"In this class automatic my words come out": Implementing process drama in two Malaysian English language-learning contexts
Abdul Samat, N. (2016). ‘In this class automatic my words come out’: Implementing process drama in two Malaysian English language-learning contexts (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/10820
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/10820
This thesis looked at the impact of process drama implementation in two English language-learning contexts in the southern part of Malaysia. My aim of this study was to examine whether process drama was a possible method for producing learners who are more confident in speaking English. This study attempted to fill a gap in using process drama in ESL contexts particularly in Malaysia. The school system in Malaysia that expects students to do well in reading and writing exams has encouraged many teachers to neglect teaching the speaking component. Moreover, students are only tested on the spoken component in a standardized way that can be memorized before they leave high school for tertiary studies or for career purposes. Generally, it is rare to find novelty and authenticity in the teaching speaking in second language classrooms. The challenge for teachers in Malaysia is to motivate students so that they participate actively in classroom discussions and to build up students’ confidence levels so that they can use English without feeling self-conscious about the errors they make. The research took the form of a mixed method action research case study where I used a class of secondary school students and a class of undergraduate students as the contexts for my study. Participants were 31 students enrolled in a Basic Communication class at a public university and 32 secondary-school students at a public school in the southern part of Malaysia. Data collection lasted three months. Quantitative methods were adopted to find out the impact of process drama on the participants, while qualitative methods sought the perceptions of the participants with regard to the intervention program implemented. The tools I used for data collection were pre- and post-questionnaires, pre- and post-tests, the PRCA-24 (Personal Report of Communication Apprehension), the Non-Verbal Immediacy Self-Scale Report (NIS-S), individual interviews, stimulated recall interviews, journal entries and transcriptions of video and audio data. The statistical Package for Social Science (SPSS) and thematic analysis were used for analysing data. Results indicated a positive attitude change and heightened motivation and confidence levels, and positive affect and social emotional skill effects, thus confirming earlier research findings showing that process drama can be a successful tool for second language learning in different contexts. The intervention appeared to improve the communicative ability of both groups. The study also found that in general the language performance of the secondary-school participants did not significantly improve over the course of the intervention. In fact, their self-perception of their level of satisfaction showed that they were not satisfied with their overall writing and speaking performance. One possible reason for this lack of change was because they were used to learning English via ‘chalk and talk’. On the other hand, findings from participants from the undergraduate class proved otherwise. They were satisfied with their overall writing, speaking, listening and reading performance. In fact, they perceived that their language abilities had improved. This self-perception was consistent with results of the pre- and post- tests that aimed at assessing their language competence. On the whole, the pre- and post-tests findings indicated that the process drama intervention coincided with an improvement in these undergraduate learners’ accuracy and fluency in language use. This research has several important pedagogical implications, particularly for the Malaysian context. First, this research explored the use of process drama in an area where process drama has never been used as a classroom pedagogy. The findings of this study have the potential to influence the development of new policies involving the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Higher Education. If process drama cannot be used as pedagogy by itself, perhaps it can be incorporated into the present English syllabus to complement the textbooks used at different levels. In addition, higher learning institutions may consider offering process drama as a credit-earning subject. Many undergraduates in tertiary institutions need more exposure to spontaneous spoken language to prepare them for their future careers. Such institutions should recognise that students whose proficiency levels are only average are likely to benefit the most from process drama.
University of Waikato
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