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Research Proposal | 1

Research Proposal

Topic: Difficulties Faced by the Urdu-Medium Learners of


English at Graduation Level
(Analysis and Remedy)
Level: M.A-ELT
Researcher: Ms. Madiha Shakir
Supervisor: Prof. Sajjad Haider Malik
Department: Faculty of English Language, Literature and Applied
Linguistics (GS)
NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF MODERN LANGUAGES
Islamabad
January, 2010
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Table of Contents

INTRODUCTION ..........................................................................................................3
STATEMENT OF PROBLEM ..................................................................................................5
RESEARCH QUESTION ..........................................................................................................5
OBJECTIVES .............................................................................................................................6
DELIMITATION ........................................................................................................................6
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY.............................................................................................6

LITERATURE REVIEW ........................................................................................7

RESEARCH METHODOLOGY .....................................................................8


RESEARCH DESIGN ...............................................................................................................8
POPULATION ............................................................................................................................8
SAMPLE ......................................................................................................................................8
RESEARCH TOOLS .................................................................................................................8
DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS .................................................................................9

DATA PRESENTATION AND ANALYSIS .....................................10

CONCLUSION ...............................................................................................................11

End Notes ...................................................................................................................12


References ..................................................................................................................13
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1. Introduction

At school level, the educational system of Pakistan is divided into three


major categories on the basis of the medium of instruction:

1. The government vernacular-medium schools which use Urdu, and the


regional languages as Sindhi, Balochi, Punjabi, Pashto, etc as their
medium of instruction for teaching almost all the subjects.
2. English medium schools (private elitist; state-influenced public schools
and cadet colleges; and non-elitist private English-medium schools) which
teach all subjects in English except Islamiat and Urdu compulsory.
3. Religious seminaries (madreassas of the two major sects of Islam Sunni
and Shia) which mostly uses vernaculars for teaching.1

However, at higher education level (colleges and universities), there is only one
medium of instruction: that is English. Thus there are two streams of students entering
from the schools into our higher education institutions:

a. Students from Urdu- or vernacular-medium background


b. Students from English-medium background2.

As far as English medium students are concerned, they do not feel much difficulty
in coping with the environment as well as the advance study; whereas, the vernacular-
medium students face a lot of problems in competing them:

 These students cannot comprehend the lectures and books which are
mostly in English
 They have to face so many hurdles in explaining their points of view due
to the lack of verbal competency.
 Their academic results suffer a lot as they usually secure low grades due to
their inability to write proper English sentences.
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 Their difficulties in English language result in their failure in the particular


subject. And since English is a compulsory subject, failure in English
means failure in the entire University examination.3
 Due to poor academic results and failure, these students suffer from
financial and economical problems as they cannot get reasonable jobs.
 Along with the academic and financial problems, these learners face a lot
of psychological pressures and anxieties. It has been noted that such
learners start assuming the people who are fluent in English as more
intelligent and capable, and thus start undermining their own potential.

The causes of these problems seem to lie deep-rooted as English is not at all a
new language to these vernacular-medium learners. In almost all of the institutions, it is
taught up to the graduation level as a compulsory subject. However, it has been noted that
usually Grammar-Translation Method (GTM) is adopted to teach it. By utilizing the
mother-tongue, national and the regional languages, the grammatical rules as well as
from- and into-English translations are taught to the students hoping that the already
acquired language will support the target language, and by comparing the two languages
the students will be in a better position to understand the English structures.

But many researchers and linguists blame this GTM approach as “the flawed
pedagogy”4 along with the faulty material design responsible for these problems of the
learners. They argue that GTM usually proves beneficial in the beginning as the students
find it easy to learn by relating to some previous knowledge. But it should not be the only
medium used because in this manner, the mother tongue of the learners seems to interfere
a lot, and the learners always appear pre-occupied in comparing the two languages to
form English sentences which usually results in blunders.

One obvious reason for these difficulties seems to be the unavailability of the
encouraging environment for the use of English in vernacular-medium instruction. In a
country where the literacy rate is just 54%, it is very difficult for a learner to practice a
foreign language in his daily communication. English-medium learners have the
advantage over Vernacular-medium learners in this case. They can practice the language
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in the classroom and develop their confidence and skill; whereas the vernacular-medium
learners lack these opportunities. Moreover, social factors also cause shyness and
hesitation among the learners. English is still regarded as a symbol of Western culture in
Pakistan and the people seems to be in a fear of being alienated in their society.

Thus, there are so many socio-psychological problems and difficulties that hinder
the efficient and proficient learning of English language. These difficulties hinder the
proficient written expression and verbal communication causing so many other
economical and career problems.

As Pakistan is a multi-lingual country where hundreds of vernaculars are spoken,


it would be very difficult to analyse the effects of each and every vernacular. Therefore,
for the sake of convenience, and to resolve the ambiguity, the researcher is going to
consider only the students belonging to Urdu-medium background.

1.1. Statement of Problem

The English language learners belonging to the Urdu-medium instructions face


hurdles in the way of efficient and proficient linguistic activity (written and verbal
communication), after reaching a higher level of education as graduation.

1.2. Research Questions

What are the difficulties faced by an English language learner belonging to the
Urdu-medium instructions? What specially-designed pedagogical strategies can be
applied?
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Objectives

The researcher wants to:

 Analyse various social, psychological and pedagogical


factors responsible for the difficulties in the proficient English language
communication.
 Make the language teachers aware of the important role
they have to perform in such a situation
 Suggest some effective remedial pedagogical strategies to
cater the needs of such students.

1.3.Delimitation

The researcher has delimited her research to the learners of English as a subject
from Urdu-medium background at graduation level of the University of the Punjab.

1.4.Significance of the Study

As only a small number of institutions5 are using English as medium of


instructions, most of the learners of English language belong to Urdu and regional-
medium instructions. This research will provide an overview of the difficulties faced by
most of the students of English from such backgrounds. The results of the research may
help the teachers to be aware of these problems and adopt certain suitable strategies to
remedy them. The research can be applied to a wide range of the learners even above the
graduation level and in fields other than arts.
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2. Literature Review

Medium of instruction is the language that is used in teaching. It may or may not
be the official language of the territory. 6 Urdu is the national language of Pakistan that is
the language of instruction in all public sector institutions. Usually Grammar-Translation
method is used for the teaching of foreign language that considers the second or foreign
language learning as a mere provision of the detailed explanation of grammar of the
target language in their native languages, paradigms to memorize, and bilingual
vocabulary lists to learn; and thus to prepare the learners for the regular task of
translating long passages.7 The aim is to enable the learners to understand foreign
literature and to pass standardized exams. 8 9

However, native grammar and syntax interferes in the acquisition of


second language. The students seem to compare the two languages all the time and thus,
they tend to indigenize the language10. Social norms and learning environment also
affects the foreign language learning.11 Psychological factors also play a tremendous role
in the foreign language achievement.12 Most of the learners want to learn English as it is
“… the language of the elitist domain of power, not only in Pakistan but also
internationally”.13 But some detest it being a symbol of west, colonial suppression as well
as a symbol of elite status.14

The researcher is of the view that the learners of English language belonging to
Urdu-medium instructions are under various social, economical and psychological
impediments that hinder in the proficient learning of the language. And these difficulties
can be removed by effective application of the counselling, psychological conditioning
and pedagogical strategies by the teachers.
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3. Research methodology

The researcher is foreseeing to adopt an experimental methodology so that to find


out the practical solutions of the problems.

3.1.Research Design

The researcher will use a combination of qualitative and quantitative paradigm of


research.

3.2.Population

The population of this research will be the students of the Government Post
Graduate College for Women, Satellite Town Rawalpindi.

3.3.Sample

The sample of this research will be 30 students of English (compulsory subject)


class from the same college who will be selected on the basis of their Urdu-medium
educational background.

3.4.Research Tools

The researcher is going to use the following research tools:

A. Survey Tools

The researcher will use a Questionnaire (having 12 questions) to


get statistical data from the students.

B. Field-Study Tools
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The researcher will use Observation sheets to note down various


changes in the results of pre- and post-tests of the students before
and after her teaching experiment.

3.5. Data collection and Analysis

The data will be collected through questionnaires, interviews, and observation


sheets as well as pre- and post-tests. The presentation will be in the form of tabular charts
and graphs, and the analysis will be done in the form of the comparison of the
percentages of the two groups of the students.
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4. Data Presentation and Analysis

For the presentation of data, tabular charts will be used. For example, the
questionnaire data will be presented and analysed in the following manners:

key Strongly Agree Uncertain Disagree Strongly


Agree Disagree
Question 1 % % % % %
Question 2 % % % % %
Question 3 % % % % %
Question 4 % % % % %
Question 5 % % % % %

The comparison will be done in the form of progress charts and graphs. For
example, the result of the experimentation will be shown as follows:

80
70
60
50
group 1
40
group 2
30
20
10
0
day day day day day
1 3 5 7 9
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5. Conclusion

As Urdu is the national language of Pakistan, almost every Pakistani knows it


other than his or her mother tongue. Therefore, the researcher is feeling quite positive
about the outcomes of this research. She thinks that by pointing out and analysing the
major difficulties of the learners belonging to vernacular-medium of instruction, she will
be able to recommend certain useful pedagogical strategies and techniques to the English
language teachers and the teachers of English as a compulsory subject. This will
contribute to the betterment of English language proficiency among the students of Urdu-
medium educational background and will help them to perform better in their academic
as well as professional life.
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Endnotes

1. Tariq Rahman. Denizens of alien worlds: a study of education, inequality and


polarization in Pakistan. (Oxford University Press, 2004)
2. Sabiha Mansoor. Language Planning in Higher Education: A Case Study of
Pakistan. (Oxford University Press, 2005)
3. Abbas, S. 1998 Socio-political Dimensions in Language: English in Context in
Pakistan. Journal of Applied Language Studies 23, 42
4. Abbas, S. 1998 Socio-political Dimensions in Language: English in Context in
Pakistan. Journal of Applied Language Studies 23, 42
5. Only 5 to 10 % according to A Study to Review Policies and Classroom Practices
Pertaining to Katchi Class by Institute of Education and Research from
http://www.gepsp.moe.gov.pk/upload/publication/IER_Policy_Study_Summary_
07.pdf (retrieved on 20-01-2010)
6. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medium_of_instruction (retrieved on 24-01-2010)
7. Cheryl Boyd Zimmerman 1997. Historical Trends in Second Language
Vocabulary Acquisition.
8. A.P.R. Howatt. A History of English Language Teaching. (Oxford University
Press, 1984)
9. W.M. Rivers. Teaching Foreign Language Skills (2nd Ed.). (University of Chicago
Press, Chicago, 1981)
10. Riaz Hassan, 2004. Remaking English in Pakistan. (National University of
Modern Languages, Islamabad)
11. Dennis M. McInerney, Shawn Van Etten 2004. Research on Sociocultural
Influences on Motivation and Learning, Volume 1. Information Age Publishing:
Greenwich
12. Steven McDonough, 1986. Psychology in Foreign Language Teaching. (George
Allen & Unwin, London)
13. Tariq Rahman, Language, Ideology and Power: Language -Learning Among the
Muslims of Pakistan and North India, (Oxford University Press, Karachi, 2002)
14. Tariq Rahman. Denizens of alien worlds: a study of education, inequality and
polarization in Pakistan. (Oxford University Press, 2004)
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References

1- A.P.R. Howatt. A History of English Language Teaching. (Oxford


University Press, 1984)
2- Faiza Amin Mohammed Khalil. Evidence of mother tongue interference in
foreign language acquisition: a case study of Kuwaiti learners. (University College,
Cardiff, 1981)
3- James Coady, Thomas N. Huckin. Second Language vocabulary
acquisition: a rationale for pedagogy. (Cambridge University Press, New York,
1997)
4- M. Bhatti. 1976. National Language Policies and the Standard of English
in Pakistan. Journal of Research (Humanities) July 22nd, 1975. University of the
Punjab. Lahore, Pakistan.
5- N. S. Ahmed. 1964. Teaching of English as a Second Language. (The
Carwan Book House, Lahore, Pakistan)
6- Riaz Hassan, 2004. Remaking English in Pakistan. (National University of
Modern Languages, Islamabad)
7- Steven McDonough, 1986. Psychology in Foreign Language Teaching.
(George Allen & Unwin, London)
8- Tariq Rahman. Denizens of alien worlds: a study of education, inequality
and polarization in Pakistan. (Oxford University Press, 2004)
9- Tariq Rahman, Language, Ideology and Power: Language -Learning
Among the Muslims of Pakistan and North India, (Oxford University Press, Karachi,
2002)
10- W.M. Rivers. Teaching Foreign Language Skills (2nd Ed.). (university of
Chicago Press, Chicago, 1981)
11- Cheryl Boyd Zimmerman 1997. Historical Trends in Second Language
Vocabulary Acquisition.