«submitted in accordance with the requirements for the degree of DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY WITH SPECIALISATION IN ADULT EDUCATION at the UNIVERSITY OF ...»
TEACHING ENGLISH AS A SECOND OR FOREIGN LANGUAGE
TO ADULTS IN QATAR: EXPLORING GENDER DIFFERENCES
IN LANGUAGE ACQUISTION
submitted in accordance with the requirements for the
DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
WITH SPECIALISATION IN ADULT EDUCATIONat the
UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH AFRICA
SUPERVISOR: PROF E.R. MATHIPAAPRIL 2014 Acknowledgements My sincere thanks and appreciation are due to Prof E.R. Mathipa for selecting me, and under whose supervision, this research was conducted. His positive attitude throughout this process will always be fondly remembered.
To my daughter, Nicole, and now my only child, thank you for believing in me and encouraging me on a regular basis. Thank you for helping me cope with the work load, as well as dealing with the loss of your brother at the same time. Thanks once again for your unconditional love.
My special gratitude goes to my husband, Phillip. Thank you for supporting me emotionally and financially through all the years of studying; and for your love and understanding. Grow old with me; the best is yet to be.
Abstracts This study was conducted to explore gender differences in language acquisition of adult male and female learners in Qatar. With globalization, English is no longer exclusively being used by the traditional English-speaking world only. It has become the international communicative language, used for commerce and trade, as well as the social media. For these reasons, many learners in Qatar attend an English language centre to acquire the necessary skills to become more fluent in the language. Both male and female learners enter the classroom with a wealth of life experiences, but just unable to communicate effectively in the target language. Therefore, teaching English to adult males and females from different nationalities, including the local Qatari population, should never been considered in isolation. The gender differences in language acquisition of these learners have to be acknowledged, taking their cognitive styles, motivation towards learning, strategies employed, anxieties experienced and the teaching practices into account.
English language lecturers have a responsibility to be knowledgeable on the subject they teach, as well as possess the necessary skills to best educate these learners. In this situation, adult language learners do however, also have to accept responsibility for their own actions and seek out every opportunity to acquire English.
Key terms Adult learners Anxieties during language acquisition Foreign language learning Foreign language teaching Gender differences in cognitive abilities inlanguage acquisition Motivation towards acquiring a second language Strategies employed in English second language acquisition Anxieties experience during language acquisition
Student number: 0701-704-9 I hereby declare that “TEACHING ENGLISH AS A SECOND OR FOREIGN LANGUAGE
TO ADULTS IN QATAR: EXPLORING GENDER DIFFERENCES IN LANGUAGEACQUISTION”, represents my own work and that all the sources I have used, or quoted, have been indicated and acknowledged by means of complete references.
2014/09/05 _______________________ ________________________
2.2 Gender, religion and cultural obligations or mandates in traditional Arabian context that have a bearing on the teaching - learning situation 17
4.4.2 Research findings related to questionnaires completed by learners 83 126.96.36.199 Strategy Inventory for Language Learning questionnaires 83
4.4.4 Research findings related to individual interviews with three lecturers 89 4.4.5 Research findings related to individual interviews with six learners 100 4.4.6 Research finding based on field notes kept throughout the process 108
4.5 Consolidation: Themes and subthemes that emerged from the findings 110
4.5.4 Anxieties experienced by adults in the language learning classroom 114 4.5.5 Teaching practices in the culturally diverse adult language learning
AMTB - Attitude Motivation Test Battery CALLA - Cognitive Academic Language Learning Approach CL - Cooperative learning CLT - Communicative language teaching EST - English for Science and Technology GCC - Gulf Cooperation Council ICT - Information technology skills L1 - First language or Native language L2 - Second language SEC - Supreme Education Council SILL - Strategy Inventory for Language Learning SLA - Second language acquisition TCK - Third culture kids TL - Target language UAE - United Arab Emirates ZPD - Zone of proximal development
1.1 Introduction and orientation The teaching of English as a second language to adults in Qatar has experienced a dramatic growth over the past twelve years. To this end, tremendous effort in securing adequately qualified teachers has been made to provide quality English language education to the local Qatari population, as well as to different adult nationalities who are employed in Qatar’s public and private sectors. A language of communication is central in the lives of people and as such, forms part and parcel of their existence.
English as a universal language has found favour with the Qataris, since the majority of Qatar’s skilled labour force is made up of different nationalities, whose preferred language of communication is English.
Generally, at the local Arabic speaking schools, all tuition is in Arabic, except for Mathematics and Science, which are taught through the medium of English. However, a directive from the Supreme Education Council (SEC) exempted high school graduates joining courses taught in Arabic at Qatar University from the Foundation Programme, designed to provide these learners with English language, Mathematics and information technology (ICT) skills (Bainbridge 2013:279). Many of these learners enter the adult world with limited knowledge of written and spoken English. In order for the adult learners to improve their English communicative skills, or to be able to study abroad, they have to be competent in the command of English, because English is regarded as a universal language.
At present, there are more than ten approved institutes providing English language education to Qataris and various other foreign nationalities from around the world (Bainbridge 2013:313). These institutes are registered with the Supreme Education Council. They were founded to fill this void in education and follow either an American or a British curriculum with regard to spelling and pronunciation. Lecturing is being conducted by native English speakers. The SEC has; however, issued a decree stating that as of Spring 2012, Arabic should be the official teaching language at Qatar University. But, a good command of English is a prerequisite for learners requiring admission to international universities in Qatar and also abroad. As a result, the teaching of English as a second language to adults in Qatar became crucial, hence this study.
Quality education is regarded not only as an important mechanism to strengthen the economy of Qatar, but also as a vital mechanism to improve the communicative skills of the Qataris, as well as of foreigners living here, in order to function effectively in a globalised world (Chaddock 2008:130; Bainbridge 2013:278). With English as the communicative language used in many industries within Qatar, such as aviation, banking and general business, more and more adult learners, who have had little or no exposure to English in their respective home countries, now have the need to study it.
1.2 Motivating factors for undertaking the study The researcher has been living in the Middle East for more than eight years, two of which were spent in Bahrain, and just over six years in Qatar. During all these years in both these countries, the researcher has been teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL).
During this period the researcher has become increasingly aware that gender differences play a role in acquiring English as a second or foreign language, in respect of the adult learners’ cognitive abilities, their motivation to study, the strategies they employ, and the anxieties they experience.
The researcher is presently employed on a part-time basis at an English language centre in Qatar, where an American-style English curriculum is being followed with regard to the study material and spelling being used. The teaching staff members are all native English speakers who come from America, Australia, Canada, England, and South Africa, originally. The learners are mainly from the local Qatari population, in addition there are those who come from a variety of expatriates living in the country, who need a universal communicative language. Learners therefore enter the learning environment with diverse abilities and different motivation towards language acquisition. This diversity is manifested in different learning strategies the learners employ, which make it difficult to accommodate them in the same classroom.
Learners studying at the centre can be divided into either multicultural classes or classes with only Muslim men or only Muslim ladies, because these ladies sometimes prefer not to be in a learning environment with adult males who are not directly related to them.
People can differ significantly in their learning styles on a much broader scale than can be immediately perceived in a classroom. The researcher became aware of the gender differences in learning when observing how adult learners acquire English as a second or foreign language. These differences also influence and determine the way lecturers, who are aware of these differences, teach. The researcher has also become acutely aware of the importance of taking note of these differences when teaching adult learners of different genders, nationalities and different abilities.
It was hoped that the findings of this study would provide insight into the gender differences in learning English as a second or foreign language; and also serve as groundwork for future research into learning and teaching English as a second or foreign language to adult learners in other countries where English is a foreign language.
1.3 The prevailing circumstances and atmosphere
The announcement in December 2010 (The Peninsula), that Qatar will host the 2022 Football World Cup, was accompanied by different perceptions and expectations by Qataris and foreigners living in this country, especially with regard to the medium of communication. The more immediate realization was to equip all nationalities with the communication skills in English to deal with the demand of the new situation. Since the announcement, English proficiency is now seen as a very important priority of the education system in Qatar. For this reason, this study became important, since it aimed at pointing the way as to how this national campaign could be effectively rolled out to meet the expectation of the Qatari people’s wishes regarding the need to communicate effectively in English during the world cup and beyond.
At present there are twelve English curriculum schools, providing education to Qataris and various nationalities in Qatar (SEC 2012). As explained before, (see section 1.1) at the local primary and secondary schools, however, all subjects are being taught in Arabic, except for basic Mathematics and Science, which are taught in English. These young learners grow into adults with very little or limited command of English.
Therefore, they need to be taught additional English at adult centres in order to reach a certain level of proficiency. In other words, young learners have had some exposure to the use of English, but because during teaching or learning they could still revert back to Arabic for detailed explanations of these subjects, their English command became constraint or restricted in a way.
1.3.1 Religious and cultural influences
Qatar is an Islamic state and as such, the local religion plays a significant role in all spheres of society, including second language learning. The Holy Koran (39:9) it sees education firstly as making man a right thinker and it secondly enables man to receive information from the external world. Because of this all-encompassing influence of this holy book, Islamic education is uniquely different from other types of educational theory and practice; it serves as a comprehensive blueprint for both individuals and society and is the primary source of knowledge.
The local religion therefore, also serves as a constant reminder to lecturers of other beliefs to guard against prejudices or criticisms. In the classroom, lecturers have to be aware at all times not to engage in discussions about religion or beliefs and not allow learners to do it either.
Culture has diverse meanings, as it involves the way social constructs are formed within a group, and in this way imparting their ways of thinking, feelings and beliefs to other members of a group they socialize with. “Culture can be seen as a framework of assumptions, ideas and beliefs that are used to interpret other people’s actions, words and pattern of thinking” as defined by Cortazzi and Jin (1996:170). Lecturers have to be constantly aware that learners will integrate their own cultural system during target language learning, as will be further explained in section 2.2.
1.4 The research problem, aims and objectives of the study 1.4.1 The problem statement In view of the preceding discussion it is evident that the problem of this investigation revolves around the following question: How do men and women differ in English language acquisition with regard to cognitive styles, motivation towards learning, strategies employed and anxieties experienced?