Fez - Oral interaction is among the hotly debated issues in language teaching and learning.
Fez – Oral interaction is among the hotly debated issues in language teaching and learning.
The act of communicating with students is in itself a demanding job in the sense that a lot of factors interfere in the process of interaction such as motivation, apprehension, the organization of the classroom, the availability of human and material resources, teaching methods, and the number of students. All these elements determine the quality of oral interaction because their presence or absence can impede communication between teachers and students.
Historically, students did not participate in the classroom due to the then dominant teaching approaches which concentrated on form rather than on meaning. The main goal of those approaches was to make students accurate in language while fluency was considered less important. However, people started to question and criticize those approaches for overlooking oral interaction between teachers and students. The outcome was that many researchers such as Anderson (1945), Ellis (1990), Allwright (1984), Johnson (1979), Richards (2002), Lynch (1991), and many others insisted on the fruitfulness of oral communication in promoting learning and motivating students. These researchers raised critical issues in EFL classrooms and noticed that among the main sources of failure in learning second languages is that students were passive communicators and participants. The research supported that students lost interest in learning because of the teaching methods which dominated before the1960s.
As the approaches have changed, language learning has improved. The researchers paved the way for a more extensive look at the importance of oral communication. Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) was the result of years of research which has changed and revolutionized the philosophy of education in the sense that learners’ needs and interests are taken into accounts and included in educational curricula.
Theoretically speaking, oral interaction has a positive impact on language learning, but the issue now is how to increase oral interaction between teachers and students. Increasing oral interaction is demanding because there are many factors affecting the process of communication that is between teachers and students. For example, issues such as over-crowded classes, lack of materials, lack of motivation, and student discipline all make it difficult for the classroom to be interactive.
Howarth (2006) mentions a number of difficulties that get in the way of enhancing oral interaction. Some students may refuse working in pairs or in groups, particularly in monolingual classes, because these students think that they cannot learn from their peers who speak the same language. In addition, students may consider their peers as sources of mistakes since they are both learners of the target language. Self-consciousness also hinders interaction since many learners feel shy and stressed when they are asked to talk in the target language. Besides these difficulties, over-crowed classes are among the thorniest obstacles that teachers face in making a class interactive. Large classes make it difficult for the teachers to keep control of students due to noise and lack of discipline and thus, instead of student interaction, the goal must be control of the class. This situation can lead to lack of motivation and passivity among students.
Despite the accord of researchers that oral interaction is positive in the classroom, these difficulties are hampering its use. In addition, new teaching methods incorporating oral interaction have not been implemented. This failure can be blamed upon a lack of both teacher education and governmental funding. Teachers do not have free access to updated information in the field of education, new published books are costly, and governmental funding for training in new methods is weak. However, whatever the barriers, oral interaction has a critical role in developing language teaching and learning and an investment in it could be a wise one.
Edited by Ann Smith
© Morocco World News. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, rewritten or redistributed