Many feel learning a foreign language, especially English, as a communication tool in a globalized world, is becoming more and more important. Due to this interest of having a good command of one or more foreign languages, the debate on what methodology and resources are more adequate is inevitable. According to the doctoral thesis conducted by María Dolores Corpas Arellano and directed by Daniel Madrid Fernández, at the Department of Language and Literature Didactics of the University of Granada, “students do not achieve target levels at the end of the Compulsory Secondary Education (ESO)“. In fact, the investigation points out that 30.9% of students fail English and 40.4% pass with a low grade
Through a complete and detailed study, Dr. Corpas has evaluated the linguistic and communicative skills of students at the end of their compulsory education, taking into account their reading, listening, writing and speaking skills. Girls get better marks than boys in all four skills, “a result that is confirmed by numerous studies showing that girls are better than boys at learning foreign languages”.
Loss of motivation
Beyond the academic field, Dr. Corpas considers student’s motivation to be a key factor in the learning process. Most students think that knowing English is useful for learning about other ways of life, travelling and living abroad, and for future education, “although they admit it is difficult to learn”. However, one student out of every three of those polled does not have high educational expectations; in fact, 32.9% of students will opt for one year of vocational training, “considered as an attractive and feasible way of entering the labour market” or will not continue studying after Secondary School. This is why María Dolores Corpas maintains that English should be a compulsory subject in Vocational Training.
In order to improve the teaching-learning process of English in Secondary Schools, Dr. Corpas has conducted a comparative research on students’ qualifications and their perception of the learning strategies used by teachers, available resources and their use. Among the most frequent teaching practices and methodologies, working in pairs or small groups and using audio tapes have revealed to be the most effective in the acquisition of the English language. In contrast,, projects with students from other countries, oral exams and the use of ICT are less frequent and sometimes have no effect.
On the other hand, extra-curricular activities have become a complement to the school curriculum . 44.57% of students decide to do some kind of activity after school, of these 12.8% have private tuition three hours a week, and 8.5% opt for private classes two hours a week.
The situation of English is similar to that of other subjects such as Maths and Spanish as was recently published by the Consejería de Educación, in a report called “Evaluación de Diagnóstico 2006-2007”.
Considering this situation, which can be described as worrying, Dr. Corpas maintains that it is necessary to increase the hours of lessons, to reduce the number of students in a class “to favour especially oral skills”, to include native speakers of English in schools, to offer English support classes (“as is done with other subjects”) and to increase the number of bilingual schools.
Dr. Corpas affirms that although these measures favour learning English, “ what is failing are the subjects themselves, it is necessary to reward students for their efforts and make sure they move into each new academic year with good marks”.
Dr. María Dolores Corpas Arellano. Department of Language and Literature Didactics, University of Granada.
Tel. 958 32 32 42. Mobile phone: 617 71 35 11 E-mail: email@example.com
Martes, 25 de Septiembre de 2007
Thirty point nine percent of Spanish secondary school students fail English and 40.4% pass with a low grade
- According to a doctoral thesis carried out at the Department of Language and Literature Didactics of the University of Granada (UGR), students do not achieve desired performance targets at the end of the ESO (Compulsory Secondary Education). - Working in pairs or small groups and the use of audio tapes have revealed to be the most effective teaching practices in the acquisition of the English language.