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MASARYK UNIVERSITY BRNO

FACULTY OF EDUCATION
Department of English Language and Literature

Young Learners and Teenagers Analysis


of their Attitudes to English Language Learning

Diploma thesis

Brno 2011

Supervisor:

Author:

Mgr. Nadda Vojtkov

Bc. Eva Loukotkov

Announcement
I hereby declare that I have worked on this diploma thesis on my own and that I
used only the sources listed in the bibliography section.
Brno, 6 April 2011

Bc. Eva Loukotkov

Prohlen
Prohlauji, e jsem tuto diplomovou prci zpracovala samostatn a pouila jen
prameny uveden v seznamu literatury.
V Brn, dne 6. dubna 2011

Bc. Eva Loukotkov

Acknowledgements
I would like to express my gratitude and thanks to Mgr. Nadda Vojtkov for
her kind help, words of encouragement and valuable advice that she provided to me
during my work on this diploma thesis.
Brno, 6 April 2011

Bc. Eva Loukotkov

Annotation
This diploma thesis deals with young and teenage learners. Particularly,
it analyses their attitudes towards English language learning. The transition from
the lower to the upper-primary school grades usually marks a breaking point when the
adolescence begins and the learners attitudes change. Therefore, the thesis focuses
on the target group of teenagers and investigates how their attitudes and interest
in learning English change. The introductory section provides a theoretical background
to the studied phenomenon. The author discusses the characteristics of both young
and teenage learners. The issue is examined from the developmental psychology point
of view as well. In addition, methodology advice on how to approach and teach the two
respective groups is included as well. The practical part of this diploma thesis gives
the account of a case study that was conducted at a primary school. The practical survey
provides a constructive analysis of the changing attitudes in primary school learners.
Key words
attitudes to learning, developmental psychology, teenagers, young learners, motivation

Anotace
Tato diplomov prce je zamena na mlad a dospvajc ky zkladnch kol.
Zabv se zejmna analzou jejich pstupu k uen anglickho jazyka. Pechod
z prvnho na druh stupe zkladn koly je asto oznaovn jako zlomov okamik,
kdy zan obdob dospvn a postoje k se mn. Proto se prce zamuje na clovou
skupinu dospvajcch k a zjiuje, jak se jejich postoje a zjem o vuku anglitiny
mn. Autorka se v vodn sti vnuje charakteristice jak mladch, tak dospvajcch
k. Problematika je zkoumna tak z pohledu vvojov psychologie. Uveden
je rovn metodick pstup k vuce tchto dvou vkovch skupin. Praktick st tto
diplomov prce pojednv o ppadov studii, kter byla provedena na zkladn kole.
Praktick vzkum konstruktivn analyzuje mnc se postoje k na dan zkladn
kole.
Klov slova
mlad koln vk, motivace, pstup k uen, star koln vk, vvojov psychologie

Table of contents
INTRODUCTION .......................................................................................................... 7
1. THEORETICAL PART ............................................................................................. 9
1.1. Young Learners................................................................................................................................. 10
1.1.1. Definition and characteristics of young learners ......................................................................... 10
1.1.2. The development of childrens thinking and understanding ........................................................ 12
1.1.3. Teaching young learners .............................................................................................................. 13
1.1.4. Using games in teaching young learners ..................................................................................... 18
1.2. Teenage Learners .............................................................................................................................. 21
1.2.1. Definition of teenage learners...................................................................................................... 21
1.2.2. Young teenagers and features of adolescence ............................................................................. 21
1.2.3. Physical changes.......................................................................................................................... 22
1.2.4. Psychological changes ................................................................................................................. 24
1.2.5. Social changes ............................................................................................................................. 25
1.2.6. Teenage relation to family and peers ........................................................................................... 26
1.2.7. Teenage relation to school ........................................................................................................... 28
1.2.8. Thinking skills ............................................................................................................................. 30
1.2.9. Teenagers learning potential ...................................................................................................... 31
1.3. Teaching Teenagers .......................................................................................................................... 33
1.3.1. Teacher-teenager relationship...................................................................................................... 33
1.3.2. Appropriate teaching methods for teenagers ............................................................................... 35
1.3.3. Relevant topics for teenagers ....................................................................................................... 37
1.3.4. Teenagers and music ................................................................................................................... 37
1.3.5. Teenagers and game-like activities .............................................................................................. 38
1.3.6. Teenagers and entertainment ....................................................................................................... 38
1.3.7. Class knowledge and cross-curricular education ......................................................................... 38
1.3.8. Group and project work with teenagers ....................................................................................... 39
1.3.9. Role-play and movement with teenagers ..................................................................................... 40
1.3.10. Humour, variation and pace with teenagers............................................................................... 40
1.3.11. Teenage learner responsibility and autonomy ........................................................................... 41
1.3.12. Teenagers and technology ......................................................................................................... 42
1.3.13. Discussing and debating activities with teenagers ..................................................................... 43
1.3.14. Teenagers and discipline ........................................................................................................... 43

2. PRACTICAL PART ................................................................................................. 45


2.1. Case Study ......................................................................................................................................... 46
2.2. Analysis and Interpretation of the Questionnaire Data ................................................................ 47
2.2.1. Comparison of attitudes ............................................................................................................... 48
2.2.2. Young learners............................................................................................................................. 58
2.2.3. Teenage learners .......................................................................................................................... 59
2.3. Analysis and Interpretation of the Focus Group Interview .......................................................... 76

CONCLUSION ............................................................................................................. 79
BIBLIOGRAPHY ......................................................................................................... 82
INTERNET SOURCES ................................................................................................ 84
APPENDICES ............................................................................................................... 86
LIST OF GRAPHS ..................................................................................................... 103

Introduction
Generally, there has been a growing interest in the teaching of young learners.
However, teenagers make a large proportion of all learners of English as well. It is the
age of students that represents a major factor in teachers decisions about what and how
to teach. Therefore, it is obvious that successful learning happens when teachers are
able to address the needs of a particular age group.
One of the most common beliefs is that teaching teenagers is a difficult task.
Many English teachers would probably agree that it is hard to establish a good learning
atmosphere in a teenage classroom. It is also widely agreed that teenagers are less
motivated than other groups of learners.
The transition from the lower-primary to the upper-primary school grades
generally represents a breaking point. At this stage, children start entering the period of
adolescence and their attitudes to school change. While young children, especially those
up to the age of ten, show enthusiasm for learning, young teenagers usually lose interest
in learning.
This phenomenon is recognized as a very important factor affecting both
teaching and learning at primary schools. Since primary school teachers are
permanently facing problems related to this issue, it is worth examining.
This diploma thesis focuses on primary school learners and their attitudes to
learning English. In particular, it aims to investigate the changes in the interest in
learning English, when young learners enter upper-primary grades. The thesis is divided
into the theoretical and practical part.
The theoretical part provides the background information for the practical part of
this thesis. Firstly, it presents the definitions and characteristics of both young and
teenage learners. It describes their learning potential, motivation and attitudes towards
school and learning English. Since developmental psychology is crucial for
understanding how to effectively approach these two age groups, the issue is examined
from this point of view as well.
Secondly, the theoretical part includes methodology advice on how to teach both
young and teenage learners with regard to changes that they are undergoing. It intends
to define possible reasons why young teenagers lose interest in language learning and
how teachers can deal with this problem. Furthermore, the theoretical part focuses on
the possibilities of enhancing learner motivation.
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The practical part of this diploma thesis gives the account of a case study.
It provides a constructive analysis of the problem of changing attitudes in teenagers at a
particular primary school in Brno. The investigation was done specifically with the
intention to find out how the young learners attitudes and interest in learning change
when they enter upper-primary grades. Further, the case study focused on the current
situation in the target group of young teenagers. It aimed to describe and illuminate the
issues discussed in the theoretical part from the practical point of view.
Finally, this diploma thesis reports on the outcomes of the survey and provides
a conclusion on the studied phenomenon.

1. Theoretical Part
The theoretical part aims to provide background information for the practical
survey of this diploma thesis. It is divided into three subchapters.
The first one focuses on young learners. It presents the definition, specific
characteristics and learning potential of this age group. Teaching methodology
appropriate for young learners is discussed as well.
The second subchapter deals with young teenagers. It defines this age group
and describes the period of adolescence from the developmental point of view. Further,
teenage attitudes to school are discussed with regard to physical and psychological
changes that they are undergoing.
Finally, the third subchapter discusses in detail how to teach, motivate and
approach young teenagers in order to reach their full learning potential.

1.1. Young Learners


This chapter focuses on young learners. It aims to provide their characteristics and
describe their learning potential. It also deals with basic developmental theories that are
important to understand in order to teach this age group effectively. Furthermore, the
chapter provides methodological recommendations about how to teach and approach
young learners so as to reach the best learning results. Finally, the last subchapter
discusses games, which represent a substantial component of teaching language
to young learners.

1.1.1. Definition and characteristics of young learners


Generally, it is difficult to give precise age range of this learner group. However,
young learners are usually considered to be pupils between six to ten or eleven years of
age. Since there are great differences between pupils at the beginning of their schooling
and older children, for the purposes of this diploma thesis I shall work with the group of
young learners between the ages of eight to ten. This age group is commonly
represented in the third, fourth and fifth primary grades, which are also target grades for
this diploma thesis practical survey.
These young children generally display an enthusiasm for learning and a
curiosity about the world around them (Harmer, The Practice of English Language
Teaching 82). Brumfit agrees that they tend to be keen and enthusiastic learners. This
is mainly because of the fact that they do not have inhibitions about learning which
older children and teenagers often bring to school (5).
Harmer says that young learners are able to respond to meaning even if they do
not understand the meaning of individual words (The Practice of English Language
Teaching 82). Halliwell mentions the childrens ability to grasp the general meaning as
well. She explains that intonation, gestures, facial expressions, actions and
circumstances help young learners to tell what the unknown words or phrases mean.
This general message-interpreting skill is already highly developed in primary school
children. Apart from this ability to perceive meaning, young learners also show great
skill in using their new limited language resources creatively and meaningfully (3-4).
It is very common that young learners frequently learn indirectly rather than
directly. Harmer explains this phenomenon saying that, they take in information from
all sides, learning from everything around them rather than only focusing on the precise
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topic they are being taught. Their understanding comes not just from explanation, but
also from what they see and hear and, crucially, have a chance to touch and interact
with (The Practice of English Language Teaching 82).
Harmer also mentions that young learners find abstract concepts such as
grammar rules difficult to grasp (The Practice of English Language Teaching 82).
Halliwell develops this point further. She claims that the childrens capacity for
conscious learning of forms and grammatical patterns is still relatively undeveloped
(6). However, in contrast to this weakness in learning, they possess an enormous
instinct for indirect way of learning (Halliwell 6).
When discussing young learners, experts agree that their attention and
concentration span is very short. Harmer says that with their limited attention span,
unless activities are extremely engaging, they can get easily bored, losing interest after
ten minutes or so (The Practice of English Language Teaching 82).
Among other dominant features of young learners belongs their instinct for fun
and play. Halliwell says that children take great pleasure in finding and creating fun in
what they do (3). I think that this is also the reason why they are usually so enthusiastic
and positive about learning. Young children love to play, and learn best when they are
enjoying themselves. But they also take themselves seriously and like to think that what
they are doing is real work (Scott and Ytreberg 3). In fact, when teaching young
learners, game-like activities indeed are real work. Since games have a central role in
teaching young learners, this topic is dealt with separately in chapter Using games in
teaching young learners.
Scott and Ytreberg further claim that eight to ten year olds are already able to
discern between fact and fiction (3). However, Halliwell mentions that they still delight
in imagination and fantasy which, similarly to games, has a very constructive part to
play in the language classroom (7). It is worth realizing that the adult real world and the
childs world are not the same (Scott and Ytreberg 3). Halliwell explains that reality for
young learners still includes imagination and fantasy as well (7).
Finally, young children indulge in talking. Especially, they are keen to talk about
themselves. They respond well to learning that uses themselves and their own lives as
main topics in the classroom (Harmer, The Practice of English Language Teaching
82).

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1.1.2. The development of childrens thinking and understanding


It is generally agreed that the way of teaching young learners largely depends on
their developmental stage. Therefore, good primary practice should be based on the
knowledge and understanding of theories of child development, the ways in which they
learn languages and studies of classroom conditions which promote foreign language
learning (Brewster 1-2).
This subchapter provides brief overview of theories that deal with the way
children develop. In spite of the fact that some theories are significantly different, I
believe that they set a right background for the recommendations about how to teach
young learners in general.
Various theories have described the way that children develop. Vygotsky
stressed the role of social interaction in development. Particularly, the role of an adult
guidance or collaboration with more capable peers that help a child who has entered the
zone of proximal development and is ready to learn new things (Shorrocks 271).
According to both Erikson and Maslow, childrens development is closely bound
up in their confidence and self-esteem. In other theory, Feuerstein suggested that childs
cognitive structures are infinitely modifiable with the help of a modifier, which is
similar to Vygotskys theory (Harmer, The Practice of English Language Teaching
82).
However, Jean Piagets study of childrens intellectual development is probably
the most influential in educational theory. He suggested that children start at the semimotor stage, and then proceed through the intuitive stage and the concrete-operational
stage before finally reaching the formal operational stage where abstraction becomes
increasingly possible (Harmer, The Practice of English Language Teaching 82).
According to Piaget, children between seven to eleven years of age belong to the
concrete operational stage. During this stage, children begin to understand the concept
of conservation. From the Piagetian perspective, conservation means that children
realise that quantities remain the same, even if they are placed in containers of different
shapes and sizes (J. Lewis).
A central idea of Piagets theory is that of adaptation. He defines intelligence as
adapting to the world. According to Piaget, two kinds of process are at work to bring
this adaptation about (Shorrocks 262). He talks about the process of assimilation,
where previous experience provides a framework into which the new one can be
integrated. Then, there is the process of accommodation, which includes the extended
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knowledge of concepts that allow children to recognize and interpret new information
next time. Assimilation and accommodation processes work in a complementary way
with each other to give organisation to our ever-growing knowledge and understanding
(Shorrocks 263).
Piagets view also strongly advocates a child-centred approach to teaching. A
child-centred curriculum and methodology is widely recognized and applied in modern
practice where the childrens needs and interests are paramount. Nowadays, there is a
concern for the education of the whole child, including their moral, physical, emotional
and intellectual growth (Brewster 3-4).
Phillips summarizes that, As a general rule, it can be assumed that the younger
the children are, the more holistic learners they will be (7).

1.1.3. Teaching young learners


Based on the description of young learners character, dispositions, and
developmental theories discussed in the previous subchapters, this chapter presents
general methodological approaches appropriate for this age group. It recommends
effective teaching strategies that work best for young learners with regard to the
specifics of this age group.
It is important, when discussing young learners, to take account of changes
which take place within this varied and varying age span (Harmer, The Practice of
English Language Teaching 82). The basic changes that influence classroom
methodology are as follows: young children are learning how to cope with school life,
learning to become literate and continue to develop concepts (Brewster 2).
One of the most common beliefs about language learning and the age is that
young children learn faster and more effectively than any other age group. However,
this claim has been considerably disputed, because the general evidence is unclear
(Brumfit 6-7). Various studies point to the fact that older learners and teenagers make
more progress in language learning and are often more effective learners than the young
ones.
Nonetheless, research has shown that children who learn a new language early
have a facility with the pronunciation which is sometimes denied to older learners
(Harmer, The Practice of English Language Teaching 81). Usually, young children
are able to reproduce accent very accurately. Therefore, I think that the implications for
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teachers of young learners are extensive. Teachers should be true professionals and
competent users of the foreign language to provide young learners with quality input.
Harmer comments that the teachers pronunciation really matters here, precisely
because young learners imitate it incredibly well (The Practice of English Language
Teaching 83).
It was already mentioned that the physical world is dominant for young learners
and they understand best through senses. Particularly, it is important to employ senses
of hearing, touch and vision into teaching. Therefore, Halliwell mentions that teachers
should make full use of gesture, intonation, demonstration, actions and facial
expressions to convey the meaning parallel to what they are saying (4).
What concerns classroom language, it is advisable to speak English as much of
the time as possible, because young learners are unlikely to have many opportunities to
hear English outside of the classroom. However, Scott and Ytreberg claim that it is up
to the teachers to decide how much mother tongue they use. Yet, they point out that
mime, acting, puppets and any other means should be frequently used to get the
meaning across when speaking English (Scott and Ytreberg 18).
It is agreed that appealing to senses always helps pupils to learn. Scott and
Ytreberg say that most activities for young learners should include movement and
involve senses. Teachers need to have plenty of objects and pictures to work with and
demonstrate what they want the pupils to do (Scott and Ytreberg 5). Phillips stresses the
importance of illustration as well. She mentions that, for example, vocabulary is best
learnt if the meaning of the word is illustrated by a picture, action or a real object.
Words that are used in relevant contexts fix better in childrens minds (Phillips 74).
With young learners, demonstration is vital for successful teaching. Ellis advises
that teachers should explain and demonstrate at the board the tasks that they want
children to do at the tables. For example, when using a worksheet, it can be stuck on the
board. Above all, she also mentions flashcards as an excellent aid for explanation and
presentation (Ellis).
Scott and Ytreberg also think that teachers need to use school and their
surroundings to the full (5). Harmer makes some conclusions about what a classroom
for young learners should look like. First of all, it should be bright and colourful, with
enough room for different activities to be taking place. It should be taken into account
that pupils would be working in groups in different parts of the room (Harmer, The
Practice of English Language Teaching 83).
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Phillips agrees that physical organisation of the classroom is important. Ideal


classroom would have an area of easily movable desks and chairs, an open space for
action songs and games, a quiet area for self-study or reading and a place where
childrens work can be displayed (Phillips 10). Halliwell summarises that classrooms
for young learners are not the ones where the children spend all their time sitting in
still rows or talking only to the teacher (18).
Young learners respond to language according to what it does or what they can
do with it, rather than treating it as a sophisticated game or abstract system (Phillips 7).
Generally, methodology recommended for this age group emphasises learning by doing,
problem solving and involving frequent use of work in small groups (Brewster 4).
Harmer also suggests that teachers should lead young learners to work in groups
since it helps them develop good and affective relationships (The Practice of English
Language Teaching 83). Phillips claims that children might at first find it difficult,
because working in groups may be new for them. However, teachers can start with
controlled activities and make them freer when children develop the ability to take
responsibility and work without constant supervision (Phillips 10).
Scott and Ytreberg agree that young learners should be grouped frequently.
However, they warn that genuine cooperative groupwork is usually achieved after a
long process and it is true that some pupils work best alone (6). They say that
groupwork should not be attempted before the children are used to working in pairs
first. When groupwork is generally introduced, mixed ability groups should alternate
with groups formed according to ability. Teachers should be also aware that some
pupils simply do not like each other, which is usually the problem with eight to ten year
olds, and it is unlikely that they will work well together (15-17). On the other hand,
Children should not be allowed to choose their groups, partly because this takes a lot
of time, but mainly because it usually means that someone is left out (Scott and
Ytreberg 17).
Apart from these, Phillips states other basic points that teachers of young
learners should bear in mind. First of all, the activities should be simple enough for the
learners to understand what is expected of them. Obviously, the tasks should fall within
their abilities and be achievable as well. However, at the same time they need to be
sufficiently stimulating so that learners feel satisfied with their work. Further, she points
out to the fact that activities for young learners should be largely orally based. They
should take up large proportion of class time, while written activities should be used
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sparingly, because young learners are often not proficient in the mechanics of writing
yet (Phillips 7).
It is agreed that, A good primary classroom mixes play and learning in an
atmosphere of cheerful and supportive harmony (Harmer, The Practice of English
Language Teaching 83). Children love discovering things and respond well to being
asked to use their imagination. Halliwell thinks that teachers should stimulate childrens
creative imagination so that they want to use the language to share their ideas (7).
In general, young learners benefit from puzzle-like activities, making or drawing
things, games, physical movement and songs. By comparison with young learners,
young teenagers like activities built around dialogues, question-and-answer activities
and matching exercises most (Harmer, The Practice of English Language Teaching
82-83).
Phillips further adds total physical response activities, tasks that involve
colouring, cutting, and sticking, simple, repetitive stories, and simple, repetitive
speaking activities that have an obvious communicative value (7).
It is obvious that for the two age groups of learners different tasks are enjoyable
and challenging enough. I think that it is important to provide the respective learner
groups with suitable activities and approach them differently. For example, teachers
should be careful not to overwhelm young learners with grammar explanations. On the
other hand, teenagers should be challenged by other tasks than they used to be at the
lower-primary grades.
Authors also agree that good teachers should provide young learners with
enjoyable learning experiences. Phillips explains that if an activity is enjoyable, it will
be also memorable. Children will have a sense of achievement which will develop
motivation for further learning. This cyclical process generates a positive attitude
towards learning English, which is perhaps one of the most valuable things that primary
teachers can transmit to children (Phillips 8).
Since attention and concentration spans are short in young learners, variety is
necessary. Holden says that, children cannot concentrate on one thing for a long
period. Lessons should be therefore divided into a series of activities lasting no longer
than five or ten minutes (qtd. in Brewster 7-8). Other authors usually suggest that
activities for eight to ten year olds should be changed every ten minutes or more, since
their concentration span increases as they grow older.

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However, Scott and Ytreberg point out that variety in the classroom should
include not only the variety of activities, but also the variety of pace, organisation and
voice (5-6).
It is also important to help children to feel secure and content in the classroom.
Security is not an attitude or an ability, but it is essential if we want our pupils to get
the maximum out of the language lessons (Scott and Ytreberg 10). Young learners
benefit from knowing the rules and being familiar with the situation. Therefore, teachers
should create systems, routines and organize and plan their lessons thoroughly (Scott
and Ytreberg 6).
Ellis agrees that it is important to establish routines. For instance, singing a
familiar song at the beginning of a lesson ensures that, everyone starts the lesson
feeling confident and attentive (Ellis). To conclude, children respond very well to
familiar situations and activities. They like to repeat stories, rhymes or songs.
Young learners also respond strongly to music and rhythm. They are more easily
able to learn a chant or a song than a spoken text. Therefore, music and rhythm should
be an essential part of language learning for young learners. Songs, rhymes or chants
make it much easier to imitate and remember the language than words which are only
spoken. They are good to teach children the sounds and rhythm of English, to reinforce
structures and vocabulary, or to be used as total physical response activities. Besides,
children absorb much of the learning content unconsciously, so music can be also used
as a background while children are working quietly on another task (Phillips 100).
Scott and Ytreberg also emphasise the importance of listen and repeat
exercises that give the pupils a chance to experience the sounds, stress, rhythm and
intonation. When done in combination with movements or with objects or pictures, this
type of activity also helps to establish the link between words and meaning (Scott and
Ytreberg 27).
Moreover, rhymes are repetitive and have an element of fun and playing with the
language. Teachers should allow young learners to play with the language, let them talk
nonsense and experiment with words and sounds. Playing with the language this way
is very common in first language development and is a very natural stage in the first
stages of foreign language learning too (Scott and Ytreberg 5, 27).
Last but not least, teacher attitudes to young learners are essential. Twitchell
warns that teachers should be careful about not talking down to children. Of course,
when teaching children, teachers are more animated, more visibly enthusiastic and more
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physically active. However, that does not mean that teachers should not treat them as
intelligent, thoughtful people, just with a slightly more simplified vocabulary
(Twitchell Teaching Children).
Scott and Ytreberg point out that teachers need to appear to like all the pupils
equally. This is very important, because young learners have a very keen sense of
fairness (9). It is also true especially for young children that they keep their enthusiasm
and feel successful, if teachers praise them for what they do (3). Harmer agrees that
young learners need approval from the teacher to feel positive about learning. He also
mentions that the need for individual attention is very typical of young learners (The
Practice of English Language Teaching 82).

1.1.4. Using games in teaching young learners


It is generally agreed that games, play and fun elements help children to enjoy
language lessons and see English learning as rewarding. This chapter focuses on the
role of game-like activities in teaching young learners. It aims to describe the
importance of play and how children benefit from it.
Since children naturally want to play, games can be very motivating. In
pedagogical discussion of motivation for foreign language learning in general, emphasis
is often put on sometimes conflicting forces of extrinsic and intrinsic motivation. For
the young learner, motivation deriving from factors outside the classroom, such as
parental and social attitudes, is likely to be weaker than that created by events in the
classroom itself. Children need to be involved and even excited in order to learn
effectively (Khan 144).
It is a commonplace that young children learn better through play or at least can
be induced to go along with teaching that is tempered by fun activities (Rixon 33).
The activities that involve play and enjoyment are, for example, singing, chanting
rhymes, solving puzzles, drawing, colouring and model-making. Essential are also
word, board and other types of games. Fun activities operate at the most humble level of
endeavour and help children gain command of pre-fabricated chunks of language
(Rixon 35). Even though many language practice games may be drill-like, they still
have an element of fun and competition (Rixon 35).
Scott and Ytreberg point out that, Playing games in the classroom develops the
ability to co-operate, to compete without being aggressive, and to be a good loser
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(85). Muijs and Reynolds say that, Play is important, and can help develop childrens
receptive and expressive language, as well as their skills at joint planning, negotiation,
problem-solving, and goal seeking (179).
Halliwell advocates the use of games because they set up real tasks for children.
Worthwhile and interesting things to do provide young learners with occasions for real
language use and let their subconscious mind work on the processing of language while
their conscious mind is focused on the task of playing the game. In this way, games
represent a very effective opportunity for indirect learning (6).
Khan says that, It is a principle of communicative approaches to ELT that taskbased activities enhance learning. In language learning, task-based activities are those
which stimulate effective use of language but involve no conscious analysis of
language (144). Games may be seen as tasks. If they successfully engage the learners
attention as a proper childrens game should, then learning will be supported (Khan
145).
It would be wrong to think that games are only important because they are fun.
Apart from motivational factor, that was already mentioned, they are useful partly
because the fun element creates a desire to communicate and partly because games can
create unpredictability (Halliwell 5). The language that is demanded by game-like
activities is usually unpredictable and encourages children to construct language
actively for themselves. Since childrens desire to talk is huge, teachers should let them
use the language creatively to encourage acquisition, which leads to spontaneous and
therefore more fluent use (Halliwell 5-8).
Scott and Ytreberg mention the childrens ability to absorb the language through
play and other enjoyable activities as well. They claim that how good pupils are in a
foreign language does not depend on whether they have learnt the grammar rules or not.
Very few young learners are able to cope with grammar as such, even at the age of ten
or eleven. They may be very aware and clear about the foreign language, but they are
not usually mature enough to talk about it (Scott and Ytreberg 6). That is why teaching
of young learners should include only the barest minimum of grammar that is taught as
grammar (6).
To conclude, in young learners, absorbing game-like activities should become a
solid part of teaching. These activities help internalize and acquire a new language.
However, many dimensions need to be taken into consideration for selecting and
organizing games. Games, that should form an important part of a teachers repertoire,
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need to be used considerately and their focus should match particular syllabuses and
curricula. Moreover, it is important to remember that teachers need to provide learners
with both fluency and accuracy. That is why in primary practice, teachers should
carefully balance the conscious focus on grammar with game-based procedures aimed at
indirect learning.

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1.2. Teenage Learners


This chapter looks into the nature of teenagers. It includes the definition of this
age group and provides the description of their character. It discusses developmental
stages in adolescence and some ways to understand the complexities of teenagers. Both
physical and psychological changes in teenagers are described. Furthermore, this
chapter focuses on teenage attitudes towards school and learning English with regard to
changes that they are undergoing.

1.2.1. Definition of teenage learners


Most authors agree that a teenager is defined to be a young person between the
ages of approximately twelve and nineteen. According to G. Lewis most experts further
divide this age range into three distinct subgroups:
young teenagers, aged 12-14
middle teenagers, aged 14-17
late teenagers, aged 17-19
Young teenagers represent a learner group with special characteristics (6). J.
Lewis mentions that children enter adolescence between sixth and eighth school grade.
These teenagers are undergoing physical and social changes, which are more prominent
and evident than in middle and late teenagers. Moreover, early adolescence is the most
difficult phase in the life of an individual (Early Adolescents).
These are the reasons why, for the purposes of this thesis, I shall work with the
first group of learners called young teenagers. They commonly attend seventh and
eighth primary grades, which also represent a target group chosen for the practical
survey of this diploma thesis.

1.2.2. Young teenagers and features of adolescence


Teenage learners are often labelled as difficult, undisciplined, restless and
problem students. Despite their bad reputation I agree with G. Lewis who says that, the
things that can make teenagers difficult are often the very same attributes that can make
working with them so enriching (6).

21

G. Lewis emphasises that young teenagers are undergoing dramatic changes in


every aspect of their live (6). J. Lewis opinion corresponds and he points out the need
to understand the reasons behind teenagers sudden changes in attitudes towards
learning and changes in behaviour in general.
I think as well that to understand how to approach teenagers, it is very important
to know what is characteristic for this age group. Therefore, this subchapter closely
focuses on distinctive features of adolescence which are particularly physical,
psychological and social changes. Furthermore, teenage relations to family, peers and
school are discussed. Last but not least, this chapter deals with development of thinking
skills in teenagers and their learning potential.

1.2.3. Physical changes


Physical changes are the most obvious ones that young teenagers are
undergoing. In attempting to discuss adolescence, J. Lewis warns that the terms
adolescence and puberty are often confused and wrongly used as synonyms. He
explains that puberty refers to the physiological changes connected with the sexual
maturation of a child, while adolescence means the stage from puberty to adulthood.
Puberty then determines the onset of adolescence. Therefore, adolescence can occur as
early as nine years of age in some children. During the period of adolescence, rapid
physical and sexual development is characteristic. G. Lewis says that individual
children go through these changes at different speed. Generally speaking, girls are
maturing faster than boys at this age (7). Testosterone in males and estradiol in females
play a significant role in pubertal development. The average age for sexual maturation
is 12.5 years for boys and 10.5 years for girls (Adolescence Development).
Sexual maturation in male adolescents is characterised by the growth of body
hair, both pubic and armpit. The most observable is the growth of chest and facial hair,
which look like a dark shadow above the upper lip. Males voice changes as well.
Because the larynx grows, the voice starts to deepen. Nocturnal emissions may occur
because sperm production increases. Last but not least feature to mention, is the
physical strength which reaches its peak (J. Lewis).
Likewise in male adolescents, sexual maturation in female adolescents is
characterized by the growth of both pubic and armpit hair. The most obvious change is
observable in breasts development. The hips start to round and menstruation appears as
22

well. However, at its beginning after puberty, it may be irregular up to a year or two (J.
Lewis).
G. Lewis explains that these sudden and considerable changes make teenagers
very sensitive to their appearance. Therefore, their position in school society and hence
their level of self-esteem and self-confidence are closely tied to how they look (G.
Lewis 7).
Marie Vgnerov, renowned expert in developmental psychology, explores this
issue in greater detail. She views the period of adolescence as a transition between
childhood and adulthood. She also says that the most prominent is the physical
maturation, which is related to sexual maturation. The changing appearance of a
teenager is then an impulse to change in their approach to self-image. Vgnerov points
out that many changes in teenagers are primarily determined biologically. It is important
to realise that physical appearance is a significant part of identity. This is the reason
why teenagers respond to physical changes very sensitively (209-211).
Physical change can subjectively represent very different values. Some teenagers
may be proud of their maturation, while others may feel ashamed for it. Teenagers in
adolescence appear in the process of a change of bodily proportions. Since every
personality is socially represented by the physique, these changes are undoubtedly
related to changes in behaviour of people around a teenager. Reactions of adults and
peers can be varied and they logically affect teenagers self-image (Vgnerov 211212). I believe that this issue is very relevant in teachers approach towards teenagers.
Teachers should keep in mind that teenagers are very sensitive about their changing
appearance and they should act accordingly.
Vgnerov also mentions that physical and psychological maturation can
proceed at different pace. If the physical maturation process is faster than psychological
one, teenagers have often difficulties in coping with the upcoming physical changes.
She also states that early maturation is usually more demanding for girls than it is for
boys (212-213).
Physical attractiveness has its own value. It is well known that attractive
teenagers can reach better social status and are better accepted in peer groups. It is sex
that plays an important part here. In boys, from the social point of view, growth and
muscle development is commonly well accepted, because social prestige at this age is
still determined by physical strength. On the other hand, in girls, secondary sexual
characteristics become more marked than in boys and are perceived by adults as
23

qualitative changes. Parents are usually afraid that their daughters will become
prematurely sexually active and thus their reactions may be negative (Vgnerov 212).
Vgnerov also warns that if teenagers do not find themselves attractive, it can
influence their further development and hierarchy of values. Generally, it is girls who
suffer from being discontented with their appearance. Teenage girls often think that they
are overweight when compared to models which often represent a contemporary ideal
of beauty. In adolescence, their body starts to take shapes which are far from
proportions of models. That is why such socio-cultural stereotypes put pressure on
teenage girls. It results in the fact that girls are constantly worried about how they look
(213-214).
I think that for the teachers to be able to address the specific needs of their
teenage students, it is very helpful to know and understand this background. From what
is mentioned in this subchapter, it is obvious that physical changes are closely
interconnected with changes in personality traits, in behaviour and consequently in
attitudes towards school. The following subchapter will continue to discuss
psychological changes in adolescence.

1.2.4. Psychological changes


As it was already mentioned, teenagers are undergoing complex changes in all
the aspects of their personality. J. Lewis explains that adolescent maturation is a
developmental phase where children have to establish their own beliefs, values, and
what they want to accomplish out of life. Teenagers are constantly and realistically
appraising themselves. Because of this, they are often labelled as being extremely selfconscious. However, J. Lewis claims that, the self-evaluation process leads to the
beginning of long-range goal setting, emotional and social independence, and the
making of a mature adult. G. Lewis agrees that the most important thing for teenagers
is themselves. He speaks about natural egocentrism which is paired with a lot of
emotion (6-7).
Vgnerov concurs with the emotionality of teenagers as well. She clarifies that
it is hormonal changes that bring about vacillation of emotional state. This makes
teenagers unstable and they tend to react over-sensitively even to normal stimuli.
Vgnerov also points out that teenagers are becoming more introverted, vulnerable and

24

egocentric (214). Young teenagers will feel that nobody understands them because
they feel nobody has ever felt the way they do (G. Lewis 7).
Erikson understands adolescence as a phase of search and development of own
identity. According to Erikson, there are eight psychosocial crises throughout ones lifespan. Of these crises, he proposes that the identity formation is the task of adolescence
(J. Lewis).
Vgnerov adds that in the process of development of own identity, the notion of
group identity is very significant. Important part of the identity is formed by a
professional role which a teenager aims to achieve. According to Vgnerov, there is
also reflected teenagers identification with family and their set of values (251).
Therefore, the next subchapter deals with teenager identity and their place in
society.

1.2.5. Social changes


J. Lewis mentions that young teenagers become more adventuresome and
experiment with different ideas. He points out that, this plays an important role in
finding ones relations to oneself, groups and opposite sex.
Undoubtedly, young teenagers want to belong to a group. As it was mentioned
above, groups are very important means of establishing identity and building up
confidence. J. Lewis speaks about the clash between teenagers own set of values and
the set which is promoted by parents and other adult figures.
Friendships and peer groups start to strongly influence teenagers, who assert
their independence by getting away from parents and finding new role models. Young
teenagers find comfort and identity in youth culture (G. Lewis 7). In my opinion, this is
reflected for example in exclusive friend groups, cliques, fad fashion and music, which
is usually central to teenage lives. Obviously, problems arise when some teenagers do
not readily fit in. Both Vgnerov and G. Lewis mention teenage learners who are
physically or socially awkward. These can often feel isolated and lonely. In some cases
they can even become victims of bullying and abuse.
Certainly, young teenagers have discovered the opposite sex, but the girl-boy
divide is still evident. Young teenagers still seek for same-sex friends and move in
same-sex groups (G. Lewis 7).

25

Vgnerov emphasises the importance of friendship for young teenagers. In this


uneasy period of life, friendship provides the confidence, safety, trust, understanding
and a possibility to share feelings, experience or opinions. In middle teenagers, this is to
a certain extent substituted by partnership in a couple. Young teenagers only begin to
experiment with their sexual role in the form of first loves (248-252). However, it is true
that dating becomes very important and groups and crowds become more heterogeneous
and heterosexual (Adolescence Development).

1.2.6. Teenage relation to family and peers


Concerning social changes in adolescence, it was already mentioned that friends
and a sense of belonging to a group represent crucial issues. This subchapter aims to
explain the role of family and peers in teenage lives.
Majority of authors agree that teenagers self-dependence and responsibility for
their lives start to be more apparent and they are becoming more autonomous.
Teenagers do not want to be like their parents and they try to differ. They feel
this need for differentiation, because they no longer see their parents as wise and
omnipotent. It is characteristic that teenagers are very critical of their parents and are
not respecting their parental authority. Young teenagers are much more critical than
lower-primary children. Nevertheless, they can express appreciation as well. What they
value most are honesty, trustworthiness and courage. Teenagers appreciate mainly
authentic actions, not verbal expressions and unfulfilled promises (Vgnerov 237-252).
Young teenagers now need to make decisions and develop a degree of
independence. This newly-found independence often comes with new privileges. These
new privileges often whet the young teens appetite for more, creating potential conflict
between parents and teachers (G. Lewis 7). G. Lewis mentions that parents and other
adults begin to talk to teenagers at more even level (7). However, Vgnerov claims that
parents give them more duties but not more rights (239). Teenagers insist that they
have grown enough to be self independent while parents still not provide ample
freedom (Early Adolescents).
I think that the topic of responsibility and rights is very important factor in
designing a language course for teenagers. Chapter Learner responsibility and
autonomy discusses this issue further.

26

Vgnerov concludes that on the one hand, parents find teenagers old enough to
take on more responsibilities. But on the other hand, parents still keep them in a
subordinate childs role, which often causes conflicts (237-241).
These conflicts do not mean that parent adolescent relationship is about
to breakdown. It only means relationship negotiations and that parents
need to include adolescents in making decisions and setting rules that
affect their lives and share reins with them. In families, where parents
and adolescents are trapped in distressed relationships, there is emotional
coldness, frequent angry outbursts and disagreements, unresolved
conflicts and withdrawal from family life; teens are at high risk for
various psychological and behavioural problems. (Coping up with Peer
Pressure)

Vgnerov agrees that teenagers detach themselves from their family. However,
this emancipation does not mean that emotional connections are broken. They are just
being changed. Parents are losing their privilege position and their authority becomes
rather formal (237-252).
G. Lewis sees teenagers as wavering between independence and a need for
security. Teenagers orientate themselves from family to other social groups. It is peers
who are becoming new informal authorities (3-8). Vgnerov supports this statement.
She claims that teenagers are detaching from the value system of their family.
Subsequently, social norms that are set by their peers are becoming very important.
Teenagers often prioritize peer norms over family and school norms. She further
explains that family keeps young teenagers in subordinate position, but peers are
helping them to get out of the inferior childs position. Peer group then serves as a
support for new identity (243-250).
Peer pressure is one of the most important elements during teenage years. Much
research has shown that peer pressure has a much greater impact on teenage behaviour
than any other factor. During adolescence, teenagers spend much of their time with their
friends. The interaction is direct, and much more powerful than the influence of
teachers and other authority figures (Peer Pressure).
Peer pressure tends to have more of an effect on teenage children with low selfesteem. If a child feels compelled to fit in, they may do things that go against his or her
beliefs simply to be part of the group. Thus, peer pressure may lead to experimentation
27

with drugs and alcohol, sex, skipping school, and other high-risk behaviour (Peer
Pressure).
Teenagers are exposed to the groups which have unique traits, norms, cultures or
value systems. Nevertheless, some authors state that peer pressure is not always
negative. For example, if teenagers get into the company of good friends, they benefit
from the development of a positive attitude, teamwork, and healthy values (Peer
Pressure Activities). However, the chances of peer pressure having adverse effects are
always much greater and need to be guarded against (Peer Pressure in Teenagers).

1.2.7. Teenage relation to school


In adolescence, the role of a pupil is being changed as well. Teenagers usually
understand this role as a necessity that is of no avail. School performance often loses its
original significance, because teenagers perceive it as a value important for adults. They
do not want to learn and become more knowledgeable. Primarily, they only do not want
to get into troubles. Concerning school, teenagers tend to avoid hard work, unless it is
really necessary. The curriculum at upper-primary school becomes more difficult and
incomprehensible. Teenagers deprecate it, because it strengthens their personal
insecurity (Vgnerov 233-237).
Rendls research has shown that 50% of seventh grade pupils study for lessons
only when they expect tests and examinations (qtd. in Vgnerov 234). They do not
accept the curriculum, since they find it unfamiliar and unclear. Even though, thinking
skills of teenagers are developing, some of them are not able to manage the given
curriculum. Vgnerov gives the following reasons:
formal deficiency (incomprehensible teacher explanation, things that they do not
understand accumulate and continuity is broken, etc.)
emotional barriers caused by negative expectations
lower intellectual competence, which does not suffice for successful
management of more complex theories (235).
Experts agree that transition from the lower-primary to the upper-primary school
grades generally represents a breaking point. Young teenagers usually lack intrinsic
motivation to learn. Hendry states that majority of teenage pupils do not perceive the
work at school as intrinsically interesting or rewarding (4-16). He explains that, despite
28

differing attitudes and viewpoints among pupils, school is universally seen in a strictly
instrumental way (16). He further mentions that, school is commonly regarded as
compulsory submission to an unwelcome discipline (Hendry 16). Its purpose is to train
pupils for work, or perhaps even just to get them through examinations which stand as a
barrier to the type of work they wish to enter.
Vgnerov agrees and says that the attitude to school is changing during
adolescence and good marks do not represent the aim any more, but are rather becoming
instruments enabling them to reach an occupation they want. That is the reason why
their motivation to learn is influenced by their future professional anticipation.
Therefore students personal prospects are reflected in their attitudes to school.
Teenagers at upper-primary grades differ in these and it gradually becomes clear who
will continue in their studies and who will serve an apprenticeship (Vgnerov 233237).
Hargreaves suggests that there are three variables important to school success. It
is the teachers conception of the pupils ability, the pupils own conception of his or her
own ability, and whether or not the pupil regards the teacher as a partner (qtd. in Hendry
10).
As it was already mentioned, teenagers are very critical of parents.
Nevertheless, the criticism relates to all authorities, including teachers. Teenagers do
not accept teachers decisions and opinions unconditionally. However, they confront
teachers opinions within the peers rather than directly with teachers. This criticism of
teachers is a natural manifestation of teenagers. They do not recognise formal
authorities and the superior teacher role ceases to be a taboo. Teenagers recognise only
what they look up to, what impresses them and what they appreciate. If they accept
teacher as an authority, it is so because of teachers character and behaviour, not
because his or her authority is confirmed by an institution (Vgnerov 233-237).
Rendl claims that teenagers appreciate a teacher, who does not proclaim his or
her superior position and authority. In a teacher, they value a good sense of humour,
ability to understand pupils and last but not least teachers effort to listen to their
opinions (qtd. in Vgnerov 234).
Vgnerov also emphasises that teenagers need teachers to be stable, both in
keeping to their promises and rules, and in their emotional state as well. She warns that
moody, capricious and nervous teachers cause tense atmosphere and conflicts start to

29

pile up (237). Hendry also mentions that teenagers often come into conflict with
teachers who are domineering and treat them like kids (15).
To sum up, teenagers prefer teachers who can keep control, have no favourites
and are fair. Teenage pupils like teachers who give interesting lessons, show interest in
pupils as individuals and do not patronize them.

1.2.8. Thinking skills


Experts agree that in adolescence the cognitive skills are greatly developing. J.
Lewis says that explaining the psychological development of teenagers is difficult due
to the lack of empirical research and the great variety of teenage behavioural modes.
However, developmental psychology theories are considered very useful in
understanding teenagers. These theories demonstrate sequential patterns of development
and also roughly estimate the ages at which teenagers should show particular
developmental characteristics (J. Lewis). That is why some significant theories will be
explored to characterize teenagers development in the area of cognition.
Jean Piagets life work on cognitive development is the most complete and
widely used theory, which focuses on how children develop intellectually. According to
Piaget, children between 11 to 15 years of age belong to the formal operational stage.
He explains that adolescents become less egocentric. That means they understand that
not everyone sees things in the same way as they do. Teenagers are also beginning to
reason deductively and apply logic to reach solutions (J. Lewis).
As mentioned above, J. Piaget describes the adolescence as the formal
operational stage. Pupils move from the concrete level of thinking to the ability to think
hypothetically. Vgnerov explains the difference between young pre-adolescent
children and teenagers. The first want to know and understand the world as it is. While
the second typically need to think about what the world could or should be like (217).
G. Lewis agrees that young teenagers ability to think abstractly is one of the
most marked changes in the transition from childhood to adolescence. Young teenagers
begin to understand the complexity of world and they try to analyze what they see (8). J.
Lewis says that, young teenagers test hypotheses and think critically about abstract
ideas and concepts (8). However, he points out that they are still relatively
inexperienced and tend to think that they have figured things out. Their opinions are

30

usually very strong and the newly-found ability to hypothesize often results in seeing
theories as facts (8).
Vgnerov develops this statement further. She claims that teenagers often
consider their way of thinking as exceptional and powerful. They may get the feeling
that everything can be solved easily. What regards teenagers radical opinions,
Vgnerov understands these as protection against insecurity (216-222).
Nevertheless, during adolescence they realise that there is not only one answer to
every question, one solution to every problem and that everything is not only black or
white. When they are discussing morals and ethics, this new ability to reason is evident
and they are more tolerant than pre-adolescent children (G. Lewis 7-8).
Piaget agrees that adolescents can communicate their position on complex
ethical issues and discuss abstract terms without difficulty. They can also systematically
deduce or conclude (Piagets Theory of Cognitive Development). Vgnerov
mentions this fact that teenagers reason systematically as well. She points out that they
are able of creating hypotheses and by the means of systematic steps they are capable of
verification or disproving. She further says that they are able to combine and integrate
their thoughts (218).
G. Lewis talks about other feature that distinguishes teenagers from lowerprimary age children. Young teenagers have a longer concentration span. Therefore,
they can focus on a single project for the whole lesson and they do not require a
constant change of activity as younger pupils do (7).

1.2.9. Teenagers learning potential


English language teachers and methodology experts agree that teenagers are a
difficult age group to teach. Teaching them often signifies a daunting challenge for most
of teachers. However, teenagers may well be the most exciting students of all
(Harmer, The Practice of English Language Teaching 83). According to G. Lewis
recent studies have suggested that the teenage years may be the time when students
learn languages fastest and most efficiently (6). He says that childlike playfulness and
an adult-like reasoning ability to think critically and hypothesize combine to establish
a balance between acquisition and learning which is not always available to learners at
other ages (G. Lewis 6). Yu shares this opinion and says that apart from pronunciation,

31

teenagers seem to be far better learners than younger ones in most aspects of
acquisition (53).
Reviewing the literature on this subject, various studies show that teenagers
make more progress than younger learners. Second language acquisition research has
confirmed that teenagers are at an ideal age to learn. Harmer suggests that the reason
may be connected with their increased cognitive abilities which allow them to benefit
from more abstract approaches to language teaching (The Practice of English
Language Teaching 81).
Penny Ur concludes that teenagers have greater learning potential than young
learners, but they are considerably more difficult to manage and motivate (290).
Louanne Piccolo also mentions that it takes longer to establish a trusting
relationship with teenagers but once teachers find the right balance of respect and
authority, teaching teenagers can be a rewarding and fulfilling experience.

32

1.3. Teaching Teenagers


Ur claims that an important source of guidance about how to teach teenagers
successfully is works on developmental psychology (290). Therefore, based on the
understanding of psychology of teen age, which was discussed so far, this chapter aims
to discuss how to teach and approach young teenagers. It focuses on how teachers can
ensure successful learning despite the fact that teenagers are generally considered
difficult to please.

1.3.1. Teacher-teenager relationship


First of all, it is important, when teaching teenagers, to build up a good
relationship with them. Many authors believe that the quality of the teacher-teenager
relationship is the key to success in teaching. G. Lewis emphasizes that one of the main
factors in accessing teenagers is respect and tolerance for them (3). Ur infers from her
survey that, most adolescents may prefer their teachers to value and respect them
rather than to be their friends (293).
The general opinion is that academic closeness is acceptable between teachers
and teenagers but not friendship closeness which is regarded with suspicion and
derision (Piccolo). G. Lewis supports this opinion. He says that teachers should not
play teenagers to get closer to them or to appear cool. Instead, they should always
remember that they are representing authority and keep this distinction clear. Despite
teen rebelliousness, teachers are still the authority figures and they should make clear
that the respect they show to teenage students must be returned back in the form of
appropriate classroom behaviour (5-9).
Generally speaking, authors agree that teachers should be friendly but not
students friends.
Piccolo further mentions that, teenagers try out different identities and like their
teachers to identify them as individuals with their own ideas. Majority of authors is of
the same opinion. For example, Harmer says that adolescence is bound up with a search
for identity and a need for self-esteem. Teenagers then need to feel good about
themselves and prefer teachers who value them. A teenager gives quite self-explanatory
conclusion when asked about what qualities make a good teacher (Harmer, The
Practice of English Language Teaching 83). He argued that a good teacher is
someone who knows our names (Harmer, How to Teach English 26).
33

Lindstromberg agrees that knowing students names makes a big difference,


particularly if teachers use names when giving positive feedback. He gives the
following advice on how to build foundations of a quality relationship. Learn
everyones name as fast as possible (Lindstromberg 13).
To establish a good teacher-teenager relationship, there is a general agreement
that teachers need to show that they are interested in their students. However, Twitchell
mentions that teachers should not approach and get to know teenagers only with the
idea that it will make the teaching easier. Teachers should really be interested in their
teenage students and show that they are truly important for them. Twitchell warns that
teenagers are quite intelligent when it comes to spotting a fake. Teachers who in fact do
not care about their teenagers should re-consider teaching them in the first place
(Twitchell Teaching Teenagers).
As mentioned earlier, since teenagers are sensitive to hypocrisy and insincerity
teachers should not pretend to be someone else in order to access them. Teenagers
welcome honesty and it is advisable for teachers to be themselves. Twitchell thinks that
teachers should be open about their past failures or weaknesses (Teaching Teenagers).
I believe that if teachers occasionally share some private stories and thus reveal more of
their life outside the classroom, it can help to establish a good rapport and increase
interest level as well.
Lindstromberg says that it is very important that teachers treat teenagers fairly.
As teenagers are sensitive about issues of fairness, teachers should consider whether
they are evenly dividing positive feedback and attention in general. He also points out
that teachers should answer questions clearly and respectfully. Teachers reactions are
crucial. If a reply seems dismissive, perfunctory or unclear, it can have a powerful,
negative effect on teenagers attitude (19).
It is also advisable that teachers try to find out about how they come across to
their students. They should reflect on their verbal and non-verbal behaviour and notice
if they have any unconscious habits that distract or irritate students, because teenage
ones can be very intolerant of these. Other advice he gives to teachers is to avoid
sarcasm. Teachers who use sarcasm tend to ruin all hope of working constructively
with any student they turn it on (Lindstromberg 20).

34

1.3.2. Appropriate teaching methods for teenagers


The emotional nature of teenagers can represent an advantage in their learning.
Harmer explains that once they are engaged, they express passionate commitment to
what they are doing (The Practice of English Language Teaching 83). It is therefore
the task of teachers to provoke student engagement with material which is relevant and
involving (Harmer, The Practice of English Language Teaching 84).
In addition to choosing activities with potential to be interesting and useful,
teachers should make their lessons success-oriented. Since nothing builds motivation
like success, teachers should design or choose tasks which set everyone achievable
aims (Lindstromberg 9).
Puchta and Schratz claim that problems with teaching teenagers partly result
from the teachers failure to build bridges between what they want and have to teach
and their students worlds of thought and experience (4). They advocate that teachers
need to link language teaching more closely to students interests. Teaching material
should be designed with topics that teenagers can react and relate to. Teenagers are
often much less motivated to learn than adults. Puchta explains that it is so because the
goals seem much more distant to them and therefore less motivating. Puchta and
Schratz promote communicative language teaching in teenagers. They claim that
teenagers typically have a low awareness of the social skills. That is why effective
communicative language learning is suitable for them. It fosters language ability and
social skills simultaneously (1-5). In their view,
process in teaching and learning is principally a matter of the quality of
communication between teacher and students and, especially, between
students. If the participants are being both frank and considerate,
independent

yet

cooperative,

and

are

speaking

willingly

and

comprehensibly to particular listeners about things that matter to them


both, then the quality of communication is high (Puchta and Schratz 3).

Puchta and other authors are in favour of the use of humanistic teaching in
teenagers. In a humanist classroom, students should be emotionally involved in learning
and feel good about themselves. The key idea is that successful learning takes place
when students are engaged and emotionally open to new language. In humanist
approach, learning a language is as much an issue of personal identity, self-knowledge,

35

feelings and emotions as it is about language (Harmer, The Practice of English


Language Teaching 59).
Piccolo supports the idea that language needs to be connected closely to
students lives and interests. Teenagers look for meaning and significance in relation to
their own lives in what they are taught (Piccolo). She states that teachers should take
advantage of this and personalise their lessons with regard to what is going on in lives
of their students at the moment.
Kevin Thompson stresses the importance of personalisation as well. He thinks
that when teachers present new language to teenage students, it is important to give
them an opportunity to use this language to say something interesting about themselves.
Lindstromberg develops this idea by saying that, A major means of maintaining
interest is use of activities which require and encourage students to use the target
language for communication of interesting messages (7).
G. Lewis agrees that teachers should ask questions about students. Especially
young teenagers are at the centre of their own attention and teachers should give them
opportunities to express their opinions (10). Piccolo agrees that most teenagers are quite
self-centred. They love to talk about themselves and their opinions which are often very
strong. They can be quite emotional as well and provided the subject is of a direct
relevance to their lives, they have always an opinion on a given matter. Therefore, if
teachers challenge them with relevant activities that promote thinking, they can expect
all-consuming discussions and impassionate interest (G. Lewis 5).
A creative teacher may organise activities like sharing journal entries or writing
newspaper articles for a newspaper students have created themselves. This allows
students to express themselves freely and talk endlessly about a topic they are interested
in (Piccolo).
I think there are other ways how to make use of teenagers need to share.
Contemporary teenagers are surrounded by media and information technology. For
example contributing to a classroom blog would give them opportunity to express
themselves and share their ideas with others. I believe that information technology and
Internet are quite appealing to teenagers. A chapter Teenagers and technology deals
with this issue in greater detail.

36

1.3.3. Relevant topics for teenagers


Generally, teenagers like to be seen as cool and up to date. Lindstromberg says
that it is wise to try to discover what topics are of current interest to teenage group and
include them in the lessons (7). It is recommended to bring in such topics of interest
from areas like IT, sport, entertainment, media and English-speaking cultures that are
personally relevant to teenage learners (Anderson).
Nevertheless, it may take a lot of effort on the part of the teacher to keep up to
date with technology and the events that may interest teenagers. However, it is vital for
getting and keeping teenagers attention (Piccolo). I agree that teachers should identify
and exploit students interests as much as possible in the classroom. It is obvious that
teachers are not teenagers anymore. Nonetheless, they can show an interest in teen
culture. Treat teen ideas with respect (G. Lewis 9).

1.3.4. Teenagers and music


It seems that all teenagers are interested in music and like listening to pop
songs. It may be a broad generalization, but on the whole teachers have found it to be
true. Due to the fact that majority of popular song lyrics is in English, it can be a source
for highly motivating activities.
Joanna Budden thinks that teenagers appreciate if teachers make effort to find
out what they like listening to. To get this information, students can make class surveys
to find out the top favourite bands or singers. There are many possibilities how to
exploit language in songs. It is easy to find lyrics on the Internet and teenagers
themselves can be involved in creating listening activities with their favourite songs.
Apart from this, Budden also mentions that background music can create a nice
atmosphere in the classroom. She plays music softly when students are working in
groups and allows the class vote for the type of music they want to listen to. I agree that
if teachers accept their music, it can improve motivation level of the class. Teenagers
know a lot about music and are always willing to tell teachers all about it. That is why it
can be used as a perfect information gap (Budden).
However, especially when dealing with popular music, opinions of different peer
groups can sometimes come into conflict. Therefore, teachers should be aware of this
danger and be prepared to cope with the tough situations that may arise.

37

1.3.5. Teenagers and game-like activities


Generally speaking, teenagers are rather competitive, they like to win and show
off. Therefore, experts in methodology advise to include games into teaching.
Lindstromberg agrees that activities with game-like elements are usually very good for
provoking interest. Such elements are for example a degree of competition and a goal
which concerns something other than getting the language right. An example of this
type of goal is spotting as many differences between two pictures as possible within a
time limit, or solving a brainteaser (Lindstromberg 7).
Anderson summarizes, Games can provide not only purposeful contexts in
which to use language but they also stimulate interaction, provide competition and are
fun as long as rules are clear and clearly followed by all participants.

1.3.6. Teenagers and entertainment


Every student prefers interesting and entertaining lessons but it is impossible to
make all lessons fun, since some subject matter is boring by nature (Piccolo). Twitchell
thinks that many teachers make the mistake of thinking that they must keep teenagers
entertained in order to keep them attentive. However, he claims that teenagers are
already surrounded by entertainment. Consequently, teachers cannot compete with
television, movies, video games and other forms of amusement. He explains that
teenagers are as eager for entertainment as they are for meaning and significance. And
thus teachers should address the latter (Twitchell Teaching Teenagers).
Piccolo says that even though teenagers are generally in favour of fun, they
realise that learning takes an effort. Puchta concludes that all lessons can be refined.
Even if the topics in the curriculum are mundane and not inspiring, they can be made
interesting and relevant (2).

1.3.7. Class knowledge and cross-curricular education


Teenagers know a lot about various topics and a teacher should tap into their
interests and passions for class content (Piccolo). Anderson agrees that some teenagers
have almost encyclopaedic knowledge of a particular field. He suggests that teachers
should let individual students bring their outside interests and knowledge into the
classroom through cross-curricular work (Anderson).
38

G. Lewis states that it has been only recently that EFL teachers began to
recognize the benefits of using subject-area content in their foreign language
classrooms. The goal is to learn English through content and the priority still remains
language development (11). G. Lewis adds that teachers should, encourage students to
become precise critical thinkers and to link their language study to other areas of their
education (6).
1.3.8. Group and project work with teenagers
Many authors mention that group work is appropriate for various reasons.
Teenagers are more independent and readily engage in group work. However, it needs
to be monitored closely because young teenagers often regress into more childlike
behaviour and fool around which is natural part of showing off to their classmates (G.
Lewis 8). Piccolo thinks that even though some teenagers may be quite self-conscious,
they need relationships and peer interaction.
It was mentioned before that teenagers are discovering and building up
relationships with others. Anderson advocates group work since it allows individuals
to interact with different classmates in a less stressful, collaborative atmosphere. I
agree that group work contributes to group dynamics and is very beneficial. However, I
believe that teachers need to be careful about dividing students into groups. It was
discussed already that young teenagers still tend to join same-sex groups. In my
opinion, teachers should bear this in mind and be sensitive when planning a group work.
They should try to become familiar with the friendship structure in a teenage class and
organize them accordingly so as to prevent any melodramas.
Nevertheless, team building activities should not be excluded from teaching
teenagers. Such activities should be integrated into language lessons, since they provide
teenagers with needed guidance and help to foster the community relationships.
G. Lewis says that it is useful to promote group work and collaborative learning
by the means of class projects (6). Anderson also values project work, because it offers
each individual a chance to use their individual talent to do something personally
meaningful and motivating with the language they are learning. The resulting posters
and other visuals may be displayed in the classroom, just as teenagers decorate their
rooms at home (Anderson).

39

1.3.9. Role-play and movement with teenagers


Despite the fact that some teenagers might be shy for acting out in the
classroom, authors agree that role-playing and acting activities represent teaching
methods suitable for teenagers.
Piccolo says that role-plays offer teenagers possibility to express themselves
freely. Role-playing allows them to vent their feelings in a safe way as it can be
perceived as just a role that a student is playing and not their true selves (Piccolo).
Anderson supports this statement by saying that role-play activities allow teenagers to
express different feelings behind non-threatening, face-saving masks.
Anderson further mentions the importance of movement during lessons.
Lindstromberg agrees and states that, Periodic opportunity to move about, or at least
stand and move, is highly beneficial to students in this age range and can contribute to
keeping interest up (7).

1.3.10. Humour, variation and pace with teenagers


Lindstromberg mentions other features of interesting lessons for teenagers.
Particularly, he speaks about humour and occasional surprises that can help keep
students interested and paying attention (7). Anderson suggests that to include humour
and surprise in the lessons, teachers can use variety of different warmers, starters and
fillers to change the pace and enliven the organisation of lessons.
Piccolo continues that lessons for teenagers should be quick-paced. She explains
that teenagers do not have a long attention span for a single topic unless various short
activities are used with a quick pace.
Lindstromberg agrees that teachers should plan varied lessons. He says that
many young teenagers lack perseverance and the power of concentration which
underlie an ability to finish long tasks all in one go (16). Teenagers are prone to
boredom, tend to be restless, impatient and easily distracted. These predictable
tendencies can be helped by good lesson planning (Lindstromberg 16).
Many teenage students find it easier to concentrate during the first 15 or 20
minutes of a lesson. Therefore, this is often the best time for intensive review or any
challenging exercise on new material. Without regular changes of pace, concentration
may sag deeply around the middle of a lesson. This could be a good time for a brief
spell of movement or music or other respites from sedentary brainwork
40

(Lindstromberg 17). Since towards the end of a lesson concentration may be increasing
again, it is a suitable time to review the new material covered near the beginning of the
lesson (Lindstromberg 17).
More tasks should be included for any given lesson than would be if the lesson
was planned for older teenagers or adults. The tasks should be varied too not just in
topic or skill and language focus but in many other ways as well (Lindstromberg 16).
For instance, at different stages of the lesson different aims should be focused on.
Students should sometimes work individually, at other times in pairs or groups, and
from time to time, they should try cooperation with new partners. Sometimes they
should work at their desks and at other times they can stand at the board in the front or
move around. Last but not least, quiet study-like tasks should be balanced with activities
that have game-like character (Lindstromberg 16).
Lindstromberg also points out that transitions from one task to another should be
planned carefully because swift and smooth transitions often prevent possible boredom
(16). He further mentions that teenage students need to be kept fruitfully occupied.
Students who have any tendency at all to become unruly are most likely to do so if
they are not on task (Lindstromberg 18). Teachers should make sure at all times that
everyone has been assigned a useful task (or set of task options) which is within their
level of competence (Lindstromberg 18).

1.3.11. Teenage learner responsibility and autonomy


Growing up involves taking responsibility for ones acts. Many authors agree
that teenage students should be made responsible for their actions. G. Lewis says that
young teenagers strive to be independent and want more responsibility (7-9). As a
teacher, you must give them responsibility, or else they may be offended and
withdraw (G. Lewis 7). However, he warns that it would be equally problematic to
treat them as adults because they still need some guidance (7). That is why he suggests
to grant them the responsibility together with all the rights and obligations it implies.
Students should be aware that they are accountable both for their work and their
behaviour (9).
It is advisable to negotiate rules with the teenagers. If they have input, they will
also understand that they need to hold to the decisions that have been made. It may be

41

worth drawing up a contract with students. There would be listed agreed rights and
responsibilities (G. Lewis 9).
Lindstromberg emphasises the importance of student involvement in framing the
class rules as well. A basic procedure is to bring a list of suggested rules to the class as a
proposal and invite discussion, especially on the reasons for each rule. Some teachers
find it helpful to let students formally sign the contract. Consequences for violating the
rules should be drafted as well (13-14).
Taking over responsibility in school means responsibility for ones learning.
Anderson suggests to introduce measures of learner autonomy. Individual choice can be
helpful for teenagers as well (Anderson). It is recommended to inspire students to
become autonomous learners and educate them about effective learning strategies
(Lindstromberg 144).
G. Lewis points out that teenagers should be involved in setting class goals.
Teachers may negotiate syllabus with them and allow them to make suggestions about
how to conduct activities. Brainstorming is a good means to combine students ideas
with teachers expectations and pre-requisites for the class. G. Lewis further mentions
that students should be given choices (10).

1.3.12. Teenagers and technology


These days, technology has an enormous impact on all aspects of teenage life
which simply cannot be ignored (G. Lewis 10). The access to information puts
teenagers more in control of their lives. While many young learners are exposed to
computers and have mastered the technology. It is in early teenage years that they begin
to interact autonomously with the medium and understand its true power. The
implications for teaching are extensive (G. Lewis 10).
Todays teenager is used to exploratory learning. This level of independence
needs to be extended to activities in the language-learning classroom (G. Lewis 10).
Teachers should encourage autonomous and discovery learning through technology
usage in the lessons. Email, chat, instant messaging, blogs and social networks provide
teenagers with opportunities to speak their minds and support accuracy and fluency in
the language classroom (G. Lewis 10-11).

42

1.3.13. Discussing and debating activities with teenagers


Teenage students frequently say they want to discuss or debate issues that are
of genuine interest to them. This must partly be so because the idea of discussing and
debating issues of consequence is in tune with teenage idealism (Lindstromberg 191).
Teenagers also desire to experiment with adult-like ways of relating to others.
Discussion and debate are very adult in its nature. Furthermore, Lindstromberg
emphasises that learning to debate reinforces personal development in teenagers (192).
Discussion is a valuable means for social integration, since teenagers learn to be
able to work both independently and as part of a team. For successful discussing and
debating, they need to listen to others well, follow rules and show respect for other
participants. Debaters are obliged to learn how to maintain self-control and be
courteous in any discussion (Lindstromberg 192).
Discussing activities also develop intellectual and study skills in teenagers.
Debaters must be able to generalize, understand an assertion as a whole, recognise key
terms and know how to construct and state arguments. Moreover, discussions improve
verbal-self-expression. Through discussion and debate teenagers learn to speak fluently
and confidently, stick to a topic and generally be relevant. They must be able to deliver
their ideas effectively and challenge or defend positions (Lindstromberg 192-193).
Teenagers psychological development includes the evolution of values through
moral reasoning. Therefore, teachers should guide teenage moral reasoning through
group discussion. Teenagers should be provided with hypothetical dilemmas where
students can explore their feelings and openly discuss their viewpoints. Through their
discussions, adolescents become more aware of their power to make choices and
decisions about their lives (J. Lewis).

1.3.14. Teenagers and discipline


Previous chapters aimed to discuss how to approach teenagers to be successful
in teaching and to prevent discipline problems from occurring.
However, if a problem occurs, teachers should not take things too personally.
Lindstromberg explains that when teenagers are rude to teachers, it is most likely
because teachers represent authority in general. By the time teenagers are fifteen or
sixteen years old, only a few have a perfect understanding of the norms of civility (21).
When a student has said something that is out of order or things seem to be about to
43

get tense for any reason, it may be best to make a humorous remark, to change the
subject or move on to a new activity (Lindstromberg 21).
Frost recommends to remain calm and avoid personal confrontation. It is
difficult at times to maintain calmness in the face of aggression or rudeness. However,
teachers should remember that losing their temper or shouting at a student will simply
make them weaker. In the class a teacher would lose authority in front of the students.
Talking to a student in one-to-one situation after the lesson usually puts teacher in
control again (Frost). Lindstromberg agrees that teachers should avoid getting drawn
into a conflict in front of the whole class. Instead, they should provide students with
face-saving solutions. If needed, talk privately with the problem student (21-22).
Frost also points out that teachers lose credibility and respect if they do not
follow what they have promised. It is therefore important not to issue empty threats
about disciplinary actions.

44

2. Practical Part
The practical part of this thesis gives the account of a case study, which was
carried out at a primary school in Brno. The practical survey focused on the issues
described in the theoretical part.
Particularly, the aim was to provide a constructive analysis of the attitudes of
primary learners towards both school and learning English. The investigation was done
specifically with the intention to find out how the interest in learning changes when
young learners enter upper-primary grades.
This chapter reports on the current situation in the target group of young
teenagers and presents the findings of the practical study.
Finally, this part of the diploma thesis analyses the outcomes of the survey and
suggests suitable ways of improvement for the actual case at the particular primary
school.

45

2.1. Case Study


The practical survey was conducted in March 2011 in order to closely
investigate the issue of primary learners attitudes to learning English. I was interested
whether the theoretical findings of this diploma thesis actually apply in a chosen
context, and to what extent.
Therefore, the purpose of this survey was to systematically investigate
an individual case. Particularly, I have decided to carry out a case study at primary
school Masarova 11, Brno. For the purposes of this diploma thesis, a case study method
of research was chosen because its results tend to be qualitative and illuminative rather
than conclusive (Wallace 47).
The study was done by the means of questionnaires and focus group interview
since, for this type of research, this appeared to be the most suitable combination of
methods for collecting the relevant information. Wallace mentions that the technique of
interview tends to be more qualitative and heuristic, while questionnaires tend to be
quantitative and more easily generate conclusive findings (47). Therefore, these two
methods were applied both to get a new insight into the particular problem and to
discover something about the problem that we were not aware of before.
Firstly, based on learners opinions, the survey gives an account of the present
situation at the primary school Masarova 11. It aims to describe and illuminate the
problem of changing attitudes to school and learning English in teenagers. The focus is
placed on the idea that the transition from the lower to the upper-primary grades marks
the breaking point when the learners attitudes change.
Secondly, the survey analyses the collected data and tries to define possible
reasons why young teenagers lose interest in language learning. The study aims to
notice weak points both in teaching and learning that could be improved in order to
make these processes more effective and successful.
Finally, the practical part provides conclusion on the studied phenomenon.

46

2.2. Analysis and Interpretation of the Questionnaire Data


Drnyei argues that even though questionnaires have advantages of being
efficient for example in terms of researcher time and effort, they have also some serious
limitations (9-10). Particularly, questionnaires inherently involve quite superficial and
relatively brief engagement with the topic on the part of the respondent (14).
In my opinion, primary school learners might be unmotivated to respond and
consequently easily prone to misinterpret or misread the questions. Additionally,
especially young learners might have some literacy problems and feel overwhelmed by
the task.
Drnyei also mentions social desirability or prestige bias, which is a significant
drawback of questionnaires in general. It is a natural human tendency to present
ourselves in a good light and respondents do not always provide true answers about
themselves. Since questionnaire items are often transparent and respondents can quite
easily guess the desirable or expected answers, they provide these answers instead of
the true ones (Drnyei 12).
To conclude, because of the possible disadvantages mentioned above, that could
badly influence the validity of the data, questionnaire survey was combined with
personal focus group interview to get more detailed, exploratory and qualitative nature
of information.
In the case study there were involved two questionnaires. The first one, designed
for young learners, was filled in by ninety respondents belonging to the lower-primary
school grades. Particularly, twenty-seven pupils from the third grades, fifty pupils from
the fourth grades and thirteen pupils from the fifth grades. I believe that this proportion
of research sample represents best the target group of young learners.
The other questionnaire was designed for young teenagers. A total of seventyseven pupils of upper-primary grades was responding. Particularly, forty-two eighth
graders and thirty-five seventh graders were involved in the survey. The target group of
young teenagers is mostly represented in the seventh and eighth primary school grades,
which is the reason why the case study was focused on these.
Both questionnaires were anonymous and there was no time limit for completing
them. The language of both questionnaires was chosen to be Czech, mother tongue of
the learners, to ensure that the respondents understand the items correctly and to prevent
47

any misinterpretations. The questions were mainly closed-ended and learners were
supposed to choose one answer to each. However, sometimes they could choose more
options as well or provide their own answers.
The questionnaire for young learners included six items to be answered, while
the one for teenagers was more complex and consisted of fourteen questions. The
questionnaires, both Czech and English versions, are to be found in the appendices
section of this diploma thesis (appendix A, B, C and D).

2.2.1. Comparison of attitudes


Five questionnaire items were the same both for young and teenage learners. The
aim was to compare the results and analyse the differences between these two age
groups. Since the numbers of respondents in each group differ, the answers were
converted into percentages. Consequently, the final graphs are intelligible and simple
enough to understand, compare and contrast.
This subchapter deals with each questionnaire item separately. It provides the
analysis and interpretation of the collected data. Moreover, it not only aims to describe
the respective results, but it also speculates on the reasons for the research outcomes and
states the opinion of the author.

48

Question I:
English language subject: (choose one answer)
The learners were asked to express their opinion about the English language
subject. This question was supposed to find out the popularity of the subject and how
the teenage attitudes towards it differ from the attitudes of young learners.
English language subject
lower-primary grades

upper-primary grades
A, is my favourite
subject

15%

7%

15%

5%

9%

B, is one of my
favourite subjects

11%
41%
25%

46%

26%

C, rather belongs
among less favourite
subjects
D, I do not like at all

E, own answer

Graph 1 English language subject

The findings of this question are quite surprising, because at first sight there are
not any significant differences in the attitudes to English language subject. The subject
is a favourite one or belongs among favourite subjects for 48% of young learners and
54% of teenagers. It seems that learners who like the subject at the lower-primary
grades continue to like it at the upper-primary grades too, and vice versa. Therefore, I
believe that the role of lower-primary teachers is very important and responsible. It is
teachers who can shape the attitudes of young learners. Lower-primary English lessons
may significantly influence the future approach of young learners to English.
However, to get a clearer insight into this issue, respondents own answers need
to be considered as well. It was 15% of both respondent groups that provided their own
answers.
Six of the young learners expressed neutral opinion about the subject and three
of them think that English is stupid or horrible. Other opinions were as follows: I love
England and would like to visit it, because English is my favourite subject. I quite like it.
49

English is quite ok, sometimes it is great. English used to be my favourite subject. On


the whole, the own answers were rather neutral or positive.
On the other hand, teenagers answered either positively or neutrally and there
were no negative responses. A few students added these explanations: It is my favourite
subject, because I can understand in foreign countries. Sometimes I look forward to
English, sometimes I do not. I like English, because I learn it from childhood. I like
English lessons, but recently I am not very good at it.
English language subject own answers analysed
lower-primary grades

upper-primary grades
A, is my favourite
subject
5%

7% 8%

B, is one of my
favourite subjects

8% 11%

14%

28%

43%

C, rather belongs
among less favourite
subjects

26%
50%

D, I do not like at all

E, normal subject or
neutral opinion

Graph 2 English language subject own answers

After the learners own answers were analysed, it can be concluded that the
English language subject is more popular among teenagers than among young learners.
Considerable number of young learners even does not like English lessons at all, which
is not the case at the upper-primary grades.
Question II:
For the English language lessons it is typical: (you can choose more options)
This questionnaire item looked into the nature of English lessons. The aim was
to point out to the strengths and drawbacks of the English lessons from the learners
perspective. They were asked to mark the items that, according to their opinion,
characterize a typical English lesson. The vast majority of respondents used the
opportunity to choose more than one option. The following graph presents the results.
50

For the English language lessons it is typical


15.0% 14.7%

14.7%
13.0%

11.6% 12.1%

12.1%

11.6%
10.1%

11.6%

10.2%

8.8%
7.2%

6.5%

4.8%
3.1%

6.9%

6.1%

4.8%
3.5% 3.6%

3.4% 3.6%

2.0%

lower-primary
grades

upper-primary
grades

Graph 3 For the English language lessons it is typical

According to the learners responses, there are some notable differences between
the young and teenage learners perception of the English lessons. The collected data
prove that the transition from the lower to the upper-primary grades brings about some
significant changes in learners attitudes.
To interpret the collected information, firstly, for each of the lesson
characteristics the two respective columns of the graph were compared. Secondly, the
percentage differences were calculated so that the items could be ordered from the most
diverse to the least. Lastly, the percentages for each pair of the columns were counted
together to find out the most frequent opinions about the English lessons.
The biggest difference (6%) appeared in the answers for the item J, which asked
whether the students usually feel happy that they have learnt something new in the
51

lesson. According to the graph, it is obvious that teenagers feel more satisfied, in the
area of knowledge, after the lessons than young learners. However, young learners
might be less content because the nature of their lessons is repetitive and the curriculum
does not include learning of new material as often as the curriculum for upper-primary
grades. Generally, I think that the findings of the question confirmed that teenagers
appreciate and want to learn new things. Quite high number of teenagers (12,1%) chose
this option which suggests that the English lessons offer them possibilities to learn a lot
of new things.
The previous outcome is also supported by the contrary item K, which asked
whether the learners usually feel that they have not learnt anything from the lessons.
Only a small percentage of both groups answered this way, which shows that the
learners mostly benefit from the lessons.
The second biggest difference in answers concerned the item C. 3,4% more of
teenagers than young learners think that the English lessons are stereotypical. I think
that teenagers might be more sensitive and critical to stereotype, while young learners
might have confused the term stereotype with routine activities. However, this answer
was chosen by a relatively small number of learners when compared to other typical
features of English lessons. Therefore, it can be concluded that English lessons are a bit
stereotypical and there is some space for improvement in this area.
The items B and G are closely corresponding with the previous issue of
stereotype. 2,4% more of teenagers than young learners think that English lessons are
boring. 2% of teenagers think that the lessons are varied, while this is agreed by 4,8% of
young learners. The same percentage difference (2,8%) appears in the item H, which
asks whether the lessons are interesting. Considerably less number of teenagers than
young learners responded that they find the lessons interesting, which may go hand in
hand with their opinion on the lesson variety. To sum up, the features of boredom,
variety and attractiveness of the lessons partly suggest the possible causes of the
different attitudes between young learners and teenagers. The results reveal that
teenagers lack variety in the lessons and sometimes they are bored. This could be, in my
opinion, improved if the lessons were more varied and adjusted to be more of an interest
for teenagers than they are now.
Teenagers and young learners responded very differently to the question E,
which asked their opinion about a friendly atmosphere in the lessons. 3,3% less of
teenagers than young learners find the lesson atmosphere friendly, which shows that
52

upper-primary lessons have less favourable atmosphere than they used to have at the
lower-primary section. However, I dare to say that generally there is a nice and friendly
atmosphere in the lessons since quite a large proportion of both respondent groups
chose this answer. To make a comparison, both groups decided rather for friendly than
tense lesson atmosphere. The item F, which concerned a tense lesson atmosphere was
chosen by only a small percentage of both groups. This suggests that the lesson
atmosphere may be sometimes tense, but this feature does not get worse from lower to
upper-primary grades.
The responses to the question G concur with the findings about friendly
atmosphere. A substantial proportion of both groups answered that the lessons are
characterized by a good mood.
The results for the item A are quite surprising for me. The question asked
whether the learners have fun in the lessons and I expected the responses of the two
research groups to vary. Contrary to expectations, it can be concluded that the fun
element of the lessons does not change much when lower and upper-primary opinions
are compared. Moreover, the survey shows that a large number of both young learners
and teenagers seem to enjoy the lessons and have fun.
Finally, the most frequently chosen option was the item I, which asked about the
usefulness of the lessons, and the item L, which asked whether the learners think that
they can use the knowledge from the lessons also outside the classroom, in everyday
life. I think that these results are quite complimentary for the teachers, because if the
learners find the lessons useful, they should be also well motivated to learn English and
work hard. The findings show that the majority of learners realise that they can make
use of English in other environments than just at school. It is also nice to find out that
both teenagers and young learners appreciate the knowledge they receive in the lessons.
Question III:
How important is it for you to know English? (choose one answer)
This questionnaire item was supposed to reveal whether the knowledge of
English language is important for the learners and to what extent. It also aimed to find
out if young learners opinion changes when they are older and attend upper-primary
grades.

53

How important is it for you to know English?


lower-primary grades

upper-primary grades
4%
A, little

8%
24%

30%

19%

35%

B, important
C, very
important

33%

47%

D, absolutely
necessary

Graph 4 The importance of English language knowledge

The survey findings indicate that 77% of the teenagers rank English knowledge
as either absolutely necessary or very important, while with young learners this opinion
is represented by only 57% of their answers. The graphs show that the older the learners
are, the more important the English knowledge becomes for them. In my opinion, this is
a positive conclusion, because if teenage learners believe that English is necessary, it
should increase their intrinsic motivation.
Question IV:
Mostly, I do homework: (choose one answer)
Both groups of learners were inquired about their homework habits. This
question was aimed to find out whether they usually do homework or not and how the
attitude towards it changes between young learners and teenagers. What is more,
learners were asked to specify if they work on homework tasks individually, at home or
at school and provide the reasons for these. If they usually do not do their homework, or
if they copy it from classmates, they were asked to tell their reasons as well.

54

Mostly, I do homework
lower-primary grades
3%

upper-primary grades

0% 2% 0%

1%

3% 5%

8%
17%

13%

21%

22%
5%

11%
49%

40%

A1, individually at home, because I


learn by it

D, I copy from my classmates, because I want to


avoid pointless work

A2, individually at home, because


(give your reason)

E, I copy from my classmates, because homework


is too difficult for me

B, at home, but somebody is helping


me

F, I do not do, because homework is meaningless

C, individually, but at school

G, I do not do, because (give your reason)

Graph 5 Homework

Firstly, I would like to present the basic findings concerning whether the learners
actually do their homework or not. The total of 95% of young learners does their
homework, but only 78% of teenagers does so. It is therefore obvious that teenagers at
the upper-primary grades are much less disciplined in their approach to homework
tasks. One of the reasons may be that parents are usually helping young learners with
their home preparation. However, 40% of teenagers says that somebody is helping them
with their homework as well.
Further, 13% of teenagers, compared to only 3% of young learners admit to copy
their homework, because they want to avoid pointless work. 3% of teenagers think that
homework is meaningless and the rest of 5% gives the following answers for not doing
the homework: I do not have time for it. Homework is sometimes too difficult and
sometimes I copy from my friends. I do not have time for it because of my leisure
activities, but I usually finish my homework on my own at school. I often forget about it.
Other data reveal that larger proportion of young learners than teenagers does
their homework individually, but at school. I think that home tasks for young learners

55

might be much easier for them and so they leave the work for school, because they
know they can manage easily.
Even though, generally, less teenagers than young learners does their homework,
quite high number of them (22%) responded that they do homework at home
individually, because they think that they learn by it. Other teenage reasons for working
individually at home: I do not want to be reproached by the teacher. I do not need any
help. It is good for revision. Because nobody else knows English at home. Young
learners presented following explanations for working individually at home: I like it.
Nobody else at home can speak English. It is important. My parents do not have time.
My mother does not have time. I want to be clever. My mother cannot speak English.
In conclusion, it seems that quite large number of teenagers view homework as
pointless work. In my opinion, they may be simply revolting against their duties or their
leisure activities may distract them from doing homework. To sum up, this research
question showed that teenagers need to be better motivated to do their homework.
Question V:
I study and do preparation for the English lessons: (choose one answer)
Learners were asked to say how often they study and do preparation for the
English lessons. I wanted to find out whether young learners approach to their home
preparation changes when they enter upper-primary grades. I also wanted to prove
Rendls research, which in the theoretical part of this thesis mentioned that 50% of
seventh graders study for lessons only when they expect tests or examinations.

56

I study and do preparation for the English lessons


lower-primary
grades

upper-primary grades
A, continuously (from
lesson to lesson)

13%

10%

17%

B, at least once a week

28%

27%
43%

13%

49%

C, only before
examinations or tests
D, I do hardly any
preparation or
studying

Graph 6 Preparation for the English lessons

The results of this questionnaire item are in accordance with Rendls findings.
Nearly 50% of teenagers study and do some preparation for the lessons only before
examinations or tests. However, from the graphs we can tell that young learners
and teenagers frequency of home preparation for the lessons does not differ very much.
I think that the lower-primary curricula are comparably easier and that is why young
learners can afford to study only when they expect to be examined. Nevertheless, this is
not the case for teenagers. I believe that if they underestimate the importance
of continuous home preparation, then they have difficulties to manage the curricula.
This issue is further analysed in the subchapter called Teenage learners where
the difficulty of curricula and possible causes for learners problems with English
are discussed in detail.

57

2.2.2. Young learners


Apart from the five questions, that were analysed and interpreted in the previous
subchapter, young learners were asked to answer one additional question.
Question VI:
I like the best: (you can choose more options)
It aimed to find out what activities young learners like the best in English
lessons. Respondents could choose more than one option, which in most cases they did.

I like the best


A, games and competitions
4%
5%

B, songs and singing

6%

23%

14%
15%
16%
17%

C, drawing, colouring and making things


D, when we not only sit at our desks, but
also move around
E, when we act out dialogues, do role-plays
F, when the teacher brings puppets,
pictures and/or other things
G, when we work with a coursebook
H, when we learn grammar

Graph 7 What young learners like the best

According to the survey results, it seems that the lower-primary lesson activities
are well balanced and generally popular among the young learners. According to quite
evenly distributed answers, it appears that all kinds of lesson activities are incorporated
into the English lessons. This was also confirmed in question II where young learners
answered positively about the variety of the lessons.
The collected data demonstrate the playful and competitive nature of children,
since most of them (23%) replied that they like games and competitions the best.
Drawing, colouring, making things and activities when learners move around were also
represented by a large proportion of responses. Last but not least, songs and singing,
role-plays and acting out of dialogues were among the most frequent choices as well.
58

On the other hand, the graph shows that young learners do not like it much when
the teacher brings puppets, pictures and/or other things to the lessons. It is advised, in
the theoretical part of the thesis, that teachers should use demonstration and illustration
as much as possible. However useful it may be for learning, the survey revealed that
learners do not like it very much in particular.
Lastly, working with a coursebook and learning grammar belongs among the
least popular lesson activities.

2.2.3. Teenage learners


Apart from the five questions that were already discussed and analysed in the
chapter Comparison of attitudes, teenagers were asked to fill in nine more
questionnaire items. These additional questions were included to obtain a clearer picture
of the situation at the upper-primary grades and aimed to gain an insight into the causes
of the most burning issues. Particularly, the questions monitored and closely focused on
the areas of motivation, attitude towards school in general and English lessons, learners
perception of curricula and importance of English language. Last but not least,
teenagers expressed opinions about their teachers qualities.
Question VII:
My attitude towards primary school and its significance. (you can choose more options)
This question asks about the learners attitude towards primary school in
general. Teenagers were supposed to evaluate the significance of education for them
and specify reasons for their choices. I would like to point out, that majority of them
selected more than one option.

59

My attitude towards primary school and its significance


0.5%

0.5%

4.9%

A, school is only useless duty and has no sense for me


B, school is rather not important for me

30.8%

11.5%

C, school is important rather for my parents than for me


D, school is rather important for me

15.9%

35.7%

E, school is important for me, because of the study at a


secondary school and/or my future profession
F, school is important for me, because I learn interesting things
there
G, school is important for me, because I meet my friends there

Graph 8 Teenage attitude towards primary school and its significance

Most teenagers (35,7%) responded that school is important for them because of
the study at a secondary school and/or for their future profession. Other 15,9%
answered that school is important for them, because they learn interesting things there.
Further, some teenagers (11,5%) view school as rather important. Therefore, the total of
63,1% of teenage learners realise the importance of school in their life and the
importance of education for their future career. Since only 1% of all responses
described school as rather unimportant or useless duty which has no sense for them, the
findings of this survey item are quite satisfactory.
Personally, I believe that teenagers answered honestly and even though it may
often seem that they do not care about school and disparage its importance, the truth is
that they realise very well how important it is. However, 4,9% of respondents stated that
school is important rather for their parents than for them. Referring back to the
theoretical part of the thesis, this would confirm that some teenagers are in opposition to
the adult values and explicitly proclaim that they do not share them.
Finally, the survey results show that 30,8% of teenagers like to meet their friends
at school, which makes it important for them. This confirms that the social aspect of
school is greatly valued by teenagers. They like socializing and peers and friendships
play an essential part in their lives.

60

Question VIII:
Outside the classroom I come across and/or use English: (you can choose more options)
This question focused to find out in what situations, apart from the school
environment, teenagers come across and/or use English. Responses to question III
(importance of the English language knowledge) showed that teenagers mostly view
English knowledge as very important. Therefore, this question aimed to specify
particular areas of English usage to see when teenagers encounter and/or need English
most frequently.

Outside the classroom I come across and/or use


English
A, when I work or play on a computer

6% 3%

B, when I watch series or films in the original version


26%
23%
16%
26%

C, when I listen to music


D, when I travel abroad
E, when I read English magazines, books etc.
F, own answer

Graph 9 When teenagers come across and/or use English

The collected data show that teenagers most frequently deal with English when
they work or play on a computer and when they listen to music. These results prove that
computer technology and music belong among the most popular teenage activities and
interests. Therefore, I think that to increase attention and motivation levels in the upperprimary grades, it is advisable to incorporate these into the lessons more often and thus
relate the lesson content to learners lives more closely.
Further, 23% of teenagers say that they come across and/or use English when
travelling abroad and 16% of them when they watch series or films in the original
version. Thus, I think that video material or films should be sometimes used to enliven
the lessons and to motivate the learners as well.
Only 6% of respondents chose to use English when reading magazines, books
etc. In my opinion, this signifies that their level of English is not advanced enough for
this type of activity. However, teenagers occasionally work with English magazines for
61

learners in the lessons and they often continue reading at home when they are interested.
I think that it positively influences their attitudes to reading in English.
Lastly, 3% of teenage learners provided their own answers: When I meet
foreigners and they need to show the way. I teach English to my mother, because she
cannot speak it and so I want to help her. When I talk to my English relatives. I
translate computer games for my friends. I can use it anywhere. At sport events I speak
English with my foreign friends. I have a boyfriend in England.
Question IX:
Computer in English lessons: (choose a true statement for you, you can choose more
options)
This questionnaire item aimed to find out teenage attitude towards computer
usage in the English lessons.

Computer in English lessons


10%

A, I like working with a computer

2%

41%
47%

B, I would like to work with a computer more often


C, I would like our class to have own blog or interesting web pages,
where I would contribute to discussions and make commentaries
only in English
D, I do not like working with a computer

Graph 10 Computer in English lessons

The results strongly confirm what was suggested in the previous question VIII.
In particular, 47% of teenagers want to work with a computer more often in the lessons.
41% of them like working with a computer, while only 2% do not. It is interesting that
10% of respondents would like their class to have its own blog or web pages, where
they would contribute to discussions and make commentaries only in English. It appears
that quite a few learners would like this idea. Therefore, I think it would be worth
assigning the creation of blog or interesting web pages as a project work to a group
of volunteers to see how well it would work and if it would motivate others to join. As it

62

was mentioned in the theoretical part of this thesis, technology usage in education has a
great potential and I would suggest to make use of it with teenagers more often.
Question X:
Compare the difficulty of the upper-primary curricula to the lower-primary curricula.
(choose one answer)
This question aimed to illuminate how teenagers perceive the difficulty
of the upper-primary curricula when compared to the lower-primary curricula. Also,
I wanted to find out whether they feel they can manage the upper-primary demands with
difficulties or rather with ease.

Compare the difficulty of the upper-primary


curricula to the lower-primary curricula
12% 3%

A, upper-primary curriculum is very difficult and I have


big problems to manage it
44%

41%

B, upper-primary curriculum is difficult and sometimes


I have problems to manage it
C, upper-primary curriculum is more difficult, but I can
manage
D, I can manage upper-primary curriculum without any
difficulties

Graph 11 The difficulty of the upper-primary curricula


compared to the lower-primary curricula

It is generally assumed that problems which arise at the upper-primary grades


are related to its more difficult curricula. Learners may be discouraged to study because
the curricula become incomprehensible and considerably more difficult. The survey
results confirmed that most teenagers (44%) feel that upper-primary curriculum is
difficult and sometimes they have problems to manage it. On the other hand, only 3% of
learners feel that they have really big problems to manage. Further, 41% of teenagers
admit that curriculum is more difficult, however, they feel they can manage. Finally,
12% of teenagers think that they can manage upper-primary curriculum without any
difficulties.

63

To conclude, despite the fact that some learners may sometimes have problems
with more demanding curricula, it seems that the rest is very much capable of coping
with the upper-primary requirements. Therefore, the causes for their difficulties might
be rooted somewhere else, which is the focus of the following question XI.
Question XI:
When I have difficulties with English, it is mostly because: (choose one answer)
There are many possible reasons why upper-primary learners have difficulties at
school. This question aimed to find out why teenagers think they have difficulties with
English.

When I have difficulties with English, it is


mostly because
11%

A, I do not study at home as much as I should


44%

27%

B, I do not understand the teachers explanation


C, I have knowledge gaps from the previous years

18%

D, I do not pay attention or concentrate in the


lessons

Graph 12 Reasons for the difficulties with English

The results show that most of the teenagers (44%) admit that if they have
difficulties with English, it is mostly because they do not study at home as much as they
should. This outcome confirms the findings of question V, which revealed that
teenagers study and do preparation for the lessons irregularly and mostly only when
they expect to be examined. I believe that their undisciplined home preparation may be
the reason why they often have knowledge gaps from the previous years, which is the
case of 27% of all teenage learners. Further, 18% of respondents claim to have
difficulties with English, because they do not understand the teachers explanation.
However, quite high number of teenagers (11%) admit that they do not pay attention or
concentrate in the lessons, which may well be the reason why they do not understand
teachers explanations.

64

Question XII:
Would you study in the same way for the English lessons even if there were no marks
given? (choose one answer)
This question aimed to find out teenage attitude towards marks and whether they
represent a motivational factor for learning.

Would you study in the same way for the English


lessons even if there were no marks given?
13%

A, yes, knowledge is more important for me than marks

5%
18%

B, rather yes
C, I do not know

31%

33%

D, rather no
E, no, I study for the English lessons only to have good
marks

Graph 13 Teenage attitude towards marks and its motivational effect

The collected data rather suggest that good marks are not the main impulse and
motivation to study. 18% of teenagers think that they would study in the same way for
the English lessons even if there were no marks given, because knowledge is more
important for them than marks are. Majority of teenagers (33%) think that they would
rather study in the same way.
However, quite high proportion of teenagers (31%) do not know if no-marking
system would change their attitude to studying. While 5% of teenagers state that they
study for the English lessons only to have good marks, 13% think that they would rather
not study in the same way, if no marks were given.
To reach a more conclusive result, I divided the undecided answers in halves.
Answers A, B and a half of answer C (15,5%) counted together give the total of 66,5%
of learners who study not only to have good marks, but also because they value the
knowledge of English.

65

Question VIII:
Would you like to learn by play like it is at the lower-primary grades? (choose one
answer)
This questionnaire item aimed to find out the teenagers attitude towards
teaching approach at the upper-primary school section. In particular, I was interested
whether they miss the aspect of play in the lessons and whether they would like to
learn by play like it is at the lower-primary grades.

Would you like to learn by play


like it is at the lower-primary
grades?
8%
A, yes
23%

B, rather yes

30%

C, rather no

39%

D, no

Graph 14 Teenage attitude towards learning by play

The results show that 23% of teenagers are very much in favour of learning by
play like it is at the lower-primary grades. The majority of responses (39%) would
rather choose to learn by play, while 30% would rather not. Only 8% answered that
they do not like the idea.
These data result in 62% of teenagers that would welcome the idea of learning
by play. I think that this points out to the fact that teenagers are still partly childish
and playful in their nature. It could be concluded that, according to the survey results,
more than half of teenagers misses the teaching approach that is applied at the lowerprimary grades and would like to return to it. Therefore, I think that teachers should
consider this finding and, if possible, they should provide teenagers with more gamelike and entertaining activities.

66

Question XIV:
I like best when I work: (choose one answer)
This question aimed to find out whether teenagers prefer working on their own,
in pairs or in groups.

I like best when I work


12%

54%

A, on my own
B, in a group

34%

C, in pairs

Graph 15 Teenage attitude towards working individually, in pairs and in groups

The graph shows that the majority of teenagers (54%) likes best when they work
in pairs. 34% of them prefer working in groups and the rest (12%) likes to work
individually on their own. It is therefore obvious that teenagers like to collaborate,
either in groups or in pairs. Referring back to the theoretical part of the thesis, for
various reasons group work is well recommended with teenage learners. The survey
findings prove that teenagers prefer group work tasks to individual ones. However, I
believe that all three types of work should be well balanced in the lessons, since I think
that they are equally important.
Question XV:
Evaluate your English teacher with a mark like at school. (1=I very much agree, 2=I
agree, 3=I neither agree nor disagree, 4=I disagree, 5=I very much disagree)
Give your mark to each of the items A-N.
At the primary school Masarova 11, there are three teachers teaching at the
seventh and eighth grades. Teenage learners were asked to evaluate their English
teachers qualities. They used marking system similar to the school marking scale where
1 represented the best mark and 5 was the worst assessment.
Teacher personality and teaching style is one of the main factors that influence
the happenings in the classroom. Further, the quality of teacher-learners relationship is a
67

basis for successful teaching and learning. Therefore, this question was meant to find
out what teenagers think about their teachers in general and to detect any weak
characteristics of theirs that could be improved.
This subchapter comments on each evaluated item separately and provides
illustrative graphs as well. The caption symbolises the number of teenagers that used
respective marks for assessment. To decode and analyse the results, I have decided to
focus on the marks which received more than 51% of answers, which is represented by
forty learners. These findings are, in my opinion, quite obvious to interpret. The rest of
the items I examined to see how evenly the respective marks were distributed and if
there were any deviations that I could point out.
A, The teacher is fair
This

The teacher is fair (e.g. is just in


evaluation)

question

asked

whether

the

teenagers think that their teachers treat

42

them fairly or not, for example in


evaluation. The total of 83% of teenagers
22

think that the teachers are fair. I believe


9

that
0

this

is

very

good

result,

considering the fact that teenagers are


very critical and sensitive to this topic.

1.I very 2. I agree 3. I


4. I 5. I very
much
neither disagree much
agree
agree nor
disagree
disagree

Only about 5% of the learners think that


teachers are rather not fair.

Graph 16 The teachers fairness

68

B, The teacher is respecting us


This item aimed to find out whether the

The teacher is respecting us

teenagers feel that the teachers are respecting

33

them. It is one of the few questions, where

25

none of the responses is clearly prevailing.

18

Nevertheless, the majority of the teenagers


agreed or agreed strongly. However, there
1

were still eighteen learners (23%) who could

not decide for an answer. Therefore, I think

1.I very 2. I
3. I
4. I 5. I very
much agree neither disagree much
agree
agree
disagree
nor
disagree

that showing the respect for teenagers and


treating them in a kind way could be
improved by the teachers.

Graph 17 The teachers respect towards teenagers

C, The teacher can motivate us to work and learning


This question asked the opinion about

The teacher can motivate us to


work and learning

how good the teachers are at motivating

37

the teenagers to work and learning. For

25

this skill the teachers received the worst


9

marks of all items. However, on average,


1

the learners used mark 2, which is not


unsatisfactory at all. It rather shows that

1.I very 2. I agree 3. I


4. I 5. I very
much
neither disagree much
agree
agree nor
disagree
disagree

there is still a place for improvement in


the area of motivation.

Graph 18 The teachers ability to motivate

69

D, The teacher is interested in our opinions


This question aimed to find out whether

The teacher is interested in our


opinions

the teachers show interest in their

41

learners opinions. The majority of the


23
10

teenagers (83%) agrees that the teachers


2

care about their opinions. Only a small


proportion of learners disagree or is

1.I very 2. I agree 3. I


4. I 5. I very
much
neither disagree much
agree
agree nor
disagree
disagree

undecided.

Graph 19 The teachers interest in learners opinions

E, The teacher can teach us a lot


This question asked about the teachers

The teacher can teach us a lot

ability to teach. I am aware that this

36

question is rather subjective, since it does

31

not specify what it means to teach a lot.


However I wanted to see if the teenagers
can appreciate and evaluate a good
teacher, who is knowledgeable and
skilful at teaching. The results show that
5

87% of the teenagers think that their

teachers can teach them a lot. I believe


1.I very 2. I agree 3. I
4. I 5. I very
much
neither disagree much
agree
agree nor
disagree
disagree

that this is quite complimentary for the


teachers, since their learners mostly think
that they are good at their profession.

Graph 20 The teachers ability to teach

70

F, The teacher is friendly


This question asked how much the

The teacher is friendly

teachers are friendly in the eyes of their

49

learners. 89% of responses say that the


teachers are friendly, the majority even
agrees strongly. I think that this is a very

20
6

positive result. If the teachers are seen as


0

friendly, there should be also a nice

1.I very 2. I agree 3. I


4. I 5. I very
much
neither disagree much
agree
agree nor
disagree
disagree

learning atmosphere in the lessons,


which should contribute to successful
learning and teaching.

Graph 21 The teachers' friendliness

G, The teacher has a natural authority


This

The teacher has a


natural authority

question

asked whether

the

teachers

represent for their learners natural authorities. It


aimed to find out whether the teachers have

32

natural power to make the teenagers obey and

30

respect them. According to the results, generally,


the teenagers think that the teachers have a natural
authority. Even though most of the teenagers
agreed, 39% gave mark 2 and three teenagers

12

disagreed. Hence, it could be concluded that not


all the learners view their teachers as absolute
2

1.I very 2. I
3. I
4. I 5. I very
much agree neither disagree much
agree
agree
disagree
nor
disagree

natural authorities. The trouble is, in my opinion,


that this teacher quality would be difficult to
change, since it is quite a stable personality trait.
On the whole, however, the findings do not show
any serious weaknesses in this examined issue.

Graph 22 The teachers natural authority

71

H, The teacher cares about the way s/he teaches us


This question aimed to find out whether the

The teacher cares about the


way s/he teaches us

teenagers feel that their teachers care about


the way they teach. The collected data show

40
26

that 86% of the learners agree. Therefore, I


9

1.I very 2. I
much agree
agree

think that generally, the teenagers recognize

3. I
4. I 5. I very
neither disagree much
agree
disagree
nor
disagree

the effort that the teachers invest into the


lessons and they should, in turn, cooperate
and do their best as well.

Graph 23 The teachers care about the way they teach

I, The teacher tries to make lessons interesting


In question II teenagers responded that

The teacher tries to make


lessons interesting

the lessons are quite interesting for them.


This question asked if the teenagers

45

think that the teachers try to make


lessons interesting. The results match the
findings of the previous question H,
21

because again the majority of the


teenagers (86%) agrees. It can be
7

concluded that the teenagers value that

4
0

the

teachers

try

to

make

lessons

interesting and they understand that not

1.I very 2. I agree 3. I


4. I
5. I very
much
neither disagree much
agree
agree nor
disagree
disagree

every studying material can be made


entertaining or fun.

Graph 24 The teachers try to make lessons interesting

72

J, The teacher can establish order in a class


This question aimed to find out how

The teacher can establish order


in a class

good the teachers are at managing a class

47

when misbehaviour occurs. The results


are quite convincing, because 88% of the
teenagers think that their teachers are
21

well able to establish order in a class. In


my opinion, this result again proves that

7
1

the teachers are generally respected not


only as formal authorities, but they have

1.I very 2. I agree 3. I


4. I
5. I very
much
neither disagree much
agree
agree nor
disagree
disagree

also a natural ability to lead the class and


conduct the lessons in a smooth manner.

Graph 25 The teachers ability to establish order in a class

K, The teacher remembers our names and uses them


This

The teacher remembers our


names and uses them

question

focused

on

very

important aspect that is a basis for a good


teacher-learner relationship. That is,

71

whether the teachers remember and use


4

their learners names. The results show


1

that the teachers may occasionally forget

1.I very 2. I agree 3. I


4. I 5. I very
much
neither disagree much
agree
agree nor
disagree
disagree

the names of their learners. However,


97% of the teenagers agree that the
teachers remember and use their names.

Graph 26 The teachers ability to remember and use learners names

73

L, The teacher does not treat us like little kids


This question aimed to find out how the

The teacher does not treat us


like little kids

teachers approach the teenagers. Particularly,


whether they keep any habits from teaching

54

at the lower-primary grades, that would


teenagers perceive as talking down to them,
child talk or treating them like little ones.
16

The vast majority of the teenagers (91%)


4

think that the teachers do not treat them like

little kids. In my opinion, this is a very nice


1.I very 2. I
3. I
4. I 5. I very
much agree neither disagree much
agree
agree
disagree
nor
disagree

outcome, because it signifies that the


teachers treat teenagers on a more even level,
which teenagers generally welcome.

Graph 27 The teachers treatment of teenagers

M, The teacher has a sense of humour

The teacher has a sense of


humour

This question aimed to find out whether the


teenagers think that their teachers have a
sense of humour, which is a factor that

44

significantly

affects

the

classroom

atmosphere. According to the results, 73% of


the teenagers agree that the teachers are
12

mostly in a good humour and can understand

12
7
2

fun. However, 27% of the learners are either


undecided or disagree. This indicates that

1.I very 2. I
3. I
4. I
5. I
much agree neither disagree very
agree
agree
much
nor
disagree
disagree

sometimes the teachers could react in a more


relaxed way and have a better sense of
humour.

Graph 28 The teachers sense of humour

74

N, When I need help or advice, I can talk with him/her about it (either in private or in a
lesson)

When I need help or advice,


I can talk with him/her
about it (either in private or
in a lesson)
44

This question asked if the learners feel that


they can come to their teachers to ask for help
or advice. The total of 82% of the teenagers
agrees that when they need help or advice,
they can talk with their teachers about it,
either in private or in a lesson. This suggests
that teenagers and their teachers have a

19

trusting relationship. However, 18% of the


teenagers do not seem to confide in their

10
3

1.I very 2. I
3. I
4. I 5. I very
much agree neither disagree much
agree
agree
disagree
nor
disagree

teachers. Therefore, the teachers could be


more open to discuss problems with their
learners. Nevertheless, if students have other
problems that do not concern studying, they
can also find help at the school psychologist.

Graph 29 The teachers help when the learners need it

75

2.3. Analysis and Interpretation of the Focus Group Interview


As it was already mentioned, I decided to use not only questionnaire but also
interview research method for my diploma thesis case study. Particularly, a focus group
interview was conducted, which is a qualitative type of research. After the questionnaire
data were analysed, some other questions and issues emerged from the results. I needed
to gain a more concrete and detailed insight into some problematic areas. Therefore, I
asked a group of teenagers to talk about their opinions, attitudes and perceptions.
Six teenagers volunteered to participate, three from the seventh grades and three
from the eighth grades. In the focus group there were four girls and two boys. The
interview was interactive, the teenagers discussed the questions among each other and
reacted to each others answers. The interview was conducted in Czech language so that
the learners could express themselves freely without any inhibitions, language barriers
or misunderstandings. The transcription of the focus group interview is to be found in
the appendices section of this diploma thesis (appendix E).
Firstly, I was interested how the teenagers perceived the transition from the
lower to the upper-primary grades. Particularly, what changes were the most difficult
for them and maybe caused them some troubles. They all agreed that the learning
became more difficult, they had more lessons per week and more home preparation.
They also mentioned that the upper-primary teachers became less tolerant and their
attitude towards learners changed in this aspect. Further, at the beginning, the teenagers
minded that they had to change the classrooms, but they got used to it by now.
According to the questionnaire research results, quite a lot of the teenagers study
and do home preparation only before tests and exams. Therefore, I asked why they do
not study continuously. The main problem seems to be that they do not have much time
in the afternoons because of their leisure activities. Some students commute and some
admit that they are lazy to study at home. Others prefer leisure activities to studying.
However, most of them think that it is not enough to study only when they have to
because of exams.
Further, the teenagers complained that they have too many homework tasks to
do every day and that they cannot manage homework for all the subjects.
I wanted to know what they would suggest to change in the lessons so that it
would motivate them to study more regularly. They replied that they would welcome
76

less homework. They agreed that sometimes it is helpful to fill in workbook exercises,
because they learn by it. However, generally, they do not see much point in doing
homework. They would prefer the tasks to be more practical and to speak more in the
lessons.
During the interview we came across the issues of teacher explanation and
behaviour towards students. They mentioned that they have problems with some
teachers of other subjects and they appeared to be quite distressed about it. However,
they all agreed that in English lessons there is no problem at all. If they do not
understand something, the teachers are always willing to explain it. In my opinion,
contrary to some other teachers, the teachers of English have managed to establish a
nice and quality teacher-learner relationship and the communication seems to work very
well.
Further, I asked about the reasons why the teenagers do not pay attention or are
not concentrated in the lessons, which they often admitted in the questionnaire. They
replied that they do not pay attention especially when they do something boring. They
would like the lessons to be more varied and enlivened, for example by some interesting
presentations. One teenager said, it is not that the learning material is boring, but rather
the teacher cant capture our attention so that we focus only on the learning.
Additionally, the teenagers get often bored when they feel that the lessons are
stereotypical. These results confirmed the facts stated in the theoretical part of this
thesis. Teenagers are generally restless and inclined to boredom, which can be helped
by good lesson planning and management.
The questionnaire results showed that some teenagers lack game-like elements
in the lessons. That is why I asked them whether they would like the lessons to be
enlivened by games. They agreed and spontaneously answered that they like computers
and would like to use them in the lessons more often. They think that computer-based
activities help them with learning and it is a good practice. Especially, they like to
create PowerPoint presentations for the English projects.
It resulted from the questionnaire answers that the teenagers would be in favour
of a suggested computer project. Particularly, the idea concerned a creation of a simple
web page or a blog. There would be discussions and the teenagers would comment on
various topics, but it would be all in English. I inquired about this idea again at the
interview and the students all liked it very much and think that most of their classmates
would be happy to join such a project.
77

To sum up, the teenagers would like more computer work in the lessons to break
the stereotype. Further, they suggested that it would be nice if the teachers sometimes
skipped examining, because they think that they have too many marks and every lesson
they are afraid who will be examined. However, in my opinion, if teachers examined
less, the learners would not be motivated to study at least for this reason and they would
be even less active in their home preparation than they are now. Generally speaking,
teenagers tend to avoid hard work unless it is necessary. That is why I think that regular
examining is essential to keep them busy and engaged so that they do not slacken.
The teenagers mentioned that they liked very much a song that a teacher brought
to the English lesson. Music, songs and related listening activities are therefore another
way to catch teenagers attention and make the lessons more interesting for them. These
findings correspond with the statements of the theoretical part of this thesis.
Lastly, we discussed their vocabulary and exercise books. Mostly, they would
prefer to have only one exercise book both for grammar and vocabulary, for apart from
these they also keep English language portfolio. Some teenagers feel that they could
take more notes into their exercise books, because they claim to learn better from their
own notes than from coursebook or workbook explanations. Thus, I asked the teachers
about this issue. They told me that they have their learners write down every new
grammar item and that exercise books are regularly checked and used. The teenagers do
not have to rewrite lists of vocabulary, but only the vocabulary that is new for them.
The teachers explained to me that the teenagers have many written exercises both in the
coursebook and workbook, which is the reason why they do not write so much into their
own exercise books. However, as it was mentioned above, apart from coursebooks,
teachers provide exercise book explanatory entries to the learners as well.

78

Conclusion
This diploma thesis focused on young and teenage learners. Teaching teenagers
is commonly believed to be a difficult task and the transition from the lower to the
upper-primary grades usually marks the breaking point when the learners attitudes
change. Therefore, the thesis aimed to analyse how these attitudes to English language
learning change with regard to adolescence.
The theoretical part of this diploma thesis dealt with characteristics, learning
potential, motivation and attitudes of both young learners and teenagers. These two
learner groups were examined also from the point of view of developmental
psychology. Further, methodology advice on how to approach and teach the two
respective groups was included as well.
The main focus was placed on teenagers, since they are undergoing physical,
psychological and social changes that significantly influence their attitudes towards
school and learning in general. The complexities of teenagers were described in detail
so that the theoretical findings could serve as the basis for the practical part of this
diploma thesis and be subsequently verified by the practical investigation.
For the research purposes of this thesis, a case study was carried out at a primary
school in Brno. The practical survey provides a constructive analysis of the studied
phenomenon of changing attitudes in primary school learners.
The research presented in this thesis confirms that young learners interest
in learning changes when they enter upper-primary grades, which is also the time when
they enter the difficult period of adolescence.
Firstly, the survey results show that teenagers are aware of the importance
of education for their lives and future careers. It can be also concluded that the older the
primary school learners are, the more they realise the significance of English
knowledge. A large proportion of teenagers think that English lessons are useful
for them and they can use the knowledge also outside the classroom, in various
contexts. For example, they mentioned computer work, listening to music and travelling
abroad. Even though they seem to value English knowledge and lessons quite highly,
the research showed that the transition between the lower and the upper-primary grades
brings about some unfavourable changes in teenage attitudes that significantly affect
both teaching and learning in teenagers.

79

First of all, compared to young learners, teenagers appear to be much less


disciplined in their approach to homework tasks and preparation. They usually cannot
see much point in doing homework and they often admit that they study and do home
preparation for the English lessons only when they expect to be examined. Therefore, it
seems that in the lessons the emphasis is placed rather on the study results than on the
process of learning. I think that it is the teachers task to make their learners focus
on the learning itself and prevent them to be mainly driven by marks and exams.
The survey data also show that the teenagers prefer leisure activities to studying.
Further, the teenagers feel that the upper-primary curricula are more demanding and that
they have too many homework tasks to do, which they sometimes do not manage
because they either do not have enough time or they admit that they just do not want to.
Teenagers are often not interested in homework, because they feel it has no sense
and they do not realise that they would benefit from doing it. In my opinion, to help this
situation, the teachers should assign homework reasonably and carefully explain how
the tasks would contribute to the learners language development and knowledge.
Generally speaking, teenagers are considered difficult to please. The case study
findings confirm that they are restless and easily prone to boredom. Mostly, they get
bored when the teachers are not able to motivate them or capture their full attention.
The survey results also suggest that teenagers are sensitive and critical of stereotype
and therefore, they would like the lessons to be more varied. They are mostly in favour
of computer usage in the English lessons and would like to be engaged in computerbased activities more often. Not only it is appealing for them, but they also claim that it
helps them learn and remember better. Apart from computers, they would like
to enliven the English lessons with more songs and game-like activities. I believe that if
teachers consider some of these ideas and put them into practice, in turn, the teenagers
could be better motivated to study regularly.
Lastly, despite of the fact that teenagers are often very critical to adults
and authorities in general, the case study proved that they respect and appreciate their
English teachers in many aspects. Further, it seems that the English teachers managed
to establish a good teacher-learner relationship, which is a crucial factor for successful
teaching and learning.
To conclude, the case study findings confirm that teenage learners are generally
difficult to manage and motivate. However, if their learning potential is realized to the
full, they can also be the best students of all. There is no doubt that working
80

with teenagers is demanding. Nevertheless, it can be also enriching and rewarding


experience.
Finally, I would like to mention that the work on this diploma thesis greatly
contributed to my pedagogical knowledge and challenged me to work with teenagers
in the future.

81

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85

Appendices
List of Appendices:
Appendix A:

Questionnaire for the learners of the lower-primary school grades


(English translation)

Appendix B: Questionnaire for the learners of the upper-primary school grades


(English translation)
Appendix C: Questionnaire for the learners of the lower-primary school grades
(Czech version)
Appendix D: Questionnaire for the learners of the upper-primary school grades
(Czech version)
Appendix E: Focused group interview transcription
(English translation from Czech language)

86

Appendix A:

Questionnaire for the learners of the lower-primary school grades


(English translation)

1. English language subject: (choose one answer)


A, is my favourite subject
B, is one of my favourite subjects
C, rather belongs among less favourite subjects
D, I do not like at all
E, my own answer: ..........................
2. For the English language lessons it is typical: (you can choose more options)
A, fun
G, lessons are varied
B, boredom
H, lessons are interesting
C, stereotype
I, lessons are useful
D, good mood
J, after the lesson, I feel happy that I
have learnt something new
E, friendly atmosphere
K, after the lesson, I feel that I have
not learnt anything
F, tense atmosphere
L, I think that I can use the
knowledge from the lessons also
outside the classroom, in everyday
life
3. How important is it for you to know English? (choose one answer)
A, little
B, important
C, very important
D, absolutely necessary
4. Mostly, I do homework: (choose one answer)
A, individually at home, because I learn by it (or give other reason: ...................)
B, at home, but somebody is helping me
C, individually, but at school
D, I copy from my classmates, because I want to avoid pointless work
E, I copy from my classmates, because homework is too difficult for me
F, I do not do, because homework is meaningless
G, I do not do, because ................................................. (give your reason)
5. I study and do preparation for the English lessons: (choose one answer)
A, continuously (from lesson to lesson)
B, at least once a week
C, only before examinations or tests
D, I do hardly any preparation or studying
87

6. I like the best: (you can choose more options)


A, games and competitions
B, songs and singing
C, drawing, colouring and making things
D, when we not only sit at our desks, but also move around
E, when we act out dialogues, do role-plays
F, when the teacher brings puppets, pictures and/or other things
G, when we work with a coursebook
H, when we learn grammar

88

Appendix B: Questionnaire for the learners of the upper-primary grades


(English translation)
1. My attitude towards primary school and its significance. (you can choose more
options)
A, school is only useless duty and has no sense for me
B, school is rather not important for me
C, school is important rather for my parents than for me
D, school is rather important for me
E, school is important for me, because of the study at a secondary school and/or
my future profession
F, school is important for me, because I learn interesting things there
G, school is important for me, because I meet my friends there
2. English language subject: (choose one answer)
A, is my favourite subject
B, is one of my favourite subjects
C, rather belongs among less favourite subjects
D, I do not like at all
E, my own answer: ..........................
3. For the English language lessons it is typical: (you can choose more options)
A, fun
G, lessons are varied
B, boredom
H, lessons are interesting
C, stereotype
I, lessons are useful
D, good mood
J, after the lesson, I feel happy that I
have learnt something new
E, friendly atmosphere
K, after the lesson, I feel that I have
not learnt anything
F, tense atmosphere
L, I think that I can use the
knowledge from the lessons also
outside the classroom, in everyday
life
4. How important is it for you to know English? (choose one answer)
A, little
B, important
C, very important
D, absolutely necessary

89

5. Mostly, I do homework: (choose one answer)


A, individually at home, because I learn by it (or give other reason: ...................)
B, at home, but somebody is helping me
C, individually, but at school
D, I copy from my classmates, because I want to avoid pointless work
E, I copy from my classmates, because homework is too difficult for me
F, I do not do, because homework is meaningless
G, I do not do, because ................................................. (give your reason)
6. I study and do preparation for the English lessons: (choose one answer)
A, continuously (from lesson to lesson)
B, at least once a week
C, only before examinations or tests
D, I do hardly any preparation or studying
7. Outside the classroom I come across and/or use English: (you can choose more
options)
A, when I work or play on a computer
B, when I watch series or films in the original version
C, when I listen to music
D, when I travel abroad
E, when I read English magazines, books etc.
F, my own answer: .........................................
8. Compare the difficulty of the upper-primary curricula to the lower-primary
curricula. (choose one answer)
A, upper-primary curriculum is very difficult and I have big problems to manage
it
B, upper-primary curriculum is difficult and sometimes I have problems to
manage it
C, upper-primary curriculum is more difficult, but I can manage
D, I can manage upper-primary curriculum without any difficulties
9. Would you like to learn by play like it is at the lower-primary grades?
(choose one answer)
A, yes
B, rather yes
C, rather no
D, no

90

10. Would you study in the same way for the English lessons even if there were no
marks given? (choose one answer)
A, yes, knowledge is more important for me than marks
B, rather yes
C, I do not know
D, rather no
E, no, I study for the English lessons only to have good marks
11. When I have difficulties with English, it is mostly because: (choose one answer)
A, I do not study at home as much as I should
B, I do not understand the teachers explanation
C, I have knowledge gaps from the previous years
D, I do not pay attention or concentrate in the lessons
12. I like best when I work: (choose one answer)
A, on my own
B, in a group
C, in pairs
13. Computer in English lessons: (choose a true statement for you, you can choose
more options)
A, I like working with a computer
B, I would like to work with a computer more often
C, I would like our class to have own blog or interesting web pages, where I
would contribute to discussions and make commentaries only in English
D, I do not like working with a computer
14. Evaluate your English teacher with a mark like at school. (1=I very much agree,
2=I agree, 3=I neither agree nor disagree, 4=I disagree, 5=I very much
disagree) Give your mark to each of the items A-N.
A, is fair (e.g. is just in evaluation)
B, is respecting us
C, can motivate us to work and learning
D, is interested in our opinions
E, can teach us a lot
F, is friendly
G, has a natural authority
H, cares about the way s/he teaches us
I, tries to make lessons interesting
J, can establish order in a class
K, remembers our names and uses them
L, does not treat us like little kids
M, has a sense of humour
91

N, when I need help or advice, I can talk with him/her about it (either in private
or in a lesson)

92

Appendix C: Questionnaire for the learners of the lower-primary school grades


(Czech version)

Dotaznk pro ky 1. stupn Z


Ven ci,
rda bych Vs podala o anonymn vyplnn tohoto dotaznku, kter slou k zskn
dat pro moji diplomovou prci. Jejm clem je analyzovat pstup k Z Masarova 11
ke studiu a vuce anglitiny. Vaich odpovd si velmi vm a dkuji Vm za
spoluprci.
Bc. Eva Loukotkov
studentka oboru uitelstv anglickho jazyka pro Z a J na PdF MU v Brn
1. Anglick jazyk: (vyber jednu odpov)
A, je mj nejoblbenj pedmt
B, je jeden z mch oblbench pedmt
C, pat spe k mm neoblbenm pedmtm
D, nemm vbec rd/a
E, vlastn odpov:
2. Pro hodiny anglickho jazyka je typick: (mete zakrtnout vce monost)
A, zbava

G, hodiny jsou pestr

B, nuda

H, hodiny jsou zajmav

C, stereotyp

I, hodiny jsou uiten

D, dobr nlada

J, po hodin mm radost, e jsem se nco


novho

E, ptelsk atmosfra

nauil/a

K, po hodin mm pocit, e jsem se nic


nenauil/a

F, napjat atmosfra

L, myslm si, e znalosti z hodin mohu


uplatnit i mimo kolu, v kadodennm
ivot

3. Jak moc je pro tebe dleit umt anglicky? (vyber jednu odpov)
A, mlo
B, stedn dleit
C, velmi dleit
D, nezbytn dleit
93

4. Domc koly vtinou: (vyber jednu odpov)


A, pu samostatn doma, protoe se tm um (nebo uvete jin dvod:
)
B, pu doma, ale nkdo mi pomh
C, pu samostatn, ale ve kole
D, opisuji od spoluk, protoe se tak vyhnu zbyten prci
E, opisuji od spoluk, protoe koly jsou pro m pli tk
F, nepu, protoe domc koly nemaj smysl
G, nepu, protoe .(uvete dvod)
5. Do anglitiny se um a pipravuji: (vyber jednu odpov)
A, prbn (z hodiny na hodinu)
B, alespo jednou tdn
C, jen ped zkouenm nebo testem
D, skoro vbec se neum a nepipravuji
6. Nejradi mm: (mete zakrtnout vce monost)
A, soute a hry
B, psniky a zpvn
C, kreslen, vybarvovn a vyrbn
D, kdy v hodin jen nesedme, ale hbeme se
E, kdy hrajeme scnky, rozhovory
F, kdy pan uitelka/pan uitel pinese loutky, obrzky a/nebo jin pedmty
G, kdy pracujeme s uebnic
H, kdy se ume gramatiku

Dkuji Vm za ochotu pi vyplovn dotaznku a peji mnoho spch pi studiu


anglitiny.

94

Appendix D: Questionnaire for the learners of the upper-primary school grades


(Czech version)

Dotaznk pro ky 7. a 8. td
Ven ci,
rda bych Vs podala o anonymn vyplnn tohoto dotaznku, kter slou k zskn
dat pro moji diplomovou prci. Jejm clem je analyzovat pstup k Z Masarova 11
ke studiu a vuce anglitiny. Vaich odpovd si velmi vm a dkuji Vm za
spoluprci.
Bc. Eva Loukotkov
studentka oboru uitelstv anglickho jazyka pro Z a J na PdF MU v Brn
1. Mj vztah k zkladn kole a jej vznam. (mete zakrtnout vce monost)
A, kola je pro m jen zbyten povinnost a nem smysl
B, kola pro m spe nen dleit
C, kola je dleit spe pro rodie ne pro m
D, kola je pro m spe dleit
E, kola je pro m dleit kvli studiu na stedn kole a/nebo budoucmu povoln
F, kola je pro m dleit, protoe se zde naum zajmav vci
G, kola je pro m dleit, protoe se zde setkvm s kamardy
2. Anglick jazyk: (vyberte jednu odpov)
A, je mj nejoblbenj pedmt
B, je jeden z mch oblbench pedmt
C, pat spe k mm neoblbenm pedmtm
D, nemm vbec rd/a
E, vlastn odpov:
3. Pro hodiny anglickho jazyka je typick: (mete zakrtnout vce monost)
A, zbava
G, hodiny jsou pestr
B, nuda
H, hodiny jsou zajmav
C, stereotyp
I, hodiny jsou uiten
D, dobr nlada
J, po hodin mm radost, e jsem se nco
novho
nauil/a
E, ptelsk atmosfra
K, po hodin mm pocit, e jsem se nic
nenauil/a
F, napjat atmosfra
L, myslm si, e znalosti z hodin mohu
uplatnit i mimo kolu, v kadodennm
ivot
4. Jak moc je pro tebe dleit umt anglicky? (vyberte jednu odpov)
A, mlo
B, stedn dleit
C, velmi dleit
D, nezbytn dleit

95

5. Domc koly vtinou: (vyber jednu odpov)


A, pu samostatn doma, protoe se tm um (nebo uvete jin dvod:
)
B, pu doma, ale nkdo mi pomh
C, pu samostatn, ale ve kole
D, opisuji od spoluk, protoe se tak vyhnu zbyten prci
E, opisuji od spoluk, protoe koly jsou pro m pli tk
F, nepu, protoe domc koly nemaj smysl
G, nepu, protoe .(uvete dvod)
6. Do anglitiny se um a pipravuji: (vyber jednu odpov)
A, prbn (z hodiny na hodinu)
B, alespo jednou tdn
C, jen ped zkouenm nebo testem
D, skoro vbec se neum a nepipravuji
7. S anglitinou se mimo vuku setkvm a/nebo ji aktivn pouvm: (mete
zakrtnout vce monost)
A, pi prci nebo he na potai
B, pi sledovn seril nebo film v originlnm znn
C, pi poslechu hudby
D, pi cestovn do zahrani
E, pi ten anglick knihy, asopisu apod.
F, vlastn odpov: ..
8. Ohodno obtnost uiva anglitiny na 2. stupni Z v porovnn s 1. stupnm.
(vyber jednu odpov)
A, uivo je velice tk a mm velk problmy ho zvldnout
B, uivo je tk a nkdy s nm mm pote
C, uivo je sice t, ale zvldm ho
D, na uivo druhho stupn bez problm stam
9. Chtl/a by ses uit hrou jako na prvnm stupni Z? (vyber jednu odpov)
A, ano
B, spe ano
C, spe ne
D, ne
10. Uil/a by ses do anglitiny stejn i kdyby se neznmkovalo? (vyber jednu
odpov)
A, ano, znalosti jsou pro m dleitj ne znmky
B, spe ano
C, nevm
D, spe ne
E, ne, um se anglicky jen abych ml/a dobr znmky

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11. Kdy mm problmy s anglitinou tak je to vtinou proto, e: (vyber jednu


odpov)
A, se doma nepipravuji tak jak bych ml/a
B, nerozumm vkladu pana uitele/pan uitelky
C, mm znalostn mezery z pedchozch let
D, v hodinch nedvm pozor nebo se nesoustedm
12. Nejradi pracuji: (vyber jednu odpov)
A, sm/sama
B, ve skupin
C, ve dvojici
13. Pota ve vuce anglitiny: (zakrtni pro tebe pravdiv, me i vce odpovd)
A, rd/a pracuji na potai
B, chtl/a bych na potai pracovat astji
C, chtl/a bych aby nae tda mla svj blog nebo zajmav webov strnky na
internetu, kde bych do diskuz a koment pispval/a pouze v anglitin
D, nerad/a pracuji na potai
14. Ohodnote va pan uitelku/pana uitele anglitiny znmkou jako pi
znmkovn ve kole. (1=velmi souhlasm, 2=souhlasm, 3=neumm posoudit,
4=nesouhlasm, 5=velmi nesouhlasm) Zakroukujte odpovdajc znmku u kad
z poloek A-N.
A, chov se k nm fr (nap. znmkuje spravedliv) 1

B, respektuje ns

C, um ns motivovat k prci a uen

D, zajmaj ho/ji nae nzory

E, hodn ns nau

F, je ptelsk/ptelsk

G, m pirozenou autoritu

H, zle mu/j na tom jakm zpsobem ns u

I, um si ve td sjednat podek

J, sna se, aby byly hodiny zajmav

K, pamatuje si nae kestn jmna a pouv je

L, nejedn s nmi jako s malmi dtmi

M, m smysl pro humor

N, kdy potebuji s nm pomoci nebo poradit,


mu si s n/m o tom promluvit
(bu v soukrom nebo v hodin)

Dkuji Vm za ochotu pi vyplovn dotaznku a peji mnoho spch pi studiu


anglitiny.
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Appendix E: Focused group interview transcription


(English translation from Czech language)
Interviewer:

Good morning and thank you for joining this discussion group. I
very much appreciate that you will help me with the research for
my diploma thesis. A few weeks ago, you were filling in a
questionnaire and Id like to ask you a few additional questions.
Firstly, Id like to ask: when you entered upper-primary grades,
what was the most difficult for you, what was different and what
changes were difficult for you and maybe caused you some
troubles?

Teenagers:

The learning became more difficult. We had more lessons. We


had to get used to new teachers and I think that teachers became
less tolerant. Not that the teachers did not care, but it was
different. I, for example, came to the sixth grade from another
school and so it was even more difficult for me to get used to new
system and everything.

Interviewer:

Yes, I understand that. So it was more lessons, also more home


preparation, right?

Teenagers:

Yes.

Interviewer:

And did you mind that you had to change classrooms?

Teenagers:

Yes. No. Yes. ...

Interviewer:

So, somebody did mind, others did not.

Teenagers:

At the beginning. But now we got used to it.

Interviewer:

According to the questionnaire research, quite a lot of you study


and do home preparation only before tests or exams. Im not
judging you at all, Id just like to know why it is like this. Why
dont you study continuously?

Teenagers:

Im lazy. We have a lot of studying and sometimes it is too much.


We dont have time. For example, some of us commute and when
we have afternoon lessons, until 4 p.m., then Im glad that I get
98

back home. And when the weather is nice like today, I go out,
ride a bike. And in the evening, we simply do not want to study. It
is boring.
Interviewer:

I know, it is difficult. So you have a lot of leisure activities and in


the afternoons, there is no time for studying?

Teenagers:

Yes.

Interviewer:

Ok, but do you think it is enough to study only when you expect
an exam?

Teenagers:

Yes. No. Yes. No. No.

Interviewer:

And do you think that you have too many home tasks to do every
day?

Teenagers:

Yes. Yes. Every teacher thinks that his/her subject is the most
important, but we cant manage homework for all the subjects, it
is too much.

Interviewer:

So, every day you have homework tasks for nearly all the subjects
that you have the following day?

Teenagers:

Yes.

Interviewer:

All right. So, what would you suggest to change in the lessons so
that it would motivate you to study more regularly?

Teenagers:

Less homework. We do not see a point in homework. It is not


good for speaking. Sometimes, when I fill in workbook, I learn it
better like this and it helps. But wed like to speak more in the
lessons. Yes, do activities that would be practical. For example,
we had a presentation in geography about America the other day
and we all enjoyed it. Because the teacher was in America and the
presentation was nice and something new.
(Then, they talked about a maths teacher whom they have
problems with. If they ask for more explanation, she does not
seem to care and continues her lesson.)

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Interviewer:

And in the English lessons, if you do not understand something,


do you ask for explanation?

Teenagers:

Yes. Yes, if we do not understand, we ask and our teacher always


explains it to us, there is no problem. In English, it is ok.

Interviewer:

Ok, and if you are not concentrated in the lessons or you do not
pay attention, what is mostly the reason for this?

Teenagers:

I dont like it. I dont pay attention when we do something boring


for example. Other student reacts: mainly, it is not that the
learning material is boring, but rather the teacher cant capture our
attention so that we focus only on the learning. Wed like the
lessons to be more varied, to enliven them. There is stereotype in
the lessons. It is the same all the time: first, examining,
meanwhile we have some task etc. we know how the lesson will
look like. Sometimes it is only examining, for the whole lesson.

Interviewer:

So, would you like to enliven the lessons by some games?


According to the questionnaire responses, you miss game-like
activities, is it so?

Teenagers:

Yes. For example, computers. They could be used in the Czech


language, in physics. And presentations in English on computers.
We like computers and this way we can practise, we create a nice
design and then we remember better. Yes, I agree, we like
computers and it helps us with learning if we can use them.

Interviewer:

So, you would like to work with computers more often. Would
you like it if you were assigned a project work where you would
create a simple web page, a kind of a social network, and there
would be discussions, you could comment on various topics, but
it would be all in English.

Teenagers:

Yes.

Interviewer:

Do you think you would enjoy it and most of you would join this
project?

Teenagers:

Yes. Yes.
100

Interviewer:

And do you think that you would also learn from it?

Teenagers:

Yes. The problem is, with projects, for example Comenius, this
project is for a lot of students (the whole class) and if it was in
smaller groups it would be much better. It is always like this when
there is a lot of us. For example, we dont talk to boys much (a
girl speaking) and they want something, we want something else
and we would argue again. If the groups were smaller, we would
manage much more work in one lesson.

Interviewer:

So, with the projects, does it happen that a few students are
working and the rest just gets away with doing nothing?

Teenagers:

Not really, we ourselves divide the work, who will do what etc.

Interviewer:

All right. To sum up, youd like more computer work, to break
the stereotype somehow. And what else?

Teenagers:

Sometimes we could skip the examining, because every time we


are afraid that we will be examined.

Interviewer:

Do you think you have too many marks, there is no need to


examine in every lesson?

Teenagers:

Yes.

Interviewer:

And what about more songs and music in the English lessons?
You all like listening to music, I suppose.

Teenagers:

Yes. Yes, when we did gap-filling with Robbie Williams song,


and then we sang it, we liked it a lot. That was good.

Interviewer:

And this song activity was in your coursebook, or your teacher


brought it?

Teenagers:

No, your teacher brought it.

Interviewer:

Would you like it if you could choose the songs and bring them to
the lesson?

Teenagers:

Yes. Yes.

Interviewer:

I have one more question about your vocabulary books and


exercise books. Is it bothering you to keep them?
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Teenagers:

Yes, vocabulary. I dont like writing down vocabulary. It is rather


that we have too many exercise books, one for grammar, the other
for vocabulary, and portfolio, actually two portfolios. Other
student: writing down vocabulary is useless, I cant see why I
should write it, if I need to learn it anyway. Others: not really, we
practise like this.

Interviewer:

Yes, it is good for remembering the spelling better.

Teenagers:

If we had only one exercise book, big one. We do not take many
notes, so we could write down only the vocabulary that we dont
know into one exercise book. Yes, we dont take many notes.

Interviewer:

So if you study, you rather use your coursebook or workbook to


study from?

Teenagers:

Yes, but in the coursebook it is never that well explained as when


our teacher does it and writes it down.

Interviewer:

So, youd rather have more of your own notes in your exercise
books?

Teenagers:

(Some have enough, others feel that they do not. It depends on the
teacher.) But the teacher explains well, so that we understand and
do not need many written notes.

Interviewer:

All right. Thank you very much for your time and cooperation.
Do you have anything you would like to comment on?

Teenagers:

Nothing.

Interviewer:

Thank you very much. Goodbye.

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List of graphs
Graph 1

English language subject

Graph 2

English language subject own answers

Graph 3

For the English language lessons it is typical

Graph 4

The importance of English language knowledge

Graph 5

Homework

Graph 6

Preparation for the English lessons

Graph 7

What young learners like the best

Graph 8

Teenage attitude towards primary school and its significance

Graph 9

When teenagers come across and/or use English

Graph 10 Computer in English lessons


Graph 11 The difficulty of the upper-primary curricula compared to the
lower-primary curricula
Graph 12 Reasons for the difficulties with English
Graph 13 Teenage attitude towards marks and its motivational effect
Graph 14 Teenage attitude towards learning by play
Graph 15 Teenage attitude towards working individually, in pairs and in groups
Graph 16 The teachers fairness
Graph 17 The teachers respect towards teenagers
Graph 18 The teachers ability to motivate
Graph 19 The teachers interest in learners opinions
Graph 20 The teachers ability to teach
Graph 21 The teachers' friendliness
Graph 22 The teachers natural authority
Graph 23 The teachers care about the way they teach
Graph 24 The teachers try to make lessons interesting
Graph 25 The teachers ability to establish order in a class
Graph 26 The teachers ability to remember and use learners names
Graph 27 The teachers treatment of teenagers
Graph 28 The teachers sense of humour
Graph 29 The teachers help when the learners need it

103