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    THẠC SĨ Factors affecting esp vocabulary learning At Hanoi community college

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  6. Factors affecting esp vocabulary learning At Hanoi community college

    Introduction
    1. Rationale
    English learning has been popular in Vietnam over the last few decades. Especially, learning English has become a burgeoning need when Vietnam fosters its international relations. Every day an increasing number of people learn and use English for different purposes.
    In teaching and learning English as a foreign language in Vietnam, English for Specific Purposes (ESP) has recently received a great deal of attention. A teacher or institution may wish to provide teaching materials that will fit the specific subject area of particular learners. Such materials may not be available commercially. In addition, ESP courses can vary from one week of intensive study to an hour a week for three years or more with different schools’ timetables and for different training level. For these reasons, there is already an established tradition of ESP teachers producing in-house materials. They are written by the teachers of a particular institution for the students at that institution. This is often something difficult for teachers because few have had any training in the skills and techniques of materials writing; needless to say about their limited knowledge in the specific area. (Hutchinson & Waters, 1987)
    In Vietnam, English seems to be learnt and taught in non-English environment, so reading is an important means to get knowledge in ESP, and also a means for further study. In other words, learners “read to learn” (Burn, 1988:11). This is true for the students at Hanoi Community College, where learners are future technical engineers and technicians who learn English in order to be able to handle subject-related written materials in English and to work with modern technological equipment. So ESP materials used at Hanoi Community College now are often reading materials with the topics in the specific area. “Vocabulary learning has long had a synergistic association with reading; each activity nourishes the other” (Coady and Huckin, 1997:2). So if one wants to read ESP materials well he needs to learn ESP vocabulary.
    Given the central role of vocabulary and lexis as carrier content in ESP, also confirmed by different authors, for example Robinson (1991: 4) who says that: “It may often be thought that a characteristic, or even a critical feature, of ESP is that a course should involve specialist language (especially terminology) and content.” or Dudley-Evans and St John (1998: 5) that include lexis among absolute defining features of ESP: “ESP is centered on the language (grammar, lexis, register), skills, discourse and genres appropriate to these activities.”, the reading materials used at the college concentrates on the vocabulary or the terminology in the specific fields.
    With a short duration of about 30 to 60 class hours, one of the major aims for an ESP course at Hanoi Community College is to obtain basic ESP vocabulary. Thus, ESP vocabulary learning is also the focal point when taking an ESP course. However, vocabulary instruction has been paid less attention than it should have been. Word retention has always been a difficult problem for students at the college. It would be so ambitious with multiple goals (e.g., reading proficiency, grammar rules, and vocabulary) in limited time. Thus, vocabulary was weekly lists of words and definitions with the advice "study these." If any kind of vocabulary activity was offered, it would not be corrected and returned for a week or more, by which time students had usually forgotten the words. Too many new words in the specific field were given every week; too little time or even no time was spent on memorizing or recycling those words; little feedback was returned. Consequently, students entered a cycle of quick-cramming: memorizing the words and definitions briefly before a task and then forgetting them. In other words, the new vocabulary never made it from memorization, understanding onto their uses.
    For all these reasons, to find out the difficulties of the students when learning ESP vocabulary (accounting terms) at Hanoi Community College and the causes of their difficulties is necessary. Then, the factors that most affect their vocabulary learning in an ESP context can be identified. This will make it possible to give suggestions for the teachers and learners to improve the teaching and learning of ESP vocabulary at Hanoi Community College.
    2. Aims of the Study
    The aims of this study are to find out what factors affecting ESP Vocabulary Learning and thus give some instructions to help students learn ESP Vocabulary better.
    A theoretical framework for the study is focused on the second language vocabulary learning, the vocabulary learning of English for Specific Purposes and factors affecting vocabulary acquisition.
    3. Research Questions
    1. What are the factors affecting ESP Vocabulary Learning at Hanoi Community College?
    2. What are the suggestions to help the learners learn ESP vocabulary better?
    4. Scope of the Study
    The study limited itself to the investigation of some factors affecting ESP Vocabulary Learning for the students at Hanoi Community College. It focuses not only on the factors that affect the second-year students at the college but also on words, expressions and terms of the book “English for Finance and Accounting” edited by a group of authors at the college. This book is now being used as the textbook in class for the targeted students.
    There are two levels of training at HCC: College level and Vocational Training level. Within its scope, the study is limited only to the ESP for Vocational students.
    The results should be interpreted within the college teaching context. The investigation primarily deals with reading in an ESP course-“English for Finance and Accounting”.
    5. Method of the Study
    The methodologies adopted for this case study are
    - a survey questionnaire with 100 students and
    - informal interviews with teachers and students during the course.
    The questionnaire consisted of 30 questions grouped into 3 main parts which help to seek for information concerning students’ background, students’ attitudes to ESP vocabulary learning, the area of their difficulties in ESP vocabulary learning and their expectations of ESP material and teachers’ methodology.
    6. Design of the Study
    The thesis is composed of three parts.
    Part A - introduction.
    This part provides the rationale, aims, scopes, and methodology of the study, which offers readers an overview of how the research idea is generated, what its goals are, and what research methodology is adopted.
    Part B - development
    This part is divided into two chapters.
    Chapter 1: Literature Review
    This chapter provides the theoretical background for the study. It focuses on the second language vocabulary learning, and some factors affecting vocabulary learning.
    Chapter 2: The investigation
    This is the main part of the study. It reports the collection and analysis of the data and major findings of the study.
    Part C - conclusion
    This part summarizes the findings, states the limitation of the research, draws teaching implications and offers suggestions for further research.

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