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The role of the TOEFL speaking tasks in communicative pre-university EAP classes : East Asian students' and teachers' perspectives

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The role of the TOEFL speaking tasks in communicative pre-university EAP classes : East Asian students' and teachers' perspectives

Song, Hyo Jin (2008) The role of the TOEFL speaking tasks in communicative pre-university EAP classes : East Asian students' and teachers' perspectives. Masters thesis, Concordia University.

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Abstract

The oral communication demands of North American university classrooms can be challenging for non-native speaker students (Ferris & Tagg, 1996a). This is particularly true for East Asian learners who have usually had limited exposure to the type of oral interaction expected in English for academic purposes (EAP). The revised Test English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL ® ) includes a speaking component designed to reflect the oral communication needs for successful university study (ETS, 2005). Accordingly, it has been predicted that the TOEFL practice would have a positive impact on EAP oral skills development (Butler, Eignor, Jones, McNamara, & Suomi, 2000). This case study investigated this claim, by examining the responses of both East Asian students and their teachers to a set of TOEFL-type speaking tasks which were integrated into an existing communicative language teaching (CLT) oriented university preparation program, alongside regular academic speaking tasks (e.g., group discussions and oral presentations). The research site was a language institute at a Canadian university which had recently incorporated TOEFL speaking tasks as part of curriculum reform. Classroom observations conducted for seven weeks revealed the types of speaking activities typically used prior to the reform and identified similarities and differences between the TOEFL practice and regular speaking practices. Semi-guided interviews with three teachers and questionnaires administered to 24 Japanese, Korean, and Chinese students elicited their perspectives on the usefulness of TOEFL speaking tasks for developing academic speaking skills and for promoting participation. The findings revealed that East Asian students valued TOEFL-type individualized practice with its built-in structure for guiding and 'forcing' oral production. They also valued the emphasis on delivering spontaneous, coherent speech under a time limit, which was a novel activity in their program. However, the teachers found that this type of oral practice was at odds with their CLT beliefs and practices. Factors contributing to this mismatch between teachers' and students' perspectives on the usefulness of TOEFL practice for improving EAP oral skills are explored, and the implications of the findings for addressing East Asian learners' speaking needs are discussed.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Education
Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Authors:Song, Hyo Jin
Pagination:x, 135 leaves ; 29 cm.
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:M.A.
Program:Applied Linguistics
Date:2008
Thesis Supervisor(s):Collins, Laura
ID Code:975771
Deposited By: Concordia University Library
Deposited On:22 Jan 2013 16:14
Last Modified:18 Jan 2018 17:41
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