One of the biggest problems facing qualitative research in the field of education is how to be certain that the quality presented by the research is trustworthy. It is often too common to assume that the quality of research presents itself a powerful knowledge that is too convincing in its own right. However, this is not supposed to be the case as qualitative research studies have to be subjected to critical evaluation using criteria in order to justify its value. Whenever qualitative research studies are evaluated for the quality of their value, it helps to eliminate unnecessary criticism from researchers who only feel that
qualitative research is nothing but mere assertions based on individual subjects and not empirical scientific methods. This paper shall develop a critical evaluation of a qualitative research article retrieved from online database of educational journals. The article specifically talks about the issue of difficulties facing international students when learning English as a second language.
Selection of article
This systematic article review process required a comprehensive literature search that addresses the topic being reviewed. The review topic relates to difficulties of learning English for international students. To aid the process of review, search filters were developed to retrieve relevant scholarly articles that relate to the main topic of interest. The search process was done online on electronic databases for peered reviewed published articles including Emerald Insight and international education journal. The most essential component of the search process was making use of key words to find the titles of publications. The key words used were ‘difficulties of learning English as a second language’ and ‘challenges and barriers of learning English’.
The selected article is appropriate for evaluation since it focuses mainly on the topic for review. The research was conducted in within an English speaking country, Australia, which has programs where foreign students can learn English. The topic is however narrowed down to the effect of prior learning experience as opposed to the symptoms and the already researched and established causes of learning difficulties for international students.
Evaluation of the article
Good practice assessment
The article to be reviewed looks at language difficulties of international students in Australia. It specifically focuses on the effect of prior learning experience. This article was retrieved from an online database for qualitative research journals. The article has clearly stated study questions and topics. As earlier mentioned, the topic is on the language difficulties faced by international students in Australia while specifically looking at the effect of prior learning experience. The author has developed a detailed discussion of the issue that affect international students when learning English in Australia. He recognizes the role that English has in the development of the global language system. English is basically used as a means that helps to increase the effect of globalization by breaking language and cultural barriers that exist between different communities in the world .
The research design samples international students as the participants of the study. This is research is relevant because it brings the views of the international students. Both the students and teaching staff members were surveyed and acknowledged the presence of the difficulties. This research study surveyed the teaching staff and as well the students most information provided were the views of the educators. This research article is relevant to the topic and issue under investigation since it primarily focus on the difficulties experienced by educators in teaching and delivery of content of English language. The qualitative researches relevant to the topic under review make huge contributions to the need of further research in this area of study.
The author identifies the main problem to be the approach in which educators use to teach English to foreign students. Because of the approach, learning therefore becomes difficult for the students. For instance, a lot of emphasis has been laid on the grammar and correct usage of grammar . This is in expense of oral communication . The article bases its evidence on the confessions of international students in Australia. These students acknowledged difficulties in conversational English and academic English . This means that they find speaking and writing English difficult compared to reading . .
Robertson et al. (2000) in his article investigated further difficulties that are experienced by international students when learning English. It was also established in the article that language acted as a major barrier to learning and teaching of even other disciplines. International students displayed a general lack of confidence in using English thus further making it difficult for them to learn the language properly .
Robertson et al (2002) therefore presents issues that are worthy of investigating. In order to properly address the difficulties faced by international students in learning, the challenges and problems have to be identified and solutions implemented. The conclusion of the research by Robson et al. is agreeable since issues dealing with language are the primary or root cause of challenges experienced by international students in learning English.
The research itself is not ambiguous as it uses data from the teachers themselves. It is the teachers that have one on one experience with the international students as they interact with them in classes . It is the teachers who deliver the content to the best of their knowledge based on how there have been trained to deal with student . The teachers therefore are at a better position to explain some of the difficulties that the international students experience when learning English language . However, based on this article it is clear that there is need for extensive research to identify the problems facing the international students according to the views of the students themselves . They will bring a whole new dynamics that the teaching staff may fail to recognize .
Wong (2004) surveys the international students.. According to the research, the teaching approach used on international students is more teacher centered compared to student centered . The students therefore are accustomed to the approach. They are not made to use the approaches that would encourage and improve their conversation skills . As result the student cannot make a transition from passive learning to active learning . The study again found out that cultural barriers further increase the lack of proficiency of English language in the classroom .
This research study brings a whole new dimension into the topic under investigation. It introduces the aspect of cultural barriers and the role they play in creating learning difficulties of English language . For instance, in several other countries or cultures, students are basically used to some types teaching and learning approach for example teacher centered . However, in the US and other developed English speaking nations the approach used is a student centered. These differences contribute to the low class participation of foreign or international students. This research used a population sample that involved only students. The findings therefore were based on the acknowledgement of the students.
The findings by Wong (2004) were actually confirmed by a different study conducted by Hellsten (2004). According to the research, passivity of international students during the process of teaching and learning is contributed by factors such as their prior learning. In this article there is a quote presented from one international student originally from china. According to the student, he acknowledges that the prior learning environment in china is very different from the one he experiences in Australia. As a result this difference affects his learning of English language. The problem with a teacher centered approach in teaching and learning English is its lack of ability to create interest among the students to engage conversation; thus making students active language speakers. This article goes further to sample some of the views of the international students who participated in the study. This methodology of reporting is good as it provides evidence for the research study. It also provides room for further research to be done to prove the findings of the study.
The study has a viable data. However, the main problem in addressing the issue of English learning difficulties for international students is that the research focuses more on the symptoms instead of looking at the underlying causes and providing solutions. It is evidently clear that there is need for further inquiry into the cultural barriers that impede international students from effectively learning English. Most of the research conducted so far, only investigate on the issue of language constraints. It fails to further investigate aspects such as language barriers which have been acknowledged by students to exacerbate their lack of proficiency in learning and speaking English.
The focus of research with regards to this issue therefore needs to be on the biography or background of the international students. This seems to be the best way in which researchers can fully comprehend the difficulties faced by the teachers in teaching foreign students English and also the difficulty faced by international students in learning English. Basically, it would be wrong to assume that when international students enroll to learn English course in a totally different cultural environment from their origin, they do not have an entry level. All these international students have a rich background and learning experience from the culture.
Further research into this field, shows that international students appreciate the fact that being in a different environment helps them learn English effectively compared to when learning English in the home country environment. When international students get to an English speaking country such as the U.S, the UK and Australia, their ability to learn English fast is facilitated. Basically, students appreciate this environment because of the vast learning opportunities available to them. They also have to utilize their conversation skills in order to interact effectively with everyone around them. With these findings in mind, non speaking countries that teach English as a second language have to focus on the issue of culture and make it an integral part of the process of teaching and learning.
Opportunities need to be created where students can use English not only in the classroom but also outside the classroom. Because according the research reviewed, most international students when interviewed acknowledge the fact that in their home countries, there is little opportunity where people can use English language to practice. At same time according to Sawir (2005) the few international students who get opportunities to use English language outside classroom are very active in intercultural and international forums and business activities.
Grading achievement standards
The findings of this study is useful as it looks at several research studies conducted relating to the topic of discussion and develops a confirmation that indeed there is a problem that international students face when learning English as a second language. There are weaknesses in the education system, the teaching staff and the students themselves. These weaknesses contribute to the difficulties experienced by international students during the process of learning. Future research therefore needs to narrow their focus on the issues that matter since the symptoms have already been identified. The focus therefore should be on the biographies and cultural background of the international students. By only focusing on language difficulties or implying that the problem and challenges of international students to learn English rests primarily on language difficulties, researchers are creating an implication that the solution to the problems lies on the students and the institutions.
Researchers need to consider the entry level of the students as they engage them in their studies. Out of the findings, educational institutions that offer the English language learning program will have to structure their program to encourage the international students to participate in the conversational learning rather than developing reading skills only. The approach that needs to be used for any language teaching and learning should be one that focuses on students and not the teachers. This is the only way in which students can develop essential language skills such as speech and written language. English is basically used as a means that helps to increase the effect of globalization by breaking language and cultural barriers that exist between different communities in the world. Globalization of economies and cultures can only be effective if language is globalized. This means that they find speaking and writing English difficult compared to reading . The qualitative researches relevant to the topic under review make huge contributions to the need of further research in this area of study .
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