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Title: Task-based and grammar-based English language teaching : an experimental study in Saudi Arabia
Authors: Amin, Abdulrahman A.
Issue Date: 2009
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: In recent decades there have been many expressions of dissatisfaction with the traditional method of teaching foreign languages. This method tends to concentrate on grammar and vocabulary and produce students who are strong in this type of knowledge but weak in using the language communicatively. Consequently, attempts have been made to devise teaching methods that give students stronger communication skills and address students' questionnaire feedback. This study examines attempts to prove the efficacy of the communicative approach and, in particular, experiments to prove its superiority to the grammatical approach. Particular attention is paid to Task-Based Learning (TBL) as one of the most promising examples of the communicative teaching approach. The study finds that, although previous comparative studies supply mounting evidence of the value of the newer methods, none provides clear proof of the superiority of one method over the other, because the experiment was poorly designed, the sample was too small or the recorded data deficient. A students' feedback questionnaire carried out as a preliminary study also established clear dissatisfaction with the grammar courses run by the University of Umm al-Qura in Saudi Arabia. Therefore, this study aimed to carry out a thoroughgoing experiment based on the question: do learners who are taught an English course using the TBL method reach a better level of proficiency and oral improvement at the end of the course than their counterparts who are taught with the grammar-based or traditional method? The experiment was conducted over a twelve-week term with second-year science students following a compulsory English for Science course at the University of Umm al-Qura. A total of 283 students took part, divided into eight classes, of which four were taught with the grammar-based learning (GBL) method and four were taught with the TBL method. The students were allocated to classes so that the GBL and TBL groups had a similar standard of English at the start of the experiment. All the teaching was done by the researcher. Four measures were used to answer the research question. Oral tests before and after the experiment measured fluency, the course final examination measured accuracy, recorded classroom observations provided material for analysing the content and conduct of lessons and classroom behaviour, and a course evaluation questionnaire sought to assess students' attitudes. The results clearly show that the TBL method improves the fluency and accuracy of university students more than the GBL method, and that the TBL learners were more active in the lessons, used the target language more and took more responsibility than the GBL learners. The TBL students also enjoyed the course more than their GBL counterparts and were more motivated to continue their English studies.
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics

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