The Impact of TED-Vodcast on Iranian EFL Learners' Academic Oral Proficiency

The Impact of TED-Vodcast on Iranian EFL Learners' Academic Oral Proficiency

Aram Reza Sadeghi (Semnan University, Iran) and Soheila Ghorbani (Semnan University, Iran)
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 17
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-1882-2.ch005
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The main purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of TED-Vodcast on academic oral proficiency, with a focus on accuracy and fluency of Iranian intermediate EFL learners. There is no doubt that most of the university students in different fields of study face a lot of hardships while attending international conferences for presenting a paper which is due to lack of English proficiency. In this research, 34 female freshman students of English Language and Literature at Semnan University aged between 18-27 were selected and assigned into 2 groups of experimental (N=19) and control (N=15). TED-Vodcast was integrated into experimental group and conventional method of teaching listening and speaking was applied for the control group. Both groups took pretest and posttest which were in the form of interviews. The relation of 3 dependent variables of the two groups were computed by MANOVA and independent sample T-test was used as well. The findings of the study indicated that TED-Vodcast had significant effects on learners' oral proficiency as well as accuracy but not on fluency.
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“A large percentage of the world’s language learners study English in order to develop proficiency in speaking” (Richards & Renandya, 2002). Language proficiency refers to all 4 skills, that is to say, how well a person can read, write, speak, or understand a language. Proficient speakers are both fluent and accurate; furthermore, they can speak a language outside the classroom easily and of course they use various strategies of discourse. As it is clear, fluency and accuracy are not separable from oral proficiency. If you speak English accurately, you will make very few slips, mistakes or misuse vocabulary. When you are fluent in English, you can speak and communicate easily using long and coherent turns with few pauses or hesitation.

Skehan (1996, p. 46, as cited in Zohrabi & Abbasvand) defines accuracy as concerned with “a learner’s capacity to handle whatever level of interlanguage complexity she has currently attained”. Therefore, if learners attempt to produce language more accurately, they place their focal attention on form rather than content. But fluency is concerned with “the learner’s capacity to mobilize an interlanguage system to communicate meaning in real time” (Skehan, ibid). For improving fluency and accuracy of speaking, the learner needs the ability to negotiate in a social context for appropriate interacting verbal communication and paralinguistic elements (Richards & Renandya, 2002, as cited in Asaadinezhad & Gorjian, 2015). Speaking a language is especially difficult for foreign language learners because effective oral communication requires the ability to employ the language appropriately in social interactions. Diversity in interaction involves not only verbal communication, but also paralinguistic elements of speech such as pitch, stress, and intonation. In addition, nonlinguistic elements such as gestures and body language/posture, facial expression, and so on may accompany speech or convey messages directly without any accompanying speech (Shumin, 2002, p. 204).

Savignon (as cited in Abrams, 2003) claimed that “learners had to practice meaningful output in order to improve oral communicative competence and that the more they practice, the better their oral skills become” (p. 158).

For students who learn English as a foreign language, classrooms are the most suitable places to practice. There are three main reasons for getting students to speak in the classroom. Firstly, speaking activities provide rehearsal opportunities - chances to practice real-life speaking in the safety of the classroom. Secondly, speaking tasks in which students try to use any or all of the language they know provide feedback for both teacher and students. Everyone can see how well they are doing. And finally, the more students have opportunities to activate the various elements of language they have stored in their brains, the more automatic their use of these elements become (Harmer, 2007, p.123).

Speaking is used for many different purposes, and each purpose involves different skills. When we use casual conversation, for example, our purposes may be to make social contact with people or establish rapport (Richards & Renandya, 2002). A considerable number of people who learn English are university students. They learn English to use it in academic situations, which includes reading or writing articles, attending in seminars, as well as presenting a lecture. Students at academic level are not required to present a lecture and this may happen by using the international language, English. Hence, the ability of giving a speech with fluency and accuracy of oral proficiency is readily welcomed by the students.

Academic English is the genre of English used in the world of research, study, teaching and universities, so it is totally different from everyday spoken English. If you read an article in an academic journal or listen to someone giving a presentation or a talk about a subject in an academic environment, academic English is probably being used. Especially if you are studying in an English speaking university (or going to) you will need to learn this type of English. Native English speakers also have to learn academic English too because it is not like the English that is used every day by English speakers (McMahon, n.d.).

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