«submitted in accordance with the requirements for the degree of DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY WITH SPECIALISATION IN ADULT EDUCATION at the UNIVERSITY OF ...»
(ILF01) “I think that that rather depends on the teacher. I think that I can generally gauge a class to see who needs what, and if they are willing to actually do it. Definitely, if the student is interested in learning, they would try and accept any measures you’ve got. You’ve got to try and help them on their way, but there are some who are quite resistant, accept just learning straight from the book.” (IL02) “This is more general. I don’t think that for adults, learning a language should be with books. But because they’ve learnt everything else, at school let’s say, from books, they automatically assume that learning a language, is using a book as well. But it appears to me it’s kind of a security blanket. You’ve got this book, you can write things down, have your head in it and nobody is looking at you. I don’t think it’s the way to learn a language, I don’t think it’s the way to learn. You spend time with a person of that nationality; you go and live with that person, live in the house with that person, that sort of thing. And you just have that language to speak, like you would have a child in the house. If you could learn a language, that is how I would do it and I would have no books. I don’t think we are doing the learning process well. You are at a school; you are over the age where you can retain information. But I do think the way we do it and the way schools do it, is not very accommodating.
The questions about gender differences in the classroom are: “How do you handle different genders within the classroom? Do you handle men differently to how you handle ladies? What would you therefore exclude when you have just men in the class
or when you have only women in the class?”, and were responded to as follows:
(ILF01) “Yes. Yes I do.” Follow-up question: “In what way?” (ILF01) “I actually prefer working with the women. Ahm, it is amazing how you can turn everything, every project, every grammar point into shopping and the things that they like. Ahm, generally the young ones look at me actually like a mother, they just seem to like to want to please. That is nice and they just are sweeter. With the guys it’s sort of joking and messing around a little bit really. And I definitely find myself speaking about different topics to men as compared to women.” (ILF01) “Ahm, yeah, if there is something, if we have a mixed class, and there is anything remotely talking about love or relationships, especially here in the Middle East, I always leave it out. And I always look to see that it’s culturally sensitive. Whether that just be because we are where we are, than when we were teaching somewhere else like in Thailand or another country, then I think that possibly will be different, but we do have to be careful of what we say and do here. So as not to offend. With a mixed class, well, that’s more so. Especially if you have younger girls who have never been exposed to the Western sort of cultural bias, as such. And yeah, I mean, I do have to be careful, as I don’t want them going and speaking to their fathers about it, and yeah, you’ve just got to use your head and gauge it in a place like this.” Question: And you say that the men are different. Can you explain more if women are also different in a mixed gender class?” (ILF01) “They are shyer. I mean, obviously it depends on the personality of the person.
And in general, a lot of these girls have never been talking to men and they are learning something new, so they feel a bit shy. And often they tend to group, a group of women and a group of men. But if they go right through the levels, as I have said before, they do get confidence and they do come out But in general, definitely men are different when there are only men and women are different when there are only women.” Question: “How will that affect group-work when you put say a Qatari man with a Qatari woman?” (ILF01) “That depends on them. Sometimes it’s just not acceptable and the women won’t do it. It depends on how they, I suppose see their roles in society and how the women now are a lot more modern in their thinking, but there’s still a lot here that especially the young girls, especially the group fifteen to nineteen, where their parents really don’t like them to integrate with men in the class.” (ILF02) “Men are actually, although men are naughty, you can tease them. You can’t tease women. Men, you can make fun of them, when they’re naughty, you can make them look silly in front of others. Women you have to compliment, and that sort of thing.
So yeah, it’s quite different. But it’s individual. But in general, you can treat men a lot differently.” (ILM03) “I handle them a little differently. They guys try and take a lot of face, so they do a lot of pranks. Women for the most part, are generally better behaved, but they also have to control their power. Because, there was one particular class with this women, she was married and a little older that most of the other students and she thought she was ahead of everybody. And so she tried to control the class. For the last two weeks it was just a matter of who had control of the class. It was bad, it was really bad. But those sorts of students are the rare occasions. But generally women are to me much more behaved. So women are easier to be with, but for guys, I have to make sure I’m on top of them all the time.” Follow-up question: “About the women who tried to take control of just a group of students, or of the class, can you explain more?” (ILM03) “If somebody had a question, she would try and answer it before me. Sometimes she would be right, sometimes not. Normally if it was correct, I would say, great. But in essence, I was becoming almost obsolete, and just there for nothing. And that would lead to a different set of problems.” Interpretation: Learners are handled differently in the language learning classroom, but their personalities have to be taken into account. Women in general tend to be betterbehaved, whereas men sometimes play around and do not take studying seriously.
However, the lecturer has to be mindful of, and show respect towards the local culture, while at the same time maintaining order in the classroom.
The participants responded as follows to the question: “How would you like other teachers to handle different genders within the classroom?” (ILF01) “Mhm, that’s quite a difficult one. We usually give teachers autonomy in their classrooms. The only way I can possibly gauge it, is if someone comes to me and complains, and I can go and speak to teachers and ask him or her as to the methods that they were using.” (ILF02) “Mhm, I just think any teacher needs to be aware of the differences.” (ILM03) “Yes, definitely, I would tell you if I had a student who is high-lighted, I would definitely tell you. With regard to gender, I wouldn’t make any particular references, but if there was a particularly bright student, or a student who needs a little more work or struggles in particular areas, I would tell my fellow teachers. Yes, definitely.” Interpretation: Lecturers generally have autonomy in the classroom to teach in their own individual style, as long as the curriculum is followed and learning occurs.
On the question, “What else, in your opinion can be done to make the situation more
acceptable for all learners to acquire English?” participants responded with:
(ILF01) “Mhm, well, well I think English should be made compulsory in schools, actually, rather than in learning centres. But then again, if it is compulsory, they don’t have a choice, as well as, and like I mean, they should know English ant it is a world language. I mean, because even though they have changed it a bit around in Qatar, English is a world language and if they go outside for business, they should have it.” (ILF02) “Well, adding to that, I would just say, much smaller numbers at a time, as well.
So ones and twos really. You can’t have groups of six and twelve.” (ILM03) “Ahmm, perhaps more interaction between different classes. I had a pretty high level, which I think was a level seven. A really upper level, or quite advanced class. To have them maybe to enter into a class a few levels below them, or even above them, and have them play games together, or interact and have they achieved some objectives.
Like interview two or three people, say about hobbies.” Interpretation: Learners should take English as a compulsory subject in the local schools and not have to attend language centres to achieve that. On the other hand, learners should interact more formally with other people, where the lecturer can act as the facilitator to make corrections, and assist learners to learn from the corrected mistakes.
“What additional information about the above mentioned questions would you like to bring to my attention or that you think could add?” (ILF01) “I don’t have. I just feel that in the years that I have taught here, I have seen a big difference in how students interact in the classroom when it’s mixed. I still think that where we are, lends itself better to having separate gender classes, because I’ve had situations where men who have been really great in an all men’s class, all of a sudden revert to this shy, introvert because there are women in the classroom. Mhm, I just think it’s more acceptable. Here it’s different if you get a mixed class with different nationalities and you can absolutely have a blast with them. But for culture and mmh, I can only speak for Qatar; I definitely think the success, especially in a centre like this, would merit it when they had separate classes. I definitely think that in this part of the world it works better.” (ILF02) “I suppose, if they want to do it properly, if governments want to do it properly, they have to start at an early age.” (ILM03) “I have nothing more to add.” Interpretation: One lecturer report that it might be more beneficial for English language acquisition if male and female learners could be segregated into separate classrooms.
4.4.5 Research findings related to individual interviews with six learners The six learners, who participated in the individual interviews, were mostly qualified in their respective fields of employment. They enrolled at the centre to acquire English as a second or foreign language, in levels ranging from five to seven, which is fairly high.
These participants already had a good understanding and command of English and could respond confidently to questions.
The participants answered as follows to the question, “How do you learn English?” (ISM01) “I read stuff over and over. I normally go over the work that we have done in the classroom and make notes of words I couldn’t remember. Oh, and I keep my own dictionary.” (ISM02) “You see, when I was in school, we had English teachers from countries like Egypt and Syria, so, my experience was not that good. Half the time their pronunciation of words was not good either, so my English did not really get any better. Now I have to use it in my work and I speak it every day, but sometimes, you know, my colleagues cannot speak English very well either and I get a bit lazy. But I try and listen to a lot of English programmes on TV.” (ISM03) “I read a bit, watch TV and try and look at newspapers when I can.” (ISF04) “Well, at the moment I’m doing it in class, but I also have a private tutor.” Follow-up question: “Could you explain more?” (ISF04) “Yes. I learn a lot in class about grammar and word order and things like that, but with the tutor we do a lot of speaking.” (ISF05) “Mmh, I prefer to study with some friends in a group. I don’t like to have private lessons. I prefer the classes, because when I’m in a group, I can exchange information with other students.” (ISF06) “I am very competitive, so I study hard for everything, including English. I go over the work we have done in class. Then, when I cannot remember, I mark it and ask the teacher the next day to explain again. I try and talk to as many English speaking people as possible, but you know, it does not always work that way.” Interpretation: It was apparent that various learners have individual styles of English language acquisition. The males indicated more visual stimulus, like reading the work over and over, and using communicative skills. The females preferred to learn in a social context in a classroom. Only one lady indicated that, besides learning in a classroom, she also used a private tutor.
Each adult learner has his or her own motivation to acquire the target language when they come to the English language classroom. When participants were asked, “What
motivates you to study English?” They responded as follows: