COMPARATIVE ANALYSIS OF ACHIEVEMENTS OF STUDENTS TAUGHT FRENCH READING COMPREHENSION WITH COOPERATIVE LEARNING AND COMMUNICATIVE LANGUAGE TEACHING IN NORTH WEST REGION CAMEROON.
CHAPTER ONE: INTRODUCTION
Background to the Study
The use of language to achieve communication purpose in every educational system is very essential. Language is a medium which helps the members of the society to communicate and interact with one another. Babatunde (2002) posits that language is a divine knowledge to man which is tied to the effective existence of man in the society and that any meaningful discussion must begin with language which steers the course and ends the discussion.
Language is indeed very vital in solving communication issues in the society. In the same vein, Akudolu (2004) views language as a means through which human beings express ideas, opinions, intensions and feelings as well as establish and maintain interpersonal relationships. Anyanwu (2002) states that one characteristic of the human being and something that distinguishes him or her from other animals is the ability to use language in its most dynamic form, especially speech.
French as a modern language is spoken, written and used like other modern languages of the world. It is used for healthy communication and diplomatic relations with Francophone countries such as Republic of Chad, Central Africa, Cameroon, Gabon, Senegal and Benin Republics. French is today the second official language of the United Nations and the European community (Orban, 2008). Further stressing on the importance of French language Ebi (2012) states that, for Nigerians to interact effectively with French speaking countries regionally or internationally, Nigerians should be able to speak French Language fluently in order to attend international workshops, seminars and conferences without language problems. In this regard, for Cameroonians to also interact with other French speaking countries in diverse domains such
as the socio-economic, political and diplomatic domains without communication barriers, they should be able to understand, speak and write French language effectively.
In Cameroon, French language is one of the official languages taught at all the levels in the educational system. The language was introduced in Cameroon alongside English language. Due to political activities Cameroon was partitioned into English and French territories which were then reunited in 1961 (Ninjoh, 2014). The French and English languages were adopted as the official languages of the nation. This is clearly stated in article 1, paragraph 3 of the 1996 constitution of Cameroon as amended in 2008 as follows: “The official languages of the Republic of Cameroon shall be French and English, both languages having the same status. The state shall guarantee the promotion of bilingualism throughout the country; it shall endeavor to protect and promote national languages” (p.7).
Based on this law, Cameroon operates a bicultural educational system made up of English and French subsystems. French Language as a second official language in Cameroon is a compulsory subject taught in the English speaking regions at both the basic and secondary schools. Emphasis in the teaching and learning of this language is laid on the four skills in communication which are listening, speaking, reading and writing. The four skills are important in the society for effective communication. They are needed and form part of the aims and objectives for studying and succeeding in French as required by the Cameroon General Certificate of Education (CGCE) Examination Board. However in this study, French reading comprehension which is important in sharpening the learners’ ability to read and interpreted other areas in their curriculum scope is an area in French language under investigation. Besides, French language is also offered as a course in the higher institutions of learning, as well as in Linguistic and French cultural centers in Cameroon. The Ministry of Education in Cameroon has spelt out some of the objectives of the teaching of French at the Secondary School Level.
The teaching of French as a second official language in schools in the English speaking regions of Cameroon is done mostly by trained teachers from various Teachers Training Colleges and graduates from the Bilingual studies degree program of Higher Education institutions. According to Echu (2004), the teaching and learning of French at all levels of the educational system is strictly guided by the language policy which is aimed at promoting national unity and integration among the French and English speaking citizens in both French and English speaking schools. It is on this basis that a National Bilingualism Day was instituted by Decision No 1141/B1/1464/MINEDUC/IGE/IGE/IGP/BIL of October 28, 2002, in all the public and private schools in the country. The aim of this innovation in the educational system was to improve and reinforce the teaching and learning of the second languages.
On the part of Anglophones learning French, the main aim of the Decisions is that everyone who goes through the English school system in Cameroon is expected to communicate in French. In English speaking schools, French language is part of the national curriculum and the major objective stated by the Ministry of Education for the teaching of French in English speaking schools is to enable learners to acquire a mastery of the French language. Emphasis is laid on the aptitude of students to understand oral and written messages and to express themselves in writing in and out of school. To attain these objectives, the government has instituted weekly minimum and maximum teaching hours in French language, starting at level three of the primary education; a minimum of four and a maximum of eight hours per week (Ministry of National Education Cameroon MINEDUC, 2001).
Despite all the efforts made by the government to achieve the stated objectives, from personal experience and observation, a majority of students in the secondary schools are unable to read and answer questions appropriately in French reading comprehension. In order to attain some level of achievement in French reading comprehension which is the area under
investigation, the teaching method and mode of interactions with the students during the teaching-learning processes are some of the factors that need to be looked into.
Several teaching methods are used at various levels in the teaching and learning process in Cameroon. Tambo (2003) has outlined some of the general teaching methods in Cameroon, which also include the methods in the teaching of French language as a subject. Among these French language teaching methods are the recitation, drill and practice, the lecture, the discussion, laboratory, structural and the communicative language teaching methods.
The aforementioned methods are used at various levels in the teaching of French Language. For instance while French Language is taught in primary schools using mostly the drill and practice method, secondary school teachers commonly use the communicative language teaching, the structural as well as the laboratory methods, while lecturers in tertiary institutions use the lecture, the discussion and the laboratory methods.
The conventional method (Communicative language teaching method) currently used in the teaching of French Language in Secondary Schools in Cameroon is the communicative language teaching method. Ebong (2004) stressed this fact and maintained that the method which is currently used in the teaching of French in Secondary Schools is the Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) method. This conventional method of teaching French language in Cameroon was introduced in the North West Region of Cameroon on the 2nd of February 1999, in an enlarged workshop by National Inspectors for Bilingualism. The workshop on the theme “L’approche communicative, didactique de l’enseignement du Français” was attended by a majority of French teachers of the Region. The primary aim of communicative language method is “the development of communicative competence in the learner” (Akudolu, 2004, p68). Although the communicative language teaching method stands out as an improvement on the aforementioned methods, it is still not seen as a solution to all the problems of French Language
teaching in Cameroon. According to Schaetzel and Ho (2003), difficulties in the use of the communicative language teaching method include large size classes, poor classroom design and reluctant students. Another impediment is that teachers do not often fully integrate the literature of communicative language teaching in their day to day language teaching and learning process.
This might be as a result of the teachers’ inability to apply the principles of communicative language teaching to instruction. Akudolu (2004) observes that teachers’ lack of competence in the principles of communicative method is the greatest problem facing the adoption of this method to French Language teaching. There is also the problem of the clashing requirements of both the teaching and examination syllabus and the lack of a morally supportive work context which does not give teachers the time or freedom to create, initiate and motivate students towards learning French as a foreign Language (FFL) for communication (Beale, 2000).
The communicative language teaching method because of these limitations like other teaching methods, appears to have failed to promote the teaching of various aspects of French language including French reading comprehension. According to Kibett (2002), good teaching methods should provide the learners with information to be used now or in future as well as guide learners to tackle their problems. Communicative language teaching has as its goal communicative competence as proposed by Hymes (2002). The argument is that learners learn a language through the process of interaction and communication in it. Richards (2011) outlined the major principles underlying the CLT approach as that it makes use of real communication in teaching language, provides opportunity for learners to experiment and try out what they know, and makes them learn language in a more meaningful way. This therefore calls for the introduction of a viable method that could promote the teaching and learning of various aspects of French Language; the cooperative learning method can be tried in this regard.
Cooperative learning is an instructional method in which students of different ability levels are put in small groups constituting learning teams in which each group member not only learns but also helps other members to learn as the group engages in various learning activities. Slavin (2011) presents cooperative learning as an instructional method in which teachers organize students in small groups, who then work together to help one another learn academic contents. It enables students of various ability levels to work on an academic task in groups with the spirit of team and individual success.
Cooperative Learning (C L) is a method that is learner centered. Slavin (2011) further explains that the method is interactive in nature and this not only enables the learners to take a more active role in the learning process, take responsibility for their work, become highly effective and develop cognitive skills, but also provides enjoyment to the learner. Ning (2011) suggests that with the integration of the six key elements of Cooperative Learning namely positive interdependence, individual accountability, promotive interaction, equal participation, equal opportunity for success, and group processing, the students’ communicative competence would be developed.
The cooperative learning and communication languages teaching are language teaching methods. Cooperative learning is a teaching method in which small groups, each with learners of diverse levels of capability, use a range of educational activities to enhance their comprehension of a topic (Dyson and Casely, 2012) meanwhile the communication language teaching method is a method to language teaching which promoted leaner’s’ communicative competence and addresses the insufficient emphasis of traditional methods on communication skills Ying (2010) opened that it is a method to the teaching of second languages. Ying also opines that the communicative language teaching method emphasizes interaction as both the means and ultimate goal of learning language.
The end result of any effective method is success of the students or students’ achievement . Students’ academic achievement is another variable in this study. Academic achievement is the extent to which a student, teacher or institution has achieved the short or long-term educational goals. Specifically, academic achievement is described as the relative position of students’ learning outcomes to a set objective of a curriculum (Stinebrickner & Stinebrickner, 2009). Hanson (2010) also defined academic achievement in terms of the amount of gain in knowledge of students as a result of being exposed and taking part in a curriculum package. In this respect the researcher is interested in the influence of gender on students’ academic achievement in French Reading Comprehension.
Fostering a supportive learning atmosphere, providing more opportunities for authentic peer interaction, and generating meaningful language input and output in a cooperative teaching/learning team are conducive to improvement in social and communicative skills in both male and female learners.
A variable considered essential in reading comprehension is gender. The diverse nature of students in secondary schools and based on the contentious issues of achievement between male and female students especially in language learning may differ, it is worth hypothesizing that male and female students may react differently to their exposure to various methods of teaching and learning. Offorma (2004) also states that gender is learned, socially constructed condition ascribed to males and females. Distinction is usually made between gender and sex. While sex is biological, gender is socio-cultural. The roles ascribed to different sexes may agree in some societies, but may differ in others. This may also affect learning outcomes. Wamdeo (2003) observed that there are differences between the males and females when it comes to mathematical, spatial and verbal abilities. Discussing on gender and reading comprehension an aspect of language learning, Anderson cited in Igbokwe (2007) opines that there is difference in
the thought process of males which has implications for language learning. Based on the disparity of finding on gender performance in language, it seems that the influence of gender on students’ achievement is still a bit doubtful hence there is need for further studies to investigate the influence of gender on students’ achievement on gender in North West Region Cameroon.
Similarly, school location is another key variable which may affect students’ achievement. The geographical location of a school; urban or rural has a role to play in students’ achievement. Several researchers have also been interested in weather school location has influence on students achievement. Location as used in this study refers to the place or environment where a school is sited, that is either in urban or rural area. Uzoegwu (2004) is of the view that the location of the school determines so many things that are important in learning such as learning facilities, infrastructure, number of teachers and class size among others. The provision or absence of these facilities may facilitate or hinder learning. On school location still Okeke (2000), Anizoba ,(2004), Uwah (2005) and Adepoju (2008) posited that students in schools located in the urban area perform better in second language learning than those schools located in the rural area but Okeke (2000) and Anizoba (2004) reported no significant different in achievement in reading comprehension of students from the urban and area.
Some parents in the urban are also able to employ private teachers for their children at home after school hours. In the same vein Onoyase (2015) maintained that, the reason why urban students perform better in academics than the rural students is because, urban schools attract some amenities like pipe borne water, electricity, good roads and other instructional facilities. Rural schools often lack good educational facilities for effective teaching and learning. This is in line with Mofon (2001) who stressed that many rural schools are in terrible state of despair and they lack basic learning facilities. Considering the afore stated explanations therefore , there is the need to investigate through empirical evidence, the extent to which the cooperative learning
method and the communicative language teaching method will affect students’ academic achievement in French reading comprehension in the North West Region of Cameroon.
Statement of the Problem
Reading comprehension in French language constitutes one of the basic language skills. It is a successful means of acquiring knowledge through the reading of a written text. However, from personal experience and observation, the researcher notes that a majority of the English speaking students during their secondary school studies and even after leaving school are unable to read, understand and answer questions from a comprehension passage in French language. When they are given a reading passage that is within their level of understanding, they read the passage with difficulty and in the end are not able to answer comprehension questions on the read passage. This indicates that these students have poor reading skills which give rise to poor comprehension and this negatively affects the students’ ability to be proficient in both oral and written aspects of the language. This is because poor reading skills manifest in poor comprehension and this negatively affects the students’ ability to use the language or to achieve high performance in the language.
The challenges in reading comprehension experienced by English speaking students studying French language may be as a result of teaching using the communicative language teaching method adopted by the French teachers. The method of teaching various aspects of French language such as grammar, translation, reading comprehension and essay writing according to Nkwelle, Yongabi and Fomekong (2010) is inadequate and the teachers lack basic training in the teaching of French as a second or foreign language. This is why to them the situation needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency.
Despite the merits of the Communicative Language Teaching Method which is conventional method used in language instruction in secondary schools in Cameroon, over the
years from experience and observations students’ achievement in French reading comprehension has been low. Consequently, considering the characteristics and merits of the Cooperative Learning Method which are well documented in literature and the daily use of the communicative language teaching method in Cameroon, one wonders the extent to which both the Cooperative and Communicative methods can help in improving students’ low achievement in French language reading comprehension. The problem of this study, posed as a question therefore is: What is the Analysis of achievements of students taught French reading comprehension with Cooperative learning and Communicative language teaching in North West Cameroon.
Purpose of the Study
The main purpose of this study is to find out the Comparative Analysis of achievements of students taught French reading comprehension with Cooperative learning and Communicative language teaching in North West Cameroon. Specifically, the study sought to:
1. determine the achievement scores of students taught French reading comprehension using the cooperative learning method and those taught French reading comprehension using the communicative language teaching method.
2. find out the achievement scores of students in French reading comprehension in the rural area and those of students in the urban area using the cooperative learning method.
3. find out the achievement scores of male and female students in French reading comprehension using the cooperative learning method.
4. find out the achievement scores of students taught French reading comprehension using the communicative language teaching methods in the rural areas and those of the students in the urban areas.
5. find out the achievement scores of male and female students in French reading comprehension taught using the communication language teaching method.
6. determine the interaction effect of Method and gender on students’ achievement in French Reading comprehension.
7. determine the interaction effect of method and location on students’ achievement in French Reading comprehension.
8. determine the interaction effect of method, location and gender on students’ achievement in French Reading Comprehension.
Significance of the study
The findings of this study will be of benefit to the Students, Teachers, Teacher Educators, Pedagogic Inspectors, School Administrators, Authors and Publishers of French Textbooks, Ministry of Education, Examination Board Authorities, Curriculum Planners and Future Researchers.
The students will benefit from this study because the findings of the study will be exposed to teaching and learning methods that would enhance students’ achievement in French reading comprehension. The use of this method will create in students’ team learning spirit and it will also increase their interest in learning French reading comprehension.
To French teachers, the findings of this study if disseminated through teachers’ workshop will likely make them to improve and use appropriate teaching methods and strategies for the teaching and learning of French reading comprehension irrespective students’ gender and school location for improved academic achievement.
Based on the findings of this study, the teacher educators who train future teachers in Colleges of Education and Faculties of Education in Universities will encourage the student teachers to acquaint themselves with the characteristics of the method and its use in their regular classroom practices for teaching and learning in order to improve on students’ achievement in French reading comprehension.
The pedagogic inspectors will benefit from this study. This is because the findings will make these inspectors aware of a new teaching methods and this will motivate them to ensure adequate use of these methods in the teaching and learning process through routine inspections and follow-ups for its implementation in classroom for improved students’ achievement.
The school administrators which include principals of schools will benefit from the findings of this study which will provide information on the both methods under study. The school administrators will propose how the school timetables could accommodate this method and they will also encourage teachers to use this method during French lessons for a better achievement of the learning goals.
The authors and publishers of French textbooks will also benefit from the findings of this study. When the findings are published, the authors and publishers of French textbooks will be aware of these current methods and this will encourage them to plan the content of French textbooks based on some of the exigencies of the methods such as team work and interactive activities for areas like French reading comprehension.
The outcome of this study if published may be useful to the Ministry of Education which is the organ of government in making decisions be aware of the abilities of this method to improve students’ achievement in the language. Based on the findings, the (MOE) will request
the implementation of the cooperative learning method alongside the communicative method in Colleges of Education and Faculties of Education in regular classroom practices.
The Examination Board Authorities will also benefit from this study because the findings will enable them to plan further to organize examinations taken in consideration, the exigencies of the cooperative and communicative methods of teaching.
To the curriculum planners, the findings of this study will encourage them to produce better curriculum materials for French reading comprehension by accommodating the cooperative and communicative methods fully in the National Curriculum. For instance, if the findings are published, it will create awareness in the current existing situation in teaching and learning French reading comprehension in schools.
Finally, future researchers will as well benefit from this study because it will serve as an empirical study to them.
Scope of the Study
The focus of this study is on the Analysis of achievements of students taught French reading comprehension with Cooperative learning and Communicative language teaching in North West Cameroon of Form Three students in selected Government Secondary Schools in North West Region which is the English speaking area of Cameroon. The study is delimited to the following topics in French language reading comprehension as presented in Le Réseau du Français 3. A New Secondary French Course for Cameroon.
1. La fête nationale (Expressing words and expressions referring to a feast).
Identifier et parler des différentes fêtes.
2. Téléphonons à maman (Expressing modern medium of communication).
Téléphoner et réagir aux méssages téléphoniques.
3. Une lettre à Emeka Daniel (Expressing ones thoughts through letter writing).
Exprimer sa pensée à une personne par une lettre écrite.
4. Je suis en forme (words and expressions referring to health).
Parler de la santé.
The study is further delimited to the communicative method and the cooperative method. Emphasis is on teaching strategies such as the Jigsaw, Number Heads Together, Think-Pair- Share and the Carousel Cooperative Teaching Strategies. The study is also delimited to the effects of these methods on students’ achievement in French Reading Comprehension and the influence of gender and location on students’ achievement in French Reading Comprehension.
The following research questions guided the study:
1. What are the mean achievement scores of students taught French reading comprehension using the cooperative learning method and those of students taught French reading comprehension using the communicative language teaching method?
2. What are the mean achievement scores of rural and urban located secondary school students taught French reading comprehension using the cooperative learning method?
3. What are the mean achievement scores of the male and female students taught French reading comprehension using the cooperative learning method?
4. What are the mean achievement scores of rural and urban located secondary school students in French Reading Comprehension, taught using the Communicative Language Teaching Method?
5. What are the mean achievement scores of the male and female students taught French Reading Comprehension using the Communicative Language Teaching Method?
The following null hypotheses formulated were tested at 0.05 level of significance.
HO1 There is no significant difference in the mean achievement scores of students taught French reading comprehension using the cooperative learning method and those of students taught French reading comprehension using the communicative language teaching method.
HO2 There is no significant difference in the mean achievement scores of students in rural and urban secondary schools taught French reading comprehension.
HO3 There is no significant difference in the mean achievement scores of male and female students taught French reading comprehension.
HO4 There is no significant difference in the mean achievement scores of students in rural and urban secondary schools taught French Reading Comprehension using the Communicative Language Teaching Method.
HO5 There is no significant difference in the mean achievement scores of male and female students taught French Reading Comprehension using the Communicative Language Teaching Method.
HO6 There is no significant interaction effect on teaching method and gender on students’ achievement in French Reading Comprehension.
HO7 There is no significant interaction effect on teaching method and location on students’ achievement in French Reading Comprehension.
HO8 There is no significant interaction effect of method, location and gender on students’ achievement in French Reading Comprehension..