How to cope with cultural obstacles to speaking
English in the classroom
I.1. Rationale It cannot be denied that learning English is now a must for youngsters in Vietnam, especially when that Vietnam has joined the World Trade Organization (WTO). English has become a compulsory subject at high school throughout the country. Thanks to the innovation of new textbooks, Vietnamese high schools now have a chance to get better access to Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) methods, which bring students a lot of interest in learning English. From teaching experience, I find that many high school students do not find speaking practice interesting. They are not confident enough to converse with English teachers or native speakers. The facts have shown that a lot of students have to get further English retraining after school. In spite of the improvements of speaking skills in new text books, students have to cope with many difficulties related to both linguistic competence and cultural experiences high school. Personally, I think that bridging cultural gaps is one of the most important keys to success in the learning and teaching of speaking skills. From my teaching experience, cultural challenges in speaking-class have become a great source of inspiration for my thesis which deals with the question, “How to cope with cultural obstacles to speaking English in the classroom?” This study is, hence, to aim at investigating cultural challenges to speaking skills in the classroom for the teachers and students at NTT high school, and to provide some recommendations. I.2. Aims of the study My study is an attempt to: - Investigate the attitudes of the teachers and the students at NTT high school towards the importance of speaking skills, - Find out the attitudes of teachers and students at NTT high school towards the importance of culture in learning speaking skills in English Language Teaching (ELT), - Discover teachers’ and students’ cultural obstacles to the teaching and learning speaking skills in the high school classrooms, and to suggest some teaching techniques to cope with cultural challenges in speaking-class. I.3. Scope of the study To develop speaking skills in the classrooms at NTT high school, the teachers have made a lot of effort to motivate the students to participate in speaking-class effectively. However, in the thesis, the researcher wants to find out the attitudes, as well as the cultural awareness in teaching and learning spoken English of the teachers and the students of 10th grade at NTT school; the cultural obstacles such as different ways of thinking, lack of cultural background knowledge and the learning attitudes, and then to give some recommendations for improvement. I.4.The research questions My study aims at answering the following research questions: - Do teachers and students at NTT high school really focus attention to speaking skills? - How do teachers and students at NTT high school appreciate the role of culture in mastering speaking skills? - What typical cultural obstacles should be overcome in the teaching and learning of speaking skills? I.5. Methods of the study To realize the aims of the study, both qualitative and quantitative methods will be used. The data collected for the study will mainly from two sources: 100 students of 10th grade and 10 teachers of English at NTT high school. Survey questionnaires are used to collect information and evidence for the study. All comments, remarks, recommendations, and conclusions provided in the study will be based on the data analysis.