Teaching ESL

1.1 Purpose Of the Study

The purpose of this study is to investigate the trainers in implementing their instructional practice in order to help the trainees to become effective second language teacher. As an ESL teacher and a second language learner, the researcher believes that interaction is the key to second language learning. Second language learners need comprehensible input, need to be in situations that provide maximum personal involvement in the communication and need opportunities to use the target language in social interactions. The learning of a language centres on the use of the language for communicative purposes. Alexander (2004) suggests that the basic repertoire of classroom talk is unlikely to offer the types of cognitive challenge required to extend students’ thinking. In contrast, he characterizes an approach he describes as dialogic teaching which is collective, reciprocal, supportive, cumulative and purposeful. However, these types of talk are less frequently encountered in classrooms (Mroz et al., 2000).

Dialogic pedagogies aim for classroom interactions that involve more than superficial participation. They are exemplified by the teacher’s uptake of student ideas, authentic questions and the opportunity for students to change or modify the course of instruction (Nystrand et al., 2003). Teachers relinquish some measure of control of the trajectory of the lesson as pupils are offered a degree of collaborative influence over the co-construction of knowledge.

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1.2 Importance of the study

This study is important in four ways. First, as an eye opening to the concept of dialogic approach in the training institution and it is focusing on the classroom interaction between the trainees and the trainer in the class from the socio-cultural theory approach.

Second, it gives a holistic view on what is happening in the class and what could be done to help the trainees to become competent user of the English Language learner.

Third, it will trigger the needs for the trainers to have a series of cascade training organized by the Teacher Education Division, Malaysia in order to share, improve their approaches in class and vary their instructional teaching before they start teaching the trainees.

Fourth, it will establish the culture of sharing and collaboration among the lecturers in the training institute. It requires the teachers to work collaboratively, to open their classroom for observation, critical reviews and discussion with peers.

Lastly, it is focusing on the professional development of the trainers in providing the best approaches in exploring the best approach and varies their pedagogical approach in a second language learning class.

1.3. Methodology

Research design

The focus of the study is to look at the quality of classroom interaction between the lecturer and the trainees. The literature has offered a wide array of descriptions and definitions of the case study, for example: “a case study is an empirical inquiry that investigates a contemporary phenomenon within its real-life context …in which multiple sources of evidence are used� (Yin, 1984:23), “…the qualitative case study can be defined as an intensive, holistic description and analysis of a single entity, phenomenon, or social unit� (Merriam, 1988:16).

Different from other research studies which aim for generalizable findings, case studies aim for “an understanding of the particular case, in its idiosyncrasy, in its complexity� (Stake, 1988:256).

The case study aligns with my research objectives. It is focused on the two TESL lecturers, the researcher and their respective classes. The study is the interactive instructional practices of the two teachers, the researcher and their students. In order to provide a detailed and in-depth analytical description of the interactive features of the two cases, the researcher have to be into the research site and collected data from multiple sources in a naturalistic setting, namely, in a setting where teacher-student interaction occurs as it actually is.

The main purpose of the study was not to attempt to generalize the conclusions to a larger population but to gain a thorough and in-depth understanding of the topic at issue. At the same time a combination of sociolinguistic and ethnographic perspectives has been taken to approach the above research questions.  Data was collected using a range of techniques: interviewing, classroom observation, audio- and video-taping, oral report and stimulated reflection.

The sample for the researcher came from the teacher training institution that is situated in Ipoh, between the Bachelor of Education Twinning program UK-MOEM (Ministry Of Education, Malaysia) and the English Language lecturers.

Many teachers, even experienced ones, are not always aware of the nature of their interactions with individual students. Consequently, one of the most important purposes of systematic classroom observation is to improve teachers’ classroom instruction. Feedback from individual classroom profiles derived from systematic observations has been found to help teachers understand their own strengths and weaknesses, and have consequently enabled them to significantly improve their instruction.

Through feedback, teachers can become aware of how their classroom functions and thus bring about changes they desire. This process typically involves having trained observers systematically observe teachers and their students in their classrooms and later providing teachers with information about their instruction in clinical sessions. This approach is based on the assumption that teachers value accurate information that they can use to improve their instruction.