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faculty of English language teacher education
TRAN THI HUONG GIANG
Developing learner autonomy in vocabulary learning for first-year mainstream students at ED, ULIS, VNU
summitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of bachelor of arts (tefl)
Hanoi, May 2010
VIETNAM NATIONAL UNIVERSITY, HANOI UNIVERSITY OF LANGUAGES AND INTERNATIONAL STUDIES
faculty of English language teacher education
TRAN THI HUONG GIANG
Developing learner autonomy in vocabulary learning for first-year mainstream students at ED, ULIS, VNU
summitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of bachelor of arts
supervisor: luc dinh quang, ma.
I hereby state that I (Tran Thi Huong Giang, Group 06.1.E1), being a candidate for the degree of Bachelor of Arts (TEFL) accept the requirements of the College relating to the retention and use of Bachelor’s Graduation Paper deposited in the library.
In terms of these conditions, I agree that the origin of my paper deposited in the library should be accessible for the purposes of study and research, in accordance with the normal conditions established by the librarian for the care, loan or reproduction of the paper.
It is my pleasure to thank those who made this thesis possible. Firstly, I owe my deepest gratitude to my supervisor, Mr. Luc Dinh Quang, whose encouragement, guidance and support from the initial to the final level enabled me to develop an understanding of the subject. Secondly, I would like to thank Ms. Nguyen Thi Thom Thom, who gave me continuing encouragement and initial suggestions for my research topic. Thirdly, I am heartily thankful to my classmates, who gave me easy access to the surveyed classes in which they were doing their practicum. Fourthly, this thesis would not have been possible without the enthusiastic participation of teachers at Division I and first-year mainstream students at English Department, ULIS, VNU. Fifthly, it is an honor for me to acknowledge the facilitation and support from the Department while I managed to finish the paper. Lastly, I offer my regards and blessings to all of those who supported me in any respect during the completion of the study.
Tran Thi Huong Giang
The concept of learner autonomy has long been introduced and applied to the process of language learning. However, it does not often reach its intended outcome. As one of the first attempts to explore the application of learner autonomy in the context of vocabulary learning of first-year mainstream students at English Department, ULIS, VNU, this paper seeks to explore the current techniques utilized by teachers and learners in fostering learner autonomy in vocabulary learning and students’ perceptions about those techniques. The paper begins by reviewing the current literature on learner autonomy, vocabulary learning and related studies. The investigation then involved the participation of 5 teachers and 156 students who undertook the triangulated data collection method of interviews, questionnaires and classroom observations. The analysis of the collected data demonstrated some mismatches in teachers’ and students’ expectation in the process of developing learner autonomy within the learning of vocabulary. In addition, it revealed direction that may have been overlooked and areas that have not been well supported in the development of learner autonomy in vocabulary learning such as metacognitive skills and technology training for the students. Thus, to facilitate further application of learner autonomy in vocabulary learning, attention should be paid to 1) allocating more time on learning skills and Internet exploration training, 2) building the mutual understanding between teachers and learners and 3) carrying out group work in a more conscious and tactful way.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
PAGE Acknowledgements Abstract List of figures and tables 1 2 7
CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION 1. Statement of the problem and rationale for the research 2. Aims and objectives of the study 3. Scope of the study 4. An overview of the rest of the paper 12 13 14 15
CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE REVIEW 1. Learner autonomy 1.1. Definition of learner autonomy 18 19 21 22 22 26 27 31 36 38 39 39 40
1.2. Classifications of learner autonomy 1.3. Application of learner autonomy in the classroom 1.3.1. Justifications 1.3.2. Approaches to learner autonomy and an integrated model 18.104.22.168. Learner-based approach 22.214.171.124. Teacher-based approach 126.96.36.199. An integrated model 1.3.3. Constraints 188.8.131.52. Cultural beliefs and values 184.108.40.206. Inadequate materials 220.127.116.11. Other factors
1.3.4. The application 18.104.22.168. In the world 22.214.171.124. In Vietnam 2. Vocabulary and vocabulary learning 2.1. The importance of vocabulary 2.2. Vocabulary learning 2.2.1. Ways of acquiring vocabulary knowledge 2.2.2. Aspects of vocabulary learning 2.2.3. Categories of vocabulary learning techniques 2.2.4. Assessing the effectiveness of vocabulary learning techniques 2.2.5. Difficulties in promoting vocabulary
40 40 41 41 41 42 42 43 43 46
CHAPTER 3: METHODOLOGY 1. Participants 1.1. Teachers of English 1.2. First-year mainstream students 2. Data collection instruments 2.1. Questionnaires 2.2. Interviews 2.3. Classroom observation 3. Data collection procedure 4. Data analysis methods and procedure 48 48 49 49 49 51 52 53 55
CHAPTER 4: RESULTS AND FINDINGS 1. Research question 1 – What are the students’ perceptions of themselves as autonomous learners? 1.1. General attitude toward learner autonomy
1.2. Affective factors 1.3. Attitudes towards tasks and assignments 1.4. Metacognitive skills 1.5. Students’ behaviours as autonomous learners 2. Research question 2 – What techniques have been utilized by the students for their learning vocabulary autonomously? 2.1. Students’ sources of vocabulary learning 2.2. Techniques utilized by the students to learn vocabulary 2.3. Preferred learning environment 3. Research question 3 – What techniques have been utilized by the teachers in order to foster learner autonomy in vocabulary learning? How are the techniques perceived by the students in terms of effectiveness, motivation and conditions of successful utilization? 3.1. Techniques utilized by teachers to foster learner autonomy in vocabulary learning 3.2. Students’ perceptions about teachers’ problems in vocabulary teaching
60 63 66 68 71
71 73 74 75
CHAPTER 5: CONCLUSION 1. Major findings of the research 2. Pedagogical implications 3. Limitations 4. Suggestions for further studies 80 81 87 87
APPENDICE Appendix 1: Definitions of learner autonomy in second language learning 89 Appendix 2: Roles of teachers and learners towards learner autonomy
Appendix 3: Noted study Appendix 4: A personal reflection Appendix 5: Student Survey Questionnaire Appendix 6: Teacher Survey Questionnaire Appendix 7: Questions for Semi-Structured Student Interview Appendix 8: Questions for Semi-Structured Teacher Interview
91 92 93 98 103 104
LIST OF TABLES, FIGURES AND CHARTS
Figures Figure 1: Criteria of the autonomous learner Figure 2: Relationship among learner autonomy, intrinsic motivation and efficiency Figure 3: Prerequisites of learner autonomy from learners’ aspect Figure 4: A Framework for Developing Autonomy in Foreign Language Learning Figure 5: The continuum of challenge and support in relation with students’ knowledge Figure 6: Levels of developing learner autonomy Figure 7: A simplified model of a teaching/ learning sequence Figure 8: An integrated model of promoting learner autonomy 35 36 37 33 28 31 PAGE 20 25
Tables Table 1: Classification of the students’ major Table 2: Areas of investigation in each part of the questionnaires Table 3: Different parts of the observation checklist and their theoretical basis Table 4: Students’ responses for part 2 in the student questionnaire Table 5: Students’ perception of teachers’ activities to help them develop learner autonomy in vocabulary learning (Questions 1-7, part 3, Student Questionnaire) Table 6: Implications for some issues emerging from the research 84 68 76 49 50 52
Charts Chart 1: Students’ attitudes towards teachers’ and learners’ roles Chart 2: Students’ perceptions of the importance of vocabulary learning Chart 3: Students’ main goals in learning vocabulary Chart 4: Students’ perceptions of their mastery of vocabulary Chart 5: Attitudes towards tasks and assignments Chart 6: Students’ report on their usual time to learn vocabulary Chart 7: Students’ perceptions of worthy-learning vocabulary items Chart 8: Students’ usual sources for vocabulary learning Chart 9: Techniques utilized by the students to learn vocabulary Chart 10: Students’ preference of learning environment Chart 11: Students’ perception of teachers’ activities to help them develop learner autonomy in vocabulary learning Chart 12: Main problems in teachers’ vocabulary teaching 78 58 60 61 62 63 65 66 71 73 74 76
CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION
1. Statement of the problem and rationale for the research It is widely known from a Chinese proverb that “Give a man a fish, he can eat for one day; teach him how to fish, he will benefit for a life-time.” The idea of striving to learn the process, not the product, has been noted since the ancient time. Over the history, many great thinkers such as Galileo, Rousseau, Dewey, Kilpatrick, Marcel, Jacotot, Payne and Quick have touched upon the importance of autonomy by elaborating their ideas on education in different times (Balcikanli, 2008). However, in the language classrooms, it was not until 1981 (when Holec introduced the concept and coined the term “learner autonomy”) did training students on how to learn receive the serious attention from teachers and educators. Just as “communicative” and “authentic” were frequently mentioned during the 1980s, learner autonomy was fast becoming the attention focus in the 1990s (Broady and Kenning, 1996; Little, 1990).
Since then “learner autonomy” has been extensively researched. There is a large body of both theoretical and empirical research, all points out desirable benefits of learner autonomy. However, much of the discussion has focused on how to achieve learner autonomy through different instructions (Allwright, 1981; Blanche & Merino, 1989; Blue, 1988; Cram, 1997; Dickinson, 1988; Ellis & Sinclair, 1989; Harris, 1997; Oscarson, 1997; O’Malley & Chamot, 1990) with little following research on how those guides have been carried out and applied, how effective they are in the real classrooms. The contradiction is that with the purpose to help learners assume great control over their own learning, it is important to help them become aware of and identify not only the strategies they could potentially use but also the strategies they already use (Wu & Cao, 2004,
p.1). The second point to be noted is that: although research on learner autonomy in language learning in general is much, research focusing closely on learner autonomy in vocabulary learning is few and far between. This is inappropriate because vocabulary is central to language learning and learners’ abilities to build, expand and refine their vocabulary on their own outside their classrooms can be the deciding factors in their language learning success. Lastly, despite being discussed and implemented in many countries, the application of learner autonomy in Vietnam educational setting remains limited and awkward due to different reasons.
In an attempt to investigate this topic, the researcher has decided to conduct a study on “Developing learner autonomy in vocabulary learning for first-year mainstream students at ED, ULIS, VNU”. The researcher, with this study, hopes to bring a real picture of what is going on in vocabulary instructions and to help teachers make more informed decisions in facilitating their students’ autonomous learning.
2. Aims and objectives of the study As having been noted in much research, one of the difficulties in applying learner autonomy is the mismatch between teachers’ perceptions of their students’ ability and the reality, which leads to the teachers’ reluctance to give the responsibility to make decisions (also authority) in learning to the students. Bearing this problem in mind, the research decides to carry out the research with the first aim is to find out whether such mismatch exists in the specific context of Vietnam. The second purpose is to look carefully into how learner autonomy is being fostered in vocabulary learning and whether it is fostered effectively as
perceived by the students involved. Finally, from the picture of current issues, the researcher hopes to propose some solutions to help teacher’s instruction better facilitate students’ autonomy in vocabulary learning.
In brief, the study would seek to answer the following questions: 1. What are the students’ perceptions of themselves as autonomous learners? 2. What techniques have been utilized by the students for their learning vocabulary autonomously? 5. What techniques have been utilized by their teachers in order to foster learner autonomy in vocabulary learning? How are the techniques perceived by the students in terms of effectiveness, motivation and conditions of successful utilization?
3. Scope of the study The scope of the research has been made quite clear from the research title “Developing learner autonomy in vocabulary learning for first-year mainstream students at ED, ULIS, VNU”.
Firstly, the research focuses on “learner autonomy”. To be more specific, it investigates the current situation and suggestions for development of learner autonomy within the context. The research areas include techniques used by both teachers and students, at class and at home, in other words, all efforts that are put into the promotion of learner autonomy in vocabulary learning for the students.
Secondly, “vocabulary learning” here should be understood in broad sense, which means not only the direct vocabulary instructions but also occasional
introduction of vocabulary throughout reading, listening, speaking, writing sessions when the necessity arises. In addition, “vocabulary learning” does not merely mean learning new words or phrases. Rather, it also includes the acquisition of learning skills in order to improve vocabulary ability (for example dictionary use, memory knowledge, etc.)
Thirdly, it is noteworthy that the subjects of the study were restricted to firstyear students at English Department, ULIS, VNU. Therefore, all the generalizations just serve to apply to the direct context.
4. An overview of the rest of the paper The rest of the paper includes five chapters as follows: Chapter 2 – Literature Review – provides the background of the study, including definitions of key concepts, theories, current application and discussions of related study. Chapter 3 – Methodology – describes the participants, data collection instruments as well as data collection procedures, data analysis methods and data analysis procedures. Chapter 4 – Results and Discussion – presents, analyzes and discusses the findings that the researcher found out in order to answer the research questions. Chapter 5 – Conclusion – summarizes the main issues in the paper, the pedagogical implications concerning the research topic as well as the limitations of the research and suggestions for further studies. Following this chapter are the References and Appendices.
Summary In this chapter, the researcher has elaborated about: 1. Statement of the research problem and rationale for the study 2. Aims and objectives of the study 3. Scope of the study 4. An overview of the rest of the paper In short, these points justify the contents and structure of the study. In addition, they serve as the guidelines for the rest of the paper.
CHAPTER 2: LITERATURE REVIEW
Research concerned with the development of learner autonomy in vocabulary learning is few and far between in the current literature. One of the most relevant research is one by Yamping & Cao (2004) - an exploratory research. It was carried out in Chinese context. The study lasted 6 weeks. The participants were required to 1) report their daily approaches to the task of vocabulary learning and 2) report and discuss features of their own approaches with other participants. The study highlights some important strategies taken by the teachers and students involved in the course: 1) students designed programs that can be used for vocabulary e-learning, 2) students’ preference of using elearning resources, 3) memory strategies were taught and utilized, 4) students were made aware of the helpfulness of contextual guesswork, 5) group work greatly fostered independence (which supports theoretical claims) and 6) writing task motivated learners to use the words they had met and motivated students to learn even more words to fulfill the task.
Although little research directly related to the research topic has been carried out, the literature on separate aspects, namely learner autonomy and vocabulary learning, is profound. The sections below will be devoted to elaborating these key concepts with an aim to providing a theoretical basis for the study.
2. Learner autonomy 2.1. Definition of learner autonomy
The term “learner autonomy” was first introduced formally by Henri Holec in 1981 when he wrote Autonomy and foreign language learning - his contribution to the Council of Europe’s work in adult education. Holec
began by defining learner autonomy as the “ability to take charge of one’s own learning”. At the same time he also noted that this ability “is not inborn but must be acquired either by ‘natural’ means or (as most often happens) by formal learning, i.e. in a systematic, deliberate way” (Holec 1981, p.3). This very first definition is valuable in that it highlights 1) the responsibility that learners willingly accept in their learning and 2) the possibility and necessity for training learners to be autonomous. In addition, according to Little (2006), this definition brings us some important implications that autonomous learners 1) are motivated learners in their commitment and proactiveness and 2) are able to freely apply their knowledge and skills outside the immediate context of learning. Along similar lines, Dickinson (1987), Little (1991) and Benson (2001) reemphasized the notion of taking responsibility for learning in their works on learner autonomy.
However, the acceptance of responsibility regarding learning cited in Holec’s definition is considered the only first step towards learner autonomy and the definition therefore is regarded sketchy by some other researchers. There is another tendency of defining learner autonomy explicitly based on the specific characteristics of the autonomous learner. Schunk (2005) pointed out that initiative regarding learning, shares in monitoring progress and evaluating the learning performance are essential. Pintrich (2000) added collaborative learning as another indicator of learner autonomy, stating that autonomous learners are willing to work with other subjects, for example faculty and peers, to better their learning. Council of Europe (2001, p.106; cited in Little, 2006) also included in the autonomous learner’ characteristics the ability to discover knowledge – “heuristic skills” – which are “to observe and participate in new experience and to incorporate new knowledge into existing knowledge, modifying the latter where necessary”. Summarizing
the existing literature, Naizhao & Yanling (2004, p.7) proposed a set of ability that the autonomous learner must possess, namely the ability: to take charge of his/ her own learning; to set realistic goals and plan programmes of work; to use learning strategies effectively and develop strategies for coping with new situations; to create and make good use of study environments; and to evaluate and assess his/ her own learning process.
While the above authors agreed that the autonomous learner must possess a number of specific abilities, Barahona, Clàudia and Elisabet Arnó (2001, p.2), Dickinson (1995, p.167) suggested that ability is not enough. In addition, a “special attitude is expected from autonomous learners” and the ability possessed must be “display[ed]” through their behaviours.
Learner autonomy has been given many definitions, depending on the writer, the context and the level of debate (see Appendix 1 page 79). However, all of them are loyal to Holec’s basic definition, which so far remains the most cited definition. Taking into account the complexity of the concept and the fact that learner autonomy is rarely, if ever, realized in its “ideal” state (Little 1991, p.5), the researcher would rather take Holec’s as the main tenet. At the same time, since the aim of the study is to find ways to foster learner autonomy, it is necessary to keep in mind the criteria for the autonomous learner, which can be summarized in the following figure:
Figure 1: Criteria of the autonomous learner
The characteristics of autonomous learners can be recognized to overlap with those of successful learners (Bialystok, 1981; Zimmerman and Pons, 1986; Oxford, 1986; O’Malley and Chamot, 1990), which further emphasizes the importance of learner autonomy.
Classification of terms Learner autonomy can be easily confused with other terms in the literature on autonomy, some of which have been distinguished in the work of Finch (n.d.): 1. Self-instruction: learning without a teacher (Little, 1991, p.3) 2. Individualized instruction: instructions which are designed to meet the needs of individual learners. (Logan, 1980).
3. Flexible learning: the teacher or department provides materials and activities; the learner has some choice over what to do and when, but there is usually little negotiation about learning goals or evaluation (Page 1992, p.83; Evans, 1993) 4. Self-direction: learners accept responsibility for learning but do not necessarily undertake the implementation of those decisions (Dickinson, p.11). 5. Semi-autonomy: the stage at which learners are preparing for autonomy (Dickinson, 1987, p.11)
Despite being different in meaning, these terms basically describe the different efforts in moving towards learner autonomy. Therefore, they do not necessarily exist completely independent. To some extent, they play a role in autonomous learning.
2.2. Classifications of learner autonomy As aforementioned, definitions of learner autonomy come in great quantities and show a notable shift in emphasis. Considering those differences, Benson (1996, p.27-34) proposed three categories of learner autonomy in language learning: 1. technical autonomy: the act of learning a language outside the framework of an educational institution and without the intervention of a teacher. 2. psychological autonomy: a capacity which allows learners to take more responsibility for their own learning; an internal transformation that may be supported by situational autonomy without being dependent on it; 3. political autonomy: control over the processes and content of learning.
For the purpose of exploring the current situation, the concept of learner autonomy in this study should be broad enough, that is, to cover all the three aspects above.
2.3. Application of learner autonomy in the classroom In this part the researcher will discuss briefly the reasons for fostering learner autonomy in the language classrooms; then on some prerequisites that must be reached before learner autonomy can be achieved. Next, the current situation of learner autonomy application will be reviewed. Lastly, some constraints in promoting learner autonomy will be pointed out.
2.3.1. Justifications Learner autonomy appeared as a response to the historical, scientific, political and social changes that happened during the twentieth century, which includes: 1. the emergence of “autonomy” as an educational ideal, with a direct influence on adult education in Europe; 2. developments in technology contributing to the spread of autonomy and self-access; 3. rising internationalism since the second World War; 4. adult learners and different learning needs, resulting in flexible learning programmes with varying degrees of learner-centredness and self-direction; 5. commercialization of much language provision, together with the movement to heighten consumer awareness, leading to learners as consumers, making informed choices in the market; 6. increase in school and university populations, encouraging the development of new educational structures for dealing with large
numbers of learners. Some form of self-directed learning, with institutional support in the shape of counseling and resource centres, has been found helpful. (Gremmo 1995, p.152)
In response to the above changes, learner autonomy lent itself as the best solution. It is not difficult to come to a consensus among scholars about the benefits of fostering learner autonomy.
Firstly, according to Deci (1995, p.2; cited in Little, 2006), “feeling free and volitional in one’s actions” is a basic human need. More specifically, learners need and have the right to make choices about their learning (Cotterall, 1995, p.219). This argument came up as a result of the humanistic approach and learner-centred approach in language education in the 1980s and 1990s.
Secondly, learner autonomy stems from the idea that one function of education is to equip learners to play an active role in the society. Tracing back to the birth of learner autonomy, it was first introduced by Holec with the purpose of freeing man to be the master of his environment. Generally that is from the idea of man “product of his society”, one moves to the idea of man “producer of his society” (Janne 1977, p.3; cited in Holec 1981, p.1). Holec stated that in order for this to come true, the educational system needs to find way to train learner’s capacities by “developing those abilities which will enable him to act more responsibly in running the affairs of the society in which he lives”. In other words, learner autonomy seeks to prepare learners to become active, dynamic individuals from inside to outside the classrooms. This idea is in agreement with Knowles’ proposal in 1975 of
philosophical reason for advocating learner autonomy, in which he stated that learners need to be prepared for a rapidly changing future, which requires independence in learning as a vital factor for effective functioning in society. Learner autonomy, in this way, provides and trains learners to accept their responsibility and have the strategies in their hands for lifelong learning.
Thirdly, it has been proposed that learner autonomy solves the problem of motivation in learners and boosts efficiency in learning.
Our intrinsic motivation and proactiveness nourish, and in turn, are nourished by autonomy (Little, 2006). As observed in cases, intrinsically motivated learners naturally find ways to maximize their autonomy by setting objectives, trying different learning strategies, collaborating and reflecting. Their learning is efficient and effective; if not to say “all learning is likely to succeed to the extent the learner is autonomous” (Little, 2006). As a result, their success in learning strengthens their intrinsic motivation.
Figure 2: Relationship among learner autonomy, intrinsic motivation and efficiency.
(The interactive relationship between learner autonomy and intrinsic motivation will be discussed at a further depth in the next section about premises of learner autonomy)
In terms of efficiency, learner autonomy is widely believed and proved to predict academic performance. As all learning is highly individual, there is a natural tendency for the learner to take control over his or her own learning.From research into individual learner differences it can be concluded that effective learning occurs when learners are free to learn in the ways that suit them best. As Marton and Saljo (1976, cited in Ade-ojo, 2005: 192) pointed out, “students who take on greater responsibility for their own learning are more likely to take a deep approach to learning, which in turn leads to greater achievement”. In addition, being an autonomous learner means being reflective and critical. The desire to foster learner autonomy, therefore, rests on the pedagogical claim that in formal educational contexts, reflectivity and self-awareness produce better learning. Furthermore, the efficiency as a result of learner autonomy also means that knowledge and skills acquired in the classroom have become innate. Thus, they can be easily accessible and applicable to situations that emerge outside the classroom (Little, 2006).
Basically there are three reasons for fostering learner autonomy in the classroom, which are: 1) the basic need of a human being to be free as a learner, 2) the need to train learners to become dynamic, adaptable, autonomous, to act responsibly, and to pursue lifelong learning in modern society and 3) the need to produce efficiency and effectiveness in learning within a limited time and space. Learner autonomy, generally, exists as one of the requirements of the currently advocated approaches, namely communicative approach and learner-centred approach.
2.3.2. Approaches to learner autonomy and an integrated model
The general agreement on the beneficial effects of learner autonomy does not hide the fact the learner autonomy is not easily applicable. Benson (2001: 107) proposed six main approaches to learner autonomy: 1. resource-based approach, 2. technology-based approach, 3. learner-based approach, 4. teacher-based approaches, 5. classroom-based approach, 6. curriculum-based approach. The first two approaches are inextricably entwined: self-access centers, selfinstructional materials and distance learning often rely on CALL (Computer Assisted Language Learning) and CMC (Computer Mediated Communication) via the Internet.
The last two approaches mainly deal with the relationship between teachers and learners in the classrooms and with the syllabus. These approaches, if elaborated in great details, will lead us to move too far from the scope of this research. Therefore, they will be touched upon in the section about constraints.
Learner-based and teacher-based approaches deal with the two most prominent forces in the teaching-learning process. Scholars have identified some prerequisites that need to be met before learner autonomy can function.
Learner-based and teacher-based approaches are the most important and relevant to the research topic. Thus, it is vital to look more closely at these two approaches:
126.96.36.199. Learner-based approach
For many researchers and practitioners, promoting learner autonomy is synonymous to explicit training of learning strategies. While learning strategies plays an important role in learner autonomy, it is necessary to avoid the pitfalls of an overemphasis on explicit strategic instruction in learner development. In fact, the learner must be “equipped” in many aspects so as to “take charge of their learning”.
The chance of students training themselves to be autonomous depends on two factors, that is their willingness and their ability to do so. One important argument was presented by Littlewood (1996, p.98) who remarked: “Students’ willingness to act independently depends on the level of their motivation and confidence; students’ ability to act independently depends on the level of their knowledge and skills.” The researcher would rather suggest the term “knowledge of the language” and “knowledge of learning strategies” to be used interchangeably for “knowledge” and “skills” respectively in Littlewood’s remark. This hopes to bring a clearer distinction between the two terms. The idea can be summarized in the following figure: Learner autonomy
Knowledge of the language
Knowledge of learning strategies
Figure 3: Prerequisites of learner autonomy from learners’ aspect.
It is now necessary to further analyze the four prerequisites displayed in the chart.
Motivation It has been mentioned in the previous part that learner autonomy promotes motivation. However, it should be noted that in order to develop learner autonomy, the students must possess a certain level of motivation as their springboard. Otherwise, the chance is small if they will benefit from learner autonomy training activities. This requirement of motivation explains why learner autonomy may not be consistent across subjects and through times due to lack of motivation to a specific subject, hunger, hot weather and so on; and therefore, autonomous learners may not be always autonomous. (For the report of a related research on motivation in learner autonomy, see Appendix 3, page 81)
Strategy training or learner training Confidence Taking responsibility of learning independently of a teacher, to some extent, means taking risk. Thus, students are supposed to possess a certain degree of confidence, which can be the result of linguistic proficiency or successful learning experience in the past. For example, it is unlikely a student with poor academic confidence would easily become an autonomous learner.
Knowledge of the language The students’ proficiency, besides contributing to their confidence in language learning, is the basis for fostering learner autonomy:
…we learn to speak only by speaking, to read only by reading, and so on. Thus in formal language learning, the scope of learner autonomy is always constrained by what the learner can do in the target language; in other words, the scope of our
autonomy as language learners is partly a function of the scope of our autonomy as target language users.
(Little, 2006:2) Exposed to the same material, students at the advanced level are more likely to better exploit the material than ones at the elementary level. Also, proficient students have a better tool, that is the knowledge of the language, for their critical judgments, reflection and evaluation. The implication here for language teachers is that: training learners to be autonomous is a process that goes side by side with training learners to be proficient in the language.
Knowledge of learning strategies Learning strategies can be understood in a broad sense or a narrow sense. In broad sense, learning strategies are “any means learners use to transform the external input into internal and personal resources and skills” (Willing, 1988). In this research, it is more appropriate to consider the narrow sense of learning strategies so that a deeper look into the matter can be taken. In narrow sense, learning strategies is the “behaviours learners engage in to learn and regulate the learning of second language” (Rubin & Wenden, 1987: 6).
Learning strategies are normally classified into cognitive, metacognitive, social and communicative strategies. A learner who finds a difficult word in a text and succeeds at inferring its meaning from the context would be putting a cognitive strategy in operation. Setting goals and objectives, planning and organizing language tasks, directed attention and self-management are regarded as components of metacognitive strategies (Oxford, 1989). Therefore, a student keeping a record of the material covered in each lesson is making use of a metacognitive strategy, consciously or unconsciously (Martínez, 1996). Fillmore (1979) believes that counting on friends for help, participating in group conversations and cooperating with others are examples of social strategies.
Communication strategies are plans and behaviors to help getting the message across such as paraphrase, avoidance, restructuring, code-switching,
foreignizing, literal translation and repetition.
Figure 4: A Framework for Developing Autonomy in Foreign Language Learning (Littlewood 1996, p.432)
188.8.131.52. Teacher-based approach Training learners to be autonomous is not an overnight process. Traditionally, the stage has been mainly for the teacher. The switch of roles of teachers and learners from traditional classrooms to learner-autonomy based classrooms poses great difficulty for not only the learners but also the teachers. Because learners are not born to know “how to diagnose their own needs for learning, formulate their own learning objectives, identify learning resources and planning strategies for taking the initiative in using those resources, assess their own learning, and have their assessments validated” (Knowles, 1980:44, cited in Balcikanli, 2008:2), the teachers’ job now is to help learners gradually know how to and actually get to do all those tasks for their learning. The literature on learner autonomy provides valuable information on what the teachers should do.
The continuum of challenge and support In 1997, Mariani proposed a dependence-independence continuum in developing learner autonomy. She suggested that learner autonomy and learner dependence need to exist in balance as “the self-regulation at one end need to be balanced by the feeling of safety and security at the other”. Therefore, teachers should link autonomy and dependence with two parallel concepts: challenge and support. In order to promote autonomy, the teachers need to challenge the students while in order to provide security, the teachers need to support them. Tasks that allow freedom such as open tasks, creative tasks, or peer correction are some of the challenges. On the other hand, modeling or demonstration, for example, offer support.
The idea can be envisaged with two circles. The inner one refers to the familiar territory in a learner’s knowledge and the outer one illustrates the unfamiliar territory. According to Mariani (1997), working towards the inner circle help promote dependence and security while working towards the outer circle help foster autonomy. Using scaffolding strategies and gradually removing them is an example of the continuum from support to challenge, which embodies the principles of learning and teaching for autonomy.
The unknown zone
The known zone
The continuum of challenge and support Figure 5: The continuum of challenge and support in relation with students’ knowledge
Links between teacher autonomy and learner autonomy Since learner autonomy has recently acquired a prominence in discourse on second language education, the discussion of teacher autonomy sets out to follow as one of the critical factors that affect learner autonomy. From the angle as a prerequisite for learner autonomy, it has been proposed that teachers need to have certain qualities in order to promote learner autonomy (Smith, 2000:5): 1. A capacity for self-directed teaching. 2. Freedom from control over their teaching. 3. A capacity for self-directed teacher-learning. The capacity for self-directed teaching generally includes the ability to “apply to teaching reflective and self-managing processes” (Little, 2000).
The freedom from control over teaching must be understood in a broad sense. In some contexts it is possible for the teacher to negotiate what to teach, how to teach and when to teach based on the learners’ needs. However, it is obligatory for the great majority of language teachers to shape their courses according to official curriculum guidelines, sometimes elaborated in great detail. Total learner autonomy, therefore, does not exist. This in no way undermines the principle of teacher freedom in promoting learner autonomy. First, each teacher will necessarily have his/her own understanding of the curriculum and his/her own approach to its delivery, “though the syllabus may be the same, the lessons are not” (Salmon, 1988:37). Secondly, when the curriculum may not be negotiated, the extent to which its goals must be reached can be put on the discussion (Little, 2007), “a development towards greater control of the learners over their own learning can be initiated by classroom discussions about learning outcomes” (Dam, 1999). Finally, teachers need to be aware of different levels of learner autonomy, originally proposed by Nunan (1997):
learners move beyond classroom setting for independent learning
learners set up their own goals and plans for self-directed learning
learners are encouraged to modify and adapt their goals, learning styles and strategies
learners are actively involved in the learning
learners are made aware of pedagogical goals, contents and strategies
Figure 6: Levels of developing learner autonomy (Nunan, 1997, pp.192-203)
Finally, the capacity for self-directed teacher-learning bears the same ground with the teachers’ willingness and ability to be researchers in their own classrooms, to reflect and learn from their own teaching experiences and to selfeducate. According to Little (2000), “it is unreasonable to expect teachers to foster the growth of autonomy in their learners if they themselves do not know what it is to be an autonomous learner”. (For a personal reflection on the matter, see Appendix 4, page 82)
An integrated model
Dam (1999) proposed a model about how to move from a teacher-directed environment towards a possible learner-centered environment:
Figure 7: A simplified model of a teaching/ learning sequence (Dam, 1999:116) Rather than looking at teaching/ learning as a linear consequence, Hansen (n.d.) thought of integrating different learner autonomy approaches into a unified model of teaching and learning:
Figure 8: An integrated model of promoting learner autonomy (Hansen, n.d., p.36) Compared to Dam’s model, Hansen’s proves to be more adequate in that it emphasizes the continuous circle of interaction among forces involved in the teaching-learning process.
What the teachers can do Over the past two decades, a sparkling interest has been evident in the study of how to promote learner autonomy. Generally there is a consensus that learner autonomy is not inborn. Rather, it must be and can be trained through learning experiences, through “learner’s dialogue with the world to which he or she belongs” (Little, 1994, p.431). The above approaches have been realized into specific strategies. Of the most practical are Brajcich’s ideas:
1. Encourage students to be interdependent and to work collectively. The less students depend on their teacher, the more autonomy is being developed. 2. Ask students to keep a diary of their learning experiences. Through practice, students may become more aware of their learning preferences and start to think of new ways of becoming more independent learners. 3. Explain teacher/student roles from the outset. Asking students to give their opinions on the issue of roles could be beneficial. 4. Progress gradually from interdependence to independence. Give the students time to adjust to new learning strategies and do not expect too much too soon.
5. Give the students projects to do outside the classroom. Such projects may increase motivation. 6. Give the students non-lesson classroom duties to perform (taking roll, writing instructions, notices, etc. on the board for the teacher) 7. Have the students design lessons or materials to be used in class. 8. Instruct students on how to use the school's resource centers: the school library, the language lab, and the language lounge. 9. Emphasize the importance of peer-editing, corrections, and follow-up questioning in the classroom. 10. Encourage the students to use only English in class. Tell the students that this is a great chance for them to use only English, and few opportunities like this exist for them. Part of the role of the language teacher is to create an environment where students feel they should communicate in the target language and feel comfortable doing so. 11. Stress fluency rather than accuracy. 12. However, do allow the students to use reference books, including dictionaries (preferably English-English with mother-tongue annotations), in class.
(Adapted from Brajcich, 2000:1) These ways in which a teacher can incorporate learner training into a regular classroom can easily be used in any classroom in order to have the learners develop their own autonomy. These strategies are specific. They act as guidelines for teachers finding themselves newcomers in the work of developing learner autonomy. However, in the long run, teachers need to train themselves for certain qualities, and this leads us to the concept of teacher autonomy.
1.3.3. Constraints Although learner autonomy is strongly advocated, its practices are still hindered by many traditional factors. The most accountable are cultural beliefs and values and inadequate materials.
184.108.40.206. Cultural beliefs and values
Beliefs and values mostly prevent Asian teachers and learners from the development of learner autonomy, mainly from classroom-based approach, which deals with the relationship, the roles between teachers and learners in the classroom. The traditional voice of China-oriented educational cultures has been one of obedience to authority, that is students were expected to obey, and not challenge; to listen, absorb an then regurgitate when asked (Littlewood, 1996:45). In the shift towards learner autonomy, it is vital to changes to teachers’ and learners’ minds about their roles in the classroom. It must be admitted that when dealing with cultural beliefs, it is no easy task (for a comparison of teachers’ and learner’s roles in the traditional and in a learnerautonomy classroom, see Appendix 2).
Asian countries, including Vietnam, are bound by a very strong adherence to Confucian values, which strongly emphasize ‘face’ (dignity and honour) and self-effacement (modesty) (Yanling, n.d., p.2). This explains why students normally refuse to take an active role in the classroom and normally deny making progress when reflecting or evaluating their learning.
220.127.116.11. Inadequate materials The inadequacy of materials must be understood in two senses: 1. lack of learner-autonomy-oriented materials 2. the overemphasis of materials on academic issues with much less learning for application. When students do not see a practical purpose of learning, or even when they do, but lack tools to learn, the application of learner autonomy hardly finds way to work. 18.104.22.168. Other factors
While the above two reasons are the most prominent about the difficulty in applying learning autonomy, other contributing factors include: students’ low level of exploiting technological tools lack of standard self-access centres and supportive staff.
1.3.4. The application With the realization of its benefits, learner autonomy has been welcome and applied in many countries including Vietnam. Very often it goes side by side with technology and the Internet as “Computer Assisted Language Learning has strongly related to autonomous learning since its inception” (Benson, 2001).
In the world
Learner autonomy has been the main aim of many short-term and long-term projects.
Up to 2000, 16 organizations and European countries including Austria, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Germany NRW, France CIEP, Finland, UK CILT, Hungary, Italy UMBRIA, Ireland, Holland, Portugal, Russia, Sweden, Slovenia, Turkey, CERCLES, EAQUALS and the European Language Council conducted a lot of European Language Portfolio (ELP) Projects (Demirel, 2005). All these projects aimed to develop learner autonomy with a communicative, actionbased, learner-centred approach. They were designed to make the language learning process transparent to learners. The experiences were also reported, analyzed and provided for research purposes. Besides, small-scale application of learner autonomy by teachers and educators are numerous.
22.214.171.124. In Vietnam
Since Vietnam opened its door economically and culturally to the world at large, the national English teaching has made much progress. Much attention has also been paid to learner autonomy. However, the application remains rather limited to curriculum-based approach. At the university/college level, it is realized in the form of credit-based curriculum. At the high school level, learner-autonomy is realized in classroom-based approach. Students at some schools (such as Nguyen Tat Thanh, Phan Huy Chu, Nguyen Gia Thieu in Hanoi) are allowed to mark their teachers’ performance at class (Ha & Ha, 2010). However, intensive attempts to promote learner autonomy specifically in vocabulary learning have not been recorded.
So far relevant literature on learner autonomy has been thoroughly reviewed to provide a theoretical basis for the study. In the next section, theories on vocabulary and vocabulary learning will be looked into because they are also, as the research topic suggests, major issues in the study.
2. Vocabulary and vocabulary learning 2.1. The importance of vocabulary “Without grammar very little can be conveyed; without vocabulary nothing can be conveyed.” (Wilkins, 1972: 111 cited in Thornbury, 2002) Vocabulary is considered central to language learning. Vocabulary is the means for successful reading, listening, writing, speaking and it is also a major content of what to be learned. Very often the knowledge of vocabulary is cumulative, which means the more words one have, the easier it is to move forward; and true is the opposite. It is, therefore, important that learners be equipped with enough vocabulary while they move along their learning path. In the early stages, about 2,000 high frequency words are learned without much difficulty (Wu et al, 2004). However, a 5,000 word base is a minimal requirement and for non40
specialized, academic reading, 6,500 words are needed (Laufer, 1997; Nation, 1990; Groot, 1994; Hazenberg & Hulstijn, 1996 cited in Yamping et al 2004).
To equip students with that enough vocabulary is not an easy task for language teachers. This is due to limited class time, the varied student levels, the question of authenticity and motivation factors. In solving these problems, learner autonomy lends itself as a satisfactory answer.
In this study, the concept of “knowing a word” involves not just the ability to understand the word but also the ability to use the word communicatively in the four language skills. In other words, knowledge of a word, in this research, goes beyond declarative knowledge (knowing what) to procedural knowledge (knowing how).
2.2. Vocabulary learning 2.2.1. Ways of acquiring vocabulary knowledge There are two major ways in which students acquire new vocabulary: incidental acquisition and direct study. Incidental vocabulary acquisition is a common means of learning new vocabulary, especially for proficient readers. Direct study is the more efficient, particularly for high-risk students with poor vocabularies. Thus, it is suggested that teachers begin with direct instructions, gradually move towards incidental acquisition, leaving more autonomy for students towards the end.
2.2.2. Aspects of vocabulary learning It is necessary to be aware that there are two types of mental processing involved in the task of vocabulary learning (Schmitt and Schmitt, 1993:28), that is:
1. Discovering the meaning of a new word 2. Practicing and memorizing the ‘discovered’ word Similar categorizations have been mentioned by other authors, such as “storage encoding/ retrieval encoding” and “addition of new information to memory/ assimilation of the new information to existing knowledge” (Cook and Mayer, 1983) or “increasing vocabulary” and “establishing vocabulary” (Nation, 1990).
2.2.3. Categories of vocabulary learning techniques There are basically two ways of classifying vocabulary learning techniques.
Firstly, based on the above two types of mental processing mentioned in part 2.2.2, vocabulary learning techniques are divided into two types accordingly: ones for “discovering” and ones for “practicing and memorizing”. In a study carried out in Japan, Schmitt and Schmitt (1993) examined the reference books and textbooks, intermediate-level students were asked to write a report on their vocabulary learning techniques and teachers were asked to review the report. The researchers came up in the end with a list of 36 vocabulary learning techniques, which were then divided into two categories as to which kind mental processing they support:
Initial Learning of New Word’s Meaning
USE REFERENCE MATERIALS Bilingual dictionary Monolingual English dictionary
Studying and Remembering The Word’s Meaning Once It Is Known
REPETITION Written repetition Verbal repetition THE FORMAL AND
ASK OTHERS FOR INFORMATION/ WORK STUDY WITH OTHERS Ask classmates 42
GRAMMATICAL ASPECTS OF A WORD Study the spelling of the word
Ask teacher for English paraphrase or synonym Ask teacher for translation Ask teacher for a sentence using the new word Learn meaning during the group work ANALYZE WORDS FROM AVAILABLE
Study the way the word sounds Study the word’s part of speech Study the word’s root, prefixes and suffixes (MAKE AND) USE STUDY AIDS Take note in class about new words Use word lists to study new words Use Flash Cards to study new words Use the vocabulary section in your textbook Use the configuration technique to remember word form. PRESERVERANCE Continue to study the word over a period of time. USE OF PHYSICAL ACTIONS Use physical action when studying words Say the new word aloud when studying it
INFORMATION Look at pictures or gestures to understand meaning Check part of speech (noun, verb, etc.) Guess meaning from reading context Check prefixes, suffixes, and word roots to discover meaning CREATE SYSTEMS TO ANALYZE WORDS Attempt to guess where a new word’s meaning lies along a ‘scale’ of gradable adjective meanings. freezing) USE KNOWLEDGE OF OTHER LANGUAGE Cognates AVOIDANCE Skip or pass new words
(burning-hot-warm-cool-cold- MANIPULATION OF MEANING Use the new word in sentences Paraphrase the meaning of the new word CREATE SYSTEM OF ASSOCIATIONS Study the word’s synonyms and antonyms. Learn the new words in an idiom together at the same time Connect the new word to some situation in your mind Use ‘scales’ to study gradable adjective sets Associate the words with others in the same topic Associate the words to others which are related to it WORK WITH OTHERS Have your teacher to check your word lists and flash cards for correctness. Study words with a group of students IMAGING Make an image of the word’s meaning 43
Imagine the word form and its spelling in your mind Use the keyword approach USE OF KNOWLEDGE OF OTHER
(Adapted from Schmitt and Schmitt (1993, pp.28-29)
Secondly, based on utilization of contextualization, vocabulary learning techniques can be divided into four groups (Oxford and Crookall, 1990): 1. Decontextualizing techniques: Techniques that remove the word as completely as possible from any communicative context: word list, flash cards, dictionary use. 2. Semi-contextualizing techniques: Techniques that allow some degree of context but fall short of full contextuality, new words may be linked with something that is meaningful to the learner, but they are not used as part of naturalistic communication: word grouping, word or concept association, visual imagery, aural imagery, keyword, physical response, physical sensation, semantic mapping. 3. Fully contextualizing techniques: Techniques that embed the new words in a more or less normal communicative context: reading and listening practice, speaking and writing practice. 4. Adaptable techniques: Techniques that can reinforce other techniques at any part of the contextuality continuum: structured reviewing.
2.2.4. Assessing the effectiveness of vocabulary learning techniques Although a list of vocabulary learning techniques has been available, it is difficult to assess which technique is the more or less useful. Oxford (1989) proposed that the usefulness of a technique is very much dependent on a variety of factors: the target language being learned, the degree of a learner’s self44
awareness of his or her strengths, needs, study style, the learner’s sex, the learner’s attitudes and motivation, the learner’s personality type, etc. However, it is generally agreed that the more mental manipulation put in processing the information, the more effective the processing is. Using Craik’s Levels of Processing Model (1972, 1975), a “depth of processing” continuum can be drawn as follows: Superficial Processing/ Shallow Learning Deeper Processing/ Greater Learning
Although more empirical research is needed to confirm this, it can be noticed that some techniques clearly require less mental manipulation than others. For example, simple repetition of words is less demanding than creating association between new and old knowledge. This “depth of processing” continuum can be applied to selecting and instructing vocabulary learning techniques to students, ensuring a combination of both ends.
2.2.5. Difficulties in promoting vocabulary In order to promote vocabulary learning, it is necessary to be aware of the difficulties involved: 1. Learning a word is much more than learning a definition. From knowing the word to using it correctly and effectively is a long path. 2. Oral and written language are different. Written language is normally decontextualized, it relies much on word choice for successful communication and therefore, it requires much richer vocabulary to understand. 3. Different types of words require different instructions. According to Stahl (1986), vocabulary instruction must: a) give both definitions and context, b) encourage deep processing and c) provide for multiple exposures to the
instructed words. However, doing all those tasks is quite time-consuming. It should be taken into consideration that which words are worth doing so and which ones can do with a brief explanation. 4. Teachers may overestimate the helpfulness of context. Actually how far the context can help depends largely on learners’ proficiency level (Nagy, 2005).
Summary In this chapter, theoretical basis related to learner autonomy, vocabulary, vocabulary learning and learner autonomy in vocabulary learning has been reviewed. These theories will serve as the foundation for the researcher to form and carry out the study according to specific methodology that will be elaborated in the next chapter.
CHAPTER 3: METHODOLOGY
In the preceding chapter, the literature on the research topic was reviewed for the theoretical basis of the study. In order to lay a practical background for the study, the research was carried out with strictly justified methods of data collection and analysis. This chapter serves as a report on those procedures.
1. Participants The process of data collection involved the participation of both teachers of English and first-year mainstream students at ED, ULIS, VNU. Personal information of all participants was kept confidential and anonymous for ethical reasons.
1.1. Teachers of English Although the study aims to find out matters of learner autonomy, the roles of teachers cannot be separated. Instead, teachers are considered to play an important part in guiding and monitoring the development of learner autonomy in their students. The study, therefore, invited for the participation of 5 teachers in the Division I, English Department. The purpose is to bring a different perspective about the matter and to see how the matter is perceived similarly and differently between teachers and students. The teachers invited are both those in charge of the classes surveyed (3 teachers) and those are not (2 teachers). For teachers in charge of the classes surveyed, the information from them serves to clarify, justify and bring insights into the matter investigated. For teachers who are not in classes surveyed, their information confirms briefly the situation in other classes and increases the representativeness of the data. 1.2. First- year mainstream students
Since the study focuses on the autonomy of learners in vocabulary learning, the participation of students in the study is very important. A number of 156 students took part in the survey. This is the number of students who actually handed back the questionnaires. From those 156 students, 10 were chosen randomly for the interview afterwards. Following “stratified random sampling”, all the students were from different classes in the mainstream system. The students reported to have studied English for at least 4 years and at most 12 years, with the majority of them voted for a studying period from 7 to 8 years. These students are regarded as the primary target of research because 1) they are the ones facing with the matter of learning vocabulary most and 2) they are often regarded as “beginners” to the concept of learner autonomy introduced at the university. For a classification of the students’ major, see Table 1 Major Teacher Training Interpreter Training Total 141 15 156
Table 1: Classification of the students’ major
2. Data collection instruments For a collection of sufficient reliable and valid data for the study, questionnaires, interviews and classroom observation were utilized as methods of the qualitative approach.
2.1. Questionnaires Two types of questionnaires were used during the survey, one for the teacher and the other for the students (See Appendix 3 and 4). They were both written in English, began with a brief explanation of the research topic and a request for personal information. On the four following pages, the researcher proposed a
combination of both open-ended and close-ended questions to facilitate the comprehension of the collected information and data analysis.
Each part of the questionnaire is designated for a particular area of investigation as follows: Teachers’ questionnaire Part 1 Part 2 Students’ questionnaire
General understanding about learner autonomy and vocabulary learning Characteristics of the students as Characteristics of the students autonomous learners (perceived by as teachers) autonomous learners
(perceived by students) of teachers in
Facilitation of teachers in fostering Facilitation learner autonomy in
vocabulary fostering learner autonomy in vocabulary learning (perceived by students)
learning (perceived by teachers)
Part 4 Part 5
Techniques utilized by students to learn vocabulary for their own Notable issues in promoting learner Notable issues in vocabulary autonomy in vocabulary learning and learning and suggestions for suggestions greater promotion of learner autonomy Table 2: Areas of investigation in each part of the questionnaires
2.2. Interviews The interviews, like the questionnaires, can be divided into two types which are for the teachers and for the students respectively. Both kinds of interviews consist of open-ended questions. In addition, the interviews were semistructured. The purpose is to maximize the information collected through greater
flexibility for the interviewer and adequate control over the course of the interview for the interviewees. (For questions utilized in the interviews, see Appendix 7 and 8)
The interviews were conducted in the form of informal recorded talks. All of them were conducted in Vietnamese so as to create a comfortable atmosphere for the interviewees, to maximize the information gathered and the understanding between the researcher and the interviewees. In addition, all interviews began with a short talk on related issue with a view to building the rapport and leading the interviewees naturally to the subject matter.
The interviews with the teachers aimed to elaborate on what the teacher has done to promote learner autonomy in vocabulary learning within their classrooms, what special issues have arisen and their suggestions. In the teaching and learning process in general, not everything the teachers plan and carry out can reach and become part of the students’ knowledge. Therefore, information from the teachers’ side is necessary to put up a complete picture of what is going on in the classrooms.
Likewise, not everything the students get is the direct result of the teachers’ intention. Therefore, the interviews with the students provided chances to look at the matter from the students’ side so as to bring a two-fold benefit: 1) for students themselves to get aware and speak out their opinions about the matter of learner autonomy in their vocabulary learning and 2) for teachers to get informed about what their students actually do, get, need and how they evaluate what the teachers have done for them. Another reason is that for most of the open-ended questions in the interview, the researcher got very brief and sketchy answers, which need to be further clarified in the interviews.
2.3. Classroom observation Taking advantage of the practicum, the researcher decided to observe some of the first-year mainstream classes. Due to the nature of the research questions, which seek to answer a long-term and continuing phenomenon, observation of some classes for some periods does not provide a satisfactory explanation and finding. However, it serves as an extra source of information which solidifies the information gathered from the questionnaires and the interviews. In addition, classroom observation works as a way of looking at the matter from the researcher’s perspective in addition to the teachers’ and students’. This helps to increase the validity of the information gathered and the finding drawn.
The observation checklist consists of three parts, which are: student profile, teacher profile and classroom profile. The criteria for the evaluation were taken mainly from the literature review
Page at the literature review
Characteristics of autonomous learners Levels of developing learner autonomy
6-8 22-23 25-26
What teachers can do to promote learner autonomy in the classrooms
application in the classrooms
Table 3: Different parts of the observation checklist and their theoretical basis
3. Data collection procedure The procedure of data collection could be put into four phases as follows.
Phase 1: Preparation In this phase, the researcher managed to 1) design the questionnaires, the interview questions and the observation checklist; 2) pilot the questionnaires and the interview questions with three students; 3) make adaptations and finalize the design of data collection instruments and 4) set up schedule for collecting data. The most noteworthy consideration in this phase is that: Thanks to the pilot process, the questionnaires were restructured and put into subsections so that different parts are clearer, better linked and better corresponded to the research questions.
Phase 2: Disseminations of questionnaires Teacher questionnaires In this phase, the researcher contacted via email 8 teachers at Division 1, English Department, CFL, ULIS. After receiving the acceptance of 5 teachers, the researcher telephoned each teacher. The purpose, the nature of the research topic were explained and confirmation of confidentiality was made. Soon after that, the questionnaires were sent to the teachers via email as they suggested. In a few days, the completed questionnaires were sent back.
Student questionnaires After getting the timetable for first-year students, the researcher chose the classes randomly to survey. The questionnaires were handed out to the students at the beginning of the class time. The researcher briefly explained the purpose and the terms to the students. Confirmation of confidentiality was also made so that the students would be more willing to state their opinions in the
questionnaires. The students were encouraged to look quickly at the questionnaires and questions for clarification were encouraged to be raised. Then the researcher suggested the classes finish the questionnaires in their break time and the monitors collect all the papers. After that, the researcher contacted the monitors to get back the questionnaires.
Phase 3: Carrying out the interviews Teacher interviews At the time of sending the questionnaires to the teachers via email, the researcher also asked for convenient time to conduct the interviews. Shortly before each appointment, the researcher telephoned the teachers to confirm. Each interview began with a short informal talk, in which the teachers were reminded of the questionnaires and questions about the research topic were encouraged. Then permission was asked to record the interviews. During the interviews, questions were asked one at a time and neutrality was kept consistently. Whenever unexpected answer came up or new aspects were revealed, extra questions were added accordingly to exploit in-depth information from the interviewees. The interviewees were encouraged to speak out whatever they thought about the subject matter. However, reorientation was made when necessary so as to bring focus onto the investigated areas.
Student interviews Getting personal contacts from the questionnaires, the researcher asked for the participation of ten students in the interviews. The procedures of conducting the student interviews were similar to those of the teacher interviews.
Phase 4: Observation
Thanks to the practicum with first year students at ED, CFL, ULIS, the researcher asked for permission to observe four classes. An observation checklist was completed. Besides, further notes were taken and revised. Short discussion about the lessons was conducted with the teachers and the students right afterwards to get the immediate general impression and feedbacks. Information was refined within the day to get the next observation better structured and informed.
4. Data analysis methods and procedure The collected data was first classified according to the research questions. The students’ responses were considered first. Teachers’ responses were analyzed in comparison and contrast with the students’ responses. Interview responses and classroom observation served to solidify the conclusion.
The questionnaires had already been divided into sections from the design stage basing on the research questions. Therefore, it was convenient to classify the information gathered. Data collected from the questionnaires was then synthesized and illustrated by diagrams or tables according to each research question.
As for the data collected from the interviews, they were first transcribed. The information was then classified to see which area of the research it supports so that the researcher could refer to for more information when necessary. Transcripts sometimes were quoted to support the findings and mostly to bring suggestions in chapter 4 – RESULTS AND FINDINGS.
With regards to the observation, notes from each class session were selected and put into comparison with the data collected from other instruments above. After
analyzing the information from questionnaires and interviews, the researcher referred to observation notes to enable the reliability and validity of the data.
The above method and procedures of data analysis were useful in that they helped the researcher obtain comprehensive and rich data. From such data, surprising and interesting results were found out and will be presented in the next chapter – RESULTS AND FINDINGS.
CHAPTER 4: RESULTS AND FINDINGS
While the previous chapter elaborates on the methodology of the research, this chapter presents the results revealed through the analysis of the collected data. It is noteworthy that the findings will be considered with reference to the current literature, so as to reinforce the existing arguments or to underline new findings on the research topic. Students’ responses here and there will be contrasted with teachers’ so that mismatch will be pointed out. For other issues that are agreed upon, they will be reported as from the students’ perceptions only in order to avoid repetition.
1. Research question 1 – What are the students’ perceptions of themselves as autonomous learners? 1.1. General attitude toward learner autonomy Students’ responses Although the number of students involved in the research is quite large, their perceptions about the matter of learning vocabulary autonomously do not vary very much. First of all, the researcher intends to elicit, to some extent, the characteristics of the students as autonomous learners, mostly from part 1 and part 2 of the student questionnaire and the interviews.
When asked about the role of teachers and students in deciding what, how and when to learn, most students supported the idea of learner-centred with the facilitation of teachers.
Teachers decide Learners decide Teachers and learners discuss No answer
Chart 1: Students’ attitudes towards teachers’ and learners’ roles
128 of the students (82%) believed that teachers and students need to cooperate with each other in deciding what to learn, how to learn and when to learn. In the question that follows, their justifications of choice fall into these categories:
Interest and motivation
“It can make student more interested in learning…sometimes, they don’t know to learn efficiently. Therefore, they should discuss with their teachers to get their help.”
“…learners and teachers can understand each other” “…to create comfortable atmosphere”
“If teachers choose what to learn, students won’t have chance to raise their voice about what they are interested in. If students have right to choose what to learn, they won’t know which topics are necessary for them.”
“Each student has his/her own interest. If students learn words relating to their own interest they usually attach words to their field, so it’s easy for them to memorize new words. But teachers should also recommend which words they should learn to broaden their horizons of word power.”
“The purpose of discussing is to find the most effective and the most suitable way to learn vocabulary.”
“Everybody has a chance to learn from each other.”
(Quoted from students’ answer to question 5 in Student Survey Questionnaire, part 1)
It is demonstrated through the students’ responses that they are well aware of the benefits of cooperation and active roles of both teachers and learners in the learning process. For the minority that chose option A and B for the question, they did not provide the follow-up explanation for their choice.
Teachers’ responses All teachers surveyed agreed that teachers and learners should cooperate in deciding what to learn, how to learn and when to learn vocabulary. However, teachers’ ideas are slightly different from learners’. While the students wished to go hand in hand with teachers, teachers emphasized that students explore the matter for themselves first, before asking for advice from teachers.
Discussion In short, teachers and students shared the same opinion towards a cooperated effort from both sides. However, they expect different kinds of cooperation. This leads to the fact that students complained they “did not get enough help from
teachers” while teachers considered their students somewhat too “passive” as from the interviews.
1.2. Affective factors Students’ responses Motivation Perceptions of vocabulary necessity Most of the students believe that learning English vocabulary is very important (83%) and the rest think that it is important (17%). No participants negated the essence of vocabulary learning.
0% Very Important Not important at all Important 83%
Chart 2: Students’ perceptions of the importance of vocabulary learning
Goals in learning vocabulary In terms of the goals for learning vocabulary, it is noticeable from the result that a relatively high percentage of students identified their goal as to develop their English in general (38%) and to better their communication (27%). However, 22% of the students did not give an answer concerning their goals.
For communication For general development of English For exams and tests For broadening knowledge in other fields
40 30 20 10 0
Chart 3: Students’ main goals in learning vocabulary
The interviewed students went further to explain that they know vocabulary is necessary, but they do not feel there is a need to learn now: “I believe that I myself can learn vocabulary without a teacher pushing by my side. And we know that learning vocabulary is important. But we need a stronger reason to learn, because the existing vocabulary is enough for us to survive without learning more.”(Translated from a student’s answer in the interview)
Confidence Although the students realized the importance of vocabulary learning, they gave a relatively modest self-assessment on their mastery of vocabulary.
0% 27% Poor Fair Good Excellent
Chart 4: Students’ perceptions of their mastery of vocabulary The third question in part 1 of the questionnaire asks for the students’ selfassessment of their vocabulary competence. Of 156 students surveyed, 42 (27%) stated that they are poor at English vocabulary and 98 (63%) thought that their vocabulary is fair. A minority (10%) confidently said that their vocabulary is good and no one reported an excellent mastery of vocabulary. However, this result is just the perceptions of the students. Therefore, the conclusion may fall into two cases or a combination of both: 1. The vocabulary competence of the students is really modest. 2. The students are affected by the cultural beliefs and values, which highlight modesty.
Whether the students’ mastery of vocabulary is really poor and fair is a difficult matter as it is difficult to fix a scale of ‘how good is good’ that can be agreeable to everyone. Therefore, there is a call for further empirical research at this. However, it can be concluded that the students do not feel very confident of their vocabulary. With reference to the characteristics of autonomous learners that have been reviewed in the literature, this result does not provide a positive picture about learner autonomy in vocabulary learning of these students.
Teachers’ responses Generally teachers demonstrated a deep understanding about their students’ problems, that is students understood the importance of vocabulary learning but still had low motivation to learn. The confidence level is also not high.
Discussion One paradox found in this part is that: Although the students find their vocabulary fair or even poor, they are satisfied with the existing level. On one hand, as from the classroom observation, it was noted that the in-class tasks were not challenging enough. This leads to the fact that students felt they had sufficient vocabulary to survive to the final exam. On the other hand, there was no “reward” or “punishment” to develop students’ extrinsic motivation.
1.3. Attitudes towards tasks and assignments
Get it done soon according to the requirement Do it as a boring duty
Copy others 81%
Chart 5: Attitudes towards tasks and assignments The chart illustrating the result from the student questionnaire shows that 81% of the students are motivated to finish tasks and assignments related to vocabulary. This can be interpreted as a result of either extrinsic or intrinsic motivation.
Teachers’ responses in the survey supported the idea of extrinsic motivation. The teachers reported through their questionnaire that when there is an assignment or a task, their students first show their care for assessment and marks without a clear indicator for intrinsic motivation. In the interviews, teachers also emphasized that their students lack a continuing motive to learn vocabulary.
Students’ responses, on the other hand, show a different tendency towards intrinsic motivation. Chart 6 on their usual time to learn vocabulary does not present a high consideration for assessment and marks. Only 22 out of 156 students stated that exams pushed them to study vocabulary. The highest percentage (46.15%) learned a vocabulary item when they considered it interesting. A nearly as many students suggested that they learned vocabulary when they felt like to do so. In addition, 52 students (33.33%) learned vocabulary whenever they had time.
80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0 4 0 22 52 60 72
When my teacher asks me to Before exams Sometimes when I like to When I meet an interesting vocabulary item Never Whenever I have time
Chart 6: Students’ report on their usual time to learn vocabulary
Discussion In general, students reported that their interest in vocabulary learning was sometimes triggered. They felt like learning “when the words were considered vital for communication” or when “there is something special about the word”. However, the problem is how often they found a word interesting or how often they felt like learning vocabulary. The interview with the students revealed that they rarely felt that kind of motivation. Accordingly, they accomplished tasks and assignments with a feeling of necessity to do so and as a requirement of the course, without an intentional effort to find out “something special” in what they are doing. This shows a very preliminary level of learner autonomy in the students. On the other hand, teachers, by assuming that their students’ interest was marks and assessment only, overlooked the chance to enhance their real interest in the process of vocabulary learning.
1.4. Metacognitive skills Knowledge about vocabulary learning
70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0
22 36 Every item I meet 64 60 Items appearing in my textbooks Items that teachers ask me to learn Items that I repeatedly meet Items that I like Items relating to the topic 4 1 1 Items that I meet in communication
Chart 7: Students’ perceptions of worthy-learning vocabulary items In the previous question, students stated the fact that they learn best when they find a word or phrase interesting. However, in this question, they invalidated the role of their interest in deciding what word or phrase to learn. Only 2.6% (4
students) said words that they like are worth learning. With regard to the above question, this perception needs to be changed. Students should be guided in the way that works best for them. Therefore, instead of merely telling the students that a word is worth learning, teachers and educators should pay attention to demonstrating the beauty of the word itself and then moving on to emphasize its essence.
Another issue in the students’ metacognitive skills is their dependence and unselectiveness in learning a word. A quite high number of them leave the decision to the course book or teachers (36 and 22 students respectively) Up to about 41% of them believed that every vocabulary item that they meet would worth learning. Only 38.46% were well aware that an important word is one repeatedly met.
Knowledge about memory Knowledge on memory is still inadequate for all students surveyed. All of them asserted that memorizing new words is troublesome and discouraging them from trying on. Most of them were confident with their short-term memory but felt unable to bring the words to long-term memory. When asked whether memory knowledge had been introduced to them, students said they did receive help from teachers on this matter, however “the teachers kind of touched on the matter and so what they said quickly slipped out of my head, I don’t have strong impression on what they said to strengthen my memory”.
Skills of using dictionary Students from the interview remarked that they had been instructed how to full exploit a dictionary by “referring to not only the definition but also examples, common phrases, synonyms and antonyms, etc.”. They were also introduced
high quality dictionary such as Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary or Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary. However, it was reported from most students that “I know it’s good but I do not think I should spend so much money on a dictionary while I can do well with a much cheaper one” (Quoted from a student’s answer in the interview). When being asked about whether they had been introduced the e-version or online version of those dictionaries, the students answered they had not. When the researcher brought in the information, the students expressed their willingness to use the online version.
Discussion In short, the students are not well equipped with knowledge and skills of learning effectively. It is understandable that due to the limited time at class, teachers cannot instruct every aspect of learning to the students. However, here rises the question of openness in the relationship between teachers and students. While students are unwilling to cooperate and teachers cannot reach students’ problems, it can be considered one of the reasons why the development of learner autonomy is still struggling at an awkward stage.
1.5. Students’ behaviours as autonomous learners While part 1 of the questionnaire concentrates on the general attitude of teachers and students towards learner autonomy in vocabulary learning, part 2 works with more details on the matter. One shortcoming of this part is that some questions are skipped, so the total response for each question is not even. Strongly disagree
(1pt) Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q5 Q6 Q7 Q8 Q9 Q10 Q11 Q12 Q13 Q14 Q15 4 2 8 10 2 32 10 10 2 4 8 1 2 0 4
(2 pts) 20 24 60 18 20 62 22 68 14 42 14 23 22 26 14
(3 pts) 35 36 36 52 42 32 80 36 26 46 38 34 34 26 24
(4 pts) 71 68 36 60 56 8 22 22 76 44 70 68 74 52 78
(5 pts) 16 20 8 16 22 2 2 0 16 20 10 12 14 22 24 3.51 3.53 2.83 3.35 3.24 2.16 2.88 2.51 3.67 3.22 3.43 3.49 3.52 3.55 3.67
Table 4: Students’ responses for part 2 in the student questionnaire
The most striking feature of the table is that it shows a positive trend towards learner autonomy. A majority of students generally set goals for themselves in each study period. They try to work with difficult vocabulary items for themselves. This can be considered the result of teachers’ effort that “When my students find a word which is difficult to understand, I try to help them figure it out for themselves rather than giving immediate answer”. No one has special problems working in groups. Although most teachers were uncertain, the students also reported that they are willing to go beyond teachers’ instructions, willing to discuss their progress and willing to resort to different sources such as self-study books or school library to improve their vocabulary. However, they
all are not very willing to contact teachers for help in vocabulary learning (question 10) although teachers have offered to lend a hand. This result supports the discussion in the part above about metacognitive skills (page 55). In addition, 60 students assessed that new words prevent their communication and 36 students were uncertain, although from teachers’ side, they reported that they had taught their students how to compensate for unknown words during communication.
Discussion This part generally explores the actual behaviors of the surveyed students as autonomous learners. Positive results concerning goal setting, group work, willingness to expand and reflect on the learning process have been revealed. This can be explained as the result of teachers’ making objectives explicit to the students at the beginning of the semesters through course outline, encouraging group work and integrating reflection as a requirement in the course. However, the problem remains that students feel reluctant to ask for support from teachers. This should be considered the ‘reservedness’ characteristic of Asian learners, rather than ‘passiveness’. As from classroom observation, the students could be very active participating in exciting class activities, but did not feel at ease to ask questions. This feeling gradually wore off after some extracurriculum sessions in which teachers and students got more understanding about each other.
Summary In response to research question 1, different characteristics and perceptions of the students regarding learner autonomy in vocabulary learning have been found out, both positively and negatively. The results have been thoroughly analyzed
and explained with reference to the opinions expressed in the interviews and the observation of the researcher. The next part will explore in greater detail the current situation of learner autonomy in vocabulary learning through the techniques that the students employed.
2. Research question 2 – What techniques have been utilized by the students for their learning vocabulary autonomously? The answer for this question is mainly drawn from the in-depth interviews with the students. Information from part 4 of the questionnaires serves as the foundation to move to the interviews.
2.1. Students’ sources of vocabulary learning
90 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0
6 28 40 30 64 86 76 74
Television The Internet Course materials Newspapers and magazines Novels Comic books E-materials Others
Chart 8: Students’ usual sources for vocabulary learning One surprising result about students’ main vocabulary learning sources is that: comic books are well preferred to novels – the traditionally suggested. This
result is in agreement with one previous research by Chi, N., Giang, T., Linh, N. & Phuong, B. (2009). In this research fast-track students at ED, CFL, ULIS reported that they would rather read comic books for practical and every day vocabulary than read novels for complicated and literary words. In addition, pictures in comic books motivate and aid their memory. The result demonstrated in the above chart suggests a similar attitude of mainstream students. However, more empirical research is needed to confirm this result.
From the chart, it is obvious that the Internet is the leading source for the students (55.13%). Course material is considered nearly as important by 48.72% of the students. Next come newspapers and magazines. Television is considered an usual source by only 64 students. There is also a potential for the use of ematerials, although they are not as widely used but shows signs of being known and accepted by the students.
Discussion The result on students’ sources of vocabulary learning shows a potential emergence of the Internet as the main learning resource. This is understandable because access to the Internet is now easily available and it caters for all traditional learning materials such as newspapers, magazines, books, songs, videos, etc. – now exist as downloadable files. In addition, the trend is that students are looking for authentic materials such as the Internet, television, newspapers and magazines, which is a sign of better awareness about learning for communication and practical usage.
2.2. Techniques utilized by the students to learn vocabulary
90 80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0
22 10 30 22 12
Invent rhymes related to words Keep a notebook of new vocabulary items and review regularly
84 74 66 56 44
Read the course book several times Do vocabulary exercises in books I find for myself Make a sentence with every new word Design vocabulary exercises for myself Try to read and listen in English as much as possible Make a map showing the relationship of words that need to be learned Use flashcards Draw pictures related to words
I don't learn vocabulary
Chart 9: Techniques utilized by the students to learn vocabulary The above chart illustrates the result from question 2 (part 4) in the student survey questionnaire. According to this chart, most students (53.85%) keep a notebook of words and phrases and review regularly. Other students, as asked in the interviews, do keep such a notebook but do not have the motivation to look at it again. 74 out of 156 students do exercises in vocabulary books they find for themselves and 66 try to expose themselves to English as much as possible. This coincides with the result from teachers’ questionnaire, in which teachers reported to have suggested students to keep vocabulary notebooks, do vocabulary exercises and throw themselves into an English environment through
listening and reading. It can be seen that such guidelines have been effective to the students.
On the other hand, some techniques suggested by teachers have not been well applied by the students. According to teachers, drawing pictures and maps to aid memory have been recommended. However, the chart above shows a modest application by students (22 students draw pictures and 10 students draw maps to learn new words). This result is understandable because these techniques, though recently advocated and supported by much research on memory, remain quite unfamiliar to Vietnamese educational context. Therefore, should teachers and learners desire a better work of memory, they need to work more closely with this instead of teachers stopping at giving a suggestion.
Discussion In brief, traditional methods are still widely used by the students. Their effectiveness cannot be denied. However, new methods drawing on advances in learning skills such as Mind Maps, Holistic Learning, etc. should be introduced more thoroughly to the students through workshops and training sessions.
2.3. Preferred learning environment
70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0
Listen to teachers' lecture Learn by myself Discuss with my classmates
Work in pairs or in groups
Come to tutorials
Chart 10: Students’ preference of learning environment The chart shows that about 43.59% of the students liked to work by themselves when learning vocabulary. The students also wanted to discuss with their classmates when necessary (39.74%) or listen to teachers’ instructions (29.49%). However, not many of them felt like working in pairs or in groups (15.38%).
Discussion The above result suggests that the students value independent learning and friendly discussion with classmates much more than arranged pair work or group work. The responses from the interviews explained that pair work or group work organized in class were often run too fast for the students to understand deeply what was going on. “Group work was often carried out for fun rather than effectiveness in learning”. It is suggested that teachers should bear this result in mind when conducting group work in class.
Summary In an effort to answer research question 2, the researcher has explored the techniques currently exploited by the students, their preference and trendy learning styles. In order to bring out a complete picture about the teaching73
learning process, the next part will present the efforts having been made by teachers in the development of learner autonomy in vocabulary learning.
3. Research question 3 – What techniques have been utilized by the teachers in order to foster learner autonomy in vocabulary learning? How are the techniques perceived by the students in terms of effectiveness, motivation and conditions of successful utilization? 3.1. Techniques utilized by teachers to foster learner autonomy in vocabulary learning
100 90 80 76 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0
10 1 88 76 58 62
Have students read newspapers/magazines/books in English Read the word and give definition
Give examples of words Organize group work Organize games
Introduce vocabulary learning software Introduce ways to learn vocabulary effectively at home Encourage students to learn vocabulary at home Introduce different sources from which students can learn new words Design vocabulary exercise
Chart 11: Students’ perception of teachers’ activities to help them develop learner autonomy in vocabulary learning It can be seen from the chart that games are widely used by teachers to motivate students to learn vocabulary. 94 out of 156 students stated that games were organized to help learning. Group work was also favored by teachers seeing that 76 students reported this kind of activity. Traditional methods such as read the word, give definition and examples were also popular, although these methods should be gradually limited to move towards more learners’ independence. 62 students reported to have been encouraged to learn vocabulary at home and 58
were introduced ways to learn vocabulary effectively for themselves. A fewer number of students said they were given sources for learning new words (46 students), about half of whom were introduced vocabulary learning software.
The following table shows the students’ responses to question 1-7 in part 3 of the questionnaires (For details on the questions, see Appendix 3). It demonstrates in greater details what the students thought about their teachers’ activities:
Strongly disagree (1pt) Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Q5 Q6 Q7 2 6 4 4 4 8 2
(2 pts) 20 22 6 12 16 26 14
(3 pts) 36 26 17 38 46 26 30
(4 pts) 84 82 70 76 48 48 82
(5 pts) 10 14 28 20 32 14 14 3.53 4.51 3.89 3.64 3.6 3.28 3.65
Table 5: Students’ perception of teachers’ activities to help them develop learner autonomy in vocabulary learning (Questions 1-7, part 3, Student Questionnaire) A quick look at the table gives a general impression that teachers did a good job in promoting learner autonomy. The highest point is for question 2, which is concerned with reflection chances provided by teachers. Up to 82 students agreed and 14 students strongly agreed that they were given opportunities to reflect on their vocabulary learning process. More importantly from question 1,
84 students agreed and 10 strongly agreed that their teachers gradually let them take control of their own learning. Other questions also show positive results that the teachers helped the students to be aware of their active role in the success of vocabulary learning, encouraged interaction and group work, helped students build up self-confidence in learning and instructed students to exploit resource centers. However, there are still many students remained uncertain, which shows that their awareness about class activities is not very high.
Discussion In short, the students acknowledged the activities held by their teachers to help them develop learner autonomy in vocabulary learning. Teachers’ efforts are highly appreciated in promoting a fun and collaborative learning environment, encouraging and providing information regarding students’ self-study. More importantly, it has been noted about teachers’ willingness to gradually give authority and control in teaching-learning process to the students. However, there is still one problem concerning the issue of motivation, which will be elaborated in the next part.
3.2. Students’ perceptions about teachers’ problems in vocabulary teaching
80 70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0
22 24 36 34 76
Limited vocabulary Poor pronunciation Ineffective demonstration Boring repetition of activities Lack of motivating tasks
Chart 12: Main problems in teachers’ vocabulary teaching It is shown in the chart that a great number of students (48.72%) did not feel their teachers motivated them enough. 21.79% reported that there was boring repetition of activities in their classrooms. Teachers’ ineffective demonstration was also a problem to 36 students. Poor pronunciation and limited vocabulary of teachers, though not as serious as other problems, are still listed.
Discussion One explanation for this can be drawn from the interviews with the teachers. They demonstrated that they expected “a high level of intrinsic motivation for students of this age” (Quoted from a teacher’s response in the interview). For more discussion about students’ motivation, see the discussion for part 1.2 of this chapter (page 48). With regards to students’ opinions, it is suggested that teachers consider more carefully about the matter of building up motivation for their students.
Summary Reponses to research question 3 show a positive result regarding teachers’ efforts in promoting learner autonomy in vocabulary learning and appreciation of the students towards those efforts. However, the issue of student motivation still remains as a big question for teachers and educators.
To sum up, in this chapter answer to each research question has been consecutively provided via a thorough analysis and discussion of the collected data. Major findings will be summarized and some suggestions will presented as suggestions by the teachers, the students and the researcher in the next chapter – CONCLUSION.
CHAPTER 5: CONCLUSION
In the previous chapters, the introduction, the literature, the implementation and the results with discussions have been reported in great detail. In this chapter, a summary of findings together with pedagogical implications, limitations and contributions of the research and suggestions for further studies will be put forward.
1. Major findings of the research With exhaustive analysis of the data collected from questionnaires, interviews and classroom observation, the researcher comes up with some major findings in answer to the research questions as follows:
Firstly, first-year mainstream students at ED, CFL, ULIS perceived themselves as students with a potential but unexploited capacity of autonomy in vocabulary learning. They are confident of their ability to learn vocabulary autonomously. At the same time, they acknowledge and appreciate cooperation in the process of vocabulary learning. Positive results regarding the act of goal setting, group work, reflection and independence have been reported. However, both teachers and students do not perceive the students as highly autonomous learners due to a major problem concerning motivation. Although intrinsic motivation does exist, it does not last long. Rather, it is triggered if the students are exposed to interesting and communicative materials. The reason is probably due to students’ contentment with their current repertoire of vocabulary, lack of a build-up from extrinsic motivation and inability to realize the benefits and learning opportunity hidden in tasks. Some metacognitive skills are introduced but not thoroughly enough for the students to “absorb” and make those skills their own.
Secondly, a modern approach is more apparent in learning materials rather than the learning methods and learning environment. Of all learning materials, the Internet proves to be the most popular one. Authentic materials also receive great attention from the learners. In terms of learning methods, some classic techniques such as keeping a vocabulary notebook, doing vocabulary exercises and immerging in language input are the most popular. Other more modern techniques seem to be rather neglected. Although there is no difficulty in implementing pair group and group work, students still prefer individual learning.
Finally, the techniques utilized by teachers in order to foster learner autonomy in vocabulary learning, as perceived by the students, cover a wide range of activities with less to more authority given to the students. However, lack of motivating activities is notified by the students as one of the most serious issues in vocabulary instructions.
2. Pedagogical implications It is necessary to acknowledge the contribution of first-year mainstream students and their teachers in this part. As well as raising their voices about the current issues regarding the research topic, they suggested solutions to the problems basing on their own experiences in the matter. This is a significant step towards a better awareness and achievement in promoting learner autonomy in vocabulary learning. However, there existed a number of obstacles which were yet to be discussed. These issues are, therefore, open to solutions with further research onto the topic.
From the research findings raised many issues which are closely related to success of fostering learner autonomy in vocabulary learning. These issues will
be summarized and solved in the following table. Of those issues, it is clear that raising motivation in vocabulary learning for the students emerges as the key matter. Therefore, the matter of motivation will be reserved afterwards for a more thorough solution.
Issue The cooperation between teachers
Teachers expect high Teachers’ and learners’ roles should level of independence be made explicit to the learners at the from learners when beginning of the course and be well and learners are not revisited during the course.
students is not equipped enough. really effective Learners are reserved Teachers should spend some time at to contact teachers the beginning of the course and for information. further throughout the course to get more rapport students. Students not do Students are modest It show due to is necessary and in to open which create an and understanding from
traditional encouraging environment
confidence in beliefs and values vocabulary mastery
reflections are highly appreciated. Fun vocabulary contests may be organized so that proficient learners are realized and honored.
Metacognitive Class time is limited, Opening more workshops and training skills are not metacognitively skills sessions beyond the class time. In well understood and are mentioned just these training programmes, studying
briefly at class as skills should be elaborated thoroughly expect with practice so that students know
the students to find out exactly what to do when they work on more for themselves. their own.
Internet emerges the popular
The easy availability Students should be trained on how to as of the Internet, the fully exploit the Internet for their most wide coverage and it learning. With reference to the current the sketchy curriculum on technology, it is
sources while increasing stress on suggested that exploiting the Internet other modern authentic sources as and should be included as one of the major in the curriculum. Besides,
such communicative input part
comic have affected what teachers should pay more attention students elaborating on “new” materials such as as their comic books and e-materials. learning
books and e- materials materials also choose earn increasing popularity. Individual learning friendly vocabulary sources.
Group work is often It is necessary that teachers stress and run too fast for fun competence and understanding rather rather than than speed and competition in games in and group work.
discussion are effectiveness preferred arranged group and work. Students prefer incidental Students are not introduced thoroughly and work pair to learning.
Teachers may create a class library, ask students to choose one (some) book(s) that they like and write book
vocabulary learning have
guided step by step
review/ book recommendations.
but about incidental few vocabulary
chances to do acquisition. so Students’ Students rely too Teachers may create groups and require them to submit detailed sources and useful techniques in learning vocabulary.
passiveness in much on their getting teachers to get
learning skills information. for themselves
Table 6: Implications for some issues emerging from the research
The matter of improving students’ motivation in vocabulary learning As defined by Bomia, 1997, p.1 (cited in Brewster and Fager, 2000, p.4), motivation “refers to a student’s willingness, need, desire and compulsion to participate in, and be successful in, the learning process”. Motivation is often divided into two categories: 1. Extrinsic motivation: when a student is driven by an external factor such as rewards or avoidance of punishment. 2. Intrinsic motivation: when a student is driven by internal factor such as curiosity, interest, enjoyment, intellectual or personal goals.
The problem reported from the research, that teachers expect a high level motivation from students while students feel they need to be motivated, is a universal one:
If left to run their typical course, teachers tend to magnify children’s initial levels of motivation. This is fine for students who enter the classroom motivationally “rich”; they will “get rich.” However, for students whose motivation is low, their typical
classroom experiences may result in its further deterioration (Skinner and Belmont, 1991, p. 31).
A review on the literature would provide many techniques for teachers to improve their students’ motivation. Within the scope of this research, the researcher proposes three main ways which are most practical and related to the context and the students’ wishes (as expressed from the interviews):
1. Reinforcing extrinsic motivation Reward excellence and improvement in vocabulary storage and gain
- Cite real-life examples in which vocabulary helps successful communication and higher achievement
2. Enhancing intrinsic motivation - Show the beauty and expressiveness of the language - Show the richness and diversity of the artistic expressions in that language, from film and popular culture - Introduce cultural factors related to the vocabulary items - Comprehensible and interesting input: “The best methods are those that supply comprehensible input in low anxiety situations, containing messages that students really want to hear.” (Krashen, 1981) - Ensure students know how to find out vocabulary items related to their lives - Design projects that allow students to share their vocabulary repertoire, vocabulary learning techniques and sources.
3. Improving attitudes towards the learning situation - Make sure that tasks are challenging and, at the same time, manageable.
- For the currently used reading portfolio: Students are being asked to find at least 10 new words from the reading text and design an exercise with them. However, some students reflected that submission was the end and there was no follow-up activity. In some classes, students were asked to share and design games with the words in class, which motivated them more with the assignment. Give prompt and constructive feedbacks on students’ performance
In the research, while teachers said that their students are not motivated, more efforts should go from the bottom up, that is to begin with extrinsic motivation. An expectation of an immediate high level of motivation and learner autonomy, in this context, is not very realistic.
The suggestions provided in table 6 also help to make vocabulary learning more accessible and applicable for the students, which, in turn, leads to increased motivation in their development of vocabulary.
In short, this part provides some suggestions to the issues emerging from the research results. However, it is believed by the researcher that the most important factor is the effort from all participants, namely the faculty, the teachers and the students in seeking a mutual understanding and cooperation in the development of learner autonomy in vocabulary learning.
3. Limitations It is unavoidable that there are some limitations of the research due to the limited scope, the time constraint and other objective factors.
Firstly, not all first-year mainstream students directly participated in the study. The participants were just chosen randomly from some classes to represent others. This is to make sure the collection and analysis of data is manageable to the researcher. Thus, the researcher sought to survey two teachers from unsurveyed classes so as to confirm the situation in other classes and increase the representativeness of data. Secondly, the limited number of teachers involved in the study is another limitation. Therefore, it must be admitted that some interesting techniques utilized by the teachers may be overlooked. Since the researcher was fully aware if these limitations, most of the findings were considered initial findings, offering the opportunities for further research in the future to further validate the findings.
4. Suggestions for further studies As aforementioned, the limitation of this research lies in the limited number of participants. Therefore, further studies could employ a larger number of participants to increase the validity of the data and conclusion. In addition, since the application of learner autonomy remains rather awkward in Vietnam educational context, other researchers may wish to explore the situation in other universities with different proficiency, majors or specializations of students. Another direction is to find out about the development of learner autonomy, not in vocabulary learning, but in other areas such as reading, listening, speaking or writing. Moreover, since the paper placed its focus on students’ perception of the development of learner autonomy in vocabulary learning, other researchers may
wish to measure some collected data in a quantitative way, for example the ‘real competence’ in vocabulary compared to students’ modest self-assessment. This may require experimental studies. Expectedly, the results of such studies would be extremely helpful in providing a complete picture about current situation of applying learner autonomy in Vietnam educational setting.
APPENDIX 1: DEFINTIONS OF LEARNER AUTONOMY IN SECOND LANGUAGE LEARNING (Adapted from Finch, 2001) Author Holec (1980: 4) Definition of Learner Autonomy “…To say of a learner that he is autonomous is therefore to say that he is capable of taking charge of his own learning and nothing more.” Hunt, Gow & Barnes (1989:209) Wenden (1991:15) Autonomous learners are “involved in identifying problems and making relevant decisions for their solutions through access to sufficient sources of information.” “… ‘successful’ or ‘expert’ or ‘intelligent’ learners have learned how to learn. They have acquired the learning strategies, the knowledge about learning, and the attitudes that enable them to use these skills and knowledge confidently, flexibly, appropriately and independently of a teacher. Therefore, they are autonomous.” Dickinson (1992) Littlewood (1996:428) “…an attitude towards learning in which the learner is prepared to take, or does take, responsibility for his own learning.” “We can define an autonomous person as one who has an independent capacity to make and carry out the choices which govern his or her actions. This capacity depends on two main components: ability and willingness. … Ability depends on possessing both knowledge about the alternatives from which choices have to be made and the necessary skills for carrying out whatever choices seem most appropriate. Willingness depends on having both the motivation and the confidence to take responsibility for the choices required."
APPENDIX 2: ROLES OF TEACHERS AND LEARNERS TOWARDS LEARNER AUTONOMY
Teachers’ roles Subsidiary - facilitator - counselor - resource
Learners’ roles Prominent - manager - syllabus designer - evaluator
Noted study In a study carried out by Joanne Yim Ping Chuk (2004) in Hong Kong, the researcher decided to explore how to design and use classroom activities to encourage learner autonomy. At the phase 1 of the research, the students in her two classes were required to keep personal vocabulary notebooks as records of learning. These notebooks would be included as part of the continuous assessment grade. Soon after this was announced, as Chuk reported, both classes raised questions about how this work would count towards the final course grade. The not-at-all coincidence from these two classes brought the researcher to ask herself “Why is it that grades seem to be the most important thing that matters to them?” The second phase of the research reported students ignoring in-class activities while trying to finish the assignments of the next class. Chuk remarked that “They seemed to be focused on the products of learning i.e. quizzes, tests and grades rather than on the processes of learning offered through learning opportunities in class.” Thus, this can be considered one of the reasons why the students reported they did not perceive any improvement in their English by the end of the term, although the lessons (as perceived by them) were well organized and exciting. The result from Chuck’s research suggests that learner autonomy training activities must be clear in objectives and more importantly, students must be trained first to understand the importance of learning for their own sake, their own knowledge before/ at the same time as being introduced to learning strategies.
A personal reflection In a reflection entry as a requirement in her PhD course for initial teacher education, Burkert (2008) stated that it would have been extremely helpful for her had she had the opportunity in her initial teacher education to experience learner autonomy herself. Getting acquainted with the theoretical literature is of course a prerequisite but by not enough. This underlines the importance of providing would-be teachers with motivating experiences in learner autonomy right when they are in the position of learners. Burkert also suggested that teachers can be shown videos of autonomous classrooms so that their motivation and trust in learners’ capabilities will be increased.
Student Survey Questionnaire
This survey is designed on the purpose of getting necessary data for my study on “Developing learner autonomy in vocabulary learning for first-year students at ED, CFL, ULIS”. Your personal information will be kept strictly confidential. Please give your answers truthfully for a guaranteed success of the research. Thank you so much for your participation.
Background information. Your name: ……………………………………… You are in group: You are: Male Female Your major is:
Teacher training Interpreter training
Your age is: You have been learning English for: years Your email: ……………………………………… Your phone number: …………………………………
Part 1: 1. What do you think of learning English Vocabulary? A. Very important B. Important C. Not important at all 2. What are the main goals you get for yourself in learning vocabulary? A. For communication B. For general development of my English D. For exams and tests E. Others (Please specify)………………………………………… 3. You assess your mastery in Vocabulary as: A. Poor B. Fair C. Good D. Excellent 4. In your opinion, what is the job of your teacher in helping you learn vocabulary? 91
A. Teacher should choose what to learn, how to learn and when to learn. B. Learners should be left to decide what to learn, how to learn and when to learn. C. Teacher and learners should discuss about what to learn, how to learn and when to learn. 5. Please give reasons for your choice in question 3. ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… …………………………………………………………………………………………… 6. When do you learn vocabulary? A. Whenever I have time. B. When my teacher asks me to. C. Before exams. D. Sometimes when I like to. E. When I meet an interesting vocabulary items. F. Never. 7. In your opinion, what vocabulary items would worth learning? A. Every item I meet. B. Items appearing in my textbooks. C. Items that teachers ask me to learn. D. Items that I repeatedly meet. E. Others (Please specify) …………………………………………. 8. What do you think you should study about a new word? A. Definition. B. Spelling. C. Usage. D. Examples. E. Collocations. F. Synonyms and antonyms. G. It depends. H. Others (Please specify) …………………………………………. 9. When there is an assignment task, I usually A. Get it done soon according to the requirement B. Do it as a boring duty C. Copy others’ For each of the items below, please tick or circle the number that reflects your viewpoint/ habits on a five-point scale. If you have any further explanation, please write at the end of the form.
1 Strongly disagree
5 strongly agree
Part 2: 92
1. I set goals for myself in each study period.
2. When I find a word which is difficult to understand, I try to figure it out rather than asking for a translation from teachers/friends. 1 2 3 4 5 3. New words appearing in reading, listening, speaking do not prevent me from successful communication. 1 2 3 4 5 4. When I consider a word important, I try to work with its other aspects rather than just getting to know its meaning. 1 2 3 4 5 5. I enjoy doing vocabulary learning activities very much. 1 2 3 4 5 6. Vocabulary learning activities do not hold my attention. 1 2 3 4 5 7. I feel competent with my vocabulary. 1 2 3 4 5 8. I find it hard to work in groups. 1 2 3 4 5 9. I like to work more with vocabulary. 1 2 3 4 5 10. I feel comfortable to contact my teacher if I have problems regarding vocabulary. 1 2 3 4 5 11. Are you willing to do more than what is required by your teacher in vocabulary learning? 1 2 3 4 5 12. Are you willing to discuss your own progress in vocabulary learning? 1 2 3 4 5 13. Are you flexible to adapt yourself to new way of learning vocabulary? 1 2 3 4 5 14. Are you willing to use the school library as a source of getting more vocabulary? 1 2 3 4 5 15. Are you willing to work independently with self-study books for improving vocabulary? 1 2 3 4 5
Part 3: 1. Does the teacher provide you with opportunities to gradually take control of your learning vocabulary? 1 2 3 4 5 2. Does the teacher provide you with opportunities for you to reflect on your learning process? 1 2 3 4 5 3. Does the teacher help you to be aware of your role as important in the success of learning vocabulary? 1 2 3 4 5 4. Does your learning environment encourage interactions and group work? 1 2 3 4 5 5. Does the teacher help you build up self-confidence in learning vocabulary? 1 2 3 4 5 6. Does the teacher encourage you to keep a diary of your experiences in learning vocabulary? 1 2 3 4 5 7. Does the teacher instruct you how to use the university’s resource centers such as libraries? 1 2 3 4 5 8. What does your teacher normally do at class to help/get you to learn vocabulary? A. Read the words and give definitions B. Give examples of the words 93
C. Organize group work D. Organize games E. Have students read newspapers/magazines/books in English F. Introduce vocabulary learning software G. Introduce ways to learn vocabulary effectively at home H. Encourage students to learn vocabulary at home I. Introduce different sources from which students can learn new words J. Others (Please specify) ……………………………… 9. What’s the main problem in your teacher’s vocabulary teaching? A. Limited vocabulary B. Poor pronunciation C. Ineffective demonstration D. Boring repetition of activities E. Lack of motivating tasks F. Others (please specify)…………………………………. Part 4 1. What are your usual sources for vocabulary learning? A. Televisions B. The Internet C. Course materials D. Newspapers and magazines E. Novels F. Comic books G. E-materials H. Others (Please specify) ……………………………….. 2. How do you learn vocabulary? A. Keep a notebook of new vocabulary items and review regularly. B. Read the course book several times. C. Do vocabulary exercises in books I find for myself. D. Make a sentence with every new word. E. Design vocabulary exercises for myself. F. Try to read and listen in English as much as possible. G. Make a map showing the relationship of words that need to be learned. H. Use flashcards. I. Draw pictures related to the words. J. Invent rhymes related to the words. K. I don’t learn vocabulary. L. Others (Please specify) ……………………………………. 3. In what way would you prefer to learn vocabulary? A. Listening to the teacher’s lecture. B. Learning by myself. C. Discussing with my classmates. D. Working in pairs or in groups. E. Coming to tutorials.
Part 5 It is important that your handwritten comments in this section are constructive in relation to teaching and learning issues. 1. What is the most serious issue in your learning of English vocabulary? ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… ..…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………… 2. What do you think of the classroom activities the teacher has employed in vocabulary instructions? ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… …………………………………………………………… 3. In your opinion, how can the teacher better prepare you for learning vocabulary on your own? ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………….............................................................................
Thank you a lot for your cooperation!
Teacher Survey Questionnaire
This survey is designed on the purpose of getting necessary data for my study on “Developing learner autonomy in vocabulary learning for first-year students at ED, CFL, ULIS”. Your personal information will be kept strictly confidential. Please give your answers truthfully for a guaranteed success of the research. Thank you so much for your participation.
Background information. Your name: ……………………………………… You are teaching group(s): ………………………… You are: Male Female Your class(es)’ major is (are): Teacher training Interpreter training Your age is: ……………………….. You have been teaching English for: ………………… years Your email: ……………………………………… Your phone number: ………………………………… Part 1: 1. What do you think of teaching English Vocabulary for first year students at ED, ULIS? A. Very important B. Important C. Not important at all 2. What do you think are the main goals your students get in learning vocabulary? A. For communication B. For general development of English D. For exams and tests E. Others ( Please specify)………………………………………… 3. You assess your facilitation in the vocabulary learning process as: A. Poor B. Fair C. Good D. Excellent 4. In your opinion, what is the job of the teacher in helping your students learn vocabulary? A. Teacher should choose what to learn, how to learn and when to learn. 96
B. Learners should be left to decide what to learn, how to learn and when to learn. C. Teacher and learners should discuss about what to learn, how to learn and when to learn. 5. Please give reasons for your choice in question 3. ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… 6. When do you require vocabulary learning? A. Whenever my students have time. B. Sometimes when I like to. C. Before exams. D. Sometimes when I feel the word is vital in understanding my lessons. E. When they meet an interesting vocabulary item. F. Never. 7. In your opinion, what vocabulary items would be considered worth learning BY YOUR STUDENTS? A. Every item they meet. B. Items appearing in their textbooks. C. Items that I ask them to learn. D. Items that they repeatedly meet. E. Others (Please specify) …………………………………………. 8. What do you think your students should study about a new word? A. Definition. B. Spelling. C. Usage. D. Examples. E. Collocations. F. Synonyms and antonyms. G. It depends. H. Others (Please specify) …………………………………………. 9. When there is an assignment task, your students usually A. Show their care for assessment and marks. B. Show their enthusiasm as seeing a learning opportunity. C. Express indifference. D. Express disagreement. E. Others (Please specify)……………………………………………
For each of the items below, please tick or circle the number that reflects your viewpoint on a five-point scale. If you have any further explanation, please write at the end of the form.
Strongly disagree Part 2:
1. I set goals for myself when I intend to teach vocabulary. 1 2 3 4 5 2. The goals of vocabulary instructions are made clear to my students at the beginning of the semester and of each lesson. 1 2 3 4 5 3. When my students find a word which is difficult to understand, I try to help them figure it out for themselves rather than giving immediate answer. 1 2 3 4 5 4. I teach my students how to compensate for words they do not know. 1 2 3 4 5 5. My students can decide which words are important and ask for more explanation than just a definition. 1 2 3 4 5 6. My students enjoy doing vocabulary learning activities very much. 1 2 3 4 5 7. Vocabulary learning activities do not hold my students’ attention. 1 2 3 4 5 8. My students feel competent with their vocabulary. 1 2 3 4 5 9. I find it hard to have my students work in groups. 1 2 3 4 5 10. My students like to work more with vocabulary. 1 2 3 4 5 11. I tell my students that I am willing to provide help for their vocabulary learning. 1 2 3 4 5 12. Are your students willing to do more than what is required by you? 1 2 3 4 5 13. Are your students willing to discuss their own progress in vocabulary learning? 1 2 3 4 5 14. Are your students flexible to adapt themselves to new way of teaching? 1 2 3 4 5 15. Are they willing to use the school library as a source of getting more vocabulary? 1 2 3 4 5 16. Are they willing to work independently with self-study books for improving vocabulary? 1 2 3 4 5
Part 3: 1. Do you provide your students with opportunities to gradually take control of learning vocabulary? 1 2 3 4 5 2. Do you provide your students with opportunities to reflect on their learning process? 1 2 3 4 5 3. Do you help your students to be aware of their role as important in the success of learning vocabulary? 1 2 3 4 5 98
4. Is the learning environment where interactions and group work encouraged? 1 2 3 4 5 5. Do you help your students build up self-confidence in learning vocabulary? 1 2 3 4 5 6. Do you encourage your students to keep a diary of experiences in learning vocabulary? 1 2 3 4 5 7. Do you instruct your students how to use the university’s resource centers such as libraries? 1 2 3 4 5 8. What do you normally do at class to help/get your students to learn vocabulary? A. Read the words and give definitions B. Give examples of the words C. Organize group work D. Organize games E. Have students read newspapers/magazines/books in English F. Introduce vocabulary learning software G. Introduce ways to learn vocabulary effectively at home H. Encourage students to learn vocabulary at home I. Introduce different sources from which students can learn new words J. Others (Please specify) ……………………………… 9. What’s the main problem in guiding your students to learn vocabulary for themselves? A. Students’ motivation B. Students’ inactiveness C. Students’ proficiency C. Lack of modern facilities D. No problem E. Others (please specify)…………………………………. Part 4 1. What do you think can be rich vocabulary learning materials? A. Televisions B. The Internet C. Course materials D. Newspapers and magazines E. Novels F. Comic books G. E-materials H. Others (Please specify) ……………………………….. 2. What have you asked your students to do for themselves? A. Keep a notebook of new vocabulary items and review regularly. B. Read the course book several times. C. Do vocabulary exercises in books they find for themselves. D. Make a sentence with every new word. E. Design vocabulary exercises for themselves. F. Try to read and listen in English as much as possible. G. Make a map showing the relationship of words that need to be learned. 99
H. Use flashcards. I. Draw pictures related to the words. J. Invent rhymes related to the words. K. None of the above L. Others (Please specify) ……………………………………. 3. In what way would you think your students prefer to learn vocabulary? A. Listening to the teacher’s lecture. B. Learning by themselves. C. Discussing with their classmates. D. Working in pairs or in groups. E. Coming to tutorials. Part 5 It is important that your handwritten comments in this section are constructive in relation to teaching and learning issues. 1. What is the most serious issue in your promoting learner autonomy for your students in vocabulary learning? ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… ..…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… …………………………………………………………………………………… 2. How do you think of the activities you have carried out in order to foster learner autonomy in vocabulary learning? ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… …………………………………………………………………………………………… 3. In your opinion, how can you better prepare your students for learning vocabulary autonomously? ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………… …………………………………….............................................................................
Thank you a lot for your cooperation!
Questions for Semi-Structured Student Interview
1. What do you think about your ability to learn vocabulary autonomously? 2. What do you often do to learn new vocabulary items? Which way do you find the most effective? Why? 3. Up to now what your teacher(s) has (have) done to help you learn vocabulary on your own? What do you think of your teacher’s help? 4. What is the most serious problem in your learning vocabulary autonomously? What the teachers can do to help you solve this problem?
Questions for Semi-Structured Teacher Interview
1. What do you think about your students’ ability to learn vocabulary autonomously? 2. What is the most serious issue in their learning vocabulary autonomously? 3. What have you done to help, encourage or push them to learn vocabulary autonomously at home? What are their responses and what is the result? 4. What do your students still lack in order to learn vocabulary autonomously?
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