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Saturday, April 17, 2010

M.A. THESIS INTRODUCTION

Introduction
1.1 Research Topic
As a result of the ever expanding globalization process, and with an understanding of the place that English currently holds as the lingua-franca used in international and intercultural communication settings, there is an immediate need to modify, or in some cases scrap previously relied upon second and foreign language teaching methodologies employed in language instruction around the world. A new, more holistic approach to language learning and teaching is needed to better foster understanding and processing of the English language and allow for more mutually beneficial inter-individual communication. Therefore, an English teacher plays an important role in teaching English at all levels. When s/he teaches English obviously s/he has to follow some methods. There are five methods in English language teaching such as Grammar Translation Method (GTM), Direct Method (DM), Audio-Lingual Method (ALM), Situational Language Teaching (SLT), and Communicative Language Teaching (CLT). Among all, Communicative Language Teaching is one of the new approaches to language teaching. The aim of this approach is to develop learner's four basic language skills (reading, listening, writing and speaking) in English. I have selected the topic "The difficulties of language processing facing Tunisian learners of English in a CLT classroom" as my thesis dissertation because at present most of the learner's problems in our country consist in reaching a developed stage in his or her four skills and precisely having a balance between his or her communicative fluency and accuracy. So I want to know the causes behind the problem of language processing and to what extend CLT environment contributes to it.
1.2 Research Question
The purpose of my research is to find an answer to the following question:
What are the problems of language processing facing Tunisian learners of English in a CLT classroom?
To know the problem of language processing, I undertook a field work allowing me to have a corpus of valuable data helping me to detect the intended problem. The theoretical questions and the whole methodology are included in the methodology chapter. In order to answer my question, I conducted a qualitative research. I observed and recorded some students of 1st and 2nd year Fundamental English in our university.
1.3 Rationale behind conducting this research
There are many reasons why I have chosen this topic as my center of interest. At present, English has achieved the prestige of being an international language. Nowadays, many people consider it as the global language. In this modern age, it is essential for all citizens of the world to learn this universal language to stay connected in the global village. As Tunisia is a bilingual country, Tunisians learn English in addition to French and other languages in order to relate well with people from other countries, to manage their business, to do diplomatic jobs, for higher education studies, and to do multiple issues which require the English language. Besides, the Ministry of Higher Education in our country introduced the English as a compulsory subject in the curriculum. For instance, now the English is taught even in primary school which was not the case in previous years. In fact, Tunisia is not isolated from the rest of the world and relies on well planned educational policies which enable her to be considered as one of the developing countries in the domain of education and teacher trainings. For this reason, in Tunisia the principals are aware of the new English era challenges and the importance of having new generation of students, educators and academics who master this global language. But it is a matter of great sorrow that most of the students in our country are unable to use the English effectively in difficult communicative situations. As a result, CLT had been introduced in Tunisia in the late 1990s. The ultimate target of this approach is to develop learners' communicative skills. After introducing CLT in the educational system of our country, the students still fail to communicate effectively in English even after having the BA degree. What are the reasons behind their failure? Are they the only ones responsible for it?
No doubt those methods and approaches of teaching are largely responsible for the problems of students' language processing problems. If the teaching methodologies and syllabi were suitable for the learners, they must have been benefited so much. It depends on the role of CLT in diminishing and eliminating these problems. An approach which is not motivating for learners and does not urge them to speak and develop their communicative skills is unlikely to inspire learners to work hard in the classroom and take the initiative outside the class. On the other hand, a tentative method which suits the learners and helps the teacher to play his role as a language learning facilitator, is more likely to create engaged learners who are therefore more likely to succeed both inside and outside the class. I have seen from my own experience how those teachers who struggled to apply a suitable method for us and it is very likely that I learned a great deal in their classes. So the difficulties of language processing depend to a great deal on a suitable learning environment favored by Communicative Language Teaching.
1.4 The summary of this research
This research has been divided into five chapters briefly described below.
First of all, chapter1 is the introduction to the thesis and the reasons behind selecting this topic. Secondly, chapter2 contains the historical background and the literature review. It discusses the opinions and views of previous researchers on the same topic. Then, chapter3 elaborates the methodology utilized to conduct my research and it is discussed in detail along with the information about the participants and the instruments used to elicit information. After that, chapter4 deals with the results of my research and the interpretations based on it. Finally, chapter5 is the concluding chapter including a summary of the results and concluding remarks on the research.

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