The aim of this study was to examine the effectiveness of communicative language teaching approaches as implemented by teachers teaching English as a Foreign Language (EFL) in selected Thai primary schools. The study developed three teaching units using different methods within a communicative approach, and investigated the extent to which these units assisted EFL teachers at the primary level to implement effective English teaching. A case study approach was adopted involving four inservice EFL teachers in four public primary schools in Maha Sarakham, Thailand. These teachers were purposively selected as EFL teachers who did not graduate with an English major. Each teacher implemented all of the three units: a unit of a weak version of communicative language teaching (CLT weak version),a unit of the concentrated language encounters method using paper materials (CLE+paper),and a unit of the concentrated language encounters using computer-based language activities (CLE+COBLA). Data were gathered using both qualitative and quantitative methods. The qualitative data were gathered through unstructured interviews, observational field notes and audio taped transcriptions; the quantitative data were collected using an observation form, and students’ pre-tests and post-tests. The study found that most teachers had difficulties implementing approaches to English teaching provided. Only the teacher with pedagogical experience was able to effectively carry out her class through three phases of the CLT weak version unit, meanwhile the other three participating teachers were stuck only in the first two phases. The same three teachers also faced difficulties teaching the CLE + paper unit. All teachers implemented the CLE+COBLA unit effectively. The CLT weak version unit yielded significant improving scores in two classes taught by the teachers who had much pedagogical experience. The CLE + paper unit yielded significant result only when implemented by the teacher who was pedagogically experienced and had sufficient preparation time. The CLE+COBLA units were appealing and yielded significant improvement for all classes. Students from all participating classes had positive perspectives to learn with the CLE+COBLA unit. Most of them, except those in the class with an effective teacher, found lessons in the CLT and CLE+paper units were difficult. However, they were happy to do activities in phases 3-5 of the CLE method in both paper unit and COBLA unit. Two teachers viewed the CLT unit difficult. Most of them, except the one who had much English teaching experience and had enough time for teaching preparation, perceived the CLE+paper unit difficult and less attractive for their students. All teachers accepted that the CLE+COBLA unit was appealing for their students. Many conditions impacting classroom pedagogy were found. These were teachers’ English proficiency, overloaded teachers, too many subjects to teach, extra school duties, quality and accessibility of the teaching materials, and the insufficient activeness of the teaching methods. The research findings show that EFL teachers in Thai primary schools need to be supported by teaching materials or innovations which enhance their language development and confidence in teaching English. Training programs for various pedagogic developments need to be provided for the in-service primary EFL teachers. Educational administrators need to address the problems of the excessive workloads of the primary teachers as an important strategy for improving English language teaching in Thai schools.
|Date of Award
|Mary MACKEN-HORARIK (Supervisor) & Robert Fitzgerald (Supervisor)