This focus group was made up of the same thirteen final year undergraduate students from the Faculty of Social Sciences at the UO that were interviewed individually during the face to face interviews. Attendees were familiar with best practice in English language teaching. This was reinforced by the authors through a series of short presentations prior to the start of the formal discussions to set the scene for the focus group meeting. The focus group checked and validated the reliability of the research data from the literature review and the face to face interviews. The focus group confirmed that the research data from the literature review was consistent and admissible. The focus group associated the infusion of presentations from a native English speaker with improving language skills in a number of areas. They felt that a regular exposure to native English speakers, for example, enhances their vocabulary in topical areas such as Project Management, Intercultural Communications and Negotiation and Persuasion. This learning is reinforced by drawing on the practical knowledge and experience of guest speakers. They suggest that topical presentations by external native English speakers should be incorporated into English language degree program syllabuses. It should be noted that this applies equally to all other language programs at the UO. The same research questions from the face to face interviews were used in the focus group meeting: Payday Loans Online
1. What is your definition of Language Skills Teaching? “The teaching of language skills means teaching a foreign language in an organized way by dividing the content into the four linguistic skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing”. “Language skills teaching is the teaching of a foreign language dividing the content into the four linguistic skills, and at the same time combining it into one major skill or competence” (Clara).
2. What are the aspects you associate with effective language skills teaching? “An effective language skills teaching would include all the skills not only in a theoretical way but also in a practical and contextual way”. “In order to teach language skills effectively the teacher must reach a synergy between the four skills making the content as close to real life as possible, so that the boundary between each skill is nearly imperceptible”. “To teach the four skills in a proper way the teacher must grade the data according to the level and needs of the students, keep the students’ attention focused on the subject matter and encourage the students to further their studies by means of positive feedback”.
3. What is your view on the claim that the concept of practical language skills teaching is a desirable and effective methodology? “In my opinion practical language skills teaching is indeed a desirable and viable way to teach a language because the learners acquire knowledge in a more ample and contextual way- for example, they learn new vocabulary and grammar in a given context which makes it easier to remember and put into practice later”.
“Practical language teaching is a good approach both for the student and the teacher because it implies teaching vocabulary and grammar rules without directly focusing on them”. “The practical teaching of a language is a very effective method for it involves being more interactive and at the same time teaching more than just language”. “The teaching of practical language skills is very useful. It combines all the skills into one and soothes the teaching learning process. It is also a powerful source of motivation”. “Teaching language skills in a practical way is a good approach because it actually combines the language skills with other areas of expertise and thus enhances the professional profile of the student” (Roberquis). “It is very good for ESL students because it shows them that they can learn from any topic involving real life situations including the language”.
4. What potential problems do you associate with practical language skills teaching? “The problem of practical language teaching is that it should always be addressed to intermediate and advanced students. It should also include topics of interests to them. Otherwise it turns difficult to create the proper learning environment. It should also be mixed with traditional teaching styles because alone it does not meet all the students’ needs”. “A potential problem would be adjusting the content to be taught to students’ proficiency levels of the foreign language, for example, giving a lecture about advanced mechanics to beginner students would not be accurate and would probably de-motivate the students”. “A potential problem with practical language skills teaching would be the topic. The topic should fit the students’ needs and interests as interesting topics would add value to the effective teaching of foreign languages” . “A poor attention to language structure which is the key for the complete assimilation of linguistic competence”.
5. What are your personal practical experiences with practical Language Skills Teaching -give some real life/practical examples/feedback on the course. Why did it work for you? Why did it not work for you? “Practical language teaching really works. For me the clearest example occurred when I was a student. I spend a year studying English at the university and then went to Canada for a training course of a month. The way I see it, I learned more language in that month than I did in one year studying at the university. In one month I experienced the context and the motivation to learn more very strongly.” “Practical language teaching has always worked for me. I have been a teacher for more than 20 years and I have always included this approach on my courses, not alone though. Students tend to learn easily with this approach for it motivates them more than the traditional approaches, and also they get to learn a language but also a new topic of interest that serves their professional profile”.
6. “Practical/contextual language skills teaching for me is the best from the students’ point of view. My students always ask for this kind of class because it is more motivational for them and also it is easier for them to remember what they have learned as it is more easily associated to real life situations than, say, a purely grammar lesson”. “In my experience practical language skills teaching is a powerful tool to support the teaching-learning process. A good example is the course we have just attended. We have learned a lot about new subject matters, for example, management, and at the same time we have learned a lot about the language such as vocabulary, use in context, pronunciation and the general culture of the language”. “This course we have just received is the proof of the relevance of practical language skills teaching. We have learned many new things about the English language in context and at the same time we have learned about topics that are new to us and are useful”.