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Improving speaking performance and L2 motivation through task-based language teaching on Malaysian undergraduate students

Yahya, M. Y. (2019) Improving speaking performance and L2 motivation through task-based language teaching on Malaysian undergraduate students. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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Abstract/Summary

The present study investigated the effect of two different language teaching methods (TBLT and TSLT) on students’ speaking performance and motivation towards learning and speaking English. The study employed a mixed-method, quasi-experimental, pre-/post-test design. The participants were 59 English as a second language (ESL) undergraduate students (aged 20 to 23), who were assigned to two intact groups namely the EIST (explicit instruction + speaking tasks, i.e. TSLT) group and the ST (speaking tasks only, i.e. TBLT) group. The instruments utilised within this study involved both quantitative and qualitative methods. Students’ speaking performance was assessed through a speaking test whereas their motivation towards learning and speaking English was elicited through a questionnaire and interview. These instruments were implemented at the pre- and post-test data collection points before and after the speaking intervention which lasted for 8 weeks. For the data analyses, eleven measures of speaking and five sub-scales for motivation were employed to assess students’ speaking performance (complexity, accuracy and fluency) and L2 motivation (attitude, integrativeness, instrumentality, linguistic self-confidence and learning situation), respectively. The findings of the study indicated that students in both groups had an approximately equal level of speaking performance and motivation at the pre-test. However, at post-test, the results showed that the two teaching methods had different impacts on students’ speaking performance and motivation. The TSLT method had a significant effect on the EIST group’s vocabulary (lexical complexity) outcomes whereby the language produced was more diverse than the ST group. However, experiencing the TBLT method, the ST group managed to produce more complex and sophisticated language with the presence of abstract words, even though overall levels of lexical complexity and productivity were lower. In addition, the ST group had become more fluent over time with a significant decrease in pauses, repetition and reformulation compared to the EIST group. Nevertheless, neither group demonstrated a statistically significant improvement across the measures of syntactic complexity and accuracy. As for motivation, the questionnaire data indicated that the two language teaching methods had no effect on students’ attitudes, integrativeness and instrumentality. However, TSLT had a positive impact on the EIST group’s linguistic self-confidence and learning situation motives, whereas TBLT had a positive effect on the ST group’s linguistic self-confidence only. Nevertheless, within the interview, analysed qualitatively, students in both groups showed positive views across all sub-scales of motivation. The study provides evidence that the two different language teaching methods affected students’ speaking performance and L2 motivation in different ways. These results imply that the TSLT approach had a positive impact on students’ overall vocabulary outcomes and L2 retention and the TBLT approach was more effective in promoting complex and fluent language. Furthermore, the study highlights the importance of the teacher’s role and the TSLT approach in encouraging students’ overall L2 motivation.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Graham, S.
Thesis/Report Department:Institute of Education
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Science > Institute of Education
ID Code:89016

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