Understanding the factors behind Chinese students’ speech proficiency of English as a foreign language

Detta är en Kandidat-uppsats från Uppsala universitet/Institutionen för lingvistik och filologi

Sammanfattning: The purpose of this study is to understand the factors behind Chinese student’s English-speaking proficiency. The hypothesis formed to answer this issue follows: “Large factors influencing Chinese students’ English speech proficiency is an examination-oriented education system, degree of childhood exposure to English and motivational, stress-free learning environments.”  Data has been collected by sending out an anonymous online questionnaire to Chinese students at Swedish Universities, asking about their learning experiences. A criterion for participation was to have taken either the IELTS or the TOEFL. Stephen Krashen’s theories on second language acquisition was used as source material because of its reliability and well-established ideas. Additionally, previous research and data from the IELTS or the TOEFL has also been included. The participants were also asked to include their results from the IELTS or the TOEFL for the purpose of comparing the different categories of reading, writing, speaking and listening ability, with focus placed on factors affecting speech proficiency. Our study found some support for our hypothesis. The results showed that the Chinese English education system places a lot of attention on reading which might deprioritize other parts of language learning such as speaking. The system also promotes examinations, which shapes curriculum into focusing on test results. In short, the testing-based system influence the way students are taught. Participants considering “speaking” to be highly important, but many received low speaking scores.  Our questionnaire showed that many students experienced nervousness when speaking English, the reason for this might be that they have not received comprehensible input and sufficient time to acquire the language, meaning that they are not yet ready to produce natural speech.  Ideally, a larger sample of participants, more survey questions and an in-depth interview with the students would have been preferable and resulted in more reliable results, which can be taken into consideration for future research. 

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