide tapes, teacher’s books magazines, pictures, charts, graphs, diagrams cassette tapes, computer, software, video discs and computers are the materials can a teacher use in classroom, they can be adopted, developed or adapted depending its nature and the teacher’s skills. Regarding to textbooks, they are a key component in most language programs, providing the basis for the content of the lesson and ideas on how to plan and teach it, they supplement the teacher’s instruction, for inexperienced teachers may also serve as a form of teacher training. Most language teaching that take place throughout the globe these days could not occur without the use of textbooks. Learning how to use and adapt textbooks is consequently an imperative part of the teacher’s professional development. (Richards, J., 2001) Teachers are a central element but most of the time they take decision without assistance, taking by themselves all the responsibility, instead of having a teamwork and organization’s support.

The result of this long process, take us to an obvious procedure: the program evaluation. At this point we have sufficient information about the components of the curriculum and it is good to stop, analyze and evaluate, to ensure if what it was planned before worked out well, if not, which of the components may be changed and in what manner. How can we improve the curriculum in order to design a better program? What part must continue steady, which needs modifications? Which are obsolete? In short, elaborate a new improved curriculum.

Method

This action research investigates which is the best combination of methods, approaches, and techniques to teach and learn English without a textbook. We chose this kind of study because some colleagues, who work for public schools were worried about their students’ situation. They complained it was difficult to teach large classes without a textbook. However, textbooks are not the only materials to teach. When we had the opportunity to instruct English to the participant of the study, we knew they could not afford buying a textbook. We decided to demonstrate it is possible taking advantage of other techniques and material.

1. Participants
The participants are a sample of 13 people, 84.6% are females, and the 15.4 % are males. They will be selected form a class of 55 people according to attendance, a minimum of 90%. They are public workers in different departments of the government in Tampico, Tam. Mexico. The students are adults ranging 19 to 61 years old. Their native language is Spanish and they have from low to medium income, as well as academic background. They work as secretaries, assistants, teachers, nurses, janitors, etc. Regarding to English language, they are real beginners and wish to study English for business purpose. This course is free and we accepted to teach the course without a textbook.

2. Instructional Context

The program, the teaching methodology, the different types of activities, and the materials integrate the instructional context.

2.1 Program

General Goals

The researcher designed the program was especially for a group of public workers of the government of Tampico, Tam. Mexico Only real beginners enrolled the course.

At the end of the course, the students will be able to:

• Know the essential grammar tenses and structures needed for basic level of language proficiency.
• Know 50 essential functions, which develop the students’ communicative skills, enable to participate in a simple communication on a wide variety of topics.
• Develop listening skills for example: listening for a gist, details and inferring meaning from a context.
• Read simple passages developing receptive language and vocabulary as well as the skills of guessing words from a context, skimming, scanning for information.
• Write about personal interests and essential functions.
• Use a vocabulary of 1000 words.

2.2 Teaching Methodology

The course applies a combination of the communicative approach, audio lingual, and the natural method, depending in the subjects, exercises or materials taught or used in the class.

Here is an overview of these methods and approaches adopted from Numan 1989, (B rown, D., 2001). The characteristics written below are the ones adopt for the study.

Natural method
• Theory of language is meaning: Vocabulary not grammar is the heart of language
• Objective: This method provides beginners and intermediate learners basic communicative skills.
• Activity types: Allow the comprehensible input, about things in the here-and now.
• Roles of materials: Materials come from realia rather than textbooks; primary aim is to promote comprehension and communication.

Communicative approach
• Theory of language: system for expression of meaning primary function- interaction and communication
• Objective: will reflect the needs of the learner
• Syllabus: It will include some or all of the following structures, functions, notions, themes, and tasks. Learner needs guide ordering.
• Teacher roles: The teacher is facilitator of the communication process
• Roles of materials: The primary role is to promote authentic communicative language use, task-based materials.

Audio-lingual method
• Theory of learning: Habit formation; skills are learned more effectively if oral proceeds written; analogy not analysis.
• Objectives: Controls the structures of sounds form. As well, as seeks mastery over symbols of the language. This method seeks native-speaker mastery.
• Learners role: Organisms that can be directed by skilled training techniques to produce correct responses

2.3 Types of activities

Students are not going to use a textbook. I am going to teach the lessons according to the syllabus in the New Interchange Intro Book and using as a resource book the American English Course Book One.

In one session I am going to teach the vocabulary and expressions with the help of oral and written exercises in which all the students will participate taking turns to answer to questions made by the teacher or by some of their classmates; as well as other kind of activities and realia. In one session, we are going to present the topic, vocabulary, functions and expressions. In the next class, the student will review everything taught in the previous lesson, basing the exercises on the material in the American English Course Book One in oral skills. After getting the results of the first test, we will consider if we need to implement changes to our method in the following classes.

Teaching and Learning Activities

Vocabulary Activities:

- The teacher is going write the vocabulary on the board.

- The student is going to copy on a notebook the vocabulary

- The teacher is going to give the pronunciation

- The student will infer the meaning of words

- Individual and choral repetitions

- The teacher is going to correct the pronunciation.

- The students are going to use of words in a context with the help of:

- Realia

- Examples

- Dialogs Teacher- Students
Grammar Activities

- The teacher is going to write the grammar structures on the board.

- The teacher is going to explain them (bilingual)

- The teacher is going to give examples

- The students are going to produce analog structures using the vocabulary

- The student is going to write examples

- The student will share the example with the class

- The teacher is going to correct pronunciation and grammar structure.

Functions and expressions

- The teacher is going to write the expressions on the board.

- The student is going to copy them on a notebook.

- The teacher is going to model the pronunciation and stress. - The student is going to infer the meaning.

- The students are going to participate in individual and choral repetitions.

- The student is going to use the vocabulary and previous knowledge, which could be adapted to the expressions as - The student is going to write examples.

- The student is going to share those examples with the class.

- The teacher is going to correct pronunciation and grammar structure mistakes.

- When it is possible, the examples are going to be used in a

Role-play.
2.4 Materials

• Board
• Markers
• Notebooks
• Pen or pencil
• Realia
• Resource books for the teacher:
New Interchange Intro Book: English for International Communication. Jack C. Richards & Tay Lesly, Cambridge University Press. Teacher’s book , workbook.
American English Course One, Jack M. Morris, James, Patrick Carter, and Victoria S. de Cisneros. Instituto Mexicano Norteamericano de Relaciones Culturales, A. C.

New Interchange Intro Book bases in a communicative approach, which works along with the purpose of the study, and it is possible to adapt it for the syllabus of the program. The American English Course book one belongs to a series of nine books. Also bases learning in a communicative approach. It is going to be a complementary resource book. The instructor will adapt it for oral exercises and activities. It follows the same sequence of the New Interchange Intro Book’s syllabus and it will help in developing of speaking and listening skills in addition to oral practice of grammar structures.

3. Data Collection Instruments

Criterion Reference Tests

To demonstrate this method offers satisfactory results. We are going to use as a parameter the criterion-reference tests (CRTs) designed for the reference book (Appendix A). This will measure the students’ knowledge according to a pre-established criterion. There are four pre-designed tests. These tests measure students’ knowledge of grammar, conversational expressions, productive vocabulary, and listening skills. It takes approximately 45-60 minutes to complete in class

Each has a total score of 100 points, 50 correct answers are possible at two points each. Their average will give the student’s final grade. The sum of the students’ average divided into the number of people in the sample will give the mean. A satisfactory rate of learning is 80. A lower score indicates the method needs changes therefore, it is necessary to find the problems, and re-teach the topics.

3.2 Learning journal

Students are going to write a learning journal in their native language. (Appendix B) They will mention their feelings about the class, the method, exercises, and teacher’s development. What and how they feel working without a textbook, its difficultness, if the class is boring or not and why. Regarding to academic development they will write about improvement degree so as in their receptive and productive skills. Learners are going to report the result every four lessons. These will help to select the type of modifications to create more attractive and appealing class for the students.

3.3 Teaching journal and lesson report

The instructor is going to write a teaching journal, reporting every important event in class and its progress. Moreover, will observe all the students, writing about their performance, and the problems they undergo in class. In other words, the teacher will write down what actually takes place during class, and the developing of the goals and objective of the course according to the syllabus planning. With the purpose of reflecting on later and make adjustments.

Results

In order to collect the data to accomplish a conclusion, we used as parameter the criterion reference tests (CRTs) designed for the teacher’s reference books: New Interchange Intro Book: English for International Communication. These tests will measure the students’ knowledge according to a pre-established criterion. There are four pre-designed tests. Test one, is going to be applied after studying topics one to four, test two after topics five to eight, test three after topics nine to twelve, and test four after topics thirteen to sixteen. . In addition, to have the students’ perspective of the course we asked them to write several learning journals, as well as a teaching one where the instructor is going to write what happened in the class, to make adjustments where there were needed.

Due to external problems, we had to change the sample. For data collection, we took in consideration only the students with a 90% of attendance.

1. Sample analysis

The sample of students is integrated by thirteen people all of them public workers (table 2), their age range from nineteen to sixty years old (table 1). Eleven of them are female and two males.

Table 1 Age and gender of the students

Eleven female students one with less of twenty years to from twenty to thirty, four from thirty one to forty, two from forty one to fifty, and two more from fifty one to sixty one.

Table 2 Occupation

Electrician 1
Office assistant 2
Social worker 1
School principal 2
Secretary 4
Chief in charge of inspectors 1
Did not give their position 2
Total 13

2. Criterion-Reference Tests

2.1 Test 1 Scores

Test 1 (topics 1 to 4) measured students’ knowledge of grammar, conversational expressions, productive vocabulary and listening skills. It took approximately 45-60 minutes to complete in class. Each had a total score of 100 points, 50 correct answers were possible at 2 points each. The class average was 81.8 (table 3). Females got an average of 81.8 and males of 75 (table 4). The scores of Test 1, average regarding to occupations are on table 5.

Table 3 Test 1- scores

Two students obtained 100, four got 90, three got 80, one got 70 and three got 60 the average was 81.8

Table 4. Scores according to gender

Female average of 81.8, two got 100. three got 90, three got 80, one got 70 and two got 60

Male average 75, one got 90, one got 60

Table 5. Scores according to occupations

One electrician got 60, two office assistants got 60, one social worker got 70, two school principals got 90.5, four secretaries got 90.5, one chief in charge of inspectors got 90, and two persons did not give their position got 80

2.2 Test 2 Scores

Test two (topics 5 to 8) measured students’ knowledge of grammar, conversational expressions, productive vocabulary and listening skills. It took approximately 45-60 minutes to complete in class. Each had a total score of 100 points, 50 correct answers were possible at two points each. The class average was 94 (Table 6). Females got an average of 94. There were no males in this sample. (Table 7) The scores according to occupation are on table 8.

Table 6. Test 2- scores

The general average of this test was 95, three students got 100, one got 90 and other got 80

Table 7 Test 2 scores according to gender

Female average 94, three got 100, one got 90, and one got 80

Table 8. Test 2 scores according to occupations

The sample this time was integrated by one school principal who got 95, four secretaries with grade of 90

2.3 Test 3 Scores

Test three (topics 9 to 12) measured students’ knowledge of grammar, conversational expressions, productive vocabulary and listening skills. It took approximately 45-60 minutes to complete in class. Each had a total score of 100 points, 50 correct answers were possible at two points each. The class average was 96 (Table 9). Females got an average of 96. There were no males in this sample. (Table 10) The scores according to occupation are on table 11.

Table 9. Test 3- scores

The sample for this tests was integrated by five persons, four got 100 and one got an 80 the general average was 96

Table 10 Test 3 scores according to gender

Female average was 96, four got a grade of 100 and one 80

Table 11. Test 3 scores according to occupations
four secretaries got 95 and a school principal got 100

2.4 Test 4 Scores

Test four (topics 13 to 16) measured students’ knowledge of grammar, conversational expressions, productive vocabulary and listening skills. It took approximately 45-60 minutes to complete in class. Each had a total score of 100 points, 50 correct answers were possible at two points each. The class average was 96 (Table 12). Females got an average of 96. There were no males in this sample. (Table 13) The scores according to occupation are on table 14.

Table 12. Test 4- scores

The general average was 96, three got a 100 and two 90

Table 13 Test 4 scores according to gender

The sample was integrated by females, three got a 100 and two 90 with a general average of 96

Table 14. Test 4 scores according to occupations

One school principal got the 90 and four secretaries got 97.5

2.5 Final Average

The final average resulted from the four CRT’s Tests was 91.9 (Table 15). Females got an average of 91.9 and males obtained an average of 75 (Table 16). The final scores regarding to occupations are shown on table 17.

Table 15. Final average of four CRT’s Tests

Test 1 81.8

Test 2 94

Test 3 96

Test 4 96
Final average 91.9

Table 16. Final average according to gender

TEST 1 Females 81.8 males 75, TEST 2 females 94 ,TEST 3 females 96,

TEST 4 females 96.The final average was females 91.9 males 75

Table 17 Final average according to occupations
Occupation
Electrician 60
Office assistant60
Social worker70
School principal 92.6
Secretary 94.5
Chief in charge of inspectors 90
Did not give their position 80

3. Learning Journals

Students wrote a journal. They gave a report after each of the tests describing their feelings and opinions about the class method, dynamism, difficultness, effectiveness, as well as about their general academic and skills improvement. Appendix B They mentioned how they liked or disliked it, or how they have improved or not in the academic competence. After gathering the information, we got the following results:

3.1 Report 1

a) The Method

Ten students mentioned they enjoy the class very much, that the method was excellent. One student mentioned the method was good. Two learners wrote they think the method is good, they liked it, but they feel they still need a textbook.

b) Dynamism

Eleven students said classes were very dynamic, that the teacher motivated them to participate many times in each class. One said classes were just OK, liked, and enjoyed learning. A person reported the need of using a book, more games.

c) Difficultness

The opinions concerning to difficultness vary a lot only four students said the class was not difficult at all. Five mentioned it was a little or regular difficult and the other four said it was hard or very hard, but they did their best effort.

d) Effectiveness

Nine students mentioned they learned a lot, that it was really an effective method. Two established the class was effective and they learned well in general. Two persons found the class relatively effective. They think they need a textbook.

e) General Academic Improvement

From the thirteen students, three of them said they noticed a regular improvement. Eight students observed a good improvement and one an excellent acquisition of the language.

f) Listening

Two students observed a regular development. Seven students a good improvement, and four acquired an excellent progress.

g) Speaking

Four students had a little progress in speaking, six a regular and three a good improvement in this skill.

h) Reading

Four students had a regular improvement; five think they got a good advance and the last four an excellent development.

i) Writing

Four students got a regular advance, 5 a good one, and other four an excellent improvement.

3.2 Reports 2, 3 and 4

The results obtained on the last three reports of the learning journals were in general similar because the same students integrated the sample. They mentioned the method was dynamic and they felt comfortable following it. They found it effective but they required a lot of attention, organization and some extra study without being difficult.

Regarding to academic development, they learned a lot and they improved considerably their listening, reading, and writing skills but they want to get more practice in speaking. They would like to continue studying English.

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4. Teaching Journal and Lesson Report

Outline of the most important reflections on our teaching journal and lesson report are:

• Students were interested in the class. They cooperated, participated, and learned well.
• External problems, which in this case was the students’ work, (elections, change of government) motivated students’ desertion, about the 60%.
• Absences forced repetition of the lessons. That meant more practice for students who always attended classes.
• Following lesson plans according to the syllabus schedule was difficult.
• Students that continued in the course did not attend daily, that is a limitation for the course, because without a textbook, you need the 90% of attendance, in order to attain the goals of the program.
• Keeping the students busy in different activities made the course dynamic and interesting.
• Older students were very interesting, they really know the importance of the language in their work life, and they made a big effort to attend and to acquire it.
• A smaller class provides additional individual participation and increases teacher’s attention to each of the students.

Discussion

After collecting the data and obtaining the results, we confirm that using a combination of the communicative approach, the audio-lingual and natural methods, under the implementation of the learning focus of constructivism, the acquiring of English, as a foreign language is effective and efficient without using a textbook, when students have at least the 90% of attendance.

The principal external factor directly affecting the developing of the course was students´ attendance, limited by their work requirements. It was the most important problem encountered during the developing of this action research. Regarding to classroom equipment, the only problem found was that the classroom had a little whiteboard, not enough to write all the information in a clear way.

Students received well both the method and the course. They enjoyed and learned at the same time. Students’ comments in their journals (see appendix B on page 30) demonstrated they found the program efficient, effective, and dynamic, with a perceived relative degree of difficultness. In all the cases, students mentioned they improved their academic knowledge: writing, reading, listening and in a lower scale their improvement of speaking abilities.

The course was effective in general and the course’s objectives adequate to the students’ English level. During the accomplishment of the program, we executed the methods chosen for the course as planned. Students received the course very enthusiastic. They worked hard and practice without a textbook and in most of the cases, the use of a textbook was not required, at least for this real beginner’s class.
There was enough time to cover each of the topics, having every student the opportunity to practice many times during each session. Lessons were very dynamic; the teacher participated around 25% of the time. Students gained enough oral and written practice throughout the other 75%. They had the opportunity to learn from their classmates and teacher’s corrections. A benefit detected in this program without a textbook, was that students were always paying attention and taking notes, otherwise they could miss and important part of the lesson.

Students had a good performance in the achievement tests. Some need more study time in each unit, because their learning style required the use of a textbook; in order to replace it, they need extra practice time. The final average obtained by the sample was 91.9, (Table 15) which indicates they got a satisfactory rate of learning. It is important to state that the sample chosen for the first evaluation was of 13 persons with an average score of 81.1 (Table 1). Students´ desertion increased in this second part of the course. Around 16 students attended regularly, but on date of the three last tests, only five students attended. As the group became smaller, the rate of learning obtained for the second evaluation averaged 94 points (Table 6), and for the third and fourth evaluations were 96 on each of them. (Tables 9 and 12)

There are students who still need to review some lessons; however, there were other external factor modifying the results such as no time for extra study, stress, family problems, learning styles, and academic background.

The teaching methods employed were good, as grades and learning journals illustrate it. In Test one, only three of the thirteen students got a grade equal to six (Table 3). According to their occupation, (Table 5) students obtaining a grade of six were the ones who develop more physical job, where reading, writing as well as studying is not very frequent. Therefore, from the results, we infer that students´ learning style, study habits, and academic background have a near relation with their score, suggesting this as a further research.

The results indicated the implementation of program was successful, but absenteeism did not permit to have the complete sample when applying the second, third and fourth tests. . For further research, I recommend, that in order to avoid desertion, it is important to work with people who pay for the course, people committed by their work superiors or their parents.

In conclusion, the approach, methods, mixed syllabuses, and teaching activities employed during the course allowed real beginner students of English as a foreign language, who normally attended classes to acquire the language without using a textbook, obtaining a very good rate of learning.

Bibliography

Brown, D. (2000). Principles of Language Learning and Teaching. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall
Brown, D. (2001). Teaching by Principles: An Interactive Approach to Language Pedagogy. NY: Pearson Education

Brown, J (1995). The Elements of Language Curriculum. Boston: Heinle & Heinle Publishers

Chan, D., Kaplan-Weinger, J., & Sandstrom, D. (1995). Journeys To Cultural Understanding. Boston: Heinle & Heinle

Chomsky, N. (1974). Topics in the Theory of Generative Grammar. Oxford: Oxford University Press

Dictionary of Contemporary English (2003), England: Pearson Education

Harmer J. (2001). The Practice of English Language Teaching. NY:
Pearson Education

Morris, J., Carter, J. & Cisneros, V. (1967) American English Course One, Mexico: Instituto Mexicano Norteamericano de Relaciones Culturales, A. C.

Nunan, X. Cited in Brown (2001). Teaching by Principles: An Interactive Approach to Language Pedagogy. NY: Pearson Education

Richards, J.C. (2001). Curriculum Development in Language. England: Cambridge University Press

Richards, J. C. & Lesly, T. (2001). New Interchange Intro Book: English for International Communication. England: Cambridge University Press.

Scrivener, J. (1994). Learning teaching: A guidebook for English language teachers. Whenever: Macmillan & Friends

Appendices
Appendix A

The CRTs. used to evaluate this study are on the teacher’s reference book.

New Interchange Intro Book
Teacher’s Edition

Test 1 Units 1-4 pages: T-159, T-160, T-161, T-162
Test 2 Units 5-8 pages: T-163, T-164, T-165, T-166
Test 3 Units 9-12 pages: T-167, T-168, T-169, T-170
Test 4 Units 13-16 pages: T-171, T-172, T-173, T-174

Appendix B
Learning Journal

You are going to write a learning journal in Spanish, your comments after the each of the exams. Please write about the course, your feelings. Mention how you liked or disliked it, and about your improvement in the academic competence as well as in each of the following skills: reading, writing, listening and speaking. It is important to cite your opinion regarding to method, exercises, teacher’s development in class, how they feel the class working without a textbook, its difficultness, if the class is boring, or not and why. Regarding to academic development they will give their general improvement, as well as in their skills. You are going to hand them in every four lessons or before, at any stage of the course when it is required. Your comments will help to choose the type of modifications needed to make the class more attractive and appealing.

You can guide your writing using this outline.

 The Method
 Dynamism
 Difficultness
 Effectiveness
 academic improvement
 Listening
 Speaking
 Reading
 Writing







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