English language teachers' practices in the development of grade nine learners' oral proficiency : a case study of students in Asmara, Eritrea.
The main focus of this study is on the causes of the problems in English language proficiency of Grade Nine high-school learners in Asmara, Eritrea, with reference to their oral skills, particularly for academic purposes. This study examines the way Grade Nine English teachers in Eritrea do or do not promote the development of Grade Nine learners' oral proficiency. The researcher's focus is on how the teachers structure their teaching approach to English and the way students learn the language in the classroom. The researcher looked at the practices of English language teachers by conducting observations in English classes in two high schools in Eritrea for about a month. The researcher obtained rich data via different methods of data collection with respect to the learners' oral development. The criteria that the researcher adopted for observation were those of the Communicative Orientation of Language Teaching Observation Scheme (COLT) (Allan, Frohlich, and Spada: 1983). In addition to the classroom observation, the researcher also conducted interviews with the teachers. Questionnaires were distributed to learners, after which focus-group discussions with selected students were conducted. The findings of this study are summarized as follows. Firstly, English teachers have teaching techniques which are ineffective in achieving the intended objective. They use the structural approach to language teaching, which is out-dated. Secondly, grammar is the main focus of lessons. Most of the students commented that more oral (speaking) classes should be included in the learning of language to achieve oral/aural proficiency. Teachers must therefore foster a supportive classroom environment and stress the importance of oral classes in language learning.