An Examination on the Problems Existing in the Teaching and Learning of Oral English

Bygate in Yu Wang

Shenzen University 2006

reviewed by : Sri Hastuti N.A.S (Mataram University)

At the beginning of that article discusses about the problems in the teaching and learning of oral language. In teaching English as a Second Language or English as a Foreign Language (ESL/EFL) the learners are more interested in learning oral language than writing, listening or reading. However, all four skills are equally importance in studying about language competence.  Therefore, classroom activities that develop the ability to communicate through speech are an important component of an English language course for most learners. In this article, it focuses on the oral language by studying the fluency and accuracy in the speech or discourse. As we know that the discourse or speech is one of competency in ESL/EFL which must be got by the learners.

Based on this article, oral English is one main goal in teaching and learning ESL/EFL. As we know that we learn a language for using it in communication. Oral communication reflects the persistent and powerful role of language and communication in human society. However, in teaching and learning ESL/EFL which the purpose is oral communication must think that how to teach and learn so that the learners are able to use a language to communicate with the other. At its most basic level, oral communication is the spoken interaction between two ormore people. The interaction is far more complex than it seems. Oral communication is composed of multiple elements which, when taken as a whole, result in the success or failure of the interaction. Not everyone is an effective communicator. As the result, the teacher should think that how the way the learners are able to communicate by using that language.

In this article, cited from the Bygate, a various task can help the learners learn to speak using a foreign language. We can see in his book speaking (1987) aiming to understand “how our learners learn to speak a foreign language through the various tasks which can be made available to them. (1987: viii) Bygate states that through giving the task for the learners, it will make the learners to be able to use a language in speaking skill. However, we have to think that how effective task can make the learners oral English. As we know that oral English is the learner ability which can use English in their communication. By looking this assumption, it is not possible to establish how the learners will behave when asked to perform a particular task,then, clearly it is not possible to design a task-based syllabusbased on such constructs as meaning negotiation, fluency, accuracy, and complexity or communicative effectiveness.By giving the task to the learners, it doesn’t guarantee that the learners will be able to oral English. It is still weak in learning and teaching ESL/ EFL. Based on the purpose in teaching and learning that the teacher should make the learners able to use English in their communication, so by giving the task, it is one of passive activity for the learner. There is no real world activity, such as Fulcher and Davidson pointed out: the first problem is defining ‘the real world’, and trying to create that in the test (2007:249). It is difficult to be sure whether the collected speaking samples can represent authentic real world activity, and whether they can be considered as valid materials that represent the target domain of the required ELT context (Wigglesworth, 2008).

Conversely, we don’t think too narrow about the task. Task has so many kinds of definition, we must know that the task is not only a written task but also there is an oral task such as role play, prepared speech, story telling, and interview. We have to open our mind that task is general world which have some definitions. As Bygate, Skehan and Swain (2000b) point out, ‘task’ is viewed differently depending on whether the perspective is that of research or pedagogy.  Definitions of tasks are generally ‘context-free’. However, the term ‘task’ has somewhat different meanings in different contexts of use. A task is a ‘workplan’; that is, it takes the form of materials for researching or teaching language. We have to know that definition of task is general, we are not narrow our mind about the definition of task.

We have to distinguish that task and exercise is different. Widdowson argues that ‘exercise’ and ‘task’ differ with regard to the kind of meaning, goal, and outcome they are directed towards. An exercise is premised on the need to develop linguistic skills as a prerequisite for the learning of communicative abilities, while a task is based on the assumption that linguistic abilities are developed through communicative activity. Based on the definition, we can say that by giving the various task to the learner it will developed the speaking ability.As Weir (2004:103)pointed out: “If we wish to make statements about capacity for spoken interaction we are no longer interested in multiple-choice, pencil-and-paper tests, that is, indirect tests of speaking where spoken language is conspicuously absent.” In line with this perspective, the writer proposes that the task-oriented approach should be especially considered in the test of spoken English as a type of performance test to assess language proficiency by asking students to give productive and interactive performance.Tasks that are directed at improving students’ communicative abilities by promoting confidence in using language or by providing opportunities for trying out communication strategies may fail to develop their linguistic skills. The teacher asks the learner to make real activity through the task, for example the teacher asks the learners to make conversation and then practice in front of the class. By giving the task, the learners directly make real activity using a language in their communication. It will improve the ability of the learners. The learners not only get the knowledge of the language, but also they directly practice to use that language. It follows that teachers and language educators need to give more attention to the properties of tasks that respectively aim to promote communicative efficiency and L2 acquisition. Yule’s theory provides a basis for evaluating the kinds of tasks that contribute to developing communicative effectiveness, while Skehan’s work suggests the kinds of tasks that are needed to promote accuracy/complexity and, thereby, potentially to influence language acquisition. By giving the task, it will make the learner easier to use the language in their environment.

In conclusion, this paper shows that task approach is a good method to teach the learner ESL/EFL oral English. We have shows that tasks can develop the learners’ ability, because task approach requires the learners to use their knowledge and competence in real world activity.The task approach will create good communication between the teacher and the learners. By using task approach, the teachers should design good materials, the teacher must be a creative teacher to make the learners keep interesting in learning and easier to understand the material. As the result, the learners will be easier in learning oral English through a various task.


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