Details of Thesis

Title Memorization and Improvisation: a Comparison of Two Strategies in the Oral Acquisition of English as a Second Language
Author Liu, Wen-chung
Institution Australian Catholic University
Date 2006
Abstract The purpose of this research is to investigate the effects of two teaching strategies, memorization and improvisation, on ESL (English as a second language) students’ oral proficiency and how they perceived the strategies and the activities used in the classroom. Participants were 16-year-old nursing students in a Taiwan medical college. They had learned English for at least three and a half years before joining the study, but most of their previous learning was focused on reading and writing. They were divided into three groups, experiencing a memorization strategy, an improvisation strategy, and a strategy combining memorization and improvisation respectively. Data were collected from their oral pre-test and post-test, perception questionnaire, perception interview, college-wide satisfaction survey and in-class observation. Data were analysed in both quantitative and qualitative ways. The results showed that each of the strategies had significant positive effects on students’ oral acquisition, but the improvisation group performed significantly better than the memorization group, and the memorization group did better than the combination group. However, the satisfaction and perception surveys showed that participants preferred the combination strategy to the improvisation strategy, and the improvisation strategy was preferred to the memorization strategy. The finding also showed that participants’ initial oral language levels made no difference on the rate of oral improvement. The high-level and intermediate students demonstrated no difference in their preference for the two strategies, but the low-level students showed significant preference for the memorization strategy. In terms of the teaching activities, participants preferred task-based activities to discussion activities, and activities involving multiple people were preferred to monologues such as storytelling and news reports. Nevertheless, preference made no difference on participants’ oral improvement. Based upon the insight gained from this study, pedagogical implications and for teaching oral language were developed and suggestions for future research have been recommended.
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