AbstractTowards the end of the university stage, students residing in the United Arab Emirates and specialising in subjects other than English are expected- amongst other university requirements- to have acquired adequate communicative competence as well as a repertoire of critical thinking skills. Despite the efforts made within the field of teaching English to EFL university students in the country, the output gained in terms of acquired skills and competencies is still below expectations. The main concerns of the current thesis are, therefore, a) to investigate the factors which inhibit EFL university students’ progress in the areas of acquiring adequate communicative competence as well as critical thinking skills, and b) to propose a course book and pedagogic methods to improve students’ progress in the areas of acquiring adequate communicative competence as well as critical thinking skills. Believing in the essential role literature plays in enhancing critical thinking and promoting communicative competence on the part of EFL learners, the current study introduces a course, designed and implemented by the researcher: LEARN AND GAIN. The proposed course is fiction-based language teaching, adopting the view that literature is a resource rather than an object, thus advocating the use of literature as one of the main resources in foreign/second language acquisition. Investigating whether or not the proposed course was effective in promoting EFL university students’ communicative competence as well as enhancing their critical thinking skills, a study sample taken from the study population was selected. Adopting an experimental design, the research project involved two groups: experimental and control. The experimental group students were exposed to the proposed course whilst the control group students were exposed to a general English language course. To examine treatment effectiveness, the researcher set and administered a pre-post test. Divided into two main parts, communicative critical reading competence and communicative critical writing competence, the pre-post test measured subjects’ communicative critical reading competence and subjects’ communicative critical writing competence. In addition, a pre-post questionnaire was administered and a semi-structured interview was conducted involving the experimental group students, to gain an awareness of students’ attitudes towards learning literary texts in general, and the proposed course in particular. To examine issues of interest and relevance, gender differences: male vs. female, and university major: science vs. non-science, were also examined for enrichment purposes. For the purpose of gathering sufficient data about subjects’ achievements on the pre-post, the following statistical tests were conducted: Mann-Whitney test, and paired data t-test. Based on the statistical findings, the experimental group students’ performance on the communicative critical reading competence pre-post test and the communicative critical writing competence pre-post test was significantly better than their counterparts of the control group students. Speaking of gender differences in relation to language performance on the communicative critical reading competence pre-post test and the communicative critical writing competence pre-post test, no significant differences were cited. Neither did the researcher cite any significant performance differences between science/non-science students on the communicative critical reading competence pre-post test and the communicative critical writing competence pre-post test. As far as the questionnaire’s findings are concerned, the experimental group students’ responses to the post-questionnaire’s items were more positive than those of their responses to the pre-questionnaire’s, thus indicating some positive attitudes towards literature, which students possibly gained throughout the course of implementation. Relating the discussion to the interview’s results, students conveyed their satisfaction with the proposed course, emphasising that promoting English language skills through the use of literary texts was rewarding.
In the light of findings and conclusions, a number of recommendations as well as implications have been proposed. The current study aimed to arrive at some appropriate suggestions to a number of enquiries, yet concluding with some areas of enquiry to be explored for further research.
|Date of Award||2012|
|Supervisor||Urszula I Clark (Supervisor)|
- communication competence in EFL/ESL
- critical thinking in relation to EFL/ESL instruction
- novels and short stories within EFL/ESL contexts