Teachers’ Role in Enhancing the Students’ Speaking Skills

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Abstract

Teachers’ role in enhancing the students’ speaking skills in EFL class is the focus of the research that needs to be investigated. This study focused on how teachers at two government high schools help students become more proficient speakers of English by examining their roles in this regard. A descriptive research design was used in the study, and both qualitative and quantitative data were analyzed. Students and their teachers participated in the study. 10 instructor respondents were selected on purpose and participated in the interview and classroom observation, whereas the 40 student respondents were selected at random and enrolled in answering the questionnaire. The survey's conclusions demonstrated that educators are not performing their jobs in a way that would benefit students develop their speaking fluency. It was also found that teachers prefer to teach grammar and reading rather than speaking because they are unwilling to invest the time and energy required to teach speaking. This poses a serious challenge to the learners’ language development. Since teachers are in charge of assisting pupils in learning more, they should be aware of this.

General Information

Keywords: speaking proficiency, speaking development, teachers’ roles, speaking strategy and learners’ ability

Journal rubric: Linguodidactics and Innovations.Psychological Basis of Learning Languages and Cultures.

Article type: scientific article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.17759/langt.2024110112

Funding. The work presented was made possible by support from Addis Ababa University.

Acknowledgements. The authors are grateful to thank friends for reviewing the data gathering tools. We also acknowledge grade ten students and teachers of Bole Beshale and Andode high schools who took part in the study. We finally need to thank Addis Ababa University for funding our research project.

Received: 15.02.2024

Accepted:

For citation: Asefa D.T., Enashe M.B. Teachers’ Role in Enhancing the Students’ Speaking Skills [Elektronnyi resurs]. Âzyk i tekst = Language and Text, 2024. Vol. 11, no. 1, pp. 131–142. DOI: 10.17759/langt.2024110112.

Full text

Introduction

The act of creating and communicating meaning through spoken words is known as speaking. It is also mentioned as being an essential component of teaching and learning second languages. Speaking instruction has been underappreciated despite its significance, and English language instructors have persisted in teaching speaking as drill memorization and repetition [4]. But in today's society, the aim of teaching speaking must be to help students become better communicators, as only then can they express themselves and acquire the social and cultural norms that are suitable in each communication situation.

English has been the official language of teaching in all secondary and preparatory institutions in Ethiopia. Ethiopia's current educational strategy has also placed a significant emphasis on enhancing the process of teaching and learning English, particularly speaking. The introduction of techniques that place the learners at the center of the learning process has received the attention it deserves since the education and training strategy was designed in 1994. To achieve this, the Ministry of Education released a set of textbooks called English for Ethiopia, which, in contrast to the earlier ones, include several speaking exercises. Additionally, every school in the nation uses them.

In order for students to engage in speaking exercises in the classroom, language teachers must employ tactics to overcome their shyness and reluctance. Additionally, a language teacher's role is to present opportunities for students who can be forced to use the language in everyday interactions with their teachers, classmates, and other English-speaking individuals, in addition to the classroom. In order to do this, instructors' primary responsibility is to establish a learning environment in which students acquire and apply language skills while also receiving as much exposure as possible to the target language in order to become fluent in it. School principals and other interested parties should push instructors to use their drive, expertise, and energy in order to attain this attribute.

Statement of the Problem

Effective communication is the goal of speaking skills instruction. This means that students should be able to communicate clearly while making the most of their current level of skill. They must make an effort to avoid miscommunication caused by improper terminology, grammar, or pronunciation, and they must abide by any applicable social and cultural norms. Speaking is the core of communication, and in order to become competent in it, students must practice speaking both alone and with others [11]. Several workshops and seminars in our nation have revealed that English teachers have received long- or short-term training that exposes them to teaching the English language in order to improve the caliber of language instruction. The anticipated shift, though, is not observed.

This is a serious issue that affects both the students' long-term professional career growth and their ability to learn other topics. Teachers desire to concentrate on the correctness portion of the curriculum, and learners are not given enough time to practice speaking in class [6]. Teachers overlook the needs of their children when they are just concerned with portion coverage. Conversely, if students are not gaining enough experience, they will lack confidence. It is advised that students should be driven to prevent them from feeling intimidated [16].

There is a widespread belief that English instruction in secondary schools has to be reevaluated as a result of the issue of graduates speaking English poorly [19]. Many researchers believe that the lack of emphasis on speaking skills in the curriculum — which is not tested in national exams — teachers' limited English proficiency, unfavorable classroom conditions, and the scarcity of opportunities for speaking practice outside of the classroom are the main causes of poor speaking skills [16].

Furthermore, the researcher has seen when teachers voice concerns regarding the conversational English skills to first-year students at the Addis Ababa Science and Technology University and has noticed instances in which educators’ voice concerns regarding their students' lack of engagement. The researcher has seen, however, that no one is making an attempt to better the students' circumstances and that people are negligent in their roles.

The Study’s Objective

This study's main goal is to find out how teachers can help students in ELT programs improve their speaking abilities.

Particular Goals

This research is being done especially to:

  1. Assess the role of instructors in speaking classes.
  2. Examine whether the methods used by educators aid in the development of pupils' speaking abilities.

Questions for Research

In an effort to achieve the aforementioned goals, the research questions that follow have been established.

  1. What is the role of the teacher in speaking classes?
  2. Do educators' methods aid pupils in developing their speaking abilities?
  3. Techniques

Descriptive Research as the Research Design

The purpose of this study was to find out how teachers could help students improve their speaking skills. Both qualitative and quantitative methods were applied in this descriptive study. The phenomena that have been noted in descriptive studies are already well recognized. A researcher's first responsibility is to gather all of the available data using tools like questionnaires, interviews, and observation. Thoroughly describing the events being studied is the primary objective of descriptive research [7].

Tools for Collecting Data and Sample Strategies

Survey

To gather measurable data on the improvements in speaking skills that instructors have made, a sample of students from two high schools was asked to respond to questions about the roles and pedagogies of their teachers. Student responders were selected using probability sampling, also referred to as random sampling, to ensure that each person had an equal opportunity. This suggests that individuals are chosen through a mechanical process rather than being purposefully chosen from the entire population [17]. Simple random sampling was used to pick 39 participants for the study, or 10% of the total 394 students from the two high schools. There were thirty-two parts and eleven pieces that made up the thirty-nine students. At intervals of fifteen students according to their alphabet, three kids from each area—the first, middle, and last, or numbers one, fifteen, and thirty — were gathered. Their numbers, which ranged from 1 to 30, matched the letters in their names. The duties of educators and the strategies they use to teach speaking were the two main topics of the questionnaire.

Interview

To gather in-depth information regarding the teachers' contributions to the students' improvement of their speaking abilities, a teacher interview was undertaken. A sample of the English teachers in the schools was chosen for observation and interviews. There were ten English language instructors at this school. The department head was consulted by the researcher, who also asked teachers if they would be willing to participate. Consequently, since only teachers who volunteered to take part in the study were chosen, voluntary sampling was employed as a sampling strategy. Only prospective candidates who fulfilled the requirements and were willing to participate were included in the vocational sample [21]. There were four instructors present throughout the discussion.

Methodology for Gathering Data

The researcher visited the school and spoke with the directors and teachers in order to get the data. We scheduled a visit with him for the following two days. After that, the investigator chose three professors to observe and four volunteer instructors for interviews. The researcher then scheduled a time for the first observation to be made in a week and discussed with the teachers the date of the observation and interview. The researcher first cross-referenced the results from the questionnaire with the lessons being taught in the classroom in order to get data from the pupils. Following the teacher discussion, the researcher distributed the questionnaire to three students from each of the department's thirteen sections with assistance from the department chair, or a total of 49 pupils. Under the researcher's supervision, the 39 chosen students finished the questionnaire and attended one complimentary class.

Data Analysis

The quantitative data collected through the use of a questionnaire was evaluated using descriptive statistics. We looked at the roles that teachers perform and the methods they employ while teaching speech. A theme analysis was performed on the qualitative data. Interview questions were used, as previously mentioned, to collect the qualitative data. Prior to beginning the analysis, the researchers discovered several processes. First, related artifacts were gathered and arranged according to a theme. Finally, a qualitative analysis was performed.

Analysis of Questionnaire. The Function of Educators

To find out how the teachers are doing their job of teaching speaking, nine written questions were distributed to the pupils. Out of the 180 students who responded to the survey, 1.1% agreed with the teacher's decision to adopt a student-centered classroom, and 63.3% said they disapproved. This implies that educators create teacher-centered classes rather than making an effort to make their classes student-centered. Moreover, over 50% of the respondents confirmed that teachers do not give students the vocabulary they need to practice speaking in a methodical and meaningful way. Merely 0.6% of the participants believed that they ought to have additional chances to engage in speaking activities, whilst 67.2% disagreed. This implies that kids don't have enough chances to practice speaking. The notion that instructors control their classes is further supported by the interview. Taking into account that the students are not included in either the lesson they bring to the classroom or the way they deliver it.

When teaching speaking, the teacher's main duty is to inspire the students to practice. Despite this, 63.3% of the participants reported that they do not receive help from their lecturers. Just 0.6% of respondents thought that they had enough time to practice, while 53.3% disagreed. This clearly shows that instructors don't give their pupils enough practice time or direction while they're practicing. This is further illustrated in the interview: teachers frequently fail to incorporate speaking exercises into their lessons, which makes it difficult for them to inspire their pupils to practice and pay attention to the subject matter.

When asked if teachers offered activities that allowed for free expression, 52.2% of them responded negatively. 46.7% and 42.2% of them, respectively, reported disagreement and significant disagreement with the teaching of speaking techniques, citing teachers' lack of instruction and their failure to advise students on effective speaking strategies. 48.3% of the students strongly disagreed with their teacher's recommendation to use alternate speaking approaches, while 39.4% of the students disagreed.

Table 1. Teacher’s Role

Our teacher:

SA

(strongly agree)

A

(agree)

U

(undecided)

D

(disagree)

SD

(strongly disagree)

1

Creates a classroom that is focused on the students.

0

2

(1.1%)

36

(20%)

114

(63.3%)

28

(15.6%)

2

Provides us with the language necessary to practice communicating in a deliberate and meaningful manner.

0

3

(1.7%)

35

(19.4%)

99

(55.0%)

43

(23.9%)

3

Gives us the chance to engage in speaking activities

0

1

(0.6%)

23

(12.8%)

121

(67.2%)

35

(19.4%)

4

Asks us to use English to communicate.

0

1

(0.6%)

21

(11.7%)

114

(63.3%)

44

(24.4%)

5

Gives us an appropriate amount of practice time.

0

1

(0.6%)

19

(10.6%)

96

(53.3%)

64

(35.6%)

6

Monitors our performance to determine how satisfied it is.

0

0

23

(12.8%)

95

(52.8%)

62

(34.4%)

7

Provides us with chances for free speech

0

2

(1.1%)

20

(11.1%)

94

(52.2%)

64

(35.6%)

8

Barely teaches us speech techniques

0

1

(0.6%)

19

(10.6%)

84

(46.7%)

76

(42.2%)

9

Instructs us to use our speaking techniques.

2

(1.1%)

1

(0.6%)

19

(13.8%)

71

(39.4%)

87

(48.3%)

Speaking Techniques

Because 55% of respondents disagreed that their instructor should assist them in identifying the most effective learning approaches, teachers do not apply these strategies in their classes, according to the results of the student assessment. Once more, 59.4% of them expressed dissatisfaction with the way their teacher had assisted them in learning how to utilize the language for various activities. Furthermore, learners express disagreement with the statement, "Teachers teach or show me different speaking strategies," with 51.7% of students indicating that teachers do not impart a range of speaking skills to their students. This is also true in the interview. Teachers claimed that they don't give teaching kids how to talk much thought. 52.2% of students confirmed, as seen in the figure, that their teachers are not assisting them in correcting their mistakes.

More over half of the participants denied that teachers provide incentives for their students to use the language outside of the classroom. When they do talk, 46.1% and 42.2% of them disagree and show a great deal of dissatisfaction with the teacher's assistance in being truthful. Their teachers don't provide them any advice on how to let go of the demand for accuracy.

Table 2. Speaking Strategies

Our teacher:

SA

(strongly agree)

A

(agree)

U

(undecided)

D

(disagree)

SD

(strongly disagree)

1

It facilitates my search for the best learning techniques.

0

4

(2.2%)

32

(17.8%)

99

(55.0%)

45

(25%)

2

It makes it easier for me to use language in a range of situations.

 

 

1

(0.6%)

30

(16.7%)

107

(59.4%)

42

(23.3%)

3

Teaches or exhibits different speaking strategies for me.

 

1

(0.6%)

21

(11.7%)

93

(51.7%)

65

(36.1%)

4

It facilitates my memory of the lessons I've learnt from...

 

3

(1.7%)

18

(10.0%)

104

(57.8%)

55

(30.6%)

5

Assists in fixing mistakes.

 

7

(3.9%)

14

(7.8%)

94

(52.2%)

65

(36.1%)

6

Encourages students to use English outside of the classroom.

 

2

(1.1%)

17

(9.4%)

66

(36.7%)

95

(52.8%)

7

It reduces my worry about accuracy.

1

(0.6%)

2

(1.1%)

18

(10.0%)

83

(46.1%)

76

(42.2%)

Evaluation of Interview and Observation

Teachers are just as vital as students in helping students practice speaking or develop their speaking abilities. Rather of taking the stage as an actor, a teacher in a communicative-oriented classroom should take on the roles of "facilitator," "counselor," organizer, participant, resource, prompter, etc. [9]. Because they are still in their adolescent years, high school students are incapable of managing their own education. They require an instructor to teach them the material. Consequently, this duty has been placed on the instructor. The interview provides evidence that the teachers are not performing to the best of their abilities. They should be encouraging kids to practice speaking, coming up with engaging activities, and motivating them, yet they aren't doing any of these things. Most teachers solely concentrate on teaching the reading and grammar portions of the curriculum; they do not teach speaking.

According to academics, teaching is a career where one is expected to lead by example for youngsters. It also requires consistently planning, thinking through, and researching new and creative ways to enhance children's learning. However, the teacher responses stated that rather than taking on the role of teacher, they would much rather take the easy route, which consists of doing nothing more than showing up to class, lecturing on grammar, issuing tasks, and departing. They argue that teaching language skills, particularly speaking, calls for the instructor to have patient, be creative, and be aware of the interests of the students. When students refuse to participate, show little interest, or believe they can't do the work, the instructor needs to employ a variety of tactics to push them. Regretfully, as they stated, none of them are taking this action.

Discussion

Teachers’ Role

It has been demonstrated that educators carry out a wide range of duties, such as those of manager, evaluator, facilitator, assessor, and role model. Teachers who take on these roles put themselves in the best possible position to guide students as they plan their futures. It follows that in every given teaching and learning environment, teachers have a significant impact on how well or poorly pupils learn. Instructors play a crucial role in teaching speaking; they start by introducing a variety of speaking activities into the classroom and letting students take part in them [9].

Since high school students are too young to guarantee that they are learning on their own, the teacher's job is to provide all the tools they need to finish their practice as well as help, motivate, and encourage them. Meanwhile, through student surveys, classroom observations, and teacher interviews, the researcher found that teachers are not performing their duties as well as they should. They just teach the grammar and reading from the students' textbooks, which in no way helps the kids communicate, instead of coming up with unique activities that motivate the children to practice more. There aren't even any speaking activities in their class plan or the student textbook that all teachers utilize. Although speaking exercises are included in every unit, speaking is not taught.

When it comes to teaching speaking at this school level, the instructor has a lot of responsibilities. It is expected of the teacher to assign multiple speaking activities to the class, as there aren't many in the textbook. That being said, most educators are reluctant to do so. They don't even teach speaking from the textbook; they only teach the content that is in it. To save time and effort, they would rather concentrate simply on teaching grammar and the reading element of the curriculum. In addition to delivering a variety of activities to the classroom, a teacher's job is to motivate pupils to interact with the content by using several forms of reinforcement or rewards. In the interval, they don't try.

In the interim, they make no effort to encourage kids to practice speaking. They don't appear to care too much about living up to expectations, and they are too lazy to do their jobs as teachers. Thus, a student's teacher is the main and most significant factor impacting how well or poorly they are performing.

Methods of Instruction

A language teacher goes above and beyond to ensure that students learn the language. Every level of language competency calls for a different set of methods and approaches. Speaking, then, is a language skill that calls for a unique set of methods and approaches that should be applied to better prepare students for speaking and inspire them to do so. Activities must be carefully chosen in order to help students enhance their speaking abilities and apply the speech patterns of the language they are learning.

Helping students engage in challenging speech exercises designed to improve their communication skills is also essential. Through these kinds of activities, students are inspired to practice speaking up and acquire confidence. This holds true for both in-class activities and language use outside of the classroom [2].

Students can develop their language abilities in the classroom by participating in a variety of speaking exercises. Exercises involving the use of free language include discussions, group projects, games, and so forth. Meanwhile, the interview reveals that speaking is not typically taught by teachers. As a result, instructional methods and procedures cannot be implemented if they lack instructional value. Teachers are encouraged to employ activities such as conversation, discussion, group work, pair work, free talk, discussion, and simulation types to assist students become better communicators in the classroom. Nonetheless, the information implies that speaking-encouraging activities are not used in classroom settings. Student-involved learning activities were not implemented; instead, a traditional teacher-dominant style of instruction was used.

Apart from within an educational setting, English Outside of the classroom, at home, or on the school's grounds, students should practice the language. Since nobody speaks English inside the school grounds, students had a difficult time finding someone with whom they could practice speaking with friends, teachers, directors, officers, and other staff members because Amharic is the native language of the nation. When a student tries to practice speaking in this kind of setting, it is difficult for them to find an audience, and even their friends tease them. Speaking exercises are not arranged by the mini-media club or the English department.

Conclusion

This study examined the various teaching strategies used by Ethiopian high school instructors to help their students improve their speaking abilities. The poll's results indicate that teachers are not assisting students in developing their speaking skills. The reasons teachers performed poorly in their roles were the way they taught and the importance they placed on teaching speaking. Teachers don't employ the majority of speaking exercises created to help students improve their speaking abilities. Consequently, the results demonstrate that teachers' responsibilities to assist students in improving their speaking skills were not fully fulfilled.

Suggestion

When compared to the research objectives, the study's findings demonstrate that teachers have relatively little influence over their students' speech talents. Instructors are not allowed to engage students in any kind of activity. As a result, students did not receive the practice they required to get better. Teachers in secondary schools are held to extremely high standards. Teachers should be concerned since it is their responsibility if pupils are not learning the material and are only now beginning to move in the right path.

Appendices

Appendix A1. Questionnaire on Teachers’ Role

Our teacher:

SA

A

U

D

SD

1

Creates a classroom that is focused on the students.

 

 

 

 

 

2

Provides us with the language necessary to practice communicating in a deliberate and meaningful manner.

 

 

 

 

 

3

Gives us the chance to engage in speaking activities.

 

 

 

 

 

4

Asks us to use English to communicate.

 

 

 

 

 

5

Gives us an appropriate amount of practice time.

 

 

 

 

 

6

Monitors our performance to determine how satisfied it is.

 

 

 

 

 

7

Provides us with chances for free speech.

 

 

 

 

 

8

Barely teaches us speech techniques.

 

 

 

 

 

9

Instructs us to use our speaking techniques.

 

 

 

 

 

Appendix A2. Questionnaire on Speaking Strategies

Our teacher:

SA

A

U

D

SD

1

It facilitates my search for the best learning techniques.

 

 

 

 

 

2

It makes it easier for me to use language in a range of situations.

 

 

 

 

 

3

Teaches or exhibits different speaking strategies for me.

 

 

 

 

 

4

It facilitates my memory of the lessons I've learnt from...

 

 

 

 

 

5

Assists in fixing mistakes.

 

 

 

 

 

6

Encourages students to use English outside of the classroom.

 

 

 

 

 

7

It reduces my worry about accuracy.

 

 

 

 

 

Appendix B. Interview Guide Items

  1. How proficient a speaker do you think the students are?
  2. Do you think that some factors influence a student's participation in speaking classes?
  3. How involved do you think the students were?
  4. Children often show reluctance when they are given the chance to practice speaking. Why do you think that?
  5. Less practice takes place in the classroom, thus as a teacher, what methods do you use to increase the pupils' level of participation?
  6. Do you encourage your students to utilize English or to speak it outside of the classroom?
  7. Teachers, administrators, parents, and students all have a responsibility to improve the students learning. What do you think is expected of you as a teacher?

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Information About the Authors

Dagmawit T. Asefa, MA in Teaching English as a Foreign Language, Lecturer, Addis Ababa Science and Technology University, Ethiopia, ORCID: https://orcid.org/0009-0006-6148-0409, e-mail: dagmawitarekegn@gmail.com

Mendida B. Enashe, PhD in Teaching English as a Foreign Language, Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia, ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-0638-5207, e-mail: mendidaberkessa@gmail.com

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