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Part A: Introduction
I. Rationale
The economic open- door policy pursued by the government of Vietnam has
increased a demand for studying English. Many people are expected to be competent to
communicate verbally with the outside world and to access technology. In correspondence
to this trend, in almost all of schools, colleges, universities, English is a compulsory
subject. HGMSS, where I have been working for 7 years, is not an exception.
Besides the aim of passing their exams and getting some further studies for their
future life, all students have a desire to be integrated into the culture, the civilization, and
the people of English speaking countries. They expect to have a good knowledge of
English to read books and magazines, to see films or to sing English songs, etc. As a result,
learning English now is not only an interest but also a practical need for many people.
Together with the growing demand for learning English, there has been an
innovation in English teaching and learning methods everywhere in Vietnam. For a long
time, language teaching in Vietnam was strongly influenced by the structuralist tradition.
Emphasis was placed on mastery of language structures. Students have been taught how to
form correct utterances and to understand the structures of the language without any
consideration of language use. Students have been asked to learn every single word by
heart, and translate or analyze grammatically every sentence in the text. The teacher has
often taken up almost all the time in class explaining the form of language to students who
were passive recipients. As a result, this kind teaching and learning, of course, has been the
“production” of students who were structurally competent but communicatively
incompetent.
However, as the result of psycholinguistic and sociolinguistic research, language
teaching has moved from the traditional to a more communicative approach. In this current
approach, language is considered as a form of social behavior. The objective of language
teaching is teaching learners to communicate fluently, appropriately and spontaneously in
the cultural context of the target language. Communicative competence, according to
Canale and Swain (1980), is made up of grammatical competence, sociolinguistic
competence, discourse competence, and strategic competence.
With 7 years of experience in teaching English at HGMSS, I find that students have
to learn English in two semesters in the curriculum and English is often taught in the first
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school - year. At the end of each semester, the students have to take a written test, not an
oral one. Therefore, most of the time is spent on grammar points because many of the
students have never learnt English before and the teachers have to try to keep to the
syllabus, that is, to finish the course- book entitled “Headway Elementary”. In addition,
many students are too shy to speak in class whereas most of the grammar lessons are
carried out in traditional methods. That is, the teacher presents new grammar verbally, and
then students do, turn by turn, exercises in workbooks. As a consequence, the students find
it hard to speak out as well as to communicate in the real life naturally.
The question of how to equip students with grammatical competence so that they
can use the language to communicate in any situation has become a matter of teachers of
English in general and teachers of English at HGMSS in particular.
For the above reasons, in this minor thesis, the author intend to figure out what
difficulties are experienced by teachers in teaching grammar communicatively and then
to give some suggestions to reduce the difficulties.
II. Scope, objectives, significance, method and design of the study.
II.1. The scope of the study
The study is concerned with finding the teachers’ difficulties in teaching grammar
communicatively for ethnic minority students at HGMSS. The study of others would be
beyond the scope.
II.2. Objectives of the study
The objectives of the study are as follows:
 To investigate the difficulties of teaching and learning grammar
communicatively faced by the teachers and students.
 To make some suggestions on reducing the teachers’ difficulties in the
application of CLT in teaching grammar and make their grammar lessons more successful.
II.3. Significance of the study
This study plays an important role in improving grammar teaching method to ethnic
minority students at HGMSS. Its implemented suggestions will make the application of
CLT at my school successful and effective.
II.4. Methods of the study
In order to do the research, a lot of references have been selected, read and filtered
for information. Furthermore, a survey has been done by providing a questionnaire for 5
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teachers of English and another for 215 ethnic minority students at HGMSS.
Questionnaires are delivered to the teachers to investigate difficulties in teaching grammar
communicatively that they face and solutions that should be implemented. Questionnaires
are delivered to the students to find out the students’ attitudes to learning English grammar,
their difficulties confronted and solutions suggested by them.
All the collected information and data have been analyzed and discussed. In
addition to these, the research paper will not be completed without the supervisor’s help.
II.5. Design of the study
This thesis consists of three parts:
Part A: is the Introduction, which presents the rationale, the scope, the objectives,
the significance, the methods and the design of the study.
Part B: consists of three chapters.
Chapter I: deals with a theoretical background. It starts with grammar and its status
in language teaching, then an overview of some language teaching methods- their
advantages and disadvantages in applying in the classroom. The next is about the CLT
which includes the definition, characteristics, and stages in the teaching grammar
commutatively. The final is some factors to be considered of CLT application.
Chapter II: presents the survey. Firstly, there is a description about the present
situation of English teaching and learning at HGMSS. Secondly, the methodology is
performed in the study. It provides participants, instruments and data analysis.
Chapter III: presents the findings and suggestion. Firstly, the findings of the study
are analyzed and discussed. Secondly, some suggestions for overcoming the difficulties in
teaching grammar commutatively to ethnic minority students at HGMSS are proposed.
Some communicative activities for a grammar lesson are also recommended.
Part C: is about the conclusion and suggestions for a further study.
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Part B: Development
Chapter I: Theoretical background
I.1. Grammar and its status in language teaching
I.1.1. Definition of grammar
There have been various ways of defining grammar- a very common and familiar
term in language teaching and learning.
Grammar can be seen as “the study and practice of the rules by which words change
their forms and are combined into sentences" from The Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
(quoted in Harmer: 1987: 1). There are two concentrated basic elements: the rules of grammar
and the study and practice of the rules. Similarly, Jeremy Harmer (1988:1) defines grammar as
“the way in which words change themselves and group together to make sentences. The grammar of a
language what happens to words when they become plural or negative, or what word order is used
when we make questions or join two clauses to make one sentence.” Jeremy Harmer shares the same
point of view with the authors of the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary. As for Celce - Murcia, M
(1988: 16), grammar is “a subset of those rules which govern the configurations that the morphology
and syntax of a language assume.”
I.1.2. The status of grammar in language teaching
The position of grammar teaching in ELT is still controversial. Some people refute
the place of grammar teaching for the reason that the study of grammar is neither necessary
nor sufficient for learning to use a language.
Meanwhile, the others affirm the importance of grammar for effective language
learning. “the evidence seems to show beyond doubt that though it is by communicative use
in real “speech acts” that the new language “sticks” in the learner’s mind, insight into
pattern is an equal partner with communicative use in what language teachers now see as
dual process of acquisition/ learning. Grammar, approached as a voyage of discovery into
the patterns of language rather than the learning of prescriptive rules, is no longer a
bogey word.” (Eric Hawkins, 1984: 150-1).
In fact, grammar is one of the key elements of a language. Therefore, one person
can not master a language without the knowledge of its grammar. Thanks to grammar,
language partly can function as a means of communication, especially in written language.
One can not write well if he/ she lacks the knowledge of grammar. In speaking, though
grammatical mistakes are sometimes acceptable, grammar makes one’s speech better and
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more attractive, especially in formal situations. Learners can not use words if they do not
know how to put these words together. Grammar exists to enable us to “mean” and without
grammar, it is impossible to communicate beyond a very rudimentary level because
“speech is no more than sounds, writing is no more than hieroglyphics” (Peck, 1988: 127).
For this reason, the teaching of grammar is very important in ELT.
I.2. An overview on language teaching methods in teaching grammar
There are many influential methods widely used by language teachers in the world
in general and in Vietnam in particular. The methods are now discussed in this paper as
follows: GTM; DM and AM.
I.2.1. The Grammar- Translation method (GTM)
Traditional method or GTM was rooted in the formal teaching of Latin and Greek
and become popular in the late 19th century. According to Larsen- Freeman (1986:4), the
GTM was used for the purpose of helping students read and appreciate foreign language
literature. Through studying the grammar of the target language, students would become
more familiar with the grammar of their native language and this helps them use their
language more grammatically.
I.2.1.1. Advantages of the Grammar- Translation method
The strength of GTM is that it requires few resources so it is easy to apply and
cheap to administer. Thus, the method is still used in many places where the class is large
(more than 30 students), and there is a great shortage of teaching - learning facilities and
equipment, the teachers with inadequate speaking skill are accustomed to setting teaching
procedures.
I.2.1.2. Disadvantages of the Grammar- Translation method
This method, however, has certain disadvantages. According to Richards and
Rogers (1986:3), GTM obviously focuses on the form rather than the use of the target
language. Students who are in this way did not have a chance to practice their speaking and
listening. Students learn rules of grammar and vocabulary without much feeling of
progress in the mastery of the target language can lead to the lack of motivation in learning
a language for their having little opportunity to express themselves through it. They just
learn what they have to without any creativeness. The method creates frustration for
students, for whom foreign language learning is a tedious experience of memorization of
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new words and grammatical rules, while it makes few demands on teachers. (Richards and
Rogers, 1986:4)
I.2.2. The Direct method (DM)
In the late 19th century, increased opportunities among European create a demand for oral
proficiency in foreign language. The GTM was not very effective in preparing students to use the
target language communicatively and a new method, namely DM was born. DM is characterized
by the use of the target language as a means of instruction and communication in the classroom,
and by the avoidance of the use of the first language and translation as a technique.
I.2.2.1. Advantages of the Direct method
It brings the process of learning the target language close to that of first language
acquisition. Students are exposed to the target language situations. Therefore, their ability
to think in the target language is developed. River (1981) claims that “at its best, DM
provides an exciting and interesting way of learning a language through activity. It has
proved to be successful in releasing students from the inhibitions all too often associated
with speaking another tongue, particularly at the early stage".
I.2.2.2. Disadvantages of the Direct method
Though there is a development in students’ thoughts in the target language, it has
two- sided effect. Students may develop inaccuracies if they are not properly guided. This
is the result if their trying to express themselves in the target language with insufficient
knowledge about the language. Because all statements they learn relate to the classroom.
The teacher did not generally think of the students using of the language beyond the
classroom. Any connection with real life was expected to come later and was not the
business of the school. The graduation and sequences of materials is not based on realistic
spoken speech but artificial connected sentences. The weakness of the method is also states
in River (1983:34): “In the pure form of the DM, insufficiency is made for systematic
practice and requesting- practice of structures in a coherent sequence. As a result, students
often lack a clear idea of what they are trying to do, and they make haphazard progress”.
I.2.3. The Audio-Lingual method (AM)
The AM derived from America during the World War II where there was a need for
people to learn foreign languages quickly for military purposes. It led to the development
of the AM which then has had a considerable influence on English language teaching all
over the world. This English teaching method puts listening and speaking in the first place.
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It uses sentence pattern as the base of teaching and try to avoid mother tongue in class.
Attention is paid to the need for practice rather than explanation about the language
because the ability to use the language as a means of communication is the ultimate aim.
I.2.3.1. Advantages of the Audio-Lingual method
The first and most successful point of this method is to develop students' listening
comprehension and fluency in speaking in the target language. Students are encouraged by
the sense of being able to use what they have learned in the very early days of their study.
In addition, the study is reinforced by repetition, so the students have good repetition and
this is suitable for learners of different abilities. Another point is that, this method provides
a good systematic progression of the materials.
I.2.3.2. Disadvantages of the Audio-Lingual method
However, there still remain some problems. The success or failure of this method
depends largely on the qualities of the teachers and the availability of resources. That is
why Brumfit (1983:8) comments “the objective is generally the mastery of sentence
patterns rather than creative or communicative use of language”.
I.3. CLT on teaching grammar
I.3.1. Communicative competence
Communicative competence is now recognized as the primary goal of language
teaching. Canale and Swain (1980) consider that communicative competence is made up of
four factors namely grammatical competence, sociolinguistic competence, discourse
competence, and strategic competence. Grammatical competence includes a
comprehension of linguistic code, the ability to recognize the lexical, morphological,
syntactic and phonological features of a language and to manipulate these features to form
words and sentences. Sociolinguistic competence is the best described through
appropriateness, the degree to which one person understands the social context in which
language is used: the roles of participants, the information they share, the functions of
interaction. Discourse competence indicates the ability to interpret series of sentences or
utterances to form a meaningful whole and to achieve a coherent text that is relevant to a
given context. Strategic competence includes the strategies a person uses to compensate for
imperfect knowledge of rules or limiting factors in their application such as fatigue,
distraction, inattention, etc. These strategies include paraphrasing, circumlocution,
repletion, hesitation, avoidance, guessing and shifts in register and style.
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I.3.2. Definition of CLT


The latest influence on teaching methodology in Vietnam, at least in English
classes, is CLT. CLT appears in the 1960s and 1970s and was thought as a resolution
against the AM. It is pointed out by Bridley (1986: 11) that "the 1970's and 1980's could be
regarded as the era of communicative language teaching". A considerable number of books
have been published bearing on the label "communicative" in response to social pressures
and evidence from socio-linguistic and psycholinguistic research. In spite of the popularity
of CLT, it is difficult to define it in a satisfactory way. There is a variety if definitions about
CLT, Nunan (1989: 194) overviews the methods, which are adapted below, contain aspects
that are common to many definitions of CLT.
CLT views language as a system for the expression of meaning. Activities involve
oral communication, carrying out meaning task and using language, which is meaningful to
the learners. Objectives reflect the needs of the learners; they include functional skills as
well as linguistic objectives. The learners’ role is as a negotiator and integrator. The
teacher’s role is as facilitator of the communication process. Materials promote
communicative language use; they are task- based and authentic.
According to Brinley (1986: 12), “Language is not a static system. It is created
through interaction; language learning does not consist merely of internalizing a list of
structural items. It is a process of learning how to negotiate meaning in a particular socio-
cultural context. Consideration of meaning rather than form will therefore determine
program content; language learning will be more effective if they are centered around the
needs and interests of the learners; language learning materials should, similarly, be
related to learners’ needs and interests and present learners with the opportunity for
genuine communication; effective communication is more than structures accuracy,
particularly at the beginning stages of language learning. Errors are a manifestation of
the fact that learning is taking place.”
I.3.3. Characteristics of CLT
In CLT, meaning is paramount. Wilkins (1972) classifies meaning into notional and
functional categories and views learning a second language as acquiring the linguistic
means to perform different kinds of functions. According to Larsen- Freeman (1986:132),
the most obvious characteristic of CLT is that “Almost everything that is done with
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communicative intent”. Students use the language through communicative activities (e.g.
games, role- plays and problem-solving tasks).
From Morrow’s point of view (in Johnson and Morrow, 1981), activities that are
truly communicative have three features: information gap, choice, and feedback. An
information gap occurs when one person exchanges the information he has with the one
who does not.
Another characteristic of CLT is the introduction of authentic material. In CLT, it is
considered desirable to give learners the opportunity to genuine communicative needs in
realistic second language situations so that they develop strategies for understanding
language as actually used by native speakers (Canale and Swain, 1980).
In addition, “activities in the Communicative Approach are often carried out by
students in small group” (Larsen- Freeman, 1986: 132). Students are expected to interact
with one another, either through pair and group work or in their writing (Finicchiaro and
Brumfit, 1983). CLT favors interaction among small numbers of students in order to
maximize the time each student has to learn to negotiate meaning. Teachers therefore select
learning activities according to how well they engage the students in meaningful and
authentic language use rather than in the merely mechanical practice of language patterns.
Another dimension of CLT is “its learner- centered and experience- based view of
second language teaching” (Richards & Rogers, 1986: 69). According to CLT theory,
individual learners possess unique interests, styles, needs, and goals that should be
reflected in the design of instructional methods (Savignon, 1983). Teachers are to develop
materials based on the demonstrated needs of a particular class. Students must be made to
feel secure, unthreatened and non- defensive in a CLT classroom, so teachers using CLT
should avoid adopting a teacher- centered authoritarian posture (Taylor, 1983).
Thus, Li (1998: 679) reviews CLT characteristics based on the work of other
researchers such as Larsen- Freeman (1986), Richards and Rogers (1986) and Thomson
(1986) as follows:
1. A focus on communicative functions.
2. A focus on meaningful tasks rather than on language form.
3. Efforts to make tasks and language relevant to a target group of learners through an
analysis of genuine, realistic situations.
4. The use of authentic, from life materials.
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5. The use of group activities.


6. The attempt to create a secure, non- threatening atmosphere.
I.3.4. Stages in teaching grammar communicatively
In a CLT classroom, the teacher pays more attention to enable students to work
with the target language during the lesson and communicate in it by the end of it. The
following is the typical procedure of a grammar lesson according to a CLT author- Adrian
Doff (1981).
1. The teacher uses visual aids to present the grammar structure to be taught.
2. Students deduce the meaning, the form and the use of it.
3. The teacher gets students understanding by asking yes/ no questions focusing on
form, meaning and use.
4. The teacher gets students to practice the structure through Repetition and
Substitution Drills, Word Prompts, and Picture Prompts. The teacher tries to provide
maximum practice within controlled, but realistic and contextualized frameworks and to
build students’ confidence in using the new language.
5. The teacher provides students with opportunities to use new language in a freer,
more creative way. The teacher creates activities in which students can integrate new
language with the previous learnt language and apply what they have learnt to talk about
their real life activities
What makes this kind of lesson different from the traditional is that the teacher tries to
make the language used in the lesson real and true. The teacher creates real or like- real
situations in which the language can be used. This will enable students to communicate in
English outside the classroom. During the CLT lesson, the teacher often plays the
important role of facilitator who facilitates activities to work with the target language.
I.4. Factors to be considered of CLT application
I.4.1. Teachers’ beliefs and attitudes
Freeman (1998) claims that “teachers’ beliefs are the strongest guiding influence
on teachers’ instruction”. Teachers’ beliefs are founded on the goals, values teachers hold
in relation to the content, process of teaching and their understanding of the systems in
which they work and their roles within it. Richards and Lockhart (1996) consider that
teachers may believe in the effectiveness of a particular approach or method of teaching
and consistently try to implement it in the classroom. It is also commonly known that if
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teachers do not believe that the approach can be implemented in their teaching context or if
they do not have positive attitudes towards the approach, this approach will not be carried
out to its full potential.
I.4.2. Teachers’ qualities and personalities
Teachers are considered as a significant source of intrinsic motivation. Wilkins
(1974:53) stated that teachers’ skills, knowledge, personality and proficiency in the target
language play important role in the class. A teacher’s personality matters a lot because if it
matches learners’, it helps build the learning environment with good relationship between
teachers and learners, one which may increase learning motivation.
One generalization about a good teacher is teaching method and ability. If learners
find teachers’ method boring, they will probably become de-motivated, whereas if they
have confidence in the method, they will find it motivating (Harmers, 1991: 15)
I.4.3. Learners’ motivation
Motivation is popularly considered to play a very important role on learning. In
Jeremy Harmer’s view (1991), “Motivation is some kind of internal drive that encourages
somebody to pursue a course of action”
Language learners’ motivation is basically originated from goals of various kinds
and needs. Goals include long-term ones which might be related to a learners’ wish to
become a member of the target language community or to obtain a better job and short-
term ones which might come from a learner’s urge to pass an end-of- semester exam or
complete a lesson with success. Ausubel (1968) pointed out six types of needs including
the need for exploration; for manipulation; for activity; for stimulation; for knowledge and
for ego enhancement.
I.4.4. Learners’ belief and attitudes
Learners bring to learning their own beliefs, attitudes which might influence how
they approach their learning. Learners’ beliefs are affected by the social context of learning
and can influence both their attitude towards the language itself as well as toward language
learners in general (Tumposky, 1991) Learners’ beliefs cover beliefs about the nature of
English, about the four language skills, about teaching, about language learning and about
self. Therefore, investigating learners’ beliefs is one of the important duties of teachers.
I.4.5. Learners’ learning style
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Learning style indicates the particular approach by which a student tries to learn.
According to Keefe (1979:4), learning style can be seen as cognitive, affective and
physiological features that are relatively stable indicators of how learners perceive, interact
with and respond to the learning environment. Major factors conditioning the ways
learners think and study are the educational system, the socio- cultural background and
personality variables.
I.4.6. Learners’ anxiety and confidence
Many studies have suggested that language anxiety has a negative relationship with
learning success and vice versa, self- confidence has a positive relationship. One of the
factors that may cause anxiety or bring back inconfidence is learners’ learning experience.
Experience of failure may cause them to become anxious quickly in classroom situations.
On the contrary, experience of success may facilitate their desire to learn, to participate in
class activities as well as to take risks communicating with other classmates. Harmer
(1991) claims that “success … plays a vital part in the motivational drive of a learner”.
The source of anxiety and lack of confidence may have a relationship with learners’
background.
I.4.7. Classroom conditions
Classroom conditions can affect motivation. Harmer (1991) states that physical
conditions have a great effect on learning and can alter a learners’ motivation either
positively or negatively. In the light of large classes or over-crowded classes, Woodward
(2001: 218) conveys the implication that whether a class is large or not depends on the
ways teachers feel and on the locality values. However, teachers should bear in mind
problems associated with “large” classes. They include noise, too many people and fixed
objects in a restricted space, not enough materials for everyone, not being able to respond
to different needs the difficulty of maintaining the class, etc.
I.4.8. Language environment
In EFL environment, English is rarely heard outside school, thus practicing English
outside is very rare. Without the reinforcement of an English- speaking environment,
motivation becomes a product of the teachers’ initiative on the one hand and the learners’
will to succeed or fear of failure- on the other (Ellis, 1996). EFL is often a part of the
school training program and therefore subject to not only contextual factors such as
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support from local community, government policies, etc but also to teachers’ language
proficiency, resources, materials, and the ability to evaluate learners as well.
I.4.9. Syllabuses and textbooks
In the designing of a language of a language course or syllabus, one of the factors
that should be taken into account is time. In a communicative class, learners need to have
enough time to update knowledge and to practice what they heave learnt. Thus time plays
an important role in teaching and learning a language.
Textbooks are of great importance in any language program because in most cases,
textbooks include goals and objectives. Administrators and teachers then should
collaborate to answer the question of whether the textbook being used is appropriate to
learners’ needs, to the social and institutional setting.
I.4.10. Tests and evaluation
Teaching and testing are interwoven and interdependent; therefore it is difficult to
separate them. Tests can serve positive or negative even give them a lot of anxiety. For the
reason, it is certain that teachers need make tests positive experiences for learners by
creating tests with care and effort. Tests should relate with high degree to course content
and program objectives. Moreover, the evaluation of learners should be both based on test
results and derived from classroom observation and teachers/ learner feedback. In brief,
testing is a vital component of curriculum development and evaluation and can not be
separated from teaching and learning.
I.5. Summary
In this chapter, some brief information about grammar and its position in language
teaching are reviewed. Different grammar teaching methods such as GTM, DM, AM have
also been revised to find out advantages and disadvantages of each method. Furthermore,
the writer has a brief overview on CLT, its characteristics, and stages of a CLT grammar
lesson. Finally, factors affected CLT applications are mentioned. In the next chapter, the
situation of English learning and teaching at HGMSS will be analyzed, and the survey with
a questionnaire for 5 teachers and another one for 215 students will be done. After that, the
findings of the survey will be analyzed and discussed.
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Chapter II: The survey questionnaire design and analysis


II. 1. The English teaching and learning situations at HGMSS
II.1.1. Institutional factors
HGMSS was re-founded in 1998. As its name suggests, the aim of the school is to
train future nurses, midwives and nursing staffs for the needs on health care for people in
Hagiang province, in which they are equipped with specialized knowledge. English is
considered as an important and compulsory subject in the training program because it
enables to the students to communicate in English in daily life, especially to read medical
documents in English.
In HGMSS, instructions, learning and teaching activities are mostly carried out in
the classroom. Most of the lessons are developed in such a fixed condition that the teachers
find it difficult to make a change in applying new ideas in language teaching.
- The class size: There are more than 50 students in each class. Thus, it is difficult
to carry out a communicative task in a mixed- ability and large class. The focus on creating
a communicative environment also means that there is a lot of unavoidable noise in the
classroom; it influences the learning of next- door class.
- The school has no cassette- player, but one LCD projector, one overhead
projector, one laptop for 5 teachers, but teachers hardly use them as teaching aids because
of two reasons: firstly, these teaching aids are not enough if many classes are in need;
secondly, they teach English for non- English students so they ignore listening skill since
there are not listening- tests at the end of the semester.
- Materials: Materials for reference and self- study are not available. There is also a
library in HGMSS but there are few English references. Most of books here are specialized
for medicine.
- All of the classrooms are designed for lecture lessons. It means that the seating is
arranged orderly in front of the teacher and classroom equipment is just a chalkboard.
II.1.2. Teachers’ factors
Teachers are the most important factors in the process of teaching. In order to carry
out this process properly, teachers need to have good experience of teaching and
understanding of the syllabus.
At HGMSS, there are 5 teachers of English. They are energetic and are willing to
devote their time and energy to teaching. Two of them have acquired a B.A or following an
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M.A course, the rest have been trained from the in- service training course. However, none
of the teachers have attended a training course in English speaking countries. Therefore, to
some extent, their qualifications show the limitations of the teachers in terms of
communicative competence in language teaching.
In aspect of language teaching method, the teachers at HGMSS get used to
applying traditional methods such as GTM and AM in teaching grammar. Fortunately, most
of them have a great desire to acquire knowledge of communicative competence and claim
to apply it in teaching English.
II.1.3. Learners’ factors
Students are important elements in the process of teaching and learning. It is
essential to collect as much information as possible before the syllabus is designed, lessons
are planned and method of teaching is chosen.
On average, the age of students at HGMSS is from 18 to 25. Their English level is
low and of mixed- ability. Almost all of them are ethnic minority people who come from
remote and mountainous areas of Hagiang province. Before entering HGMSS, some of
students have learned English for 7 years; some has 3 years of learning English at high
school where only written English is taught and some did not have a chance to learn
English at high school. Therefore, they can hardly communicate in English. They often feel
shy and afraid of making mistakes because of lack of social knowledge as well as their
poor English knowledge.
The traditional methods of teaching have much affect to the students’ awareness of
their needs in term of communication in real life situation.
Moreover, the students’ attitudes towards learning have much influence on the
effect of teaching. Some of students think that English is not a major subject and not useful
for their future job. So the students have born in their mind that the final goal is to pass the
exams. In addition, the majority of the students does not have appropriate learning
strategies or have the habit to learn independently or creatively. As a result, they never
prepare the lesson at home or review the lesson regularly.
However, the students at HGMSS are rather highly motivated by some practical
reasons. If they do not learn English carefully, they will fail the exams and can not
graduate from the school. As a result, they may miss the chance to get a job.
II.1.4. Material factors
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The teaching material is currently used for the non- English major learners is the
Elementary Headway (1993) by John and Liz Soars. This textbook treats the four skills of
listening, speaking, reading and writing thoroughly and combines traditional methods of
language teaching and more recent communicative ones. The 15-unit textbook is
programmed to be taught in 2 semesters and in 120 periods as presented below in Table 1.
Semester Time (45- minute lesson period/ week) Units Textbook
1 60 lesson periods per 15 weeks 1-7 Headway-
2 60 lesson periods per 15 weeks 8-15
Elementary
Table 1: Distribution of time and units in 2 semesters
After 15 lesson periods or 1 credit, students are to participate in a test that
concentrates on grammar, vocabulary, reading and writing. During a period of one
semester, students are required to do 5 tests in order to be given marks to be qualified to
participate in the end- of- semester exam that does not test students’ skills of listening and
speaking.
II.2. Research methodology
II.2.1. The subjects of the study
II.2.1.1. The teacher subjects
The five teacher subjects of this research were all trained in Universities in Vietnam
(College of Foreign Languages, Vietnam National University- Hanoi and Training Teacher
University of Thai Nguyen). They are teaching to non- English major students at the
school. They are from 25 to 36 years of age with at least 2 years of teaching experience.
Besides, it seems that in the area of teaching foreign languages, the number of
female teachers is bigger than that of male ones (4 out of 5). Two of them have acquired a
B.A or following an M.A course, the rest have been trained from the in- service training
course. Each teacher is to teach 2-3 first- year classes, each of class has more than 50
students. They are required to follow the textbook Headway Elementary by Liz and John
Soars in 120 periods in the training program.
II.2.1.2. The student subjects
215 students were selected at random from 4 classes at HGMSS to participate in the
research. 108 of them are learning to become future nurses, 53 of them from the class of
nursing staffs and 54 of them from the class of midwives. All of the four classes were in
the first year. Their age varied from 18 to 25. Among them, the ration of school- boys to
girls is 89/126 (41.4% compared to 58.6%).
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II.2.2. Objectives
A questionnaire was designed for 215 non English major students of HGMSS. The
survey is on the students’ experience of learning English before entering the school, their
motivation in learning English in general and grammar in particular, their preference in the
teacher’s way of teaching and their own way of learning grammar. Furthermore, the
questionnaire found out the problems the students faced during the process of learning
grammar and their recommendations for better grammar learning and teaching.
Another questionnaire was prepared for 5 teachers of English to collect information
about their age, teaching English experience and their understandings of English mastery.
The questionnaire exploited the teachers’ difficulties in applying CLT in teaching grammar
for ethnic minority students at HGMSS and their opinions about how to improve teaching
English in general and teaching English grammar in particular.
II.2.3. The survey instruments
In order to get information for the research, survey questionnaires for both teachers
and students were carried out.
II.2.3.1. Questionnaire for the students
The questionnaire consists of two types of questions including 10 closed and open
ended ones (see Appendix A). To ensure the students’ accurate misunderstandings before
answering the questions, all of them were written in Vietnamese. Their answers were also
written in Vietnamese, which enabled them to express their ideas fully and with ease. It
took 4 weeks to deliver the questionnaire and collect 215 copies of the questionnaire.
The questions focus on the following categories:
- The students’ background of foreign languages before entering HGMSS (Question 1)
- The students’ attitudes and motivations towards learning English in general and learning
grammar in particular (Question 2-5)
- The students’ evaluation of their English grammar lessons (Question 6)
- The students’ preference in the way of teaching grammar structures (Question 7)
- The students’ way of learning grammar structures (Question 8)
- The students’ difficulties in learning grammar (Question 9)
- The students’ recommendations for improving English learning in general and grammar
learning in particular (Question 10)
II.2.3.2. Questionnaire for the teachers
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The second questionnaire was designed for 5 teachers of English at HGMSS (see
Appendix B). It contains 11 closed and open ended questions in English. The questionnaire
was delivered to the teachers and collected within 4 weeks.
The questionnaire emphasizes on:
- The teachers’ age and their teaching experience (Question 1)
- The teachers’ understandings of mastering grammar (Question 4)
- The teachers’ aim in teaching grammar (Question 5)
- The teachers’ ways of teaching grammar (Question 6)
- The teachers’ opinions about grammar mistake correction (Question 7)
- The teachers’ opinions on CLT (Question 2,3,8)
- The teachers’ problems when applying CLT in teaching grammar to non- English major
students at the school (Question 9)
- The teachers’ recommendations for the difficult situations they met (Question 10)
- The teachers’ suggestions for grammar lessons (Question 11)
II.2.4. Data analysis
II.2.4.1. Questionnaire for the students
a. The students’ background of foreign languages before entering HGMSS (Question 1)
Question 1 relates to the Students’ background of foreign languages before entering
HGMSS. The results are presented as follows:
Categories Number (N0) Percentage (%)
Students are Kinh ethnic group ones. 47 21.9%
Students are ethnic minorities (Tay, Muong, Giay, H’mong, 168 78.1%
Cao Lan, Dao, Hoa, Nung, Thai)
Students coming from towns. 34 15.8%
Students coming from townlets 27 12.6%
nd rd
Students coming from the 2 - 3 area communes. 123 57.2%
Students coming from the 1st area communes. 31 14.4%
Students having learned English for 7 years 75 34.9%
Students having learned English for 3 years 93 43.2%
Students having never learned before the school. 47 21.9%
Table 2: Students’ background of foreign languages before entering HGMSS (N 0: 215)
As can be seen in the above table, most of the students are ethnic minorities. The
ration of ethnic minority students to Kinh ethnic group students was 168/47 (78.1%
compared to 21.9%). The students’ background is quite different. 57.2% come from the
2nd - 3rd area communes – especially difficult communes of Hagiang, 14.4% from the 1 st
area commune- difficult ones of Hagiang whereas the number of students from towns and
19

townlets are 28.4%. Moreover, their mixed English level is certainly a problem for the
teachers. The students having learned English for 7 years account for 34.9%, 43.2% for 3
years and 21.9% for the students who have never learned English before entering the
school.
b. The students’ attitudes and motivations towards learning English in general and
learning grammar in particular (Question 2- 5)
Question 2, 3, 4, 5 deal with the students’ attitudes and motivations towards learning
English in general and learning grammar in particular.
Presented diagrammatically, students’ responses to Question 2 can be illustrated as
follows:

Figure 1: Students’ attitudes towards learning English at the school


The findings shown in the table indicated the students’ attitudes towards learning
English at the school. The result from Figure 1 showed that 61% of them showed their
positive attitudes in learning English. 33% thought English is a must. Only 6% of those
responded negatively did not find English interesting at all.
Question 3 focuses on students’ reasons for learning English.

Reasons for learning English Number (N0) Percentage (%)


Interest in English 67 31.2%
Communicate in English 45 20.9%
Need for future career 125 58%
A compulsory subject 63 29.3%
Others 0 0%
Table 3: Students’ reasons for learning English
According to the statistics of Table 3, the ethnic minority students at HGMSS were
aware of the importance and benefits of learning English. 58% of the students said that
they learned English for their future jobs, 31.2% learned English for their interest, 20.9%
learning English for communicating. Especially, 29.3% said that it was a compulsory
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subject. This revealed that a great number of students in this school were not really
motivated in learning English.
Question 4 discovers students’ motivations to learning English in general and
grammar in particular.
Students’ motivations to learning English in general and grammar in particular (N0) (%)
Learning English enables them to communicate in their medical field. 54 25%
Learning English enables them to read books, newspapers … and listen to music in 67 31.2%
English.
Learning English at least helps them to get good marks in the exams. 157 73%
Learning English enables them to communicate with foreigners. 36 16.7%
Learning English enable them to have more opportunities to get jobs after leaving 125 58%
school.
Learning English enables them to broaden their knowledge about the world around 134 62.3%
because English has become an international language.
Learning English creates chances to go abroad for further study. 3 1.4%
Learning English does not benefit them. It is just a compulsory subject. 63 29.3%
Table 4: Students’ motivations to learning English in general and grammar in particular
As can be seen in the above, the students are all motivated to learn English in one
way or another and their motivations are more extrinsic than intrinsic. The highest
motivation is getting good marks in the exam, accounting for 73%. Although English is a
non- major subject, but a must in the curriculum at school, good marks may enable the
students to gain the good over- all mark and scholarship at the end of the term. Further
more, the way their knowledge is tested in written form also have much influence on the
students’ aim of learning. 62.3% want to broaden their knowledge of the world around
through English. Although the students are strongly motivated in getting jobs after
graduation (58%), they seem not to be highly motivated to use English to communicate in
their medical field (25%) and with foreigners (16.7%). They regard English as a condition
for their future job, but not as a means of communication with foreigners. 31.2% of the
students wish that learning English helps them to read books, newspapers … and listen to
music in English. In addition, 29.3% of the students find English unprofitable and a
compulsory subject at school only. These students, of course, have negative motivation
towards learning English. Only 1.4% of them are trying to learn English to have
opportunities to go abroad for further study. It is the students’ background in both physical
and mental that influences to this motivation.
Question 5 aims at exploring the students’ attitudes to mastering grammar.
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With regard to the importance of grammar, it is interesting to find out that all
participants agreed that in order to master English, it is necessary to master its grammar.
The reasons for the necessity of mastering English grammar were varied but the following
are common among the participants:
- Mastery of English helps students to do grammar exercises. “Only by knowing
grammar can a student do the grammar exercises given by the teacher.” (a male student of
class Y9D).
- Good understanding of grammar enables students a lot to read books, magazines
and listen to music in English.
- Mastery of English grammar is a key to successful communication. “Mastery of
English structures enables one to become understood when speaking and writing” (a
female student of class Y8D)
From the students’ responses, it can be seen that they all recognized the importance
of grammatical knowledge not only to their learning English in the classroom but also to
their use of the language for communication outside the classroom. A focus on grammar is
obviously a necessary or a desirable pat of classroom language learning (Hedge, 2000)
c. The students’ evaluation of their English grammar lessons
Question 6 helps to find out the students’ evaluation of their English grammar
lessons. 146/215 (68%) students find that English lessons are normal, sometimes
understandable, sometimes not understandable. It shows that the teaching is not very
effective. However, 37/215 (17%) students find that English lessons are interesting, lively
and easily understandable. This means that some of the teachers are successful at the
lessons. They use suitable ways of teaching to satisfy their students’ needs. 15% (32/215)
of the students find that English lessons are boring, not understandable for some reasons.
d. The students’ preference in the way of teaching grammar structures
Question 7 is about the students’ way of learning grammar structures. The results are
illustrated as follow.
Students’ preference in the way of teaching grammar structures N0) (%)
Teaching in Vietnamese. 34 15.8%
Teaching in English 3 1.4%
Teaching in English first and then in Vietnamese 105 48.8%
Presenting the structure, analyzing the structure and then giving examples to illustrate 57 26.5%
Presenting the situation, analyzing the structure, giving examples and then let students 102 47.4%
practice using substitution drills
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Giving examples with the new structure and then let students figure out the form 50 23.3%
Combinations of all the ways above 69 32.1%
Table 5: Students’ preference in the way of teaching grammar structures
Table 5 above illustrates the students’ preference in the way of teaching grammar
structures. Obviously, the students like being taught in English first then in Vietnamese
most, accounting for 48.8%. Presenting the situation, analyzing the structure, giving
examples and then let students practice using substitution drills is the students’ second
preference (47.4%). Only 1.4% wishes structures are taught in English. It is the students’
limitation on background knowledge in English that have influence on their preference in
the way of teaching grammar structures. Furthermore, they are also affected by the
traditional way of teaching in which language is considered as a system of structures, not
as a means of communication.
e. The students’ way of learning grammar structures
Question 8 discovers the students’ way of learning grammar structures.
Students’ ways of learning grammar Level of effectiveness
Most effective Least effective Not effective at all
structures
(N0) (%) (N0) (%) (N0) (%)
A. Learning grammar through substitution drills 78 36.2 90 41.9 47 21.9
B. Learning grammar through dialogues or text 95 44.2 114 53 6 2.8
C. Learning grammar by listening to the 185 86 30 14 0 0
teacher’s explanation of rule and use of a new
structure then doing exercises given in the
textbooks
D. Learning grammar by copying the examples 135 62.8 68 31.6 12 5.6
given by the teacher then producing sentences
using the new presented structure
E. Learning grammar by understanding the 6 2.8 61 28.4 148 68.8
function of the new structure, then practicing it
to talk to classmates about certain topic, without
understanding its grammatical rules
F. Learning by heart grammatical rules given by 125 58.1 82 38.1 8 3.8
the teacher then doing the exercises in the
textbooks
G. Learning grammar by analyzing the new 131 61 65 30.2 19 8.8
structures and memorizing them
H. Learning grammar by participating in 127 59.1 66 30.7 22 10.2
communicative activities and using the learnt
structures when having chances
I. Learning grammar by playing games, doing 88 40.9 84 39.1 43 20
quizzes, working in pairs, singing songs ….
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Table 6: Students’ ways of learning grammar structures


The data in the Table 6 show that more than half of the participants view learning
grammar through listening to the teacher’s explanation of rule and use of a new structure
then doing exercises given in the textbooks; copying the examples given by the teacher
then producing sentences using the new presented structure; memorizing grammatical rules
given by the teacher then doing the exercises in the textbooks; analyzing the new structures
and memorizing them; and participating in communicative activities and using the learnt
structures when having chances as the most respondents accounting for 86%, 62.8%,
58.1%, 61% and 59% respectively. Among them, the students found learning grammar by
listening to the teacher’s explanation of rule and use of a new structure then doing
exercises given in the textbooks most favored (86%). Contrary to this, learning grammar
through substitution drills; through dialogues or text; and through playing games, doing
quizzes, working in pairs, singing songs …. were regarded to be the least effective by
respectively 53%, 41.9% and 39.1% of the participants. Especially, understanding the
function of the new structure, then practicing it to talk to classmates about certain topic,
without understanding its grammatical rules was considered as not effective way at all
accounting for 68.8%. It is worth noting that while 86% of the students viewed listening to
the teacher’s explanation of rule and use of a new structure then doing exercises given in
the textbooks positively as the most effective way to learn grammar, the number of
participants looking this way as the least effective were only 14%. Further more, nobody
considered this way to be not effective at all. According to the statistics of Table 6, most of
the students seem to feel more secure when the teacher explains rule and tells how to use a
new structure before they do exercises given in the textbooks. Obviously, the students get
used to the traditional model of grammar teaching namely the PPP (Presentation- Practice-
Production).
f. The students’ difficulties in learning grammar
Question 9 is about the students’ difficulties in learning grammar.
Students’ difficulties in learning grammar Number (N0) Percentage (%)
Over crowded class 136 63.5
The way of expressing ideas in English is different from in Vietnamese. 178 82.8
English words change their forms as not the same as Vietnamese 198 92.1
Lack of time for learning grammar in class. 47 21.9
English structures are more complex than Vietnamese ones 101 47
Having few chances to apply the learnt structures to communicate 195 90.7
English teaching method is not effective at all 0 0
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Being afraid of making mistakes when using English 163 75.8


English grammar exercises are not available 20 9.3
Teaching aids are not available 66 30.7
Poor learning facilities 24 11.2
Table 7: Students’ difficulties in learning grammar
The data in the Table 7 show that the most serious difficulty to the students is the
differences between English word changing forms and Vietnamese ones (92.1% of the
students have this problem). As a result, 75.8% feel afraid of making mistakes when they
use English. 90.7% of the students asked complained that they had few chances to apply
the learnt structures to communicate. In fact, because of the lack of language environment,
the students hardly have opportunities to use the target language to communicate outside
the classroom. In addition, 82.8% find the way of expressing ideas in English is different
from in Vietnamese. Big class size, English structures are more complex than Vietnamese
ones and teaching aids are not available also cause difficulties to the students accounting
for 63.5%, 47% and 30.7% respectively. Grammar is quite difficult to most of the students
so 21.9% asked complained about not having enough time to learn grammar in class. Only
11.2% demand more learning facilities. All of the students feel pleased with the English
teaching method.
g. The students’ recommendations for improving English learning in general and grammar
learning in particular
Question 10 is to ask the students for their suggestions for improving English learning in
general and grammar learning in particular. The results are stated as below.
Students’ recommendations N0) (%)
Teaching facilities should be sufficient 50 23.3
Teaching materials should be reasonable and suitable to students’ level 75 34.9
Curriculum arrangement should be more reasonable 7 3.3
Teachers should supply more communicative opportunities to students in the class and encourage 203 94.4
them to take part in
Teachers should use pictures, visual teaching aids to make the lesson more interesting and lively 155 72.1
Students should join in communicative activities actively and positively 168 78.1
Teachers should give various kinds of grammar excises to students 209 97.2
Table 8: Students’ recommendations for improving English learning in general and grammar learning in
particular
The statistics show that both teachers and students play important roles in
improving and encouraging the students to learn English in general and grammar in
particular. 97.2% of the students recommend that teachers should give various kinds of
grammar excises to them. 94.4% expect their teachers to supply more communicative
25

opportunities to students in the class and encourage them to take part in. Also, the students
believe that using pictures, visual teaching aids will make the lesson more interesting and
lively accounting for 72.1%. In addition, 78.1% think that they should join in
communicative activities actively and positively whenever they have a chance. 34.9% said
teaching materials should be reasonable and suitable to students’ level, 23.3% for
improving teaching facilities. Only 3.3% suggest that curriculum arrangement should be
more reasonable.
II.2.4.2. Questionnaire for the teachers
a. The teachers’ age and their teaching experience
Question 1 is about the teachers’ age and their teaching experience.
Teachers’ age and their teaching experience Number (N0) Percentage (%)
25-30 years old 3 60
31-36 years old 2 40
2-8 years of teaching 3 60
9- 12 years of teaching 2 40
Table 9: Teachers’ age and their teaching experience
In general, the ages of the teachers at HGMSS are quite young. 60% of them are
from 25 to 30 years old and 40% are between 31 and 36. Because of the youth, the
teaching staffs are energetic and willing to devote their time and energy to teaching. More
than half of the teachers have from 2 to 8 years of teaching and the rest have from 9 to 12
years of teaching accounting for 60 % and 40% respectively.
b. The teachers’ understandings of mastering grammar
Question 4 focuses on the teachers’ understandings of mastering grammar. 5/5
(100%) of the teaching staffs agree that mastering grammar enables students to analyze
grammatical elements of utterances, sentences … 80% (4/5) of the teachers view that
mastery of grammar helps students to improve students’ four language skills but only 2/5
(20%) of them believe that mastering grammar is a key to successful communication and
enables students to translate books, margarines and other documents from English into
Vietnamese perfectly. Obviously, the results show that mastery of grammar is very
important and essential but not enough for the students to use English in communication as
well as do translation successfully.
c. The teachers’ aim in teaching grammar
Question 5 attempts to find out the aim of the teaching grammar identified by the teachers
of the school. The results are presented in the Table 10.
26

Aim of teaching grammar (N0) (%)


Enable students to understand and analyze grammatical structures 5 100%
Enable students to make grammatically correct questions as well as answers 1 20%
Enable students to use structures correctly in appropriate context 4 80%
Enable students to use structures automatically without stopping to think 1 20%
Enable students to read and write simple texts in English 3 60%
Others: enable students to do well in the exams 4 80%
Table 10: The teachers’ aim in teaching grammar
All of the teachers (100%) share the same idea that the aim of teaching grammar at
the school is to enable students to understand and analyze grammatical structures. 80% of
them expect the students to use structures correctly in appropriate context. Obviously, these
teachers are aware of the aim in teaching grammar communicatively. Also, the teachers
thought about students’ examinations in which they must do a lot of grammar exercises
thus “enable students to do well in the exams” was added by 80% of the participants. This
also matched the students’ goal of learning English in general and English in particular.
60% asked want students to read and write simple texts in English. Only 20% expect their
students to make grammatically correct questions as well as answers and to use structures
automatically without stopping to think.
d. The teachers’ ways of teaching grammar
Question 6 focuses on the teachers’ ways of teaching grammar.
Teachers’ ways of teaching grammar (N0) (%)
always teach in Vietnamese 0 0
always teach in English 0 0
teach in English first and then in Vietnamese 5 100
present the structure, analyze the structure and then give examples to illustrate 4 80
give the situation, present the new structure, give examples and then let students do the practice 3 60
give examples, then let your students practice using substitution drills 4 80
Use visual aids to present the structure, let your students to figure out the form and then give 2 40
examples to illustrate
sometimes teach in English and sometimes teach in Vietnamese 0 0
Table 11: The teachers’ ways of teaching grammar
As can be seen in the Table 11, 100% of the participants teach grammar in English
first and then in Vietnamese. This can satisfy their students because the students’ level in a
class is mixed and quite low. 40% of the participants apply CLT in teaching grammar that
use visual aids to present the structure, let your students to figure out the form and then
give examples to illustrate. Most of the teachers get used to applying the traditional
methods in teaching grammar. For example, 80% of the teachers use AM by giving
examples, then letting their students practice using substitution drills or 80% of them apply
GTM by presenting the structure, analyzing the structure and then giving examples to
27

illustrate. These teachers may not be trained in CLT or the way they teach grammar
matches their aims of teaching “enable students to do well in the exams”. No teachers
choose DM in teaching grammar. This method seems unfavorable to them. It is possible
that the students’ English proficiency is not good enough to understand lessons in English
completely or the teachers are not competent enough in speaking English.
e. The teachers’ opinions about grammar mistake correction
Question 7 discovers the teachers’ opinions about grammar mistake correction. All
of the participants have the same idea that it is necessary to correct students’ mistakes.
However, they give different opinions about how and when to correct the mistakes. 4/5
(80%) of the teachers always stop the students and correct mistakes at once because they
want to prevent their students from forming bad habits. 40% of them expect to correct
students’ mistakes during focused practice so that students can control the correct form.
These teachers are affected by the traditional methods. In fact, interruption can make
students de-motivate. More than a half of the participants (60%) agree with not interrupting
students to correct their mistakes during communication practice, but correct later.
Interruption discourages students from speaking or preventing them from speaking fluently
because they are afraid of making mistakes or being threatened their face with other
students in the class whenever they speak out. In general, students are regarded as passive
recipients in class. It is the reason for that only 1/5 (20%) of the teachers give their students
a chance to self- correct.
f. The teachers’ opinions on CLT
Question 2, 3, 8 focus on the teachers’ opinions on CLT.
According to Question 2, 3, 2/5 teachers have been trained in CLT in University
course, and the rest have never trained in CLT. Only 1 out of 2 have had chance to be
retrained in CLT by attending a workshop organized by World Mission Organization held
in July, 2006 in Hanoi or in M.A course.
Question 8 discovers how the teachers are aware of the characteristics of CLT. The
results are illustrated as follow:
Teachers’ opinions on CLT (N0) (%)
CLT emphasizes language functions more than form. 2 40
CLT creates a lot of opportunities for students to communicate. 5 100
CLT always emphasizes on both fluency and accuracy. 2 40
CLT creates a secure, non- threatening atmosphere in the classroom. 2 40
CLT uses authentic materials. 3 60
28

In CLT, language items are necessarily contextualized. 4 80


Translation may be used where students need or benefit from it. 4 80
The final goal of CLT is students’ communicative competence. 5 100
Students can work on four skills from the beginning. 3 60
CLT reduces teachers’ work. 2 40
Table 12: Teachers’ opinions on CLT
According to the data in Table 12, teachers’ knowledge of CLT is not sufficient. All
the teachers share the same ideas that through CLT, a lot of opportunities are created for
students to communicate and students’ communicative competence is the final goal of CLT.
80% agree that in CLT, language items are necessarily contextualized and translation may
be used where students need or benefit from it. 60% think that CLT uses authentic
materials so that students can work on four skills from the beginning. Only 40% believe
that emphasizing language functions more than form, emphasizing on both fluency and
accuracy, creating a secure, non- threatening atmosphere in the classroom and reducing
teachers’ work are the characteristics of CLT.
g. The teachers’ problems when applying CLT in teaching grammar to non- English major
students at the school
Question 9 attempts to find out the teachers’ problems when adopting CLT in
teaching grammar to non- English major students at the school. The results are stated as
below.
Teachers’ problems (N0) (%)
Misconceptions about CLT 4 80
Lack of training or retraining in CLT 5 100
Few opportunities to learn how to use CLT 3 60
Deficiency in strategic and sociolinguistic competence in English 4 80
Lack of authentic teaching materials 1 20
Students’ low English proficiency 4 80
Students’ lack of good attitudes to learning Grammar 5 100
Students have passive styles to evaluate communicative competence 3 60
Students’ uneven participation in class activities 3 60
Too little time and expertise to develop CLT materials 1 20
Teaching facilities are poor 2 40
Class sizes are too large to conduct CLT 5 100
Multi-level classes 5 100
The school’s grammar- based exams do not justify using CLT 5 100
Students use Vietnamese in work- group or pair- work 5 100
Table 13: The teachers’ problems when adopting CLT in teaching grammar to non- English major
students at the school
As can be seen in Table 13 above, all of the teachers presented that they confronted
certain constraints in their teaching. The results are stated as follows.
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5/5 asked reported that teachers’ lack of training and retraining in CLT, students’
lack of good attitudes to learning grammar, large class sizes to conduct CLT, multi-level
classes, the school’s grammar- based exams and students’ preference in speaking
Vietnamese in work- group or pair- work are the most difficult in their teaching. 4/5 of
teachers agreed that misconceptions about CLT, deficiency in strategic and sociolinguistic
competence in English and students’ low English proficiency are also other problems.
More than a half of the teachers believe that few opportunities to learn how to use CLT,
students’ passive styles to evaluate communicative competence and students’ uneven
participation in class activities influence on applying CLT. As can be seen in Table 13, 40%
of the teachers think teaching facilities are poor and only 20% find teaching materials are
not authentic enough. A similar proportion of the teachers expect more time and expertise
to develop CLT materials.
h. The teachers’ recommendations for the difficult situations they met
Question 10 is about recommendations for the difficult situations confronted by the
teachers. The results are illustrated as follows.
Teachers’ recommendations (N0) (%)
have further training on teaching methods 3 60
be trained and retrained on sociolinguistic competence 4 80
motivate students more to learn English 5 100
Attend workshops or seminars on CLT so that teachers can share their teaching experience 5 100
Follow the guide for the teacher 3 60
have self- improvement in their English level and teaching methods 5 100
be provided with sufficient teaching facilities 2 40
encourage collaborative work from students 5 100
Give open – ended questions that allow weaker students to give their answers too 5 100
give encourage and positive correction and feedback on their students’ mistakes 5 100
use more authentic materials 4 80
use the language which is suitable with the students’ level in the classroom 4 80
Divide the class into pairs or groups and point out the monitor to control the group 4 80
Table 14: Teachers’ recommendations for the difficult situations they met
The data in Table 14 show that all the teachers (5/5) give the same idea that they
expect the students to be more motivated to learn English. Obviously, besides the teachers’
help, the students will be successful at their study when they pay much attention to it. Also,
the highest percentage of the teachers believes that they should have self- improvement in
their English level and teaching methods. 100% agree that attending workshops or
seminars on CLT is very necessary because through workshops or seminars, they can share
their teaching experience and improve their knowledge on strategic and sociolinguistic
competence in English. In addition, 5/5 favored giving open – ended questions that allow
30

weaker students to give their answers too and encouraging collaborative work from
students. Also, giving encouragements and positive correction and feedback on their
students’ mistakes is considered as a solution to motivating and encouraging students to
participate in communicative activities. 100% chose this way to overcome the problem.
Most of the teachers (80%) expect to be trained and retrained on sociolinguistic
competence because they see the importance of them. To success at teaching, the teachers
meet a lot of demands, for example, 80% believe that they should use more authentic
materials by adapting the course book and using real teaching situations and use the
language which is suitable with the students’ level in the classroom and divide the class
into pairs or groups and point out the monitor to control the group. These recommendations
are useful for the teachers to control big and multi- level classes. 60% asked need further
training on teaching methods because an effective way of teaching is as important as good
knowledge of language. 60% think that they should follow the guide for the teachers. Only
40% of them expect that they should have been provided with sufficient teaching facilities.
i. The teachers’ suggestions for grammar lessons
Question 11 attempts to find out how to make grammar lessons more interesting
and effective. 5/5 (100%) of the participants agree that the application of the following
activities: using boards, realia, using work cards and worksheets, picture description and
using stories can make grammar lessons more interesting and effective.
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Chapter III: Findings and suggestions


III.1. Findings
Data analysis of questionnaire for both teachers and students at the school show
difficulties faced by the students in learning grammar and their expectations and
difficulties faced by the teachers in teaching grammar communicatively and their own
solutions. The results are presented as follow.
III.1.1. Difficulties faced by the students in learning grammar and their expectations
Generally, most of ethnic minority students at HGMSS have not paid much
attention to learning English in general and grammar in particular. These are the reasons
for this. Firstly, they do not have positive attitude and motivation towards English. They
consider English as a non- major subject in the curriculum. Furthermore, they confront
with problems in learning grammar such as lack of chance to apply the learnt structures to
communicate, the differences in the way of expressing ideas between English and
Vietnamese, being afraid of making mistakes when using English, over- crowded class etc.
In order to overcome the difficulties as well as to improve the grammar learning
quality, the students want to be given various kinds of grammar exercises. Also, they
expect their teachers to supply them more communicative opportunities in class and
encourage them to take part in class activities. In addition, the students wish to be provided
with pictures, visual teaching aids to make the lesson more interesting and lively. Suitable
teaching materials, sufficient teaching facilities, reasonable curriculum arrangement are
their expectations. Especially, the students agree that they themselves should join in
communicative activities actively and positively.
III.1.2. Difficulties faced by the teachers in teaching grammar communicatively and
their own solutions
All the teachers said that they have faced certain constraints in their teaching. They
also have given some suggestions to solve the problems. These are main difficulties
confronted by the teachers at HGMSS.
* Lack of training or retraining in CLT
Lack of training or retraining in CLT is one of the main difficulties for the teachers
at the school in applying CLT. As teachers’ report in Question 2,3, less than a half of them
have been trained in CLT in University course but they all agree that they have not
practiced frequently. Some teachers reported that they learnt the term CLT but few
32

opportunities to learn how to use CLT and how it works. Also, there are few in – service
chances for retraining in CLT.
* Students’ lack of good attitudes to learning Grammar
All the teachers believed that the students’ lack of right attitudes towards learning
grammar has influence on teaching. It can be shown clearly in the results of questionnaire
for students: 29.3% of the students find English unprofitable and a compulsory subject
only in the training program. Thus they have born in their mind that passing the exams is
their final goal. Therefore, many of the students seem not to spend enough time learning
English. In terms of the teachers’ suggestions, most of them want their students to be more
motivated to learn English.
* Large class size
Large class size is also a big problem that all the teachers face up with. Normally, a
class contains more than 50 students. With big classes, the teachers find it very difficult to
manage when using CLT because they were afraid of the noise from students during class
activities. In addition, it is not possible for the teacher to give each of them individual
attention and to be sure that they are on task. As a result, the teacher feels lost interest in
introducing CLT in their classes because they are unable to control class activities.
* Multi- level classes
Multi- level classes are considered as a constraint in implementing CLT. In general,
there is a wide rage of students in each class so it is difficult to have cooperation among
them. In pair- work, a good English proficiency student is not keen on working with a low
one. When it is a must, she/ he will get bored soon. In group- work, if some students are
overwhelmed but others keep quiet or are bored, it will be hard for them to complete an
exercise. For these reasons, designing lessons to meet the needs of communication seems
out of the teachers’ competence. If students at the same level were placed in classes, it
would be helpful. In fact, it is impossible to carry out because English is a non- major
subject to the students at the school.
* The school’s grammar- based exams do not justify using CLT
As mentioned in II.1.4, Headway Elementary by John and Liz Soars is used as the
material for both teachers and students at the school. The 15- unit textbook is taught in 2
semesters with 120 periods. During a period of one semester, tests are required to do which
33

are based on grammar only not other skills of listening or speaking. This affects the
teaching and learning a lot.
* Students use Vietnamese in work- group or pair- work
Students’ preference of speaking Vietnamese during group- work or pair- work
causes difficulties for them in their teaching. When students are asked to have a discussion,
they often discuss in Vietnamese in stead of English. In addition, when they join
communicative activities, they often speak Vietnamese (they only use English when the
teacher manages them). Low English proficiency also makes students feel harder to
express themselves in English than in their mother tongue. To some extent, work- group or
pair- work seems to be good opportunities for them to chat with each other in Vietnamese.
* Deficiency in strategic and sociolinguistic competence in English
This is a limit for teachers to use CLT. A communicative class demands teachers’
strategic and sociolinguistic competence more than in a traditional grammar- focused one.
Therefore, the teachers do not feel competent and self- confident enough to conduct a
communicative class in general. In a communicative class, questions are given more than
in traditional one. However, except questions that are relating to grammar, the teachers
often get confused when answering questions relating to the sociolinguistic competence.
Commonly, it is believed that a teacher is supposed to know everything and to be always
correct. If a teacher cannot answer all the students’ questions, she/ he will be thought not to
be a good one. For this reason, choosing to stick to the traditional teaching methods such as
grammar- centered, text- centered etc. is a good way for the teachers to keep their face.
* Misconception about CLT
A majority of the teachers thought that teachers’ misconceptions about CLT are of
the main problems. The first misconception is that CLT is not teaching grammar because
grammar is difficult for the students. Secondly, CLT means teaching speaking only.
Furthermore, CLT expecting too much from the teacher is another misconception. Such
misunderstandings make the teachers believe that CLT contradicts their beliefs about
language learning and does not allow them to prepare students for the various exams that
are critical to their future careers. As a result, the teachers refuse to accept CLT.
* Students’ low English proficiency
Students’ low English proficiency is also another constraint for the teachers. As
mentioned in the results of Question 1 in Questionnaire for students, 78.1% of students are
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ethnic minorities, 71.6% of them from the remote communes of Hagiang and their English
level is different before entering the school. Therefore, their knowledge of vocabulary and
English structures are limited. This causes great difficulties for them to express themselves
in English as well as listen to their teachers’ explanation in English.
* Other problems
Besides the mentioned problems above, there are other difficulties for the teachers
in implementing CLT in teaching grammar such as few opportunities to learn how to use
CLT; lack of authentic teaching materials, students’ passive styles to evaluate
communicative competence, students’ uneven participation in class activities, lack of time
and expertise to develop CLT materials and poor teaching facilities.
To overcome the constraints, many suggestions are given by the own teachers. One
of the most favorable solutions is that teachers should self- improve their English level and
teaching methods as well as enhance their sociolinguistic competence by attending
workshops or seminars on CLT. Another effective way to solve the difficulties is
motivating students more to learn English because students are regarded as an important
factor in the process of teaching and learning. Besides these, giving open – ended questions
that allow weaker students to give their answers too, encouraging collaborative work from
students and giving encouragements and positive correction and feedback on their students’
mistakes are considered as useful techniques to encourage students to participate in
communicative activities. In addition, the teachers hope to have further training on
teaching methods and be provided with sufficient facilities and authentic materials.
III.2. Suggestions
III.2.1. Suggestions for overcoming the difficulties in teaching grammar
communicatively
a. Training and retraining teachers in CLT
One of the reasons why the teachers may be reluctant to applying CLT in teaching
English in general and grammar in particular is that they are not trained and retrained in
CLT sufficiently. To overcome the problem, the cooperation between the administrators
and the teachers should be had. Firstly, the administrators should give the teachers
assistance, support and encouragements in applying new ideas and materials. Also, they
need provide the teachers opportunities to be trained and retrained in CLT and to improve
strategic and sociolinguistic competence in English. In addition, more workshops and
35

seminars should be held so that the teachers can share their teaching experience as well as
improve their knowledge about it. Thus their misconceptions about CLT might be solved.
For these reasons, the administrators obviously play a very important role in tacking the
constraint.
In terms of the teachers, besides the administrators’ assistance and support, they
need to try their best to self- study and self- improve their knowledge and teaching
methods. Self- study is an effective way because the teachers may achieve knowledge from
various sources such as books, magazine or media.
b. Redefining students’ role and teachers’ role
Students’ role and teachers’ role should be re-learnt. On the one hand, students are
not passive recipients any longer. They become communicators in the class. They can join
in class activities and are free to express their ideas, to give their disagreements with the
teachers or to put the teachers their questions. On the other hand, teachers are no longer
“knowledge- transmitter”. They perform the role of a facilitator of the students’ learning, a
manager of classroom activities, an advisor to answer students’ questions and to control
their performance, and a “co-communicator” to engage in the communicative activities
along with the students (Littlewood, 1981). The students’ new role and teachers’ new role
is a new concept for students. Thus, teachers need to be flexible to control the class
because it takes time for the students to get familiar to the new role.
c. Changing students’ attitude towards learning English
In order to apply CLT effectively in a traditional language classroom, changing
students’ attitude towards learning English in general and grammar in particular is essential
to be changed. English should be considered as important as other subjects in the training
course and communication should be their final goal of learning English. Besides the
students’ own efforts, teachers play a very important role in changing students’ attitude.
Obviously, CLT is a “Western method”- a new method so they need to let their students
have opportunities to get used to it. From my point of view, to change students’ attitudes,
improving students’ motivation in learning grammar needs to be considered.
d. Improving students’ motivation in learning grammar
Some effective ways for the teachers can be applied in the classroom to improve
students’ motivation in learning grammar.
* Creating interesting topics, games and communicative activities
36

This may make the students enjoy learning English as well as create enjoyable
atmosphere in the class. When the students find something interesting, they are willing to
join in.
* Designing suitable exercises
It is necessary for the teachers to design exercises that are suitable with the
students’ level. In fact, at HGMSS, big and mixed- ability classes are popular. Therefore,
exercises need to be arranged from easy to difficult ones. As a result, good English
proficiency students do not feel de-motivated with the limited competence tasks and low
ones can also catch up with the others.
* Organizing English speaking club
It may be a good chance for the students to exchange their experience in learning or
discuss about their interests or learn English songs together.
e. Encouraging students’ participation in class activities
Students’ lack of participation in class activities is of teachers’ concern. Obviously,
the teacher plays a vital role in class. Teachers should encourage students to take part in
class activities and speak out. Also, teachers must spend more time giving their care to low
English proficiency students who are often passive and shy. Exercises given should be
suitable with students’ level so that the weak students can do. Furthermore, positive praise
from the teachers should be given at the right time in stead of negative ones. For instance,
teachers should say “try another time” or “thank you” in stead of “wrong” or “nonsense”.
This is an effective way for the low students to keep their face with other ones in the class.
Students’ anxiety in public communication is another problem. In order to
minimize it, teachers need to encourage students to work in pairs or in groups so that they
can have chance to share their experience as well as improve their speaking in English. To
avoid the dominance of good students in group work, changing the group leader from this
student to another one should be carried out. It is a good way for all students in a group to
realize their duty for the task group. In addition, the information gap in group work is sure
to be considered so that each student can have chance to exchange their thoughts. Besides
those, teachers should go around the class, observe and give students his/her assistance.
This partly contributes to reduce the students’ Vietnamese speaking during group work.
f. Correcting students’ mistakes with a positive attitude
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Mistakes can be seen as indispensable and inevitable to students in the process of


language learning. Mistake correction is necessary but which correcting techniques are
more positive and effectively largely depend on teachers, not on students. Teachers should
also decide when and how to correct. Mistake correction is also considered to be a positive
way if students themselves correct mistakes, not just by their teachers. In students’ mistake
correction, the duty of the teachers is “to value students, prize heir attempts to
communicate, and then provide optimal feedback for the system to evolve in successive
stages until students are communicating more clearly” (Brown, 1994). There are some
suggestions for teachers on mistake correction in class:
- Collecting mistakes made by the students and involving the whole class as much
as possible in the correction process.
- Spending less time correcting what is only problem for one student and more time
on problems common to the whole group.
- Helping students understand why they are wrong by indicating that a mistake has
been made (by gestures), showing the students where the mistake is and what kind of
mistake is (wrong tense, wrong- stressed word…), getting him/her try again if he/she can
get it right
- Not interrupting the student before he/she finishes his/ her utterance because he
will find it disconcerting or frustrating.
- Trying not to repeat the mistakes, even in mocking, astonished way.
g. Presenting grammar in context
Teachers should present grammar in context to make clear the relationship between
grammatical forms and communication functions. This can help students a lot in guessing
and memorizing the words and phrases. If words, phrases, sentences or structures are
taught in isolation, students may fail to produce English correctly and effectively in real
situations. For example, when the teacher teach the structure There is + a/an + N(sing) in
page 34 of Unit 5, she/ he can point at the picture in the book and ask a student to say
There is a dog/ a table.
II.2.2. Suggestions on communicative activities for a grammar lesson
In order to attract students’ attention to learning grammar communicatively, the
research would like to introduce some communicative activities for the practice of some
lessons in Headway Elementary by John and Liz Soars.
38

a. Using boards
Boards are regarded as the most popular activity in teaching grammar
communicatively in class in case the teacher does not use realia. An example is given to
illustrate boards as an effective way for communicative practice of Unit 10. After
presenting comparatives and superlatives and giving students to do focused exercises in the
textbook, the teacher draws 3 simple boxes as symbols of 3 famous cars with some
characteristics that people are willing to know (see in Appendix C). Then the teacher
divides the class into groups (each of groups consists 5 or 6 students) and asks them to
work in groups to make sentences comparing among 3 cars and using comparatives and
superlatives of short or long adjectives. The activity lasts 5 or 10 minutes. Finally, the
teacher calls one of members in each group to share their ideas with other groups. From
my point of view, students are willing to take part in this activity.
b. Realia
Realia are useful for communicative practice of Unit 5 and Unit 10 in the textbook.
From my teaching experience, this activity is beneficial because it encourages students to
pay attention to others’ speaking and practice the target language.
* Unit 5: Prepositions of place
After introducing prepositions of place, the teacher divides the class into groups
(may be each group consists of 5-10 students) and ask them to work in group. Then he/ she
puts the objects in any places he/ she wants and asks his/ her students to make sentences
using the prepositions they have been learnt to describe the positions of the objects. In this
activity, realia may be bags, textbooks, notebooks, and chalks etc. that are brought to class
by the teacher or students.
* Unit 10: Comparatives and superlatives
Besides the exercises in the textbook, to improve students’ interest, after giving
clear instructions of comparatives and superlatives, the teacher asks each of students to
make two sentences including both comparatives and superlatives of short or long
adjectives to talk about people in the class. For instance, “I am shorter than Mai” or “I am
shortest in my class”. The teacher is sure to point another student in class after a student
finishes his/her task.
c. Picture description
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Using pictures to teach grammar is considered as an effective way for


communicative practice of exercise 4, page 143 of Unit 3 in the textbook. After presenting
the present simple tense of normal verbs with she/he/it, students can be asked to tell about
the Pamela’s day based on the events in the picture which are removed the given words
(see in Appendix D).
d. Work cards and worksheets
Work cards and worksheets can be applied for many activities of different lessons
in the textbook. Here is an example using their use for Unit 12.
* Unit 12: Be going to
After presenting Be going to, the following cards are given to students as a
replacement for exercise 4, page 191 in the textbook. The worksheets can be used with
information gap activity. The students are asked to work in pairs in stead of working
individually to find out information for the gaps. Here is the example.
1. John is going to ….where… next summer. He is going to there …how…. He is going to stay …
where… how long…. He is going to …what/do… when he is in Budapest.
2. Mark and Lucy are going to Florida of the USA next summer. They are going to there by plane.
They are going to stay in a motel for 10 days. They are going to visit Disney World and go to Cape
Canaveral when they are in Florida.

1. John is going to Budapest next summer. He is going to there by boat and train. He is going to stay in
the Hotel Gellert for 6 days. He is going to swim in the spa water and go sightseeing when he is in
Budapest.
2. Mark and Lucy are going to ….where… next summer. They are going to there …how….. They are
going to stay …where… how long….. They are going to …what/do…when they are in Florida.

e. Using stories
Both teachers and student can tell stories. “Our students are marvelous storytellers
as well as listeners, and this ability can be used to good advantage.” Celce- Murcia
(1988:55). For example, for communicative practice of the past simple tense of Unit 7,
students can be asked to complete a story with the following sentence “Once upon the
time/ It was a Sunday evening…..” In this way, students not only feel free and self-
confident to speak English but also develop their grammar as well as imagination.
40

Part III: conclusion and suggestions for further study


III.1. Conclusion
On the trend to regional and global integration, good English proficiency people in
both grammatical competence and sociolinguistic competence are certainly needed to
participate into the world. In order to meet the demands of practical needs and settings, the
educational system in general and in the area of language education should be reformed.
For these reasons, traditional English teaching methods seem not to be suitable and useful
in the new social situations so finding another method for innovation is essential.
Naturally, CLT should be a suitable alternative to the traditional ones and be implemented
in the educational system to meet the demands of the social contexts. However, it should
be applied with a close and careful consideration of the cultural values of Vietnam.
This research is an attempt to find out the teachers’ difficulties in applying CLT in
teaching grammar to ethnic minority students at HGMSS. Based on the instrument as
questionnaires for both teachers and students, the study has figured out the important
findings with a help to improving the English teaching at the school. The findings are
divided into two categories such as difficulties and suggestions.
The main constraints confronted by the teachers are lack of training and retraining
in CLT, students’ lack of good attitudes to learning grammar, large class size, multi- level
classes, the school’s grammar- based exams, students’ preference of speaking Vietnamese
in work- group or pair- work, deficiency in strategic and sociolinguistic competence in
English, misconception about CLT and students’ low English proficiency.
In order to overcome the problems, the suggestions for the difficulties are as follow.
Firstly, the students’ attitude towards learning English should be changed. Teachers can
make a change in students’ attitude by enhancing students’ motivation. To solve the
students’ lack of motivation in learning English in general and grammar in particular,
interesting topics, suitable exercises and speaking clubs should be created so that the
students feel motivated to learn. Moreover, by asking easy questions, giving positive praise
and giving mistake correction at the right time, the teachers may encourage low English
proficiency students to take part in class activities. The teachers also need to reduce the
students’ anxiety in public speaking by forming groups, pairs including both good and bad
students, changing group leader respectively so that each student can have a chance to
speak to their peers and have responsibility to the task. Working in pairs or in groups can
41

also deal with the problem of students’ low English proficiency. Last but not least, to avoid
students’ using their mother tongue during pairs or groups, teachers should move around
the class and observe and give their students assistance if they need. In addition, the
administrators should provide the teachers with more opportunities to expose to CLT by
attending workshops or seminars about CLT. The teachers themselves should self- study to
improve their knowledge on sociolinguistic competence as well as teaching method so that
they will feel self- confident enough to manage communicative activities in class. They
also can overcome the lack of teaching aids by taking advantage of genuine situations,
designing games ... or being flexible in managing group works in class.
To apply CLT in teaching grammar effectively, some of useful class activities are
recommended such as using boards, realia, picture description, work cards and works
sheets and using stories.
In conclusion, the implementation of CLT at the school will be successful if there is
contribution and cooperation of the administrators, teachers and students. Among these
factors, teachers are central to long- lasting changes that can affect the success or failure of
the innovation. Besides the administrators’ support and assistance, the teachers must try
their best to adapt themselves to use CLT. Good communicative competence, creativity and
enthusiasm are necessary for the teachers to apply CLT in teaching effectively.
III.2. Suggestions for further study
The study sets out to investigate the difficulties that teachers face when using CLT
in teaching grammar to ethnic minority students at HGMSS. Some recommendations are
given with hope to achieve more benefits for teaching English at the school in terms of
CLT application.
- There should be study on material design to match the local context.
- Study should be implemented to define what difficulties confronted by teachers in terms
of CLT application in teaching other aspects: reading, listening, vocabulary and writing.
- Study should be produced on the usefulness of CLT in attaining its educational goals.
- Further study should be carried out to figure out better ways to introduce students to the
new concepts of CLT and this way of learning.
These recommendations should be accomplished with the purpose of improving
English teaching at the school.