A study on group discussion and its impacts on speaking ability of the non-Major students at the post-elementary level in Military Science Academy

For many years, the traditional teaching method of English language such as Grammar Translation has dominated the teaching and learning environment in Vietnam. This method does not focus on communicative skills, but much on grammar points in order to help learners pass Grammar Tests at secondary schools and universities. As a result, many Vietnamese learners are excellent at grammar, but they can not communicate with each other in English. In classroom, teachers always explain grammatical points such as tenses, articles, prepositions and so on, and give students a great deal of exercises to practice in order to master grammar rules. Therefore, learners rarely have opportunities to speak and express their own ideas. In the teacher-centered class the teacher tends to explain and students take notes and practice; they rarely work in pairs or in groups to discuss a topic with each other. This seems to be very absurd for many educators in the world as the purpose of learning a second language is to communicate with each other in society. This is a reason why the Ministry of Education and Training needs to innovate the way of the second language teaching by applying the communicative approach in teaching English in Vietnamese classrooms. In addition, the text books and curriculums for both schools and universities should be designed for the communication-oriented and learner-centered approach. Almost all teachers are required to improve their teaching skills and try out new methods to be successful in classrooms. Group work is one of the most effective communicative approach that teachers often take into practice. A number of researches have been conducted in the field in order to realize the influences of group discussion as a frequent class activity on students’ linguistic performance and communicative competence. Participating in group discussion helps students develop “reproductive thinking” into “productive thinking”; and discussion method results in effective learning outcomes in terms of : (a) the mastery of general subject, (b) the ability of problem-solving, (c) the development of morality, (d) the development of attitude and (e) the development of communication skills (Wilen, 1990). Alvermann and Hayes (1989) believed that active and thoughtful participation in class discussion is an “outward sign of learning”. Besides, in group participants learn to talk better, i.e. they know how to retrieve ideas, organize them coherently and speak them out fluently, and therefore communicative competence is developed. Discussion also shapes “moral culture” as participants act together in a special way with regard to truthfulness, responsiveness, openness, respect, self-awareness, self-confidence and so on (Bridges, 1979). However, Jones (1999) raised a question why a number of non-native English speaking background students, particularly those who come from Asian countries, encounter difficulties in academic group discussion. They stay silent and reticent whilst their counterparts from Europe, for example, actively participate in the group work. In Viet Nam National University, Ha Noi some studies related to group work have been done, but they only focus on applying cooperative learning to improve speaking skills. (Phan Thi Hong Anh, 2003; Vo van Thanh, 2004; Tran Thi Ngoc Bac, 2005; Hoang Thi Lan, 2005; Le Tuan Ngoc, 2005; Le Thi Bich Thuy, 2006; Nguyen Thu Huong, 2006; To Thi Thanh Ha, 2006.) In sum, group discussion is regarded as a fruitful topic for researchers, particularly for those who are interested in Second Language Acquisition in the sense that it relates to how L2 learners approach a new language and how interactions among them contribute to that process. A number of researchers have shed light onto the field and seemed to agree on the point that group discussion productively promotes interactions among its participants. Though many of the researchers did investigate the issue, few have drawn the conclusion about what truly happens during group discussion and whether there are the relationships between group discussion and its influence on the participants’ speaking skill in terms of accuracy. Moreover, the most important reason why I pursue the study on groupwork is that teachers at the Military Science Academy (MSA) have been using group discussions very so often, however, they do not truly recognize how much their students may benefit from this dynamic activity. A minority of them even show doubts on group discussion’s advantages. Being inspired by the teaching and learning situation in the MSA, the researcher comes up with the project with clear purposes in mind: to go deeply into the essence of group discussion to explore what the students actually do during group discussion and its impacts on students’ acquisition of communicative competence in terms of accuracy, to determine if there is any possibility that participating into group discussion for academic purposes can help students gain better at their interactions within the classroom, inside the college campus and later on in a learning environment of other higher educational institutions.



  • Từ ngày 01/05/2022

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