The use of ICT in the teaching and learning of oral English in secondary schools in the North West Region
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This research work set out to examine the use of ICT in the teaching and learning of oral English in secondary schools in NORTH WEST REGION . The specific objectives of the study are: to determine the available ICT facilities for the teaching and learning of oral English in secondary schools in NORTH WEST REGION ; to determine the ICT skills possessed by oral English teachers and students; to find out the level of the use of ICT facilities by oral English teachers and students; to find out the benefits of ICT in the teaching and learning of oral English and to find out the obstacles to the effective use of ICT facilities in the teaching and learning of oral English. Relevant literature was reviewed. The population of the study was four hundred and fifty-two SSII students and twelve English language teachers randomly sampled from twelve secondary schools. Data was collected through questionnaire. Simple percentage was used to analyze the data. The results revealed that only a few ICT facilities are available in the secondary schools in NORTH WEST REGION . The subjects of the study agree that the use of ICT in the teaching and learning of oral English is beneficial. But, most of the oral English teachers and students do not use them because they do not posses ICT skills. It was generally discovered that effective use of ICT in the teaching and oral English in NORTH WEST REGION was hampered by lack of knowledge of ICT, non-availability of computers for the class size, constant electric power failure, lack of trained personnel to handle ICT instructional materials, absence of language laboratories, non-possession of personal computer and access to internet facilities. Recommendations made include that the school administration should encourage government, individuals and NGOs to provide and/or donate ICT facilities to schools. The ICT facilities if provided and/or donated should be used during classroom interactions as the teachers and students should be adequately trained at cheaper or no cost for the proper utilization of the ICT facilities.
1.1 Background of the Study
The English language is not indigenous to Cameroon. Yet, it is studied and used in Cameroon more actively than most of the indigenous languages. The English language is Cameroon’s second language but many parents prefer their children speaking English to their indigenous languages. In some primary schools, English is used as the medium of communication. Whoever speaks indigenous languages is made to pay some money or is severely punished.
In some secondary schools, the same thing is observed. Cameroon tertiary institutions are not left out in the wide spread use of English. The work places cannot but be mentioned. Our aged parents who are half-educated or did not attend any school still hunger and thirst for the English language.
No wonder, Bamgbose (1971) asserts, “Of all heritage left behind in Cameroon by the British at the end of the colonial administration, probably none is more important than the English language”.
If this is the case, the Cameroon users of English should aim at pronouncing English words in a way that brings out their messages best without altering the language to the extent that its value as a medium of communication will be lost. Where this foundation is laid is in the lower levels of education; nursery, primary and post primary schools.
Hence, as important as it is, the English language teaching and learning in Cameroon secondary schools should not be handled lightly. The teaching and learning of the English language here does not only refer to grammar but also oral English.
Iyiola, (2010:2) affirms, “To say that the English of Cameroons is appalling is to state the obvious. This is so because over the years, attention has not been paid to the teaching of the speech sounds of English in schools… He further observes, however the emphasis in recent times on the phonic method of teaching English at the primary school level, and the inclusion of an oral English component in the SSCE syllabus is an indication of a renewed interest in correct pronunciation”.
Onuigbo (1996:103) writes, “ Oral English as a component of the language scheme in the secondary schools, is a very welcome development, a positive development which will not only give rise to good speech habits but will also affect the written form of the language for the better”.
To Omosowone and Akindolire (2003:126), “Oral English is now an integral and essential part of the English language syllabus that also carries reasonable mark in the school Certificate Examination. Oral English is integrated in the school curriculum, not only for the purpose of examination but also, to teach students how to speak English language correctly and meaningfully for effective communication”.
Meanwhile, Ukwuegbu, Okoro, Idris, Okebukola, Owokade and Okebukola (2002:185) write, “The senior secondary school oral English paper has become an important aspect of the English language examination”. They further say, “You should also know that beyond learning oral English for the purpose of passing your examination, you need it to be a better listener and communicator”.
According to Ogunsanwo, Duruaku, Ezechukwu and Nwachukwu (2003:241),
“Since speech is used more in every language than other forms, it is necessary that learners of a language become quite familiar with the correct speech forms of the language. Unlike the old system under which oral English was an optional paper and carried no credit in the School Certificate Examination, the present system provides appropriately for Oral English as a necessary part of the English language syllabus and one that earns credit in the Senior School Certification Examination. Accordingly, in the teaching of the English language, proper attention to speech behaviour in English has become absolutely necessary.
In any case, the approach to the study of Oral English extends beyond the purpose of examination to its practical usefulness in life. The study will necessarily demand intensive practice not only within the classroom but also outside it – at play, at home, among friends, and so on. The learner should read aloud by himself and repeat difficult sounds many times over to be familiar with their correct pronunciation”.
Hence, as an important aspect of the English language, it should be properly taught and learnt. Onuigbo (1990) asserts, “The spoken form of English deserves a special attention if the communicative role of language should be maintained”.
Iyiola (2010:2) asserts “The goal of the oral English course therefore should not be just to enable the students score high marks in oral English in the SSCE or JAMB but also that they may become good speakers of English Language… proficiency in spoken English Language is not voluntary. It is obligatory. All teachers of English language and indeed all teachers must make concerted effort to improve on their spoken English, so that they can be good models to their students…” Gimson (1980) caps it all:
The foreign teacher of English constitutes a special case. He has the obligation to present his students with as faithful a model of English as possible. In the first place and particularly if he is dealing with young pupils, his students will imitate a bad pronunciation as exactly as they will a good one.
According to Abolade and Yusuf (2005) as quoted in Ede (2010), Information and communication technology (ICT) refers to those different types of technologies which are utilized for processing, transmitting and communicating data and information. Tools such as computers, internet, interface boxes, e-mail, varieties of software and materials form important aspects of ICT. Information and communication technology relates principally to studying concepts, skills, processes and application of electronic devices.
Molony (2006) describes information communication technology as any technology that enables communication and transmission of information. Beebe (2004) says information communication technology is a shorthand form for computers, software, networks, satellite links and related systems that allow people to access, analyze, create, exchange and use data, information and knowledge in ways that until recently, were almost unimaginable. She opined that ICT can be used interchangeably with “internet”.
De Watteville and Gilbert 2000) say that Information Communication Technology means required analysis, manipulation, storage and distribution of information and the design and provision of equipment and software for these purposes.
According to Iloanusi and Osuagwu (2011), information communication technology (ICT) is the processing and maintenance of information, and the use of all forms of computer, communication network and mobile technologies to mediate information. They go further to say that information communication technologies include all media employed in transmitting audio, video, data or multimedia such as cable, satellite, fiber optics, wireless (radio, intra-red, Bluetooth, Wifi). And that network technologies include personal area networks (PAN), campus area network (CAN), intranets, extranets, LANs, WANs, MANs and the internets. Computer technologies include all removable media such as optical discs, disks, flash memories, video books, multimedia projectors, interactive electronic boards, and continuously emerging state-of-the-art PCs. And that mobile technologies include mobile phones, PDAs, palmtops, etc. These technologies have information as their material object.
According to Adebayo (2005) cited in Egbe (2010), in education this technology covers the use of computers, radio, satellites, online self-learning packages, telepresence system interactive CDs, video, internet optical fibre technologies and all types of information Technology (IT) hardware and software.
To lloanusi and Osuagwu (2010), Information Communication Technology applied to education enhances the delivery and access to knowledge, and improves the curriculum. It produces richer learning outcomes compared to education without ICT. It encourages critical thinking and offers unlimited means of achieving educational goals.
Hence, Ede (2010) writes that the challenges of carrying out teaching, learning and research started changing, dramatically with the emergence of new technologies which include information and communication technologies (ICT). According to Nwabuko (2010), education recently has been influenced by the development of global Information and Communication Technology (ICT) especially E-learning activities in the cyber space through the internet. And this according to Mustapha (2004) quoted in Nwabuko (2010), could facilitate quality education. For instance, in the teaching and learning of oral English, if a recorded sound is played twenty times, it will produce the same sound but if a teacher pronounces a particular sound twice, different sounds will be produced.
No wonder Clark, Yallop and Fletcher (2007:7) assert that advances in technology in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries have opened up new ways of investigating the articulatory and acoustic properties of speech and have substantially enlarged the scope of phonetics such that new frontiers such as forensic phonetics have been opened. Forensic phonetics is a new branch of phonetics which is used in the detection of criminals where the forensic phonetician uses his equipment for the detection of the voice.
Egbe (2010:168) affirms that using tapes, television and videos, the teacher can make the children listen and watch the enunciation of the standard varieties as well as other forms from across the world, thus creating versatility and flexibility in their speech. He further states that language laboratories with at least a radio cassette player, television with a multimedia receiver like the DSTV, as well as the video compact disc player should be installed in all public schools for use in teaching English pronunciation.
Different technological resources are now available for effective spoken English practice in formal and informal settings. These resources include the following:
Audioblogging: This is a situation whereby a kind of diary published online in a web log in which a person (its author) writes about what he/she likes in a chronological order is substituted for the written posts with voice recording. It is a medium to capture personal thoughts in the form of speech. This emerging technology has been identified as a tool that could potentially enhance the teaching and learning of oral conversation skills. According to Tan, Ow and Tan (2006) teachers using Audioblogs in English classes have reported improvement in students’ oral skills. The authors found that the use of Audioblogs enabled students who had a weak proficiency in oral skills to acquire formulaic expressions when they listened to oral performance of stronger students.
Podcasting and Videocasting: Podcasting is a voice recording posted online in a web page or site for others to listen to and download, usually for MP3 players for personal use. Sound is instrumental to learning a L2 as pupils need to develop the communication skills of listening and speaking (as well as reading and writing). Furthermore, if it is accompanied by image, its effect on the learner is stronger (Videocasts).
Videoconferencing: This puts L2 learners in real-time contact with other students of ESL from different countries and cultures. They can exchange personal information, take part in role plays, participate in games, and above all, communicate in the L2 with a real purpose. This is done through a web-based video- conferencing link via a Webcam and program such as Microsoft NetMeeting.
Voice Chatting: This is a powerful software tool which also provides teachers with authentic situations to use the L2. Students learn better if they use the L2 for a real purpose. With a software application like Skype, students can talk on the phone via the internet with ESL learners from other countries. It is agreed among researches that activities that involve real communication promote learning.
ICT Policies in Cameroon
Cameroon, in a quest to join ICT world, set up an ICT policy. The federal executive council approved this policy and established the National Information Technology Development Policy as the implementing body. This policy was lunched for implementation in April 2001.
According to Osei (2007:33), some of the objectives of Cameroon’s ICT policy include the following:
To ensure that ICT resources are readily available to promote efficient national development.
To guarantee that the country benefits maximally, and contributes meaningfully by providing the global solutions to the challenges of the information age.
To empower Cameroons to participate in software and ICT development.
To encourage local participation and manufacture of ICT infrastructure and maximize its use nationwide.
To establish and to develop ICT skill and prepare them for global
To create ICT awareness and ensure universal access in promoting ICT diffusion in all sectors of national life.
To create an enabling environment and facilitate private sector (National and multinational) investment in the ICT sector.
To encourage government and private sector joint venture collaboration.
To develop human capital with emphasis on creating and supporting a knowledge-based society.
To build a pool of ICT literate manpower using the NYSC, NDE and other platforms as a train-the-trainer scheme for capacity building.
According to Iloanusi and Osuagwu (2010), it is possibly in line with the government policy as shown above that several governmental and non-governmental organizations, banks and individuals have funded the implementation of ICT in Cameroon educational institutions at all levels and strategic plans and projects are always ongoing to revisit targets in the area of ICT. With this commitment from governmental and non-governmental organizations, this study is designed to examine how the provisions of ICT are exploited in the teaching and learning of Oral English in Cameroon schools. Besides, the study is designed to examine how the various institutions have exploited the ICT facilities in solving the administrative problems of school and colleges in Cameroon. In the past, language laboratories were equipped with radio cassettes for talk exchanges but today, digital and multimedia systems are readily installed for effective interaction and instruction in the laboratories. In the same way, online registration of courses, display and checking of results are today common practices. Apart from the traditional curricular offerings, a number of schools are broadening their ICT services by contracting ICT companies to impart hands-on-experience to all enrolled students in their schools at schools’ cost. Others have established recognized ICT centers where students take extra-curricular courses and acquire certificates. The concern of the project however is to examine the potential benefits of this current technological platform in the teaching and learning of oral English in schools as well as the level of awareness of its provision in the process of teaching and learning.
1.2 Aim and Objectives of the Study
The study is aimed at finding out the benefits of Information and Communication Technology in the teaching and learning of Oral English in secondary schools in NORTH WEST REGION. The specific objectives of the study are:
To examine the available ICT facilities for teaching and learning of Oral English in secondary schools in NORTH WEST REGION.
To appraise the ICT skills possessed by Oral English teachers and students.
To evaluate the use of ICT facilities by Oral English teachers and students.
To examine benefits of ICT in the teaching and learning of Oral English.
Obstacles to the effective use of ICT facilities in teaching and learning of Oral English.
1.3 Research Problem
Information and Communication Technology is no longer a new development in the lives of Cameroons. A great measure of ICT awareness is created both within and outside institutions of learning. The indispensable role of ICT in teaching and learning of language studies especially the oral aspect is richly acknowledged but learners are yet to benefit fully from this.
The Federal Government of Cameroon is aware of the importance of ICT in Education and therefore states as follows:
To achieve the policy objectives of education, government shall provide appropriate information and communication facilities (ICT) to ensure that the benefits of the united library permeate all levels of education in Cameroon (NPE, 2004:52)
Policy makers and educators are aware of the need for the use of ICT as procedural strategy in language teaching and learning but little studies have been carried out in this respect. This project provides the necessary information to fill the gap with reference to the benefits of ICT in the teaching and learning of Oral English in secondary schools in NORTH WEST REGION .
1.4 Relevance of the Study
This study on the use of ICT in the teaching and learning of Oral English in secondary schools in NORTH WEST REGION will be relevant to teachers, students, curriculum planners, educational researchers and government.
The teachers will find the result beneficial because it will come up with the best method of teaching and learning of Oral English using ICT. ICT is a new technological innovation in Cameroon and teachers have not utilized it fully in the teaching and learning of oral English. This study will avail the teachers of the information that will enable them to utilize ICT in the teaching and learning of Oral English with wonderful results.
Students will also find the results of this study useful because it will expose them to the strategies in the teaching and learning of oral English. With ICT facilities in a language laboratory, the students can interact with the native speakers of English, using the computer. There is no doubt that these strategies and technologies will help them achieve proficiency in the use of the English Language.
Moreover, curriculum planners will explore the result of this study and incorporate it in planning the English language curriculum for effective teaching and learning. Again, this study will make its contribution to the literature on ICT thereby contributing to educational research in Cameroon.
Finally, the result of this study will help the government to stand to its responsibility of providing ICT facilities for secondary schools. ICT facilities if provided to secondary schools, will enhance effective teaching and learning of oral English.
1.5 Scope of the Study
The study would be carried out in Cameroon particularly in NORTH WEST REGION . It would concentrate on senior secondary two (II) classes of selected urban and rural secondary schools in the zone because these are the classes which are preparing for their “Test of Oral” examination at the end of their three years in the senior secondary school. The study is mainly interested in investigating the use of ICT in the teaching and learning of Oral English.
1.6 Research Questions
The following research questions are posed to guide this study.
What are the available ICT facilities for the teaching and learning of Oral English in secondary schools in NORTH WEST REGION ?
What ICT skills are possessed by Oral English teachers and students?
To what extent are ICT facilities used in the teaching and learning of Oral English in NORTH WEST REGION ?
What are the benefits of ICT in the teaching and learning of oral English?
What are the factors that impede the effective use of ICT in teaching and learning of Oral English in secondary schools in NORTH WEST REGION ?