Teaching English as a Foreign Language in English as a Foreign Language in Oman: An Exploration of . English Language Teaching Pedagogy in Tertiary Education . Husna Suleiman Al-Jadidi

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  • Teaching English as a Foreign Language in Oman: An Exploration of

    English Language Teaching Pedagogy in Tertiary Education

    Husna Suleiman Al-Jadidi

    Dip.TEFL, B.Ed., M.A.

    School of Education

    Faculty of Arts

    Victoria University

    Melbourne, Australia

    Submitted in fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of

    Doctor of Philosophy

    Revised July 2009

  • This work is dedicated to my parents, siblings, husband and my lovely children,

    Al-Fajr and AbdulAziz

  • Teaching English as a Foreign Language in Oman:

    An Exploration of English Language Teaching Pedagogy

    in Tertiary Education

    Abstract

    This thesis reports on research conducted between 2004 and 2007 into the teaching of

    English as a Foreign Language (EFL) in tertiary education institutions in Oman. The

    research was an exploration of English language teaching pedagogy with a particular

    focus on bilingual (English and Arabic) versus monolingual (English only) teaching

    and the role of first language (Arabic) usage in the classroom.

    The research was prompted on the one hand, by the need of the Omani government to

    train skilled teachers of English to support educational development and

    modernisation. On the other hand, I was aware of anecdotal evidence (including my

    own observations) that many students seemed to prefer learning with bilingual rather

    than monolingual teachers. I wanted to find out whether this was the case in Omani

    secondary institutions overall, and if so, why? What are the benefits and drawbacks of

    L1 usage in the classroom? What are the benefits and drawbacks of L2 only as a

    teaching medium? What are the language pedagogies that bilingual (Arabic and

    English speaking) teachers and monolingual (English only speaking) teachers

    typically practice?

    The study was carried out in six different higher education colleges in or near Muscat,

    the capital of Oman. Ten classroom observations were carried out (including bilingual

    and monolingual teachers) and eleven teachers were interviewed. Fifteen students

    from the same colleges as those teachers were interviewed.

    In addition, there is a self-reflective component built into the thesis. Throughout the

    course of the study I reflected on my own teaching in the light of the findings and my

    reading of the literature. As a bilingual teacher myself, how, to what extent, and for

    Page 1

  • what purposes do I draw on English and Arabic in my teaching? How could I improve

    my own pedagogical practice?

    I observed that bilingual teachers as a group and monolingual teachers as a group each

    had characteristic pedagogical styles and approaches. The bilingual teachers were

    more teacher-centered, relied more heavily on the use of textbooks, focused more on

    the teaching of grammar and used less varied techniques of instruction and

    engagement than did the monolingual teachers. On the other hand, the monolingual

    teachers, while they were more learner-centered and incorporated more

    communicative, interactive lessons and activities, seemed to be less successful in

    classroom management and focus less on accuracy, grammar and lexis than their

    Arabic-speaking counterparts.

    The outcomes of the student interviews broadly reflect the outcomes of the teacher

    interviews and classroom observations. Students seemed to be evenly divided in

    whether they preferred monolingual or bilingual teachers at the tertiary level.

    However, both students and teachers thought that bilingual teaching was essential at

    beginning levels of education and that the ability to speak both English and Arabic

    was beneficial for teachers. Many students, however, thought that as they advanced,

    interaction in the classroom should be conducted in English only. Together, the

    perspectives of EFL teachers and students and of the researcher herself as an EFL

    teacher point to a significant, but limited, role for Arabic usage in EFL tertiary college

    classrooms.

    The teacher interviews in general reinforced the conclusions that I drew from the

    classroom observations and yielded insights into how teachers teach EFL in either

    English or Arabic and how expatriate teachers who speak English only, compensate

    for their lack of Arabic.

    Through reflection on the interviews, the observational and self-reflective data, and

    my review of the contemporary literature about ESL/EFL methodology, an analysis

    emerges of the strengths and drawbacks of the typical bilingual and monolingual

    styles of teaching. The two pedagogical styles reflect differences between the cultural

    and educational traditions, teacher training programs and stages of social and

    economic development between Oman and Western English-speaking countries. Each

    Page 2

  • style has inherent pedagogical advantages and disadvantages that have the potential to

    be developed through especially planned and targeted professional development

    programs.

    There is a need for a systematic program of professional development for both groups

    of teachers in theories of language acquisition, communicative competence and more

    recent theories of constructivist pedagogy in language education. In addition, an

    opportunity exists for professional development programs that aim to involve local

    and expatriate teachers in cross-cultural awareness and in teaching and learning from

    each other. Monolingual teachers should try to enrich their learning and develop their

    understanding of the language-learning issues of their students by learning Arabic and

    learning about Islamic-culture. Bilingual teachers should work to incorporate more

    communicative approaches and more varied activities into their teaching and develop

    stronger frameworks for a cross-cultural understanding.

    Page 3

  • Abbreviations and Acronyms

    A/S - Advisors & Supervisors AAMEP - Australian Adult Migrant Education BT1 - Bilingual Teacher Interview 1 BTCO1 - Bilingual Teacher Classroom Observation 1 CLL - Communicative Language Learning EFL - English as a foreign Language EGP - English for General Purposes ELCD - English Language Curriculum Department ELT - English Language Teaching ESP - English for Specific purposes FL - Foreign language KG - Kindergarten L1 - First Language LSCT - Lower secondary Course for Teachers MT1 - Monolingual Teacher Interview 1 MTCO1 - Monolingual Teacher Classroom Observation 1 NESTS & NS - Native English Speaking Teachers NL - Native language NNEST &NNS - Non-native English speaking Teachers NPL - National Policy on Languages PRIT - Primary In-service Training RTT - Regional Teacher Trainer S1 - Student 1 SET - Senior English Teacher SETC - Senior English Teacher Course SETIM - Senior English Teacher Inspector Meetings SL - Second Language SLA - Second Language Acquisition SQU - Sultan Qaboos University TEFL - Teaching English as a Foreign Language TESOL - Teaching English to Speakers of Other Language TL - Target Language

    Page 4

  • Acknowledgements

    I wish to thank His Excellency Dr. Yahya Bin Mahfoodh Al-Manthari, the former

    Minister of Higher Education in Oman, the Chief of the State Council at present, for

    his inspiration and encouragement. I also would like to thank the staff at the

    Department of Higher Studies at the Ministry of Higher Education for their assistance

    throughout my PhD journey.

    I am also grateful to the people at the Australian Agency for Education and Training

    Center in Muscat, Oman for their effort to facilitate my enrolment and education at

    Victoria University.

    My gratitude goes to the staff and students of the six colleges where I have been

    allowed to observe and interview a number of teachers and students. I appreciate the

    teachers generosity for giving me the time to share their professional expertise. I am

    also thankful to students who shared their concerns and were quite open to talk to me

    about learning English. All teachers and students have been protected by pseudonyms

    throughout the thesis.

    I am grateful to my colleagues at The College of Law, notably the instructors at the

    English Unit who assisted me with regards to the required materials and references.

    Sayed Mohammed Omar and Associate Professor Dr.Ali Al-Issa have always inspired

    and motivated me to perform better. Majida Al-Hinai has always been there to help

    me whenever I faced any technical problems with my computer.

    My love and deep gratitude goes to my parents, my mother, Shamsa Al-Harrasi, my

    father, Suleiman Al-Jadidi, and my sisters, Zakiya, Najya, Fathiya, Wafa, Iman, and

    Hind, my brothers, Saeed, Khalid, Dawood, Musaab, Mohammed and Zakharia and

    my nephew Jihad. I thank each one of them for their support. They all helped me in

    one way or another to make my dream come true and I could not have accomp

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