Improving Oral Proficiency

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AN ACTION RESEARCH REPORT

IMPROVING STUDENTS’ ORAL PROFICIENCY THROUGH ASSOCIATED WORD LIST AND MIND MAPPING

INTRODUCTION

Background

Speaking is a communication skill that enables a person to verbalise thoughts and ideas. It is one of the four skills that our students should be able to acquire after years of learning English in primary and secondary schools. In some schools, speaking would not be a problem as it has become their medium of communication. For other schools such as the school that I am teaching, getting the students to open up their mouth or to speak is a great challenge. They would either pour out the memorised text copied from reference books or give a one-word or a two-words answer or responses during class discussion or in their oral presentation.

After the students have learned English for almost 10 years, I strongly believe my students have acquired some vocabulary or words to speak but they just do not know how to get started. The words and phrases that they have are not sort out or organised. Thus they were unable to make use of them to speak or in their oral presentation. I also believe arranging the words and phrases in a mind map would make them see order or flow.

The Teaching Context

My sample consisted of two form four Matahari of low proficiency (LP) students in a school that is categorised by the Ministry of Education as a rural school even though it is located 7 kilometres away from the Melaka town centre. It was established in 1990 and has 46 classrooms. It has a pupils’ population of 1570; 1426 are Malay, 82 Indian, 61 Chinese and 1 of other race. They are mainly from middle- to lower-income families. The students’ parents are mostly factory workers, lorry drivers and small scale businessmen.

Most of the LP students in my schools, especially the ones in 4 Matahari said that speaking was really difficult. They almost never use English in class or in their daily lives. Thus they were unable to speak and perform satisfactorily in their oral test.

My Central Concern

My central concern is to help my students to speak and perform satisfactorily in their oral test. I have used several methods such as using the WH questions and pictures to teach them speaking and prepare them for their oral test. However, I have found out that my students were still unable to give me satisfactory responses. After attending a course on mind mapping, I have tried to use it in my teaching of writing essays and recently speaking. In speaking, mind mapping is integrated with associated word list. I believe associated word list gives them ideas and mind map gives order or flow.

What I Hope To Achieve

For this study I hope to find out how the use of associated word list and mind map help my students in the learning of speaking. I also would like to know their effectiveness when used to assist the students to speak and also in the oral test. Subsequently, with the skills that they have learned, I hope the students would be encouraged to speak and gain more confidence to use the language.

The Action

I started by introducing students to mind maps and giving examples of different types of interesting mind maps. I showed them how to use a mind map in their oral test. Other learning strategies such as brainstorming and class discussion were also used in the learning process.

a. Method : Associated Word List and Mind Map

To be able to create a mind map, students needed ideas. Ideas were generated from a brainstorming session on hobbies, a title which was chosen by the majority of the students. Equipped with a dictionary for them to locate unfamiliar words, the students would write words on the board. Selection of related words would be carried out immediately after that. Then, students would group the words accordingly and arranged them under different headings in the mind map....
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