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Developing EFL students' communicative skills through content-based instruction: A case study of EFL teaching in an undergraduate degree program at a tertiary institution in Indonesia

This thesis reports on a mixed-methods case study, where the researcher as practitioner explored the effectiveness of a content-based instructional approach in improving the communication skills and motivation of a group of students at a tertiary education in Indonesia. The following research questions guided this study: (a) What are the attitudes of some EFL students of non-English departments towards current EFL teaching in the tertiary context? (b) Are there any differences in the intervention class EFL students’ pre-test and post-test scores measuring verbal communication performance (actual and self-reported)? (c) What factors identified in a theme-based instructional program appear to contribute to an improvement in EFL students’ communication skills? (d) Are there self-reported differences in intervention class EFL students’ motivation and attitudes following the intervention program and what reasons do they offer for this improvement? This study used mixed-method data collection methods. It utilised a quasi-experimental design where the research participants were grouped into two groups, an intervention class (IC) and a non-intervention class (NIC). The data were collected using the following methods: questionnaires, reflective journals, video recordings, observations and various pre-test and post-test measures. The qualitative data were analysed using thematic analysis and the quantitative data were analysed using the SPSS statistical program. In terms of the main findings, first, the results revealed that the students had developed a positive attitude towards the current EFL teaching program. Most of them considered that English was very important and disagreed with the current two-credit allocation for English. They preferred a student-centred EFL class to a teacher-centred class and they also preferred an EFL teaching approach focused on their content-subjects to one focused on general themes. Second, the results from the pre-test and post-test mean scores revealed that the intervention class (IC) students’ mean scores improved significantly after they were given the intervention. The non-intervention class (NIC) students’ mean scores also improved but they were not significant. Third, the qualitative findings from students’ self-report data revealed that there were four themes (motivation and engagement, affect, self-confidence, and a sense of improvement in EFL and content-subject learning) that emerged. Finally, the results from the questionnaire given to the IC students before and after the intervention revealed that for the most part, their attitude and motivation levels appeared to increase after they were exposed to a theme-based instructional approach. Triangulation of a number of finding strengthened the argument that the content-based instructional approach, in this case, the theme-based instructional approach was effective in improving EFL students’ verbal communicative skills and enhancing their motivation in learning the target language. A number of limitations were identified in relation to this study, including its non-generalisability, the short duration of the intervention, the non-utilisation of NIC students’ views, and a number of ethical issues. However, the findings were promising. On this basis, this thesis recommends further study to be undertaken to investigate the effect of CBI in EFL teaching and learning in Indonesia, which involves more groups of non-English department students from different departments and a longer duration of study which will provide more substantial data related to the effectiveness of a content-based instructional approach in EFL teaching in this context.
Type of thesis
Eryansyah, E. (2017). Developing EFL students’ communicative skills through content-based instruction: A case study of EFL teaching in an undergraduate degree program at a tertiary institution in Indonesia (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/10921
University of Waikato
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