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ABSTRACT

Christopher Grant Blake, Ph.D., Purdue University, August 2006

The Potential of Text-Based Internet Chats for Improving ESL Oral Fluency

Major Professor: April Ginther.

Text-based Internet chats have become a popular component of second language classrooms, making it
possible for students to communicate with native speakers and second language learners across the
globe. While a number of studies have reported on the positive affects that chat discourse can have on
the learning environment, few studies have examined whether participation in chat discourse can help
learners improve their proficiency in a second language. To the best of knowledge, no studies to date
have examined whether second language learners can improve their oral fluency through participating
in a text-based chat learning environment.

This dissertation addresses the above question by examining the oral fluency development of 34 ESL
learners who participated in the same six-week course but in separate instructional environments: a
text-based Internet chat environment, a traditional face-to-face environment and a control environment
that involved independent learning with no student interaction. A fluency pretest was administered
prior to the study and a posttest was administered at the end. Speech samples collected from these
tests were analyzed for fluency at five temporal variable levels: speaking rate (SR), phonation time ratio
(PTR), articulation rate (AR), mean length of run (MLR), and average length of pauses (ALP).
Improvement in fluency was measured in terms of the pretest to posttest gain scores on each of these
measures.

The study found that the gain scores of participants in the text-based Internet chat environment were
significantly higher on the PTR and MLR measures than the gain scores of participants in the face-to-face
and control environments. Gain scores on the three other measures were not significant. The author
discusses these findings in relationship to Levelt's (1989) model of language production and argues that
text-based Internet chat environments can be a useful way of building oral fluency by facilitating the
automatization of lexical and grammatical knowledge at the formulator level.

Jeanne (Yu-Chen) Lee

MwALT 2006

English Intonation as a Descriptor for Evaluating Oral English Proficiency

Intonation is often listed as a descriptor in oral English proficiency scales, which demonstrates that it is a
part of a performance that influences people's perception of proficiency. However, there is no
explanation or guideline of how to evaluate intonation in oral English performance. This study proposes
an acoustic approach to reliably measure English intonation for the analysis of pitch patters by native
speakers (NS) of English and English as a second language (ESL) speakers who speak Mandarin as their
first language (L1). Speech samples of the five NS of English from the Midwest, USA, and five Chinese
speakers on their performance in reading aloud and leaving a telephone message are analyzed.
Intonation is measured instrumentally with PRAAT, a speech analysis computer program, on sentence
nonfinal and final positions, where sentence units are reliably determined by syntax.

The preliminary findings indicate that native English speakers may use different intonation patterns for
different discourse situations: the five English NS of this study prefer to use level or rising contours in
sentence final positions for leaving voicemails, whereas only falling contours are used to mark sentence
endings for reading aloud. The Chinese ESL speakers, on the other hand, do not make use of intonation
for different discourse functions: there is a prominent use of the level and falling contours for both
reading aloud and leaving a telephone message. It is argued that Chinese learners of English tend to
impose the prosodic patters of their L1 on their second language (L2) that results in the typical Chinese
accent that can be characterized with a monosyllabic rhythm with constant high level and falling tones.
The results of this study provide potential guidelines on how intonation may be systematically used as a
descriptor for oral English proficiency.

Nancy Kauper

INTESOL 2008

Social Language Skills: Assessing Face-to-Face Conversational Interaction

Conversation skills and knowledge of local norms of social interaction are essential for ESL speakers who
wish to communicate successfully in a variety of informal contexts. The presenter will show methods
and materials for assessing conversation skills with the goal of enhancing ESL students' competence in
informal, face-to-face social interaction.

Enhancing English Proficiency among Polytechnics Students:

Promoting Autonomous Learning

Maizan Mohamad

Department of General Studies, Politeknik Hulu Terengganu, Malaysia

Received: April 4, 2016

Accepted: June20, 2016

ABSTRACT

This study was conducted to enhance English Language Proficiency amongst polytechnic students. It
focuses on

students communication skill. A number of 39 semester one students from Diploma in Tourism and
Management

involved in this study. There were three objectives of this research. First, to find out students difficulties
in English
communication; second, to find out students attitudes in learning English and third, to promote
authentic teaching

and learning English activities. The given pre-test showed that 33.3% of the students did not achieve the
desired

passing mark which was 50%. A number of problems have been identified as the causes for the students
to falter in

this test. The collection of data was done through the administration of a questionnaire, pre-test, post-
test and

observation. Actions implemented were new learning style with English songs, reflective journal and
English clinic.

The administered treatment has resulted in a significant increase in communication skills among
students. 71.8% of

the students scored more than 50% in the given posttest. In addition, students showed positive
attitudes during

teaching and learning sessions.

KEYWORDS: English Proficiency, Difficulties, Attitudes.

INTRODUCTION

Nowadays, polytechnics are recognized by the worldwide as one of institutions that provide higher
education

level. The polytechnic is one of the institutions produce high skilled worker at par with other
universities. In United

Kingdom, after the passage of the Further Higher Education Act 1992 polytechnics became independent
universities

which meant that they can award their own degree.

In Malaysia, Polytechnic Education Department director-general, Datuk Mohlis Jaafar said seven of the
degree

level programs will be implemented at 3 premier polytechnics namely Ungku Omar Polytechnic, Sultan
Salahuddin

Abdul Aziz Shah Polytechnic and Ibrahim Sultan Polytechnic after officiating at the 43rd convocation of
the Ungku

Omar Polytechnic on 7th April 2014.

In line with the mission of Malaysian Polytechnics to break boundaries for the creation of transformative
and
creative learning environment for an innovation-led economy and the vision to be Malaysias number
one provider

innovative human capital through transformational education and training for the global workforce by
2015, English

acquisition among polytechnic students is crucial.

Many students struggle to express themselves in the language because outside the classroom, they have

essentially little or no contact with the language. Again, students in majority find it is difficult to express
themselves

in grammatically correct English. This can be clearly seen through activity that had been conducted on
the first day

of class among semester 1 Politeknik Hulu Terengganu (PHT) students. Students were asked to introduce

themselves in front of the class within 5 to 7 minutes in English. Only 15% students were able to
introduce

themselves. Besides that, from the students reflections on the first lesson 99% of students admitted
that they do not

know how to pronounce English words, 95% were confused with spelling and phonology of English
language and

100% were not able to comprehend and create their own sentence structure. These matters really
concern the

researcher.

This situation can be reflected to a framework proposed by Rivers and Temperley [3],whereby they
provide a

diagram (Figure 1) which represents the processes involved in learning to communicate and which
distinguishes

between skill-using and skill getting.