GengoBunkaKenkyu_21_267.pdf 713 KB
Measuring Progress in English Language Courses
A new English language curriculum was introduced in Hiroshima University's first and second year program for students in the Integrated Arts and Sciences Department in 1994. The new curriculum contains two main features: (1) a division of language skills into the four basic areas of listening, speaking, reading, and writing, and (2) a maximum limit of thirty-five students per class for second year students. In the new curriculum, all of the four skills are taught to first year students, and one of the four language skills is separately taught to second year students for one semester. A research project was undertaken in order to measure the impact of the new curriculum. The results of this initial study are summarized in this paper.
Before the 1995-96 spring semester began, five classes were randomly chosen from among the first and second year students, i.e., two general English classes and one class each representing the listening, speaking, and writing skill areas. Pre-instruction language tests were administered to each skill-oriented class at the beginning of the semester. Each skill area was tested with a skill-specific instrument. At the conclusion of between ten and twelve weeks of instruction using the new curriculum, post-instructional tests were administered. Pre- and post-instructional questionnaires were also given to skill-oriented classes and a post-instructional questionnaire was given to general English classes. From the questionnaires, we learned that more than two-thirds of the students felt that some significant progress was made.
Results from the language tests showed significant improvement in some aspects of language skills. In particular, students in the speaking and writing classes showed significant increases in the productive areas of language performance. In other words, students in these skill areas, while not demonstrating measurable increases in linguistic knowledge, demonstrated measurable increases in several areas of language use. These advances included increases in words per sentence, and in sentences per minute, in spoken speech, as well as increases in words per sentence and in sentences per paragraph in written English. These results suggest that the new curriculum has taken advantage of the student's knowledge, or competence, in English, and has made significant inroads in turning this competence into productive ability (performance). On the other hand, students in the general English classes appear, from the questionnaire results, to have significantly increased their confidence levels with respect to English knowledge. The question of how to balance the teaching of linguistic knowledge and performance from an overall perspective remains for future research.
広島大学総合科学部紀要. V, 言語文化研究