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ACTION RESEARCH

In schools, action research refers to a wide variety of evaluative, investigative, and analytical research
methods designed to diagnose problems or weaknesses—whether organizational, academic, or
instructional—and help educators develop practical solutions to address them quickly and efficiently.
Action research may also be applied to programs or educational techniques that are not necessarily
experiencing any problems, but educators simply want to learn more about and improve. The general goal
is to create a simple, practical, repeatable process of interactive learning, evaluation, and improvement
that leads to increasingly better results for schools, teachers, or programs.

BACKGROUND:

Speaking is the active use of language to express meaning, and for young learners, the spoken language is
the medium through which a new language is encountered, understood, practiced, and learnt. Rather
than oral skills being simply one aspect of learning language, the spoken form in the young learner´s
classroom acts as the prime source of language learning. However, speaking problems can be major
challenges to effective foreign language learning and communications.

No matter how much they know about the English language, students still face many speaking difficulties.
Many authors have indicated that oral language development has largely been neglected in the classroom,
and most of the time, oral language in the classroom is used more by teachers than by students. However,
oral language, even as used by the teacher, hardly ever functions as a means for students to gain
knowledge and explore ideas. To develop the knowledge to deal with oral communication problems, first I
need to know the real nature of those problems and the circumstances in which problems are constructed.

RESEARCH QUESTION:

The research I will focus on is based on the following situation: “Speaking challenges faced by low-level
learners of English”.

This research will be based on the subsequent hypothesis:

1. What are the main speaking difficulties encountered by grade 4th of high school in the institution I
work for?
2. What are the factors that contribute to the existence of these speaking difficulties?

JUSTIFICATION:

According tho the academic program, high school education aims to make the learner gain necessary
skills for life by developing his/her communication skills, self-learning, and ability to use critical thinking
to deal with science and modern technology. Obviously, it is necessary to develop communication skills.
English oral communication skills are part of this skill set, and thus, students should be supported to gain
these skills. My students often do not have opportunities to speak English outside the classroom, and for
many of them, the course book is the only place where they meet English.

Although speaking is considered a main language skill that students should improve, I have noticed that
they face many difficulties in speaking English. This study aims to find out what speaking difficulties are
encountered by them. It also aims to find out the main factors that contribute to the existence of these
difficulties. The results of this study can help me to understand the reasons why muy learners of fourth year
of high school find it difficult to speak in English, and consequently, my plans for change and improvement
of the students´speaking skill can produce more effective results when these factors are considered.
THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK:

The use of English as a second language in oral communication is, without a doubt, one of the most
common but highly complex activities necessary to be considered when teaching the English language
especially because we live at a time where the ability to speak English fluently has become a must, especially
for those who want to advance in certain fields of human endeavor.

The focus of teaching speaking is to improve the oral production of the students. Therefore, language
teaching activities in the classroom should aim at maximising individual language use. In the past, oral
communication instruction was neglected because of the misconception that oral communication
competence develops naturally over time and that the cognitive skills involved in writing automatically
transfer to analogous oral communication skills.

However, Ur considered speaking as the most important skill among four skills (listening, speaking,
reading, and writing) because people who know a language are referred to as speakers of the language.
This indicates that using a language is more important than just knowing about it because “there is no
point knowing a lot about language if you can´t use it” (Scrivener).

Oral language acquisition is a natural process for young students. It occurs almost without effort. The
ability to speak grows with age, but it does not mean that such growth will automatically lead to perfection.
To speak in more effective ways requires particular attention and constant practice. Speaking fluency
appears to develop with increased exposure to second language input. Input refers to the language data
which the learner is exposed to.

Although it is widely recognised that input is very essential for language acquisition, it is not sufficient if
not followed by interaction and output (the language a learner produces) because the processing of
comprehension is different from the processing of production, and the ability to understand the meaning
conveyed by sentences differs from the ability to use a linguistic system to express meaning. When input is
negotiated and learners produce output in interaction, they selectively take in portions of comprehensible
input and choose a correct linguistic form to express themselves. This process makes it possible for the
learners to internalise what they have learned and experienced.

For language learning to take place, there are four conditions that should exist, and they are the exposure,
opportunities to use the language, motivation, and instruction. Learners need chances to say what they
think or feel and to experiment in a supportive atmosphere using language they have heard or seen without
feeling threatened. A fact that is highlighted by second language research is that progress does not occur
when people make a conscious effort to learn. Progress occurs as a result of spontaneous, subconscious
mechanisms, which are activated when learners are involved in communication with the second
language. The subconscious element demands a new range of activities, where learners are focused not on
the language itself but on the communication of meaning. Harmer also argued that in a communicative
task, the students´attention should be focused on the content of what they are saying, rather than the
form. They should use a wide variety of language.

This can be done by involving learners in performing two types of communicative tasks: focused
communicative tasks and unfocused communicative tasks. Both of these tasks seek to engage learners in
using language pragmatically rather than displaying language. They seek to develop language
proficiency through communication. Through communication learners can integrate separate structures
into a creative system for expressing meaning.

Zhang argued that speaking remains the most difficult skill to master for the majority of English learners,
and they are still incompetent in communicating orally in English. According to Ur, there are many
factors that cause difficulty in speaking, and they are the followings:

1. Inhibition: students are worried about making mistakes, fearful of criticism, or simply shy.
2. Nothing to say: students have no motive to express themselves.
3. Low or uneven participation: only one participant can talk at a time because of large clases and
the tendency of some learners to dominate, while others speak very little or not at all.
4. Mother-tongue use: learners who share the same mother tongue tend to use it because it is easier
and because learners feel less exposed if they are speaking their mother tongue.

There are many factors that cause difficulties in speaking English. Some of these factors are related to the
learners themselves, the teaching strategies, the curriculum, and the environment. For example, many
learners lack the necessary vocabulary to get their meaning across, and consequently, they cannot keep
the interaction going. Inadequate strategic competence and communication competence can be another
reason as well for not being able to keep the interaction going.

Some learners also lack the motivation to speak English. They do not see a real need to learn or speak
English. Actually motivation is the crucial forcé which determines whether a learner embarks in a task at
all, how much energy he devotes to it, and how long he preserves to it. The development of communicative
skills can only take place if learners have the motivation and opportunity to express their own identity and
relate with the people around them.

Teaching strategies also contribute to this problem as they are inadequate, and they do not put emphasis
on speaking, which results in a meagre development of this skill. Besides, vocabulary ítems are taught in
isolation, and listening materials are not used by the majority of school teachers because of the large
number of teachers. Teacher-training programs were found to be not very successful in changing the
teachers methodology.

Furthermore, all the other subjects are in Spanish, and English is seen as an academic subject only, which
means exposure to the English language is insufficient. The lack of a target language environment can be
considered another problema, which of course results in a lack of involvement in real-life situations. Not
allowing learners to participate in discourse and to build up knowledge and skills for participation in
order to learn discouse skills.

Furthermore, language is best learned when the learners´attention is focused on understanding, saying
and doing somethin with language, and not when their attention is focused explicitly on linguistic
features. It is worthy to mention that researchers recognise that learners can improve their speaking ability
by developing learning strategies that enable them to become independent learners.

Littlewood argued that some teachers use L1 for class management. Nevertheless, this can be another factor
that contributes to the problem of speaking difficulties. This is because using L1 means sacrificing valuable
opportunities for well-motivated foreign use. In addition, it tends to devalue the foreign language as a
vehicle for communication. Learners see it as allocated to communicatively nonessential domains such as
drills or dialogue practice, while the mother tongue remains the appropriate médium for discussing
matters of immediate importance. Another main reason for other teachers to use L1 is vocabulary and
grammar. Although their attitudes are of disagreement with L1, this is not reflected in the practice.

There are some studies which have investigated the speaking difficulties encountered by EFL learners. For
example, one study (Dil, 2009) investigated Turkish EFL learners´communication obstacles in English
language classrooms, and it reported that anxiety and unwillingness during the English speaking process
are considered two of the biggest obstacles for EFL learners. Anxiety and unwillingness are caused by the
fear of being negatively evaluated when making mistakes particularly in front of their friends. This study
also revealed that students who perceive their English as “poor” feel more anxious and are more unwilling
to communicate in English classes than the other students perceiving their English level as “very good,
good, and OK.”

Al-Lawati (1995) also investigated the difficulties encountered by Omani students in their oral production
of English and found out that the linguistic domain (vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation, and
discourse) constitutes the most serious area of difficulty, and this is because, as explained by teachers, the
learners have not yet developed an adequate level in the basic abilities of the language. This is because –
they think of the curriculum that does not provide enough opportunity for learning and practicing new
and varied vocabulary and does not provide enough variety in tasks designed for the teaching of
grammar. This results in having very few opportunities for students to practice the speaking skill, especially
with the large number of students in class.

Another study (Ambu & Saidi, 1997) investigated some issues in teaching English speaking in a foreign
language classroom and revealed that the huge number of students in the classroom, the insufficiency of
the English teaching periods, and the syllabus that does not satisfy the learners´communicative needs
which are the main reasons for learners´speaking difficulties.

Additionally, because speaking is not tested, it is less emphasised by both teachers and students. This is
consistent with Añl-Lawati´s findings in her study where students reported giving special attention to
writing, reading, and listening tasks that are similar to exam ítems, and both teachers and students
reported that they gave least attention to speaking tasks in the textbooks because speaking is completely
excluded from exams.

Al-Abri argued that the lack of oral activities in textbooks is a strong reason for students´difficulties in
speaking, and thus he recommended including some oral activities in the form of songs, rhymes, and
simple stories and more conversational language to enable students to have more fun and enjoy learning
to improve their speaking skill.

METHODOLOGY:

This study is designed to address the following two main questions:

3. What are the main speaking difficulties encountered by grade 4th of high school in the institution I
work for?
4. What are the factors that contribute to the existence of these speaking difficulties?

Population and Sample

The present study is a case study. Only one group of high school is involved. The population consists of
25 students (4th grade).

Research Instruments

Three instruments will be used in the present study, and they are lesson observations (I asked my
coordinator to observe my classes), questionnaires, and academic program analysis. Class observations
will be conducted and field notes will be taken in order to find more about the speaking difficulties
that are encountered by my 25 students in high school in the actual classroom situation.

Two questionnaires will be answered by each student, which will be aimed to find more about
students´beliefs regarding the factors that cause difficulties to students when trying to speak in English.

Academic program analysis and textbook (American English) of fourth grade will be checked to find
out if they contribute to the problem of speaking difficulties.

The analysis is based on two main issues: the frequency of speaking activities included and the type of
those activities in terms of being communicative or non-communicative. The analysis is aimed to find
out how speaking is introduced in the textbooks and through what type of tasks.

The next steps will be followed in this action research.

1. Identify a problem to be studied


2. Collect data on the problem
3. Organize, analyze, and interpret the data
4. Develop a plan to address the problem
5. Implement the plan
6. Evaluate the results of the actions taken
7. Identify a new problem
8. Repeat the process

This study is focus on the reasons why students have difficulty in speaking and some possible solutions
offered by them. Research questions are as follows:

1. What are the factors that cause students to have difficulty in speaking?
2. What can be done to overcome these difficulties?
3. Is it right to expect students who have just started learning English to speak?

The data collected through the questionnarie was firstly analyzed by categorizing and then counting the
responses. Regarding the responses, two main factors were categorized as linguistic and non-linguistic.
The results of the first questionnaire which was done to discover the problems of the students show that the
main factors that relate to their speaking problems are as shown in the next chart.

STUDENT´S SURVEY: 25 students

How important is
Very More Not
1 “speaking” when
important or less important
learning a new language?

15 5 5

Using Makin
What are some of the Listeni Watching More
Reading dicitio Study Videos & g
S practices you do to ng to films and pronunciati
books nary vocabulary games foreign
improve your English? music series on practice
more friends

40% 20% 30% 60% 50% 70% 80% 80%

How do you feel when More


3 good bad
you speak English? or less

2 5 18

What are some


difficulties/problems Lack of Lack of pronunciati Topical Lack of
4 anxiety fear semantics panic
that you encounter when vocabulary grammar on familiarity conficence
speaking English?

42 41 33 20 15 13 9 4 3

*"The job of semantics is to study the basic, literal meanings of words as considered principally as parts of a language
system, whereas pragmatics concentrates on the ways in which these basic meanings are used in practice, including such
topics as the ways in which different expressions are assigned referents in different contexts, and the differing (ironic,
metaphorical, etc.) uses to which language is put."
Graphs

Q1: HOW IMPORTANT IS SPEAKING WHEN LEARNING A


NEW LANGUAGE?

20%

Very important
More or less
20%
60% Not important

Q2: WHAT ARE SOME OF THE PRACTICES YOU DO TO


IMPROVE YOUR ENGLISH?
More Reading books
pronunciation 9%
practice
19% Using dictionary
more
5%

Making foreign Study vocabulary


friends 7%
18%

Videos & games


14%
Watching films &
series Listening to music
16% 12%
Q3:HOW DO YOU FEEL WHEN YOU SPEAK ENGLISH?

8%

20%
Good
72%
More or less
Bad

Q4: WHAT ARE SOME DIFFICULTIES/PROBLEMS THAT YOU


ENCOUNTER WHEN SPEAKING ENGLISH?
Lack of confidence
2%
Lack of vocabulary
Panic 23%
5%

Topical familiarity
2%
Semantics
7%
Fear
9%
Pronunciation
11%
Lack of grammar Anxiety
18% 23%

Findings

Lack of vocabulary seems to be the major obstacle emerged in the study. Students feel the need to have a
wide range of vocabulary in order to express themselves. Anxiety is the second biggest obstacle after lack of
vocabulary. It is an affective factor meaning an emotional factor which influence learning. Lack of
grammar, pronunciation, fear, semantics, panic, topical familiarity and lack of confidence are the other
factors that follow.

The data collected through the questionnaire was firstly analyzed by categorizing and then counting the
responses. Regarding the responses, two main factors were categorized as linguistic and non-linguistic.
As the table demonstrates, linguitic problems outweigh the non-linguistic problems. The result of the
distribution was the opposite of what I was expecting to find at the beggining. This tells me that asking for
students´point of view helped me a great deal for finding the right aspect for this study.

According to the results, the linguistic factors are: lack of vocabulary, lack of grammar, semantics and
pronunciation, whereas non-linguistic factors are: lack of confidence, anxiety, fear of making mistakes,
panic, unfamiliarity to the topic.

When we look at the affective non-linguistic factors, we can see that anxiety plays an important role along
with fear, panic and lack of confidence and topical familiarity. Students insist that they even forget the
easiest word or structure because of anxiety. It seems to weaken their self-esteem and confidence therefore
making the way for the other factors; panic and lack of confidence.

Vocabulary is essential to English language teaching because without sufficient vocabulary, students find
it hard to understand others or to express their ideas. Lack of vocabulary followed by lack of grammar and
pronunciation are the linguistic factors that impede their speaking.

The above mentioned linguistic and non-linguistic factors that affect speaking have been elicited from the
students and categorized by the teacher. However, I also thought that it would be logical to ask the same
students for any solutions to the problems categorized in order to understand their ideas and blend them
with mine. Therefore I decided to ask them about their own suggestions. Research Question 2 attempts to
answer this question.

After I identified problems in each category, students were given another questionnaire which offered
solutions to the common difficulties and problems pointed out in the previous questionnaire. They were
expected to suggest possible solutions from their own point of view.

The second questionnaire had only one question. With the help of the questionnaire given before it was seen
that low level learners have some common difficulties and problems. The question was: “In your opinion,
what´s the best way to improve one´s speaking?”

What are your solutions to them?

 I don´t think I have enough vocabulary to express myself.


 I panic when I´m supposed to speak. I feel anxious, nervous, etc.
 I find it difficult to form a sentence.
 I´m afraid of making mistakes.
 When I don´t have enough background knowledge about the topic, I have poor performance.
 I don´t think my pronunciation is good enough.

Data from the second questionnaire was analyzed to see the solutions from student perspective in a
qualitative way.

The data collected on this issue revealed that there are three major speaking difficulties encountered by
the students at this level, and they are linguistic difficulties, mother tongue use, and inhibition.

Linguistic Difficulties

Data collected through observation showed that students struggle to find the appropriate vocabulary ítem
when trying to speak in English, which reflects their insufficient vocabulary repertoire. Data collected from
the student questionnaire supported this because one of the students reported, “We want to speak, but we
don´t know the word.”
The questionnaires also pointed out that they find it difficult to build sentences when they try to express
their ideas. One of them said, “We do not know how to say it.” Although I spend a long time teaching
rammar rules, my students still cannot form short sentences whey they try to speak in English.

Mother Tongue Use

This problem is strongly related to the previous one, which is linguistic difficulties. During the
coordinator´s class observation, she noticed that my students tend to speak in Spanish when they discuss
the different tasks. Therefore, the inadequate vocabulary repertoire and weak sentence building skills are
the reasons for using the mother tongue.

Inhibition

It was noticed during my coordinator´s observations that students´participation was very low. This is
because of the previously mentioned reasons to inhibition. Students explained that their fear of making
mistakes in front of their classmates was the reason for not speaking in the class.

Teaching Strategies

Data collected through observation by my coordinator showed that I focus more on teaching grammar
points and vocabulary ítems rather than teaching speaking. I attribute this to the shortage of time and
my willingness to finish the lesson steps that do not include speaking.

It seems that I was unaware that studying vocabulary ítems and grammar rules by students is not enough
for improving students´speaking skill. Actually, I was not aware enough that focusing on teaching the
form does not necessarily result in using it, and that´s why my students need to be engaged in
communication –in order to improve their speaking skill.

Moreover, it was noticed by my coordinator that I use some Spanish during the lesson especially when I
explain a grammar point or I give the meaning of some words and sometimes the instruction of a task. She
says that I am indirectly and unconsciously conveying a message to students that using English cannot be
helpful to clarify the meaning of instruction or unknown words, and this also might mean that I have low
expectations of my students´understanding ability of English.

Academic program

The academic program in this level emphasises the teaching of reading and writing skills, and there are
almost no tasks included particularly for teaching speaking. Speaking is integrated into reading and
writing.

From class observation, my coordinator noticed that students speak very little in class, and that was mostly
to answer my questions. Most of the time, those answers are single words or very short sentences, which,
despite being similar to the real-life way of answering questions, do not provide the students with enough
opportunities to use the English language.

Analysing the textbook for this level in terms of the frequency of speaking activities and the type of those
activities/tasks revealed that there are very few tasks included particularly to teach speaking. Those tasks
are in the form of asking and answering questions, and mainly, they require students to drill a certain
structure which obviously indicates that the form is more emphasised than the meaning. Tasks that
encourage students to use the English language communicatively are not available.

Extracurricular Activities

Because the classroom time and textbook tasks do not provide students with enough opportunities to use
English, extracurricular activities can be another alternative to overcome this problema.
Students are not provided with other opportunities where the need to use English is created. In other words,
students´exposure to English is almost limited to the classroom only. Students are not encouraged to use
English in authentic situations. For example, students are not encouraged to visit places where they can
use English communicatively.

Research question 2: What can be done to overcome these difficulties?

As my students were in the centre of problems themselves, I shared the results of the first questionnaire with
them. I prepared another questionnaire with only one question with the purpose of having a deeper
understanding of what my students think about how to solve the problems they deal with. It can be said
that the second questionnaire directly reflects the suggestions made by the students. They are tabulated in
the next tables.

I don´t think my pronunciation is good enough.

no grading watching videos/TV series/movies listening to songs

repetition of vocabulary &


more listening making foreign friends memorizing

more emphasis on going abroad more speaking practice


phonetics in English

having a class for more pronunciation


pronunciation studying vocabulary practice

reading having a speaking class at Reading loudly


school
When I don´t have enough back-ground knowledge about the topic, I have poor performance.

Researching about the topic. Examples from everyday life. interesting exercises about the
topic.

Reviewing what has been


learned. knowing more listening to other people
vocabulary. speaking about the topic.

more interesting topics

better pronunciation. Speaking lessons.


having background
information.

I´m afraid of making mistakes.

studying vocabulary no grading environment

more experience more practice pronunciation

less students in the making mistakes and better grammar


classroom getting used to it
I find it difficult to form a sentence.

vocabulary talking to foreigners reviewing what has been


learned

practice time
reading

exercises about sentence a more friendly


structure environment

more study on form


writing practices better grammar

I panic when I´m supposed to speak. I feel anxious, nervous, etc.

more practice. trust a more friendly


environment/teachers

hints and little help from


practice with foreigners no grading system others

knowing more understanding that it is


more speaking lessons vocabulary ok to make mistakes
I don´t think I have enough vocabulary to express myself.

reading books dictionary study from English to writing sentences with target
Spanish words

spend more time on vocabulary learning


reading graders vocabulary study through writing practices

more time for vocabulary memorizing and using the


more reading development word in sentences

using authentic caricature thinking about the videos and games to


and magazines for meaning of the meanings memorize
vocabulary

using dictionary more studying vocabulary memorizing


systematically and testing

it should be taught in a funny


systematic memorizing way that helps us focus on the making more friends
word

watching films and series repetition of vocabulary


with dictionary learning vocabulary with
Spanish meanings

listening to music making foreign friends

forming a glossary a separate vocabulary


playing games lesson
As seen above, students´responses to the questions were carefully categorized to see the whole picture which
could tell me explicitly where the problem is and how the problem can be handled through students´eyes.
I thought that looking at the speaking problem through their eyes could help me solve the problem more
practically.

Research question 3: Is it right to expect students who have just started learning English to speak?

In the school I work for students that are required to have speaking exams at the end of each module. This
system compels students to produce orally even if they are not ready to do so and I often observe that
students are challenged by this practice. It stems from the fact that students are not equipped with enough
vocabulary, grammar and semantics and they feel under pressure, anxious and unconfident.

Students´responses were categorized to see if they could tell me where the problem is and how it can be
handled through students. Students are required to have speaking exams at the end of each module, this
a situation that they didn´t face when they were studying junior high school, so they feel challenged by
this practice., morover, they feel under pressure, anxious and unconfident.

Nowadays, I put enough stress in that the context of the lesson is based more on real life situations and
expressions so they are exposed to more input. Even if they are supposed to start producing language right
away, they feel more confident and comfortable as they have a better chance to get and use more
knowledge.

Although students want to improve their speaking skills at initial stages of language learning, as outlined
in the findings sections they encounter or come up with a variety of challenges. Therefore, the results are
helpful and guiding for understanding what specifically caused my students´speaking difficulties.
Identifying them was the first aim of our study. The second questionnaire for student suggestions and
solutions gave me an insight and helped me look at the problems from the students´point of view. As a
teacher it seems I need to learn how to deal with the challenges and help them promote speaking. In order
to achieve this, I think that it is important to keep these points in mind:

LACK OF VOCABULARY Picking up meanings of words from context.


Playing oral and written word games to enhance their vocabulary
knowledge.
Playing with words can create an interest in knowing more about
them.
Try to group words in thems, this will help memorize new words more
quickly. Avoid creating random lists of new words.
Learning collocations.
Pre-teach vocabulary
ANXIETY, PANIC, FEAR, LACK OF If the teacher is too involved, students will be distracted.
CONFIDENCE
Establishing good rapports with students, accept them, tolerate their
mistakes, and create a supportive and relaxed classroom environment.
Promote cooperation instead of competition.
The activities should be centered on students´interests and be
appropriate for their proficiency levels.
Helping learners to accept the fact that they will make mistakes as part
of the learning process.
PRONUNCIATION Repetitive review/practice.
Grasping every opportunity I have to speak with people in English.
Recording themselves.
Practice.
Read and listen simultaneously.
Remembering that the spelling of words and their pronunciation are
often different.
Role playing.
Helping them to be good listeners (giving them a listening task,
creating questions, etc.
Watch the movies in that language extensively and listen to songs.
TOPIC FAMILIARITY Researching about the topic.
Examples from everyday life.
Reviewing what has been learned.
More interesting topics.
Having background information.
Knowing more vocabulary.
Listening to other people speaking obout the topic.

CONCLUSION:

It is difficult to solve a problem if it is looked from only one side of it. I believe that this study helped not
only me but also my students to come to a realization about their own speaking skills and take an action.
Speaking in a foreign language may seam difficult at first. Before I got feedback from the questionnaires,
I had thought that students had problems mainly with grammar and that was the reason why they had
difficulty in speaking. However, the results showed me that it was not the only thing that stopped them from
speaking. There seemed to be other problems both linguistic and non-linguistic. And the solutions offered
by the students were indeed similar to what I saw as a solution.

Through this study, I became more conscientous about designing the speaking lessons in order to avoid
any difficulties that may be caused from my side as teacher. I am now considering those linguistic and
non-linguistic factors that affect students´speaking skills in English to help them move forward in their
learning process.

This study revealed that the main speaking difficulties encountered by my students are linguistic
difficulties, mother tongue use, and inhibition. Students are unable to speak in English because they lack
the necessary vocabulary ítems and grammar structures. They also lack sentence formation skills, which
result in using the mother tongue. Students also think of making mistakes in speaking in front of their
classmates very embarassing, which results ib preferring not to speak to avoid such situations.

There are five main factors that contribute to the existence of these speaking difficulties:
teachers´perceptions and tacit beliefs of teahcing speaking, teaching strategies, curriculum,
extracurricular actiities, and assessment regulations.

This study shows that I believe in the importance of teaching speaking, yet they do not spend enough time
for that because of the shortage of time, because priority is given to the coverage of the textbook topics,
which emphasise teaching reading and writing rather than speaking.

The teaching strategies that I emphasise is teaching the form of the language, which is indicated by
focusing on teaching grammar rulees and vocabulary ítems. Students are required to produce short
accurate sentences while the communicative use of language is almost neglected. In addition, I believe
that sometimes using Spanish is very necessary to make sure that the students understand the meaning
and get the point.

Besides, I think textbooks do not provide students with frequency of opportunities to use English
communicatively, and they don´t include sufficient tasks that are particularly designed for speaking.

Moreover, the classroom is the only place where most students are exposed to English. Extracurricular
activities that aim to improve students´speaking skill are very rare and limited.
Because speaking skill is the only skill that is not included in the exams, it is given less teaching emphasis.
The focus is mainly on teaching reading, writing, grammar and vocabulary. Although the teaching of
speaking can be integrated into other skills like reading and writing.

REFLEXIONS:

I believe that students should be encouraged to speak from early on. Being pushed will help them to come
to a realization about the difficulties they face, because from students´performance and responses, I can
understand if the learning is taking place or not.

The findings of this investigation suggest that my students encounter some speaking difficulties that can
be overcome by putting more emphasis on this skill. As a teacher I need to put into practice how to integrate
speaking to other skills and how to teach it communicatively. This awareness of how language is acquired
and learned should be taken into consideration to reduce students´s use of Spanish in my clases.

I need to provide students with frequent opportunities of speaking, and communicative tasks should be
included in my classes. Those tasks should focus on getting students to convey the meaning rather than the
form. This can help students acquire the language better. Involving students in extracurricular activities
can provide them with more chances to use the language, and the classroom will not be the only place
where they are exposed to the English language.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

 Gebhard, d.G of Oprandy, R. (1999). Language Teaching Awareness. U.S.D., C.U.P. Chapter 4:
Problem posing and solving with action research. Jerry G. Gebhard.

 “The practice of English language teaching” Harmer (2007). Chapter 20: Speaking.

 “Making communicative language teaching happen”. Lee & Van Patten (1995). Chapter 8: Spoken
language and information-exchange tasks.