Language teaching approaches and methods are so many. Each of which has a specific view on how languages are learnt. When talking about language teaching, four main criteria should be taken into account: the theoretical linguist, applied linguist, the teacher and the learner. The theoretical linguist is the person who comes up with approaches and hypotheses about language. The applied linguist, the middle man who bridges the gap between the theoretical linguist and the classroom teacher, takes these approaches and tries to facilitate them and to make them easy for the teacher so as to implement them in the classroom. The teacher, in turn, uses his own techniques so as to implement these methods of the applied linguist to explain the lesson to the students. According to Anthony (1963), these terms are in a hierarchical order in which an approach precedes a method and the latter precedes a technique. This research paper, therefore, examines, in detailed, some traditional methods vs. modern ones so as to see the main similarities and differences between the two. Although different agents contribute in the learning process, including the theoretical linguist, the applied linguist and the teacher, besides other factor, there are lots of reasons that influence language learning both positively and negatively. Chief among these is the learning style of the learners. The performance of students varies considerably from one learner to another, although this does not mean that each student has a stagnant fixed learning style. In this circumstance of different learning styles, thus, the teacher is required to recognise the students‟ learning styles and apply different techniques of teaching that go with the learning styles of the learners so as to engage them actively in the learning process. Besides, personalities of learners differ tremendously; there are some introvert learners who are shy to get in contact with other people, participate in the activities of classroom, and incapable to share their ideas and feeling with their classmates and teachers. However, it is widely acknowledged that extrovert students overcome shyness and participate actively and cooperatively in the learning process. Motivation is also another important factor that affects learning either positively or negatively. We can distinguish between internal and external motivation: the first is basically influenced by age, gender and attitude towards learning. The second may be unconstructive criticism and negative feedback by the teacher, rewards, confidence the teacher creates. Punishing a student, for instance, for not answering would minimise his motivation. Thus, group based instruction and individualised instruction are the
best ways to stimulate learners to do well and motivate them through planning activities and applying teaching methods which take into account all the learning styles and all backgrounds of learners. We chose to write about this topic for two main reasons. First, we are interested much more to know about the field of applied linguistics, for it is interested in pedagogy. Since the majority of us expect themselves to become future teachers, the only way, we thought, to have an idea about applied linguistics is to search and read as much as possible about this special field. In addition, developing a monograph about such topic would undoubtedly enrich our memory. This monograph introduces the main factors of teaching: the teacher, the learner, and the classroom situation. Knowing, therefore, the role of each one is of great importance for any graduate student interested in the teaching career. Second, since our prospect is to carry out our studies, applied linguistics may be one of those branches for which we will opt for. As a result, having developed a well-detailed research about teaching would be a starting point for a successful career in master studies. These two main important reasons have indeed encouraged us to develop a research paper entitled “Combating Individual differences using Mastery Learning Methodology” under the supervision of Mrs. Fatima Amahzoune. In the point of departure of this research paper, we observed that differences in achievement and performance seem to prevail mainly among undergraduate students and we presume that this problem can be attributed to many reasons: individuals‟ different
background and low motivation stand as an obstacle that impedes the achievements of the learners during high school. The path through which students pass to university is not designed to allow all students to equally achieve mastery on what they have learned. As these individual differences in the preceding levels before university prevail, the inevitable result is poor competence. Traditional methods established a sort of competition among students who try to get good grades, only few students could attain good grades in comparison to their classmates, and students usually learn a particular subject on the basis of their natural inherent features, such as aptitude and intelligence. Striving to look for a suitable solution to these problems, exemplified in students‟ difficulty to become proficient , which is probably due to their different backgrounds, aptitude and motivation, we have gone over Mastery Learning theory, and we assume that this theory can provide teachers with strategies that would probably melt down the individual different backgrounds that prevail in the Moroccan public schools and motivate students to learn cooperatively, and we will also attempt to inquire about the strategies teachers use to
overcome the issue of individual differences, proposing that Mastery Learning can assist in minimizing such problems in Moroccan public schools. This research paper is divided into two major parts. The first part is principally theoretical. Chapter one introduces some of the prominent theories of second language acquisition, and it specifically defines two schools which include behaviourism and Mentalism. It also makes a short summary of Stephen‟ Krashen‟s theory of second language acquisition, tracing, at the end of this chapter, the fundamental differences between acquisition and learning. Whereas chapter two gives an overview about some traditional methods exemplified in Grammar Translation Method, Direct Method, Audio-Lingual Method, and Communicative Language Teaching, chapter three ,by contrast, talks about Mastery Learning Theory and Constructivist Theory as examples of modern methods.
Second Language Acquisition theories
The Behaviorist Theory is set on the findings of the Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov
who accidently discovered the phenomenon of classical conditioning. This took place when Pavlov was working with dogs in his laboratories and his attention was caught by the way the dogs salivate when they were tasting food. What was more interesting is that dogs drool even when they were not presented with food, but when the assistant of the laboratory, the person who provides food, appears. Pavlov pursued this observation systematically by, for instance ringing the bell prior to the arrival of the dogs‟ food. After a series of trials, the dogs would begin to salivate when they hear the bell ring even though the food is not presented to them. Another experiment was conducted by Watson and Rayner (1920) on an orphan called Little Albert. They presented the child with little white rat; if the child went to touch or to strike the rat, a very loud noise would be made behind his head. It appeared finally that Little Albert became afraid of the sights of this rat. Afterward, B. F Skinner introduced what is called operant conditioning, which is different from classical conditioning. Operant conditioning is based on negative and positive reinforcement; it is associated with reaction to improve or to degrade the response. For instance, if the student does well in class, the teacher praises him saying “good, well done”. This is called positive reinforcement. However, if the student makes mistakes or does not do his homework, the teacher gives him extra-homework as a positive punishment. In short, behaviorists suggest that all our behaviors are based on conditioning, our surroundings are the determinants of our behavior, the external is emphasized and the mind is excluded, and that people are born with a „tabula rasa‟; that is, our mind is a blank slate ready to absorb from the environment that surrounds us. Types of Reinforcement and Punishment: Reinforcement is a result that improves the likelihood that a behavior will occur; in fact, it strengthens a behavior. As for punishment, it is a result of a consequence that degrades the likelihood a behavior will occur; it weakens a behavior. According to the following figures, there are two forms of reinforcement and punishment:
Both types of reinforcements are used to increase the liklihood that a preceding behaviour will be repeated.
Positive Punishment Both types of punishement are used to decrease the liklihood that a preceding behaviour will be repeated.
Simply put, when something is added or presented, the learning process is called positive, and when something is removed or taken away, the learning process is called negative.
The inadequacies of behaviourism led other researchers, chiefly Chomsky, to look for an alternative theory which takes into account the human specificity and nature. Thus, Chomsky deserted „nurture‟; that is, he challenged the idea that the environmental factors are the determiner of our behaviours, including language. He, however, advocated the important
role of „nature‟. Human mind is naturally equipped with innate properties. In his book, titled Aspects of the Theory of Syntax, Chomsky argues that children acquire their first language quickly despite the abstract nature of the rules that govern language as a result of an inborn capacity of language. This is what Chomsky labelled as Language Acquisition Device, which is an inherent feature of any human being born to particular society. The human mind, therefore, is not a „tabula rasa‟ in which to write and instil a set of behaviours. What counts for the first language acquisition is the LAD. Behaviourism as a theory of language acquisition, which is founded upon the structuralist theory of language, has been criticized heavily. One of its major critics is Noam Chomsky; he started to shift his interest towards the function of the human mind instead of focusing on the external factors that influence the process of acquiring a language. At that time, there was a shift from structural linguistics which was basically contingent upon the description of the external structure of language towards generative linguistics pioneered by Noam Chomsky. Chomsky advocates that human language‟s main feature is creativity; he emphasises that language is a rule-governed system and that out of a limited number of sentences, we can formulate an infinite number of sentences. In other words, when children acquire their first language, they do not produce a body of sentences as a result of storing a set of habits; instead, they create new sentences which they have never learned or heard before. Children do not acquire language by imitation, simply, as Chomsky argues, because they are able to produce sentences such as John goed and she speaked. That is, children are not only imitating what they receive from their surroundings, but they apply the rules to new situations. This, in fact, means that there is something functioning in their brain. Mentalism came as a reaction to behaviourism; it advocated the following: Language is mostly of an innate nature, and therefore is not a habit structure. Language learning and language development are biological processes which are not a result of social learning. Language acquisition is not achieved through the process of responses to stimuli, and it is not a matter of habit formation. Stimulus response is a weak theory and has nothing to do with language acquisition since children use their cognitive capacity to discover the structure of the language spoken around him.
Behaviourism is mainly concerned with analysing animal behaviour in laboratories; however, human behaviour is more complex than animal behaviour. According to Chomsky, the LAD is human-specific because only human being use language, while other animals do not. Since all human beings learn language successfully, they have to possess an internal property for language learning which other animals do not have.
Children make generalisations. They apply rules by analogising because linguistic behaviour involves innovation and creativity. Children formulate new sentences and patterns on the basis of abstract and intricate rules. (Dr. Demirsen, Hacette, 1989) In summary, it seems that Behaviourism and Mentalism are mutually exclusive, and
the debate between the two concerning whether language acquisition is a matter of an innate capacity or a learned behaviour has basically focused on vilification of each other‟s assumptions. However, researchers in the field of applied linguistics and language teaching advocated a different view. They argued that both theories, although they seemingly exclude each other, complement each other and each theory admits what the other proposes unintentionally. Mohamed Q. Al-Shormani (2009) quoted Chomsky (1995, p: 13), the pioneer of Mentalism, stating that „every theory of learning that is worth considering incorporates an innateness hypothesis‟. He also quoted Cook (1983) who believes that even the Behaviourism attributes to the child an ability to form associations of stimulus and response.
3. Krashen’s Theory of Second Langauge Acquisition
Second language acquisition researchers have always been concerned with the order in which the second language is acquired (learned). In first language acquisition, the child, the behaviourists assumed, is born as a blank slate which is ready to absorb the input introduced by the environment; generative theory, led by Chomsky, maintains that the child is equipped with Language Acquisition Device. Second language learners have already internalised a system of language, and hence theories of second language acquisition are basically concerned with finding an appropriate theory to produce a native-like proficiency in second or foreign languages, adopting the same procedures of first language acquisition. In this section, the focus will be laid on an innatist model pioneered by Stephen Krashen. The latter‟s theory of second language acquisition is made up of a set of interrelated hypotheses which are briefly summed up as follows:
The Acquisition Learning Hypothesis Stephen Krashen argues that there two ways by which adults acquire the second language: the acquisition system and the acquired system. The former is a result of a subconscious process quite similar to that of child‟s first language acquisition. This type requires that the learner involve in a natural interaction in the target language and focus on the communicative act rather than the form of his utterance. The latter is a result of formal instruction; that is, it takes place in a formal setting such as class, it comprises a conscious procedure and it always results in conscious knowledge about the target language. According to Krashen, the best way to learn a second language is through natural interaction. Thus, the teacher should create situations where the target language is used to help students achieve fluency and acquire language instead of learning about language. In this regard, H. Douglas Brown quoted Krashen; he maintains that “fluency in second language performance is due to what we have acquired, not what we have learned. (H. Douglass Brown, p: 278) The monitor Hypothesis The monitor hypothesis explains the relationship between acquisition and learning and traces the influence of the latter on the former. Monitoring takes place in learning, not in acquisition. Acquisition initiates the utterance and encourages the learners to speak
spontaneously, without correction mistakes, unlike the learning system in which the learner monitors his utterance, corrects his mistakes, plans and the final result is conscious knowledge. Krashen maintains that the role of the monitor should be minor. He also distinguishes those who overuse monitor, those who preferred not to use their knowledge (under-users) and those who use it appropriately, optimal users. The Natural Order Hypothesis Krashen main argument regarding this hypothesis is that we acquire language in a predictable order; that is, we learn language gradually, starting from simple structures to more complex ones. He asserts that certain grammatical structures are easier than other and that the teacher can never control the sequence of acquiring these grammatical structures.
The Input Hypothesis The Input hypothesis is devised by Stephen Krashen to explain the way in which second language acquisition takes places; it is, thus, concerned with second language „acquisition‟ rather than language „learning‟. This theory proposes that the input that the teacher introduces to the learner be in „natural order‟. That is, the learner receives a comprehensible input, the material he can understand, and later receives an input which is one step beyond his current linguistic competence and knowledge so that he can improve and progress his competences and learn new linguist input. “If an acquirer is at stage or level i, the input he or she understands should contain i+ 1” (Krashen1981). Briefly put, the input should create some kind of challenge to the learner so that he can make efforts to learn new material that should not go too far beyond his current knowledge in the subject. Affective Filter Hypothesis The Affective Filter Hypothesis represents Krashen concept that different variables interfere to facilitate the process of second language acquisition. These include: anxiety, selfconfidence and motivation. Krashen main argument is that “the best acquisition will occur in environments where anxiety is low and defensiveness is absent, or, in Krashen terms, where „the affective filter‟ is low.”(Douglass Brown, p: 281) In other words, self-confident and motivated students will progress well in acquiring a second language while anxious, unmotivated and unconfident students will encounter difficulties in acquiring a second language, since their characteristics, especially mental, create a mental block that does not allow the Comprehensible Input to function properly fro acquisition. In brief, Stephen Krashen‟s theory of acquisition is established around the idea that second language acquisition can trace the same steps of mother tongue acquisition. In this sense, krashen, in his first two hypotheses, argues that distinction be made between the learning system and the acquisition system, advocating the latter as an appropriate system in which the teacher creates situations where the target language is used freely without correction of mistakes and without monitoring of the learners utterances, and which results in fluency. Further, Krashen recommends that the input follow a natural order and that the material provided the learner fit his current level and competence, without dismissing and essential part in the process of acquisition, the Affective filter. Motivation, self-esteem and anxiety, Krashen argues, play a facilitative role in acquisition.
4. L1 Acquisition and L2 learning
It is of a paramount importance to distinguish between L1 acquisition and second language or foreign language learning. „a second language defers from a foreign language in that the former is used in key administrative and governmental domains.(Naji Moha& Sadiqi Fatima, 1994, p: 116-117) As noted earlier, second language acquisition and second language learning are used interchangeably by some linguists, while others make a distinction between them. The following table outlines the major differences between first language acquisition and second or foreign language learning. L1 Acquisition L2 learning
It is achieved by a child who has not yet It is learned on the basis of an already internalized any linguistic system L1 acquisition is spontaneous. internalized system L2 learning may be termed artificial, and it involves more logical and hence less spontaneous thinking. L1 acquisition takes place in informal L2 takes place in informal situations like the settings, like home. classroom.
The time allotted to L1 acquisition surpasses The time allotted to L2 learning varies the time allotted to L2 learning. The child according to the nature of the target enjoys full time trying to speak. L1 acquisition is unconscious language, as well as the aims of learning it. L2 learning is conscious
The linguistic data is not presented in a The material to be taught in L2 learning is specific order and are not meant to achieve a presented in a specific order and usually aims particular purpose. at meeting a particular purpose of efficient teaching Grammar is not taught systematically Grammar is taught systematically.
Figure1: L1 Learning vs. L2 Acquisition Source: Naji Moha & Sadiqi Fatima, Application of Modern Linguistics
1) Grammar Translation Method Background Grammar Translation Method (GTM) refers to an approach to language teaching, appeared in Germany and dominated European and foreign language teaching from 1840s to the 1940s; it was, in fact, known as the Prussian or the Classical Method since it was first used in the teaching of the classical languages, Latin and Greek. Yet, before going over the most important characteristics of this method, let us first of all define its key words: grammar and translation. Penny (2000) defines the word grammar as “a set of rules that define how words (or parts of words) are combined or changed to form acceptable units of meaning with a language”. Therefore, guaranteeing the accuracy of the sentences mainly depends on the learner‟s mastery of grammar, and it is an essential and important part of language. The Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English defines grammar as “the study of use of the rules by which words change their forms and are combined into sentences.” In fact, it has multi-meanings. Batstone (1994) says, “Grammar is multi-dimensional”. Without grammar, however, we cannot produce correct speech. For example, one may have thousands of words but if he cannot know how to put them together, then he cannot produce good English (Brumfit, 2000). As for translation, it is often the communication of the meaning of a source- language text by means of an equivalent target language text. Likewise, in his book, entitled Translation: General and Lexical Problems, V.S. Vinogrador defines translation as “a process (and its result) caused by social necessity of information (content) transmitting, expressed in a written or oral text in one language by the means of an “equivalent (adequate) text in another language.” In the same context, A.Lilova defines translation as “a specific oral or written activity aimed at the recreation of an oral or written text (utterance) existing in one language into a text in another language, accompanied by keeping the invariance of content, qualities of the original and author‟s authenticity”. Going back to the principles of grammar-translation method, one can say that GTM was used with a view to help students read and appreciate foreign language literature. Thanks to the study of grammar of the target language, it is argued, students would become more familiar with the grammar of their mother tongue; this familiarity, therefore, would help them
speak and write their native language better. As its name indicates and suggests, GTM focuses much more on translation from the mother tongue into the target language or vice-versa; hence, being able to translate each language into the other is the fundamental goal for students. This automatically means that the ability to communicate in the target language is not a goal of foreign language instruction since the primary skills to be developed are reading and writing. Before going over the most important and major roles that a student assumes in the learning process, we should first define the term role. What is a role? According to Oxford Advanced Learner Dictionary (1955:1018), the word role is defined as “an actor‟s part in a play” or a function that a person or a thing typically has or is expected to have”. M. Banton (1965:29) defines the word role as a set of norms and expectations applied to the incumbents of a particular position”. In general, a role can be defined as the part that someone plays in the performance of a social life activity. Learner roles The students receive instructions from their teachers in a passive way in the sense that students in a classroom, wherein GTM takes place, do as their teacher says so that they can learn what he knows. In the exam, for instance, students are required to reproduce what they learnt; it is really a very traditional role. Students within a classroom of GTM should be able to Translate one language into the other Show their comprehension by means of written language Try to find the native language equivalents for all the words in L2 (word lists) To memorize vocabulary and tenses of one set of irregular verbs.
The teacher role Before highlighting the most important and major roles that a teacher assumes in the teaching-learning process, we should first shed light on the teacher‟s personality and characteristics. The teacher’s personality and characteristics: The teacher effectiveness is greatly and strongly related to his personality. For instance, an effective teacher tends to be warm, understanding, friendly, responsible, systematic, imaginative, enthusiastic…..Most importantly, the successful teacher must be emotionally mature; which means that the teacher should not be scared by the student‟s behavior towards him. David Fontana (1988:348) says, “The teachers who show themselves quite unmoved by even the most Machiavellian strategies mounted against them soon find these strategies losing their appeal for children, and they are able to deal quickly and effectively with any subsequent sporadic fresh outbreak”. In this case, a highly level of selfesteem and self confidence are two factors that help a teacher to tackle calmly and objectively any kind of problems. The teacher role It is well known that GTM is a teacher-centered method in the sense that the teacher is the authority in the classroom, his authority is exemplified in his decision whether an answer is right or not. Additionally, he is the source of knowledge. That is, knowledge is highly transferred from the teacher to the students. In the exam, for instance, the teacher expects his students to reproduce what he has taught them. Finally, he is the more active and dynamic while the learning process takes place in the classroom.
2) The Direct Method
In the mid nineteenth century, the bridges of communication among the European nations became open; the introduction of industrialization and the development of international trade demanded high proficiency in foreign languages. Language teachers had already traced the deficiencies of Grammar Translation Method, particularly its inability to develop communicative competence in the learners and its focus on accuracy rather than fluency; thus, they felt the need for devising a new method in order to develop orally proficient learners in foreign languages.
The Direct Method is a result of different teaching experiences of prominent scholars in the mid nineteenth century and the turn of the twentieth century; chief among these are Gouin and Sauveur who both believed in the Natural Method and advocated the idea that first language learning process could be the best model for teaching foreign languages. They maintained that “a foreign language could be taught without translation or the use of the learner‟s native tongue if meaning was conveyed directly through demonstration and action .” It seems, thus, that the direct method eliminates one of the basic principles of Grammar Translation Method in favour of a method in which interaction and demonstration through action and the use of the target language is the basis to convey meaning. (Richard and Theodore, 1986) The Direct Method is founded on the assumption that the process of second language learning should be more similar to that of first language acquisition, a process which involves natural communication, no translation and no explanation of the grammar rules. It emphasizes correct pronunciation, listening and speaking and learning basic sentences instead of single words. The advocates of the direct method aim at setting up a direct association between words and ideas and between the learners experience and the target language; that is, the learner gains knowledge of a language within its cultural context through making direct bond between words and concepts. Unlike Grammar Translation Method in which the teacher introduces concepts through translating them into the learners‟ mother tongue, the Direct Method discards the learners‟ mother tongue, allowing the learners to think, to speak and to write using the target language without recourse to the equivalent terms in their mother tongue. In this regard, Diane Larsen-Freeman quotes Diller (1978); he states that “the Direct Method receives its name from the fact that meaning is to be connected directly with the target language, without going through the process of translating into the students' native language.”(Diane Larsen-Freeman, 2000) The principles of the Direct Method were basically established upon the maxims of the first language acquisition. Practically, supporters of this method highlight the following principles: 1. Classroom instruction was conducted exclusively in the target language. 2. Only everyday vocabulary and sentences were taught.
3. Oral communication skills were built up in a carefully graded progression organized around question answer exchange between teachers and students in small, intensive classes. 4. Grammar was taught inductively. 5. New teaching points were introduced orally. 6. Concrete vocabulary was taught through demonstration, objects and pictures; abstract vocabulary was taught by association of ideas. 7. Both speech and listening comprehension were taught. 8. Correct pronunciation and grammar were emphasized.( J. C. Richards and Theodore, 1997 p: 9, 10) Building on Diane Larsen free-man, in his Techniques and Principles in Language Teaching, we could reconsider some of the above fundamental principles of the Direct Method: Teachers who adopt the Direct Method aim at teaching students how to communicate in the target language. To do this successfully, students should learn to think in the target language. The teacher directs activities in the classroom; students are more active; and there is interaction between the teacher and his students and between students themselves. The teacher demonstrates the meaning of the newly introduced vocabulary by using realia, pictures and pantomime. The syllabus in the Direct Method is based on real life situations so as to provide students with opportunity to use the target language extensively. For instance, teachers may choose topics that are related to banking, chopping, geography, money… Language is initially spoken not written. Students, thus, study common everyday speech in the target language. Through learning the target language, students also become knowledgeable about the culture of the people who speak it. The direct method works on four basic skills, including reading and writing and speaking and listening. It emphasizes vocabulary over grammar; however, it underlines oral communication as its basic aim. The students‟ mother tongue is done away with. The teacher has the students correct their errors through asking tag questions and providing both the students incorrect sentence and correct alternative, for example. ( J. C. Richards and Theodore, 1997 p: 9)
Despite its popularity as the first method to take the
initiative to develop oral
proficiency in the learners and despite its effectiveness in private schools which employ native speaking teachers, and in which the paying clients were very motivated to hone their oral skills, the Direct Method encountered harsh criticism. First, it required teachers who were native speakers or who had native like fluency in the foreign language. It was largely dependent on the teacher's skill, rather than on a text book, and not all teachers were proficient enough in the foreign language to adhere to the principles of the method. (J. C. Richards and Theodore, 1997) It seems, thus, that the Direct Method‟s major disadvantages is that it requires native teachers, and it also demands paying clients; that is, the Direct Method can be effective only in commercial and private sector instead of public schools.
3) The Audiolingual Method Like the Direct method, the Audio-lingual Method is an oral-based approach to language learning; it can be defined as a “technique of foreign-language instruction that emphasizes audio-lingual skills over reading and writing and is characterized by extensive use of pattern practice.”(Dictionary.com) t underlines the importance of teaching speaking and listening skills over reading and writing skills, and it is mainly based on drills, memorization and dialogue in the teaching of foreign languages. According to this method, the mother tongue of the learner should not intervene in foreign language learning. In search for the origins of the Audio-lingual Method, we came across different historical circumstances that converged to set up the foundations of a new method called Audio-lingual Method. Chief among these circumstances are stated by Jack C. Richards and Theodore S. Rodgers in their book, Approaches and Methods in Language Teaching (1986); the reported that the United States entry into World War II had a significant influence on language teaching in America and that the U.S needed personnel who were fluent in foreign languages, the emergence of structural linguistics had contributed much in the shaping of Audio-lingual Method, and finally behaviorism had also deeply contributed in the development of the so called Army method. The political circumstances of the 1940‟s, especially the involvement of the U.S in the Second World War II, its contact with foreign countries and colonies and its emergence as a
major power at that time, resulted in a necessity to set up a special training program to provide a qualified personnel in foreign languages. Thus, the U.S government recommended that American universities set up a foreign language training program for its military. The Army Specialized Training Program (ASTP) was found, therefore. This program‟s major objective was to train students “to attain conversational proficiency in a variety of foreign languages.”(Richard and Theodore, 1997) Besides, the American linguist Leonard Bloomfield had found a program as a part of his research to make linguists and anthropologists master American Indian languages and other foreign languages they were studying.” Since these languages were spoken, and since they had no textbook, Bloomfield and his friends used a method called „the informant method‟ which used native speakers of the language to be taught; these native informants provided vocabulary, phrases and sentences for imitation and repetition, and the linguist served the role of an observer--he investigates how language is structured through extracting the rules that govern the system of a given language. This method, hence, was based on an exchange in which the “students and the linguist take part in a guided conversation with the informant, and together they gradually learned how to speak the language, as well as to understand much of its basic grammar.”(Richard and Theodore, 1997, p: 45) Jack C. Richards and Theodore S. Rodgers state that such courses are basically build on drilling and leaning for long hours, noting that this method had generated astonishing results, especial because of motivated and excellent students. They affirm that students in such courses studied ten hours a day, six days a week. There were generally fifteen hours of drill with native speakers and twenty to thirty hours of private study spread over two to three six-week sessions. This was the system adopted by the army, and in small classes of mature and highly motivated students, excellent results were often achieved.( Richard and Theodore, 1997,p: 45) Foreign language methodology was also triggered by the Russian initiative to launch its first satellite. The United States, therefore, felt the need for more extensive efforts to expand foreign language teaching so that Americans would not be left behind technologically, mainly because other countries were making significant steps and advances in the field of technology. Besides the political factors that led to the surfacing of the Audio-lingual Method, structural linguistics stands as one of its major underpinnings. Linguists such as Leonard Bloomfield and Fries during the 1930‟s and 1940‟s are the major representati ves of structural linguistics in the U.S. The work of American linguists, especially Bloomfield and Fries, had
been influential. At the early decades of the twentieth century, they were mainly interested in documenting all the endogenous languages spoken in the United States. At Michigan University, an English Language Institute (ELI) was established to train teachers of English as a foreign language (EFL) and English as a Second or foreign language. Charles Fries, the director of the institute (ELI), received training in structural linguistics, and he started to apply its principles in classes. Structural linguists view language as “a system of structurally related elements for the expression of meaning. These elements are phonemes, morphemes, words, structures, and sentence types.”(Richard & Theodore, 1997, p: 48) They underline the following as the main attributes of language: Elements in a language are produced in a rule-governed way. Language samples could be exhaustively described at any structural level of description, including phonetic, phonemic, morphological, syntactic… Language is structural like a pyramid; that is, linguistic level is systems within systems. Language is speech, not writing. Languages are different. Teach language not about the language. Language is a set of habits (Approaches and Methods in Language Teaching)
Language learning, according to the structuralists, entails learning the different elements of a language and mastering the rules that join these elements, mainly phonetic, phonemic, phonological morphological and syntactic rules. Since language is primarily spoken rather than written, and many languages have no written form, structuralists gave much importance to speech sounds of languages rather than its written form. Besides the emergence of structural linguistics as an influential academic discipline which contributed in the shaping of Audiolingualism, a new discipline in the American universities called behavioral psychology was flourishing. Behaviorism considers human beings as organisms which are capable to absorb an uncountable number of behaviors, including language. Behaviorism‟s main aim is to explain how an external stimulus causes change in individuals‟ behavior without referring to the role of the mind or an y concept that is linked to the mind. Its advocates maintain that the human mind is a “tabula rasa” and that people are conditioned to learn from their surroundings. Language, thus, is a behavior that is learned from the environment depending on three basic elements which include: 1. Stimulus: the input that is meant to elicit behavior. 2. Response: the stimuli triggers a response
3. Reinforcement: if the response is appropriate, there is encouragement (positive reinforcement) so that the behavior occurs again. If the behavior is inappropriate, it is suppressed. Basic Principles The basic principles of the Audio-lingual Method can be enlisted as follows: (adapted from Richards and Rodgers 1986:51) Foreign language learning is basically a habit and hence good habits are formed by giving correct responses. Memorization and drilling minimize mistakes. The focus is on form rather than meaning. Learning language is based on learning structures. Native speaker-like pronunciation is desired. No explanation of grammar rules; grammar is taught inductively. Focus on hearing, speaking and writing is not given much importance. The learner‟s mother tongue is discouraged. Analogy provides a better foundation for language learning than analysis.
Analogy involves the processes of generalization and discrimination. Explanations of rules are therefore not given until students have practiced a pattern in a variety of contexts and are thought to have acquired a perception of the analogies involved. Drills can enable learners to form correct analogies. Hence the approach to the teaching of grammar is essentially inductive rather than deductive. The meanings that the words of a language have for the native speaker can be learned only in a linguistic and cultural context and not in isolation. Objectives In general terms, Audio-lingual method sets as its objective the training of the learners to develop communicative competence in the target language. Richards and Rodgers
delineated the objective of Audiolingualism; they quoted Brooks (1964: 111) who “distinguishes between short-range and long-range objectives of an audio-lingual program. Short-range objectives include training in listening comprehension, accurate pronunciation, recognition of speech symbols as graphic signs on the printed page, and ability to reproduce these symbols in writing.”(Richard & Theodore, p: 52) It is implied from this short term objectives that sound structures come first, familiarization of the students with vocabulary items comes as a second step and finally meaning can be attained when students master the sound structures and vocabulary items. Long term objectives, Brooks argues, “must be language as the native speaker uses it .... There must be some knowledge of a second language as it is possessed by a true bilingualist" (Brooks1964: 107).
In a nutshell, Audiolingualism is a result of a multitude of circumstances. The Political status at that time and the development of new disciplines in the U.S universities, mainly structural linguistics and behavioral psychology which stood as the groundwork of Audiolingual Method, presented a fertile ground for establishing a new foreign language teaching method. This method gained popularity till the 1960. At the same time, criticisms of this method came to the surface. It was undermined both in terms of the theory of language and the theory of learning. Chomsky attacked structuralist theory of language and, hence, he condemned the behaviourist theory of learning. In the 1966, Chomsky‟s proposed what he named transformational generative grammar in which he advocated that the main properties of language stem from inborn qualities of the human mind. He further argued that language learning is not a matter of habit formation or stimulus response, but rather a matter of innate capacities which Chomsky called the Language Acquisition Device. That is, every human being is equipped with this a system of abstract rules in his mind; these rules allow him to generate novel sentences that are never heard.
4) Communicative Language Teaching (CLT)
Background Communicative Language Teaching came as a reaction against Situational Language Teaching. Unlike the latter, which focuses on mastery of structures, British applied linguists stressed the functional and communicative possible of language, and it seemed to them very necessary to forget about approaches and methods that stressed on a mere structure and grammar of a language and gave more emphasis to CLT, which conveys the idea that communicative proficiency is the desired goal. The British linguist, D.A. Wilkins (1972) was one of the pioneers of CLT. His contribution was, in fact, an analysis of the communicative meanings that a language learner needs to figure out and express himself. He provided two types of meanings: notional categories which are the bearers of some important concepts such as time, sequence, quantity, location, frequency, etc, and categories of communicative function which have to do with requests, denials, offers…later on the 1972 Wilkins‟ document was developed into a book entitled “Notional Syllabuses” (1976). The latter had a very significant influence on the development of CLT, sometimes known as NotionalFunctional Approach.
One of the main goals of CLT is the teaching of communicative competence as opposed to grammatical competence. That is, teaching language to learners to improve their communicative capacity with a view to know how to use language for a range of different purposes and functions. This automatically means that in planning language courses within a communicative approach, grammar was no longer the starting point. For Hymes, a person who acquires communicative competence acquires both knowing what to say and how to say it. Littlewood (1981:1) declares, “One of the most characteristic features of communicative language teaching is that it pays systematic attention to functional as well as structural aspects of language”. This means that CLT, for him, is an amalgam of grammatical and functional teaching. For others, however, it means using tasks where learners work in groups. That is to say, two groups should at least take part in an interaction or discussion of some kind where one party has an intention and the other party expands or reacts to the intention. In the same context, Montaigne talked about his own experience and how he learnt Latin only through communication; he writes,” Without methods, without a book, without grammar or rules, without a whip and without tears, I had learned a Latin as proper as that of my schoolmaster”. It is obviously clear that this view is an anti-structural view; it is the view which is referred to by Hilgard and Bower (1966) as “learning by doing” or “the experience approach”, the view which puts the communicative factors as its starting point. The linguist John Firth, further, goes hand in hand with this idea when he considered focusing attention on discourse as the main subject and context for language analysis. What‟s more, he insisted that language should be studied in terms of sociocultural perspective and the context of its use, based on the course, on the situation, the participants and their roles, and intentions. As far as Howatt is concerned, there are two versions of CLT: a “strong” and a “weak” version. He says: “there is, in a sense, a strong version of the communicative approach and a weak version. The weak version which has become more or less standard practice in the last ten years stresses the importance of providing learners with opportunities to use their English for communicative purposes and, characteristically, attempts to integrate such activities into a wider program of language teaching. The strong version of communicative teaching, on the other hand, advances the claim that language is acquired through communication, so that it is not merely a question of activating an existing but inert knowledge of the language, but of stimulating the development of the language system itself. If the former could be described as „learning to use English‟, the latter entails „using English to learn it.‟(1984:279).
Going back to communicative competence, the main goal of CLT, Canale and Swain (1980) identified four dimensions of communicative competence: first, grammatical competence; it is the lexical and grammatical capacity; for Chomsky it is the linguistic competence. Second, sociolinguistic competence which includes the understanding of the social context and the situation where the participants communicate. Third, discourse competence which refers to the ability to figure out and interpret messages expressed by individuals. Finally, strategic competence which has to do with the coping strategies the communicators employ to initiate, terminate, maintain and redirect communication. Learner roles It is apparently clear that the processes of communication are the main essence of CLT. Therefore, the learner is the center since it is he who is dynamic, active and the center of classroom situation. In this context, Breen and Candlin describe the learner‟s roles within CLT in the following terms: “the role of learner as negotiator- between the self, the learning process, and the object of learning-emerges from and interacts with the role of joint negotiator within the group and within the classroom procedures and activities which the group undertakes. The implication for the learner is that he should contribute as much as he gains, and thereby learn in an interdependent way”. (1980:110). It is clear, thus, that one of the main roles of the learner within CLT is to negotiate and to get involved in discussions while performing a course. He is the core and the object of learning in the sense that he must contribute as much as possible in developing a course. By doing so, further, the learner becomes independent. In addition, students are expected to be more interactive with each other rather than with the teacher; hence, errors are seemed to be accepted, since the main goal is to learn to communicate in the target language. Also this reflects the idea that students work in a cooperative way and process rather than depending on their individual capacities. As a result, failed or successful communication is a joint responsibility. Teacher roles: There are several and various roles that a teacher assumes while doing the act of teaching within a CLT course.
a) Needs Analyst The teacher is supposed to know the learner‟s needs and interests and to respond to them whenever he sees it inevitable. To be successful in this role, the teacher should know his student‟s needs in learning the English language. Also, he should specify his students‟ objectives in general. The teacher‟s responsibility in determining and responding to learners‟ language needs may be achieved through two ways: Informally and personally: this may be done through one to one sessions with the students according to the students‟ learning styles and goals. Formally: this might include the student‟s motivation for studying the language.
b) The teacher as a counselor “Every teacher is a teacher of social skills, every teacher is an educational counselor”, David Fontana (1981:341). Counseling is one of the most important roles of the teacher; he helps the students cope with their personal problems and makes decisions about the course their lives should take. In general, the teacher-counselor should: Encourage the students to talk about their personal problems. Respond non-judgmentally to the student‟s problem once it is identified. Never press the student to talk if he doesn‟t wish.
c) The teacher as a class manager One of the most important elements that may contribute that facilitating the teachinglearning process is classroom management. The teacher needs first of all to think carefully of his own behavior and then of the various activities he will be using in his class. There are many ways to manage the class; some of them are Seating arrangements: this point is of great importance in the sense that it can determine the students‟ attitudes towards each other and towards their teacher. It can also show us how students interact with each other, and the kinds of activities they can perform Giving instructions: the teacher should give clear and simple instructions to make it easy for students to carry out their studies and tasks.
Setting up-pair and group work: pair or group work gives some kind of freedom to students. It allows them to practice language as much as possible without being under the pressure of the teacher. Using students’ names: this is of great importance, for it gives the students the feeling that their teacher really cares about them; more importantly, it makes the students closer to their teacher. Kinds of classroom activities that best facilitate learning Learners within a classroom of CLT had to practice in classroom activities that were based on cooperative rather than individualistic approach to learning. They have to become comfortable with listening to their peers in groundwork. According to Littlewood (1981), there are two major activity types in Communicative Language Teaching: functional communication activities and social interaction activities. The former includes examples such as comparing a group of pictures and discussing similarities and differences between them. The teacher, for instance, divides his students into A-B pairs. He has often copied two sets of pictures. One set (for A students) contains a picture of a group of people. The other set (for B students) contains a similar picture, but it contains a number of slight differences from A-picture. Students then are asked to strive to discover what is
there and what is not there; what is mentioned and not mentioned. As for social interaction activities, they include conversation and discussion sessions such as dialogues, role plays, skits, improvisations, and debates. More importantly, the main activity types that were one of the outcomes of CLT are those of accuracy versus fluency. Fluency is spontaneous and natural language use occurring when a speaker engages in meaningful interaction; one of the goals of CLT is to develop fluency in language use. As to accuracy, it focuses on creating correct examples of language use. The main differences between the two activities are well-situated in the following table: Activities Focusing on Fluency Reflect natural use of language. Focus on achieving communication meaningful use of language Seek to link language use to context. Activities Focusing on Accuracy Reflect classroom use of language. Focus on the formation of correct examples of language. Practice language out of context.
divided into drivers, witnesses, and the
police at a collision between two cars. Each Example: the teacher divides his students group has to adopt specified roles and into 3 to 4 groups and asks them to personalities. The language used is complete an exercise on grammatical item, completely improvised by the students as such as choosing between the present much as they can. perfect and the present tense. Students, in turn, work together to decide which grammatical form is correct; groups take turns reading out their answers.
NOTE: both activities give great emphasis on pair and group work. It is argued that through these kind of activities learners will obtain several advantages: Students will have the opportunity to learn from each other through listening to the language spoken by the other group. These activities offer them the opportunity to produce as much language as possible. Their motivational level is likely to increase. They will have the chance to develop fluency.
Constructivism is one of the oldest approaches in education in the sense that it is
rooted from philosophy just like other disciplines such as sociology, ethnography and cognitive psychology. Constructivism, furthermore, is a part of cognitive revolution, an intellectual movement in the 1950s that began with what is known collectively as the cognitive sciences, which is in turn began to be used to take advantage of an analysis of scientific revolution. According to Resnik (1989), “constructivism is a theory of learning or meaning making”. That is to say, learners individually create their own new understandings with the purpose of building an interaction between what they already know and believe and ideas and knowledge with which they come into contact. This view, in fact, was supported by Henson who once said, “Constructivism is a theory of how learning occurs”. It is apparently clear that the term „learning‟ is a key element of constructivism; and since it is so, learners
will be more or less very interested enough to seek their own understandings and insights. The meaning, additionally, will be sought through the questioning of the learners‟ own knowledge and new discoveries. In this context, Bransford et al. says, “wisdom cannot be told”. Likewise, Borich and Tombari (1997) define constructivism as “an approach to learning in which learners are provided the opportunity to construct their own sense of what is being learned by building internal connection or relationship among the ideas and facts being taught.” As it is illustrated in the quote, Borich and Tombary, following Resnick direction, assert that learning occurs when learners actively engage their cognitive structures in schema building experiences. From another perspective, learners strive to make sense of the world around them by relying and focusing on their pre-existing schemas. This idea is well supported by Eggan and Kauchak in their following definition given to constructivism:” ….a view of learning that says learners use their experiences to actively construct understandings that make sense to them, rather than have understanding delivered to them in already organised form”. On the other hand, Thompson (2000) demonstrates that constructivism is not a theory of learning but a model of knowing, and constructivism may be used to build a theory of learning. In this respect, Giambatista Vico once said, “One only knows something if one can explain it” (Yager, 1999). From the same perspective, Emmanuel Kant supported G. Vico and asserted,” humans are not passive information receivers. Humans are active information receivers, they build network of information with their previous information and they assimilate or accommodate new knowledge with the old information in order to build their own understanding of the new information”. (Check, 1992). More importantly, constructivism can be divided into two: social constructivism and cognitive constructivism.
1) social constructivism
Social constructivism is a theory that is rooted from Vygotsky‟s psychosocial theory, which holds within its folds that knowledge, or disciplines that have been built up are socially human constructs. In other words, knowledge that has been built by the learners is not transferred from teacher to student but rather constructed in student‟s mind. According to Philips (2000, p.6), there are some factors such as politics¸ ideologies, Values, religious beliefs, and economic self-interest, etc. that determine the form of this constructed
knowledge. These factors, therefore, affect the ways whereby learners shape and form their own comprehension about their surrounding world. As its name indicates, social constructivism focuses on knowledge at the level of community; knowledge is socially constructed, and it is more or less the collaborative achievement of persons engaged in the practices of a community. For social constructivists, to learn is to participate within a community. They, in fact, argue that learning would be impossible as long as they do not access to the practices, resources and members of the community. Lave and Wenger support this argument and said, “Engaging in practice, rather than being its object, may well be a condition for the effectiveness of learning”. (Lave and Wenger, 1991. p.93). Their quote conveys obviously the idea that the process of taking part in the ongoing activities of a specific community is a key and essential element to the learning process. Their argument is akin to Vygotsk y‟s, which postulates that students should not be separated from their own sociocultural context.
2) Cognitive constructivism.
As opposed to the social constructivist perspective that describes the mind as a distributed entity that goes beyond the bounds of the body into the social environment, cognitive constructivists present the mind in terms of the individual. Cognitive constructivism based on the work of Swiss developmental psychologist J. Piaget, approaches learning and knowing from the perspective of the individual. Bruner (1956) in Woolfolk (2004) introduces two terms with a view to communicate the most fundamental principles of cognitive constructivism in teaching and learning in the classroom. These two terms are “discovery learning” and “subject structure”. The goal, indeed, was to encourage and emphasize the concept of learning and development of thinking. According to him, understanding the structure of a subject being studied (subject structure), learning will be memorable, useful and more meaningful. Besides, discovery learning helps students improve their own thinking in the sense that the teacher dispenses examples and the students make intuitive guesses about those examples until they find out the connections between the subject‟s structures. The concept “discovery learning” is sometimes referred to as “inductive reasoning”. That is, by using specific examples, students strive to formulate a general principle. Von Glasersfeld supports this idea when he said, “the way we segment the flow of our experience, and the way we relate the pieces we have isolated, is and necessarily remains an essentially subjective matter. Hence, when we intend to stimulate and enhance a student‟s learning, we cannot
afford to forget that knowledge does not exist outside a person‟s mind”. (Von Glasersfeld, 1996, p: 5). This quote, in fact, reminds us of the epistemological theory which gives rise to a theory of learning which suggests that knowledge cannot only be transferred from teacher to student, but rather it must be (re-)built up by the individual. According to J. Piaget, learning as a knowledge construction process forms two main key assumptions of the cognitive constructivist perspective. 1.2 Learners actively construct their own knowledge. This key assumption is an epistemological one in the sense that knowledge is an individual creation; that is, in the process of knowledge construction, learners try actively to build up, via critical thinking, new understandings by fitting their experiences in the world into their existing understandings. “… and assist the individual in the processes of interpreting the new material, based on what he or she knows already”, Alba and Hasher stated (Cf. BHenjafield, 1992). No notion of absolute knowledge. For that purpose, Scarf- Seatter (1997) provides the following quote:”…. Constructivism has taught me (that) I do not need to know any science in order to teach it. I will simply allow my students to figure things out for themselves, for I know there is no right answer.” (Mackninnon and Scarff-Seatter 1997, p: 53). 2.2 Stages of intellectual development: Concrete to abstract This assumption is the result of Piaget‟s theory of childhood development (see,e.g, Gruber and Voneche, 1997) which posits that children‟s intellectual development go through different stages, namely concrete thinking and formal/ abstract thinking. These stages are not formally taught in schools, indeed. They are genetically inborn, however. The former starts at around age 6, when the conceptual structures of the learners are strongly grounded on the physical world. At around age 12, their conceptual structures become no longer concrete but more abstract, helping them, therefore, to build up knowledge through more abstract ways of thinking. For instance, they may use Meta knowledge (knowledge about knowledge) or what is referred to as „metacognition‟; it is about self questioning, self-regulating, self-reviewing, and self- monitoring. According to Winn and Snyder, “ metacognition consists of two basic processes occurring simultaneously which are
monitoring your progress as you learn, and making changes and adapting your strategies if you perceive you are not doing so well “.(Winn, W and Snyder, D., 1998). To conclude, both approaches hold within their folds the same assumption: knowledge is actively constructed in the human mind. They, however, differ from each other in terms of focus; whereas social constructivism focuses on how that knowledge has been built up within the political, social and economic contexts, the cognitive approach focuses on the manner whereby knowledge is created within the individual mind.
B. Mastery Learning
a) Definition of Mastery Learning Mastery Learning can be defined as “an individualized and diagnostic approach to teaching in which students proceed with studying and testing at their own rate to achieve a prescribed level of instruction.”(Jack C. Richard and Richard Schmidt, 2002, p: 321) Mastery Learning advocates argue that all students can master the material provided by the school if they are given the time and help they need. This theory is founded on two basic components: strong educational philosophy which provides a set of assumptions about the process of learning and teaching and a method of instruction which involves a logical procedure in selecting contents, teaching, determining students‟ progress, diagnosing students‟ learning problems and finally producing competent students. The theoretical foundations on which Mastery Learning is established are noticeably different from what teachers once believed about the learners and learning in the earlier decades before 1960. Benjamin Bloom, the main figure and the developer of this theory and practice, has started his career as an educator when the notion that “there are good learners and there are poor learners” was a predominant characteristic of individuals. To discriminate between good learners and poor learners and to sort them out, students take a test of intelligence, aptitude and achievement. This notion suggests that only good learners will always be good learners, and they can cover more material, learn more complex courses, get good results and improve better than poor learners. It is implied, thus, from this construct that the traditional educational system attempts to classify learners into different groups, each group learns the material that corresponds with its intelligence and aptitude. In such an educational system, the gap in achievement between the poor learners and the good learners grows larger every year.
In the second phase of Benjamin Bloom‟s experience as an educator, he focused on the fact that all students can learn and understand complex and abstract input equally, yet some of them will learn it faster than the others. Thus, Benjamin Bloom, in the preface of his book, Human Characteristics and School Learning (1976), argues that he was mainly concerned with finding “ways by which the slower learners could be given the extra time and help they needed to attain some criterion of achievement.” That is, the slower learners would become very similar to the faster learners in mastering the prescribed subjects although the slower learners need to spend more time and to gain more help than the faster learners. The early approaches of Mastery Learning were basically built upon the above belief. Nevertheless, Benjamin Bloom, while he was working with his students, concluded, in the preface of his book, Human Characteristics and School Learning, that “most students become very similar with regard to learning ability, rate of learning, and motivation for further learning—when provided with favourable learning conditions.” That is, if students are provided with suitable learning condition, the differences in their rate of learning would vanish. In other words, nearly all students have the capacity to learn the same amount of material, regardless of how difficult this material is, at the same rate and with the same motivation towards learning. This process becomes successful also only when schools do their job well and are aware that the set up objective should be mastered. b) Mastery Learning’ Basic assumptions Mastery Learning is founded on the following set of beliefs: Under appropriate instructional conditions virtually all students can and will learn most of what they are taught.( James H. Block and Lorin W. Anderson, 1975.p:1) The primary role of schools is to define the objective to be learned and to help all students attain a level of mastery in these objectives. c) The Notion of Time in Mastery Learning John B. Carroll‟ model of learning assumes that school learning is determined by „the time needed and the time spent’. The time needed refers to the amount of time students need to master a particular course, and it varies from one student to another since there are differences among students. There are some students who have background knowledge about the task to be taught and those who have weak background knowledge. Time spent is the time the learner spends learning a certain task. It is a result of opportunity to learn and
perseverance. The specific measure of opportunity to learn is the time allotted; that is, the time the teacher gives to his students to learn a particular task. Perseverance is also essential to Mastery Learning theory; it is the amount of time the student could spend actively working on a task. For instance, there are students who would spend an hour actively; others may spend less than this amount of time. Carroll proposed that time needed by students to learn the contents of the course should be based on the following: Aptitude: aptitude was traditionally defined as the natural ability of the student to learn a particular task, and it usually employs intelligence tests to measure students‟ mental and natural inclinations towards learning. Aptitude in Mastery Learning is defined as “the amount of time the student would require to learn a given level under ideal instructional conditions.” That is, students who are allowed the time they need, the time which corresponds with their background, to learn and who spend adequate time in a particular task succeed in attaining the goals set up for mastery. It also suggests that “students with high aptitude would learn quickly while those with low aptitude would take more time to learn”. That is, aptitude in it traditional sense is not to be taken into account since it does not take into account differences in the students‟ background. Aptitude, thus, is the amount of time each student spends learning a task. (Block and Lorin W. Anderson, 1975) Ability to understand the instruction: Time needed is also determined by the student‟s ability to understand the instruction presented by the teacher. In summary, the time the learner needs is determined on the basis of three standards: student‟s aptitude for the subject, the quality of instruction and his ability to understand this instruction. In case the quality of instruction is high, the learner finds it easy to learn and understand the subject; contrariwise, if the quality of instruction is low, the learner would require more time. Thu, James H. Block and Lorin W. Anderson state that “the degree of school learning of a given subject depends on the student‟s perseverance, or his opportunity to learn, relative to his attitude for the subject, the quality of instruction, and his ability to understand the instruction.”(Thomas R. Guskey. 1985, p: 11)
d) Criterion Evaluation vs. Normative Evaluation Mastery Learning represents a shift from the traditional normative evaluation, setting up a criterion-referenced evaluation. The former judges the students‟ performance in the classroom on the basis of how well his classmates performed in the test; that is, the teacher who uses normative evaluation makes a comparison between students, creating a kind of competition between them, and thus, every student tries to get the best grade. Besides, normative evaluation tells us nothing about how much progress has been made by students. This type of evaluation keeps students very secretive as regards their knowledge which would, if shared, help the other students to enhance their performance. This model of examination discourages cooperation and sharing among students. By contrast, criterion-referenced evaluation is based on sharing and cooperation between students. It is named criterion since it is based on students‟ achievement of the stated objectives, it is defined from the very beginning that students should master the goals set up by the teacher, and students are provided with multiple opportunities to master the stated objectives. Besides, in criterion evaluation, possibly ninety percent of students attain an A grade. This type of evaluation is a basic principle of Mastery Learning since it establishes cooperation in the class instead of classifying students on the basis of a curve in which only a couple of students get good marks and a great proportion of them get an average or below average. e) Basic Stages in Implementing Mastery Learning It is of a paramount importance to summarize the elements of Mastery Learning instruction which follow a logical chronological order, in an attempt to link them to the philosophical assumptions of the theory. In practice, Mastery Learning is based on the following elements: Defining what is to be Learnt The initial stage in implementing Mastery Learning involves the delineation of the objectives students should learn. Thomas R. Guskey notes that the first step in implementing Mastery Learning “is for teachers to review their instructional materials or curriculum to decide what content should be learned by all students and to what level.”(Thomas R. Guskey.1985, p: 11) In other words, the learning objectives are defined by the teacher depending on whatever curricula or textbooks are available. The teacher decides what
concepts and information are of relevance for students to learn, decides if these objectives are only meant to be remembered by students, or he decides that the objectives should be, for instance, applicable to other different situations and contexts. These objectives are usually presented in a „table of specification’, which is set up to outline the objectives for a unit, and for the teacher to have a precise view of what is to be taught. The most important thing in this first step is that both the teacher and the students focus and understand the objectives of the course. Teaching the Material After the teacher has delineated the material of the unit he is to teach, and after he has defined the amount of time he would spend in the unit, (a unit may take one class, a week, or two weeks; it highly depends on the objectives the teacher set for it) he starts the process of teaching by presenting his material through different techniques, including lectures, demonstrations, discussions and all that he sees appropriate to get across the course. In this stage, it is important that the teacher clearly state the goals for the unit and inform his students that they are all expected to master the objectives of the unit. First Formative Test The material presented by the teacher will be mastered easily by a specific number of students whose learning style, aptitude and perseverance correspond with either the instructional material, or with the way the teacher explains. Contrariwise, other student will encounter some difficulties to master the objectives of the unit, simply because of their learning style and entry characteristics. The first formative test, which usually takes five to ten minutes, is a tool used to check the progress of learning, and it is administered primarily to identify the students who have mastered the set objectives and those who have not yet learned them. This test is not meant to grade students; instead, it is used to inform both the teacher and the student about the gaps in achievement and where more work is needed. It generates feedback that is essential to identify the errors made in the process of teaching of a particular unit, to remedy the learning difficulties students face and to correct the errors made in the course of the initial instruction. In this concern, Thomas R. Guskey maintains that “This type of testing is used during instruction to provide immediate feedback to students and to teachers. The main purpose of this kind of testing is not to place or evaluate students but rather to provide very
specific information on students‟ learning progress. This type of testing is referred to as formative testing.”(Thomas R. Guskey. 1985, p: 34) Generating a feedback is, therefore, useful for both the teacher and the students. As for students, feedback „“helps them identify what they have learned well or mastered and what they need to spend more time learning”. It also helps them to “tell if their focus in studying is what their teacher wants.”‟ (Thomas R. Guskey. 1985, p: 6O) As for the teacher, formative testing introduces two important clues. First, he knows which student is doing well and which one is still in need for more help, and he also knows exactly the problems students encounter. Second, the formative test helps the teacher identify whether the quality of instruction is effective or not. Providing the Learning Alternatives (Correctives and Enrichment) Mastery Learning advocates take it for granted that almost in all cases, there will always be some students who have difficulties in mastering a particular course after the primary instruction has been introduced. It is recommended, thus, that students who have not succeeded in the first instruction have an immediate chance to remedy their mistakes. Thus, the teacher provides enrichment activities to the students who have mastered the material. Those who have not attained mastery do correctives and second formative test. Correctives serve the role of remediation; their basic characteristic is “that it teaches the same material in a way that is different from the way it was originally taught.” (Thomas R. Guskey, 1985, p: 63) That is, repeating the same method that was adapted in the original instruction and that has already been proved failure should be put aside, searching for a new way that is compatible with the learning styles and entry characteristics of the learners who have not yet mastered the material. For the correctives to serve a functional role and to draw a new strategy for learning, it has to “present the material differently from the way it was originally presented.‟ Correctives „must make students participate in the learning process in a way that is different from the way they were taught” (Thomas R. Guskey, 1985, p: 63, 64) Second Formative Test After the teacher has provided the learning alternatives, enrichment and correctives, to the students who have mastered and the ones who have not yet mastered the set objectives of the unit, he conducts a second test on the same material he has taught in the initial instruction.
Assuring that 90% of students or more have achieved mastery rate of learning, the group is, thus, ready to carry on the process of studying through moving on to a new material. Summative Test The teacher administers summative tests which usually take more time than formative tests after covering several units. For instance, summative tests would probably take an hour, an hour and a half or two hours depending on the units the teacher has taught, unlike formative tests which would probably last for five to ten minutes. The purpose of such evaluation is to make sure that all the material is mastered. Unlike formative tests which cover small portion of the course, one unit for instance, summative tests might cover two, three, four or even more units. Summative tests are equally important since each student has to have a grade at the end, and these grades are usually sent to parents and administration. Besides, summative tests help to determine the extent to which students have mastered a particular skill or task. In this regard, Thomas R. Guskey (1985) argues that „the main purpose of a summative examination is to gather cumulative information on students‟ learning so grades can be assigned or competence in a particular skill or task can be determined.‟ (Thomas R. Guskey, 1985, p: 79, 80) f) The Role of the Teacher in Mastery Learning Mastery Learning is marked by flexibility in application, and we may probably find two or more teachers implementing Mastery Learning differently but effectively, although they implement it in a different grade level, different subject and probably different school. They, teachers, follow the same procedures of instruction, which are the core of Mastery Learning strategies, including formative tests, correctives, enrichment activities and summative tests to empower the students skills. However, the way these activities are conducted may differ from one teacher to another. Besides this flexibility in implementing Mastery Learning, the teacher‟ role is to facilitate the learning process. Unlike the traditional instruction in which the teacher serves as a “rule maker and director of the competition‟ between students who try to win grades the teacher provides, and in which „comparing each student‟s progress to that of her or his classmates tend to intensify a sense of competition among students. And it makes them recognize that helping a classmate might jeopardize their own chances of “success.”( (Thomas R. Guskey. 1985, p: 14)Mastery Learning teacher creates a sense of cooperation among
students, students are graded according to what they have mastered and they spontaneously help each other instead of competing each other. Thus, as Guskey (1985) argues, “the teacher becomes more of an instructional leader and learning facilitator and less of a competing manager.” In a nutshell, Mastery Learning theory sounds very practical in the sense that it provides the opportunity of success and achievement to every individual student; it, in fact, seeks justice and equality of education to all the learners through using a powerful method of instruction which is based on formative testing, diagnosing students problems, providing the time needed for those who have not yet mastered the material and finally producing powerful competent students who would contribute to the empowerment of society either economically, socially and culturally. In addition, Mastery Learning forsakes the traditional approach of learning, which was basically built upon competition and classification of students so as to give grades, and adopts a new method of teaching which allow the chance for success for every learner, and which is basically cooperative rather than competitive. Besides, Mastery Learning saves time, a fact which would allow the teacher to allocate more assignments to his students.
The theoretical part provided us with different ideas about the methods of teaching English as a foreign language. Traditional teaching methods emphasize the teacher as the authority or as the model in the classroom. Then, we discovered that through applying these traditional methods, students could not, in fact, reach a high level of competence in English proficiency, a fact which seems to prevail mainly among undergraduate students at university, is due to the following factors: individual‟s different background and low motivation stand as an obstacle that impedes the achievements of the learners during high school. Traditional methods established a sort of competition among students who try to get good grades, only few students could attain good grades in comparison to their classmates, and students usually learn a particular subject on the basis of their natural inherent features, such as aptitude and intelligence. Striving to look for a suitable solution to these problems, exemplified in students‟ difficulty to become proficient is due to their different backgrounds, aptitude and motivation, we have gone over Mastery Learning theory, and we assume that this theory can provide teachers with strategies that would probably melt down the individual different backgrounds that prevail in the Moroccan public schools and motivate students to learn cooperatively, and we will also attempt to inquire about the validity of Mastery Learning and the extent to which it can solve such problems in the Moroccan context. I. Methodology
1. Data Collection This research paper adopts a survey method so as the enable us to establish the main techniques English language teachers in Moroccan high schools apply to overcome the problem of individual differences among students, mainly the way they teach students, the way they manage the teaching material, tests and evaluation and chiefly the way they manage their time to teach the scheduled objectives. Quantitative data are used in this study as a main source of information, basically questionnaires distributed to 18 teachers of English. 2. Informants While collecting the data for this research project, we targeted male and female teachers in Moroccan high schools in the region of Tadla Azilal. All these teachers were trained in the Regional Pedagogical Centers and their minimum qualifications were a diplomat in teaching
English, BA degree and some of them are now preparing their master‟s degree in English Literature. All these teachers are currently teaching English as a foreign language, and their teaching experience varies. Some of them have started their career long ago and others are new to the field of TEF. They have been teaching English in the Moroccan high between 1-33 years. For the purpose of extracting reliable data for our research paper, we should note that we have handed out 18 questionnaires, and attended a course of English in Hassan II high school. The results of the data we have collected will be presented as follows: Questionnaire analysis, discussion of the data we have collected and finally some suggestion to overcome the problem of individual differences among the learners of EFL.
3. Data Analysis
Question 2 What approach(s) or method(s) do you use in teaching EFL? Approaches and Methods used in teaching EFL in Moroccan hight schools
CLIL 17% TBA 11% GTM 5% DM 11%
Figure: 1 Figure 1 demonstrates that 56% of teachers use Communicative Language Teaching, 11% of teachers use TBA and DM, 5% admitted that they use GTM, while 17% reported that they use an eclectic method. It seems thus that CLT is the most prevailing method used by the teachers, and it is one of the theories which is compatible with Mastery Learning principles of instruction.
Question 3 How many students do you usually have in classroom?
Twenty Thirty Between twenty and thirty Forty Between thirty and Forty
The number of students in a classroom
0% 0% 5% 6% 28% 61%
Figure: 2 As figure 2 shows, 6% of teachers reported that they usually have between twenty and thirty students in the classroom, 5% admitted that they have more than forty students in a class, 28% said they have forty students while the majority, 61%, demonstrated that the number of students is between thirty and forty. The latter rate is by no means a hindrance to the application of Mastery Learning in Moroccan Public schools. Question 4 Which types of teaching do you favour?
Types of teaching favoured
Whole Class instruction Group-based instruction Individualised instruction 18% 0% 18% 23% 41% whole class and group based instruction All types of instruction
Figure: 3 The figure above shows that 41% of the teachers admitted that they prefer whole class instruction while others maintained that group based instruction (23%) is the norm. Other informants reported that they favor individualized instruction (18%), while (18 %) advocated both group-based and individualized instruction. It is implied from the above results that
most teachers prefer whole class instruction, a fact which is not helping in combating individual differences among students. Individualizing instruction is probably the best way to reduce the gap between students. Question 5 Do you specify the objectives before you begin a new instructional material? Number of informants Yes No Total 17 1 18 a) What is meant by learning objectives? Number of informants What students are required to learn The objectives provided by a textbook The content of the course What the students are required to learn, and what is provided by a text book. The objectives of the textbook and the content of the course All of these What the students are required to learn and the content of the course Total 7 5 1 1 1 1 1 18 Percentage 39% 27% 6% 5% 10% 6% 5% 100% Figure: 5 Learning objectives means the goals the teacher sets to teach his students for a given period of time. Usually, the table of specification is utilized to guide the teacher and his students to achieve the objectives set for a particular unit or units. These objectives can be divided into short term objectives, intermediate objectives and long term objectives. In the table above, figure 3, we notice that 94% of the teachers specify the learning objectives, while only 5% admitted that they don‟t specify the learning objectives. This demonstrates that specifying the learning objectives is a basic step the teacher employs to manage the course on the basis of stated objectives. Concerning figure 4 which addresses the question of what do teachers mean by learning objectives, we notice that while nearly all teachers acknowledged that they specify the
Percentage 94 % 6% 100% Figure: 4
learning objectives, their views as regards the meaning of the learning objectives vary from one to another. Whereas (39%) of teachers stated that the learning objectives are what the students are required to learn, (27%) maintain that the learning objectives are what the textbook provides. We also notice that a small number of teachers either make a combination and define the learning objectives as what the students are required to learn and what is provided by a text book (6%), the objectives of the textbook and the content of the course (10%), what the students are required to learn and the content of the course, or consider all these elements as objectives (6%). The variation in teachers‟ opinions demonstrates that they don‟t really have a clear vision about what is meant by objectives in its modern sense in language teaching. 39% and 27% of teachers conceive objective as what the students are required to learn and what is dictated by a textbook respectively. This traditional style that depends on a heavy textbook that obliges the teacher to end the schedule of the textbook affects badly the performance of students who have different backgrounds. Question 6 Do you divide the material into smaller units?
The number of informants Yes No Total 16 12 18 Percentage 89 % 11% 100%
Figure: 6 1. Time the teacher spends in a unit: Time spent in a unit
An Hour Two days One to two weeks 6% 5% 33% 56% Others
Figure 6 and figure 7 deal with the question whether teachers divide the material into small units or not and how much time they spend in a unit. From figure 5, we can deduce that the majority of the informants (89%) divide the material into small units and only 11% of them reported they do not divide the material into small units. This percentage demonstrates that Teachers are aware of the importance of dividing the material to be taught into smaller units so that students can keep the pace of learning. To see whether this division really works and coheres with the other elements of learning for master, we should first look into the time teachers spend in a particular unit. Figure 6 shows the time teachers spent in a unit. The majority argued that they spend one to two weeks (56%). Others stated that they spend two days in a unit (33%), only 5% have chosen an hour, and 6% chose other options. The latter claimed that time spent in a unit depends on the objectives set for learning and on the students‟ performance during the process of learning. Question 7 Do you divide the material into short term objective, medial objectives or long term objectives?
short term and long term objectives 27%
Short term Objectives 22% Medial Objectives 6%
All of these 34%
Long term objectives 11%
Figure 8 The results tabled above indicate that teachers of English in Moroccan high school chose different approaches in dividing the material into either short term objective, medial objective or long term objectives. 34% announced that they use all these types of objectives, 27%assert that they use short term and long term objectives, some stated that they use long term objectives (11%) and few others pronounced that they use medial objectives.
This table does give an unclear vision regarding the specification of learning objective. The normal practical choice, all the objectives-short term, medial and long term- has not reached a comfortable percentage, and hence dividing the objectives is an obstacle that impedes the learning and the performance of students, and it is not in favor of reducing the differences in the students‟ background. Question 8 Do you conduct the first formative test after you have finished teaching a unit? First Formative Test
6% 22% 72% Yes No Sometimes
Figure: 9 A. How much does a formative test take?
Time spent in the first formative Test
Five to ten minutes One hour two hours others 6% 25% 25% 44%
Figure: 10 The first formative test serves a significant role in the process of learning for one simple reason: it informs the teacher about the overall knowledge of the students on what is being learned. It, in other words, assists the teacher identify the students who have mastered the unit and those who have not so as to schedule remedial activities for those who have not mastered and enrich those who have learned well. Figure 9 classifies the teachers who carry out the first formative test after finishing a unit to diagnosis the class and those who do not: 72% of the teachers reported that they
administer the first formative test, 22% announced that they do not hold it and 6% reported they do administer it only sometimes. We conclude that the first formative test is not applied by all teachers, and thus tutors will not be able to identify the students who have not mastered the unit. As a result, individuals‟ different backgrounds would remain inherent in the process of learning, and the gap between them widens after covering several units, resulting in some few good students and a small proportion of average students. Neglecting the first formative test after a unit has been covered is therefore a real challenge that contributes in the maintenance of the gap between good learners and poor learners. As for figure 10 which concerns the time spent in the first formative test, it is demonstrated that 44% of teachers acknowledge that they allocate an hour for the first formative test; only 25% of the teacher reported they spend five to ten minutes in the first formative test. Besides, 6% of respondents say they devote two hours for the test, and some other assumed that the time allocated for the first formative test, or a short quiz as they reported, depend highly on the material taught in the unit. Looking into the above figures 9 and 10, we notice that the majority of teachers use the first formative test after they have finished the first unit (72%); however, the time dedicated to this activity goes beyond the limits of the usual formative tests which take, usually, five to ten minutes in Mastery Learning. There is, as a result, a contradiction in the methods that teachers use. This lack of time management stands as another impediment that is not helping in overcoming individual‟s different background. It only widens the gap between students and maintains the differences among them. Question 9 Do you provide students with corrective activities?
Students who are Provided with Correctives
0% 11% those who have mastered the unit Those who have not mastered the unit Whole Class
Time Spent in Correctives
Two to Four minutes 30 min An Hour 39% 33% 28%
Figure: 13 Corrective activities are introduced after the teacher has conducted the first formative test. These activities target the students who have not achieved mastery in the initial instruction. It is a process of re-teaching that enables these students to become proficient as their pairs in a particular task. We notice in figure 11 that all teachers (100%) provide correctives to their students. However, figure 12 reveals that correctives are not provided only to those who have not mastered the unit, but rather to the whole class. Nearly, all teachers, 89%, affirmed that they dedicate correctives to the whole group while only 11% admitted that they provide correctives for those who have not achieved mastery. Again, the time allocated to corrective activities varies: only 28% of teachers declared they spend two to four minutes in correctives, 33% of them admitted they allocate 30min and 39% announced they spend an hour in correctives. As the above figures, 11, 12, 13, demonstrate, the issue of time management in traditional methods of teaching handicaps individuals‟ performance and their overall competence, and it contributes negatively in establishing a perpetual gap during the process of learning and results in a kind of inequality among students who have probably the same potential for success in a particular task if their backgrounds are taken into account.
Question 10 Do you provide enrichment activities?
Yes No If needed 6% 6%
Time Spent in Enrichment Activities
6% 6% 6% 6%
It depends on the material
Figure: 15 To whom these activities are provided? Students who are Provided with Enrichmment
Those who have mastered the unit Those who have not mastered the unit Whole class
For students who achieve mastery and learn quickly, they will spend more time doing enrichment activities, as well as helping other students who have not mastered the contents of the unit. These enrichment activities are an expansion of the concepts the whole class is working on, and allow the students to reinforce the concepts they have learned and to apply them in new different ways. The above figures introduce the responses of our informants regarding enrichment activities. Figure 14 shows the percentage of teachers who give enrichment activities to their students, figure 15 displays the time teachers spend in these activities and finally figure 16 presents students who are provided with enrichment. The first figure shows that 88% of the teachers provide enrichment activities, while only 6% of the teachers do not give enrichment, and only 6% provide them solely if needed. However, the time they spent in enrichment activities seems incompatible with the strategies of Mastery Learning since the majority of teachers (76%), as demonstrated in the figure 15, dedicate an hour to enrich students instead of five to ten minutes. Other teachers use time variably to enrich students: some say they define the time of the enrichment on the basis of the material they teach (6%), some others stated that they dedicate 45 min (6%) while others asserted that they commit 30 min (6%) and few dedicate 5 min (6%). As regards the students who are provided with enrichment activities, nearly all teachers admitted that they provide it to the whole class (89%), and only 6% of them announced they provide enrichment for those who have mastered the unit. It seem, thus, that, though the majority of teachers reported that they provide enrichment activities, the time spent in this activities does not match the procedures of Mastery Learning. Hence, the methods that are employed by teachers lack consistency and coherence. Question 11 Do you use the same techniques of instruction you already used in the initial instruction after to teach those who have not mastered the unit? Yes No Total The number of informants 3 15 18 Percentage 17% 83% 100% Figure: 17
We deduce from the figure 17 that the majority of informants (83%) stated that they do use different techniques of instruction to teach those who have not mastered the unit, while 17% inform us that they do not change the techniques of instruction. Variation in the
techniques of instruction allows the learners who have different styles of learning understand when the teacher uses other techniques. Actually, there are different styles of learning and different types of intelligence (Gardner‟s theory of multiple intelligence); some students grasp the course visually through pictures, simulations and gestures, while others learn only through listening. Hence, the informants seem to be aware of the importance of variation in the techniques of learning so that the learners with different learning styles have a chance to learn well when they are given another opportunity. Question 12 How many students have achieved mastery after you have finished teaching a unit? The number of informants 12 5 1 18 Percentage 67% 27% 6% 100% Figure: 18 Considering Figure 18, it is noticeable that the majority of teachers (67%) claim that the level of mastery of the contents after they have finished the units reaches 60%; others (16%) maintain that 85% to 95% achieve mastery, but only 6% of the teachers stated that all students achieve mastery. Careful reading of these results makes it clear that students do not master the specified objective of the units scheduled by the teacher. As a result, individual‟s background play a central role in determining the final results of the students after finishing a unit or several united. Keeping up the pace of learning of students with poor background in a particular task, thus, seems to be difficult as long as they are not involved in a consistent procedure that guarantees mastery. Mastery Learning seems to handle this issue depending on a regular plan that takes into account all the influences that impede students‟ achievements.
60% 85% to 95 % 100% Total
Question 13 Do you organize a second formative test?
Immediately after correctives and enrichment After a day After a week After a month Total
The number of informants 0 4 8 6 18
Percentage 0% 22% 45% 33% 100% Figure: 19
The second formative test, retesting, takes place after the learning alternatives, correctives and enrichment have been completed. The teacher tests the students who have not succeeded in the first test in the same material but in a different way. The table above shows the percentage of informants who hold the second formative test. It is quite surprising that none of the respondents provide the second formative test immediately after correctives and enrichment activities. All of them administer a formative test only after a day (22%), after a week (45%) or after a month (33%). These results imply that Moroccan teachers of EFL are not aware of the effectiveness and practicability of evaluation and reevaluation to assure that all students progress with the same pace of learning. Question 14 Do you provide the prerequisites for the second unit? The number of informants 14 4 18 Percentage 77% 23% 100% Figure: 20 The teacher decides, before teaching the material, that there are prerequisites, facts and skills that the students have to have prior to starting a new unit. When the teacher makes sure that all students have most of the skills and prerequisites, he is then ready to proceed with the class units consistently. Figure 20 shows that the majority of teachers (77%) provide prerequisites before starting a unit to make sure that each student is ready to move on to the next unit, while only 23% announced they do not give prerequisites.
Yes No Total
How much time do prerequisites take? The number of informants 1 12 1 14 Percentage 7% 86% 7% 100% Figure: 21
Two to four minutes Ten minutes Two hours Total
As regards the time spent in enrichment activities, we notice in figure 21 that 86% of the informants have chosen ten minutes for prerequisites which is not compatible with time spent in prerequisites in Mastery Learning strategy. 7% of the informants stated that they spent two hours doing prerequisites while another 7% maintained that two to four minutes suffice to provide prerequisites.
What kind of material do you explain in the prerequisites? The number of informants 1 9 4 14 Percentage 6% 66% 28% 100% Figure: 22
The material you have taught in the previous unit The material you intend to teach in the second unit Both of them Total
Inquired about the material they teach in prerequisites, our informants stated the following: 66% admitted that they explain the material they intend to teach in the second unit to make sure that students have the same background information about the subject of the second unit. Only 6% maintain that they explain what has been taught in the initial instruction, and 28% stated that they explain both what has been taught in the first unit and what is going to be taught in the second unit. The three figures which deal with prerequisites show that the informants are possibly aware of the significance of prerequisites. However, prerequisites seem to consume much time. The latter obstructs the learning process.
Question 15 Do you administer a summative test? Yes No Total The number of informants 15 3 18 Percentage 86% 14% 100% Figure: 23 Summative evaluation is usually held after covering several units, and it usually takes, in Mastery Learning strategy, an hour, and hour and half or two hours sometimes. In figure 23, it is apparent that the majority of teachers (86%) adopt this strategy to test their students while 14% of the informants do not hold summative tests. How many units does this summative test cover and how long does it last? A. The number of units the summative test covers: One unit Two units All the units the teacher covers Total The number of informants 0 4 14 18 Percentage 0% 22% 78% 100% Figure: 24 Concerning the number of units the summative test covers, figure 24 reveals that the majority of respondents (78%) cover all the units in the summative evaluation and 22% noted that the only cover two units. It is implied from this table that nearly all teachers use summative tests and cover all the units that they cover in class. What stands as impediment to the overall proficiency in English is the fact that the final summative test is not founded on a strong basis since the steps that preceded it are not well dealt with by most of the informants. For instance, the first and the second formative tests do not take place on the basis of a consistent strategy that respects the time devoted to the test which usually consumes much energy fruitlessly.
Question 16 What is the purpose of the summative test? Grade students To end a term To begin a new term To examine students overall competence in the material you have taught To grade students and test their competence Total The number of informants 2 0 1 7 Percentage 12% 0% 5% 38%
45% 100% Figure: 25
The summative test is usually held by teachers to check on the overall achievement of the students on a particular task. It tells the teacher how much students have accomplished. Figure 25 denotes that 45% of the informants hold summative tests to grade students as well as to examine the student‟s overall competence, 38% asserted that summative evaluation is meant to examine students overall competence in the material that has been taught, few informants (12%) have noted that summative tests are meant for grading the students only and 5% believed this test is done to begin a new term. Question 17 How much time does a summative test take? 30min 60min 90min 120min Total The number of informants 0 9 4 5 18 Percentage 0% 50% 22% 28% 100% Figure: 26 As for the time spent in a summative test, it becomes evident that the informants devote acceptable space of time although the whole process of Mastery Learning is not adopted. Some of its basic elements are missing. Figure 26 shows that 50% of respondents commit 60 min for the exam, 28% devote 120 min and 22% allocate 90 min for summative tests.
Question 18 How do you grade students? Comparing their sheets Grading them on the basis of what they have mastered Total The number of informants 0 18 18 Percentage 0% 100% 100% Figure: 27 As noted earlier in the theoretical part, traditional teachers grade students on the basis of comparing their sheets, their aptitude, which is usually defined as the inherent capacity to learn, such as intelligence. Teachers in this traditional sense discriminate and make comparison between students while grading them. Although figure 27 shows that all teachers grade students on the basis of what they have mastered, it seems contradictory when we look at the number of students who succeed to master the unit. Question 19 After the summative test has been done, how do you rate the performance of the students? All students achieved mastery Few students achieved mastery 50% achieved mastery 85% to 95% achieved mastery Total The number of informants 1 3 11 3 18 Percentage 5% 17% 61% 17% 100% Figure: 28
The table above shows the performance of the students according to the informant; 60% of the informants said that 50% achieved mastery, 17% of the respondents said that few number of students achieved mastery, others maintained that 85% to 95% gained mastery and only 5% said that all students mastered the material set up for the units. The informants in the previous figure informed us that they give grades on the basis of what the students have mastered. However, figure 28 demonstrates that the majority of teachers noted that only 50 percent of the students achieved master, a fact which is totally divorced from what is stated in the earlier figure that students are graded on the basis of what they have master. Figure 28 makes it plain that there is a sort of inconsistency and incoherence in the strategies of learning which do not help in overcoming individual differences.
Question 20 Do you think that individual differences hinder the process of learning and students overall competence in English proficiency Yes No Total The number of informants 13 5 18 Percentage 73% 27% 100% Figure: 29 Asked about whether individual differences hinder the process of learning and students‟ overall competence in English proficiency, the majority of the informants stated that individual differences really impede the process of learning and students competence. It is deduced, thus, that nearly all teachers are aware of the influence of individual differences; however, most of them do not adopt a procedure that assist in melting down these individual differences. Learning for mastery or Mastery Learning is a strategy that would probably solve the problems of individual differences if teachers abide strictly by its consistent procedures and that would probably minimize the achievement gap between students. 4. Overall Discussion It is evident from the information shown in the tables above that the majority of teachers of EFL admit that individual differences obstruct the process of learning and the students‟ performance in class. However, although teachers are fully aware of these differences, they still partially manage their classes on the basis of traditional methods which are centered upon the objectives of the textbook to be fulfilled at the end of the term or at the end of the year, widening the achievement gap between students who have different backgrounds. Although traditional teaching methods may be effective in teaching EFL, its strategies seem ineffective, especially when individual difference prevail among students. The importance of Mastery Learning is that its procedure can be used while applying whatever method or approach of teaching. The questionnaires provided us with an insight about the procedures and steps teachers adopt while they are teaching. We noticed first that most teachers prefer Communicative Language Teaching (56%). The latter is recommended by the Ministry of Education, and it sets qualifying students to achieve communicative competence and to be
able to interact in situations where English is used as its major goal. It is close in its principals to Mastery Learning. However both Mastery Learning and Communicative Language
Teaching close in terms of principles and procedures, we traced some divergences which may stand as an obstacle for both teachers and students to attain the objectives set up for learning. The first problem that arises in applying traditional methods is that of time. We noticed that nearly all teachers divide the material into small units (89%), specify the objectives (94%), conduct the first formative test (72%), give enrichment activities (88%) and correctives (100%), and nearly all of them organize a summative evaluation. What is noticeable in these tables, however, is that almost all teachers consume much time doing enrichment, correctives, or tests. The fact that teachers spend an hour doing correctives and enrichment or any other activity hinders the whole process of achieving mastery in a particular subject. Besides, the informants admitted that their divergent activities are devoted to all students: those who have mastered the material in the initial instruction and to those who have not mastered the material in the initial instruction. Thought our informants seem to use some principles of Mastery Learning, potentially, their unawareness of the procedures of Mastery Learning or perhaps their conservatism, inclination to use traditional methods, betrays them. Mastery Learning strategy is basically founded upon the notion of time and the link it makes between all its components; one element is closely related to the other and if one is missing, the process of learning will not proceed naturally and will not result in proficient learners. It is manifest, therefore, that in the light of traditional methods which usually focus on whole class instruction instead of individualized instruction, a fact demonstrated in figure 12 and figure 16 respectively and which show that correctives (89%) and enrichments (89%) are provided to the whole class. Teachers focus on the whole class instruction can have negative effects on the students who have poor backgrounds in a particular topic or subject. Though the majority of respondents argued that they prefer all types of instruction, groupbased, individualized instruction and whole class instruction (Figure 3), figures 12 and 16 show some contradiction since nearly all teachers admitted that they provide the learning alternatives to the whole class instead of focusing empowering those who have not learnt well in the initial instruction and enrich those who have mastered the unit. Despite the fact that the Ministry in charge of education implemented successive reforms to improve the performance of students‟ languages, especially EFL, much work is still needed in this respect since all the initiatives made by different actors(teacher, family, local associations) seem to be insufficient due to many reasons: large classes, the absence of
didactic materials, especially technological devices which are universally recognized as effective means of teaching foreign languages, especially EFL, reconsideration of the text book which seem unattractive at the level iconography, aesthetic, and content, especially in an age where Information and Communication Technology offers an appropriate images which create and contribute in intrinsic motivation. In short, our survey questionnaire demonstrates that nearly all teachers acknowledge that individual differences hinder the process of learning. Although teachers are aware that this factor does not assist students to learn equally, it seems that the procedures and learning methods employed in Moroccan high school are partly traditional and do not account for the problem of individual differences.
The study has established that the teachers of EFL in the Moroccan high schools are partially adopting traditional methods which hinder the process of learning and which maintain individual differences. In this regard, we suggest, in brief, the following: Mastery Learning is a modern method that is proved to eliminate individuals‟ different backgrounds. Applying it would help teachers overcome the issue of individual differences. Being aware, first, of these differences. Minimizing the number of students in class. Technology Assisted Teaching Intrinsic motivation The requirement of the theory of multiple intelligence in order that each individual completes the other.( Learning in Pairs) Variation in activities so that students with different styles of learning have a chance to learn on the basis of their own aptitude. Keeping the same pace of these students The training of teachers to master the techniques of Mastery Learning is an urgent necessity to deal with individual differences efficiently.
In the preceding chapters of this research paper, we have examined the main characteristics of some traditional methods, namely Grammar Translation Method, AudioLingual Method, the Direct Method and Communicative Language Teaching, versus Constructivism and Mastery Learning Theories as modern methods. We have discovered that the roles of both teachers and students in traditional approaches are totally different as opposed to their roles in modern methods. That is, traditional methods are teacher-cantered methods in the sense that the teacher dominates the situation; he is the authority and the model in terms of knowledge. As regard individual differences, we noticed that these
methods did not give much consideration to this crucial component that impedes the process of learning. Students are intended to be passive information receivers; that is to say, they are obliged to learn information delivered to them with a view to reproduce in the exam, for instance, what they have learnt. This type of instruction which usually targets whole class and in which the instructor spends much time explaining to those who mastered the material and those who have not simultaneously. Modern methods, by contrast, are totally different from the foregoing ones. For example, the teacher in a classroom where Constructivism and Mastery Learning are applied is no longer the authority or the source of knowledge, but rather he or she is a facilitator. Knowledge, therefore, is no longer transferred from the teacher to students, but it is constructed and built up by the learners; this automatically means that students are active information producers in the sense it is they who are active and dynamic. Modern methods, thus, consider individual‟s entry characteristics and background through adopting strategies that make teaching more individualised rather than collective. The first stance considers the rhythm of each individual and treats learners on equal footing in terms of achievements. All students, in spite of their different background, have the same potentials to master the material the teacher assigns. The observation upon which the subject matter of this research paper in founded is that undergraduate students‟ poor and different performances can be probably attributed to what they have inherited from the preceding stages through which they come to university, high school. These preceding stages, we assume, do not consider differences in the learners‟ backgrounds or adopt a professional method that could bridge the gap between those who
have poor backgrounds and their counterparts who have strong background in a particular subject. This study adopted a questionnaire survey directed to English language teachers in Moroccan high schools in the region of Tadla Azilal, and it addressed the issue of the teachers‟ treatment of individual differences among students, inquiring what techniques and strategies they use to overcome this issue and proposing that Mastery Learning techniques would be helpful in this mission towards equality in achievement and success. This study, thus, indicates that most teachers do not implement Mastery learning strategies, though the majority acknowledged that they organize diagnostic tests, formative evaluation, provide enrichment and correctives, conduct summative evaluation and most of all they all agree that individual differences exist and influence the performance of the students. However, despite their awareness of these differences, the teachers seem to stick to the old traditional methods of instruction which do not contribute effectively in bringing those learners with poor backgrounds and those with strong backgrounds together at the level of achievement and proficiency in a particular subject.
Skinner B. F. Science and Human Behaviour, New York: the Free Press, 1953. Thomas R. Guskey, Implementing Mastery Learning, Wadsworth Publishing Company, Belmont, California, 1985. Richards J. C., Communicative Language Teaching Today, Cambridge University Press, 2006.