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2 ee chop ler

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2 ee chop ler

  1. 1. International Journal of Arts and Sciences 3(10): 26 - 55 (2010) CD-ROM. ISSN: 1944-6934 © InternationalJournal.org Cultural Factors Affecting English Proficiency in Rural Areas: A Case Study Ee Chop Ler, Universiti Darul Iman Malaysia, Malaysia Abstract The purpose of this study is to investigate the rural ‘cultural’ problems and to determine their effect on the learning of English. Twenty students from different ethnic backgrounds and English language proficiency in six rural schools in Terengganu, Malaysia were interviewed. In addition the teachers also from different rural schools and ethnic backgrounds responded to a questionnaire. The problems discussed by both the teacher and student respondents arose due to the rural cultural setting. The findings of this study show that 1) five major problem areas exist, namely peer pressure and motivation, attitudes towards English, teaching methodology, school culture, influence of Islamic teaching on the learning of English 2) the problems discussed by the teachers and students are similar and 3) most importantly all these identified problems are closely related to the rural setting. Therefore, one can conclude that rural cultural factors adversely affect English Proficiency of the rural students of this study. Keywords: Rural cultural factors, English Proficiency 1.0 INTRODUCTION AND BACKGROUND The fall in the standard of English is seen throughout Malaysia as evidenced in all public examinations like UPSR (Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah examination), PMR (Penilaiaan Menengah Rendah) and SPM (Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia).Most probably a pass in English has never been made compulsory for SPM. Our new Deputy Prime minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin was surprised to learn that English is not a ‘must pass’ for SPM and wants public feedback on this matter (The Star 9.6.2009). In fact the English result in major examinations “hovers at a low level of around 60% candidates achieving passes since 2000. (The Star 8.11.2000) As for the PMR examination overall more than 40% (158,530 of 392,692) students failed in 2001 (The Star 21.12.2008).The poor performance in English marred an otherwise marginally better performance in the 2008 Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR) examination which is the national primary school leaving examination. (The Star, 8.11.2000).Furthermore the percentage of passes in English among rural students is only 49.6% compared to urban students (72.8%). The twin objectives of our educational system are closely related to national unity and human resource development both gearing towards a united, liberal, democratic as well as advanced society (Education Guide Malaysia, 1996).Three kinds of school systems namely fully government aided schools, semi government and private schools are set up. Of course Malay is the medium of instruction in all schools except for vernacular schools
  2. 2. International Journal of Arts and Sciences 3(10): 26 - 55 (2010) CD-ROM. ISSN: 1944-6934 © InternationalJournal.org (Mandarin and Tamil are used) Four educational levels i.e. preschool, primary, secondary and tertiary exist in Malaysia .Free and compulsory education from ages of 6 to 14 i.e. Primary and lower Secondary (Akta Pendidikan 1996) with a subsequent optional two years of free education till upper Secondary level. Secondary education begins at 12 to 19 years aiming at promoting overall general specialized learning by equipping students with knowledge, insight and important skills e.g. to read and write so as to form a strong foundation for lifelong education.(Educational Guide Malaysia,1996). English is not accorded much status in these examinations. (David, 2000) 1.1 THE STATUS AND ROLE OF ENGLISH With the introduction of Malay as the medium of instruction in 1970,the status of English has become that of a ‘second language’ It is compulsory to study English as it is the first foreign language learnt after the mother tongue. However it must be emphasized that English is merely but a subject in schools and not a medium of instruction. A prominent local linguist Asmah (1992:66) states that the role of the Malay Language is for ‘nationalism’ while English is for ‘Nationism’. The formal is for national unity and identity while the latter for maintaining group cohesion and political ties among Malaysians. 1.2 CONCERN FOR THE STANDARD OF ENGLISH It is clear then public figures, teachers, parents and even students recognize the importance of English. At the same time almost everyone is aware of the rapidly declining standard of English in schools as well as the emergence of a substitute of English language, Manglish (A Malaysian version of standard English).New graduates face a serious problem in English (The Star 12.7. 2000).It has been stated that 90% of Malaysians entering local universities have insufficient English proficient for study purposes, 44% classified as weak while 19 % are very weak in the subject.(The Straits Times 12. 9. 2000).These graduates are not conversant with English that has become a key medium of business worldwide. Graduates will have a much tougher time getting a job if they are not proficient in English and will definitely ‘lose to other applicants’ (The Star 11.8.2000).It was found these graduates struggle to speak English in job interviews (The Star 10.2. 2000).Several reasons explain this decline such as the switch from English to Malay as the medium of instruction in schools to limited exposure and use of English. This greatly affected the motivation to learn and teach English especially in rural areas. This is aggravated by the fact that English has low status in public exams as it is not essential to pass English. In addition English is not offered at STPM level (Sijil Tinggi Pelajaran Malaysia) or pre university level. Thirdly the poor proficiency of teachers in English adds to the poor performance. Young English teachers are struggling with their own proficiency in English and this is reiterated by many parents, who question the proficiency of young English teachers in schools.(The Star,22.12.2000)
  3. 3. International Journal of Arts and Sciences 3(10): 26 - 55 (2010) CD-ROM. ISSN: 1944-6934 © InternationalJournal.org Fourthly, students lack self motivation and initiative to communicate in English as they resort to their respective native languages as means of effective communication. 1.3 PURPOSE OF THE STUDY The purpose of this study is to investigate what causes the low proficiency in English of the rural students. Therefore the objectives of the study are 1)to obtain empirical data of the relationship between English proficiency of the student and the ‘rural cultural factors’ and 2) to provide suggestions and solutions to improve the proficiency in English among rural students. 1.4 DEFINITIONS OF TERMS USED IN THIS STUDY 1.4.1. Language proficiency refers to the knowledge and ability to speak, write and understand the target language of the language learners hence it refers to the mastery of the target language. In this study it is measured by using the students’ scores in PMR as well as the cloze (Fotos 1991) and an Error identification test. Then the proficiency level is defined using the scale of the Reading Test program from the Ministry of Education. Cloze is claimed to be a global measure of language proficiency (Darnell 1970, Fotos1991 & Oller 1977 & 1978) for both native and non native English speakers. 1.4.2 Second Language (L2) refers to the language learned after the mother tongue is acquired e.g. English after Malay Language. 1.4.3 Rural schools in Malaysia as classified by the Ministry of Education are schools located in towns or districts having a population of less than 10,000 ( Rosli & Malachi 1990).Urban schools on the other hand are located in bigger towns and districts with a population of more than 10000 people. 1.4.4 Attitude is a mental and neural state of readiness, organized through experience exerting a directive or dynamic influence upon the individual’s response to all objects and situations with which it is related.”In layman terms, attitudes are a set of beliefs the learners have towards the use and learning of the target language or towards the speakers of that language. These beliefs are translated into expression of positive or negative feelings towards that language. The perceptions of the people speaking the language and culture towards the target language also have an effect on learners learning that language. 1.4.5 Motivation (Gardner 1985:10) is the ‘combination of effort and desire to achieve the goal of learning the language including favorable attitudes towards learning the language. Gardner and Lambert (1972) identified two types of motivation i.e. instrumental and integrative. Instrumental motivation refers to a desire to gain social recognition or any reward through the learning of the language while integrative
  4. 4. International Journal of Arts and Sciences 3(10): 26 - 55 (2010) CD-ROM. ISSN: 1944-6934 © InternationalJournal.org motivation is the desire to learn the language out of genuine interest or to be associated with the community. 1.4.6. Exposure, language environment and use of language This refers to the sum total of contacts with the target language. Mackay(1965) classified language exposure into three categories namely a)personal contact with members of family, relatives, classmates etc, b)non personal contact through the media like TV, radio moviesc)non personal contacts through written forms such as newspapers, magazines and books. Language environment according to Dulay et al (1982) encompasses everything the language learner hears and sees in the new language. 1.4.7 Peers Musgrave (1972) defines peers as ‘group of individuals who belong to the same age group of children or adolescents.’ It refers to members of a group which are of the same age of either sex sharing the same interests and attitudes and able to communicate and interact freely in school. 1.4.8 Rural society According to Murdock (1965) society refers to ‘all members in a group staying together and whose patterns of behavior are learned and passed down to the next generation.’ ‘Rural’ in layman‘s terms ‘refers to a district or countryside locality far from bigger towns’ 1.4.9. Culture According to the American Heritage Dictionary (1992),culture is the ‘totality of socially transmitted behavior patterns, arts, beliefs, institutions and all other products of human work and thoughts’ It also refers to the patterns, traits and products considered as the expression of a particular period ,class, community or population. This study is an exploratory study of the cultural factors i.e. traits, attributes, beliefs and practices found among the people in the rural areas which impact the English Language proficiency of the students. Examples of the attributes of the rural population are the shared system of ideas, beliefs and traditions in their life and their adaptation to the environment for instance earning a living by fishing or farming. They do not expect their children to work elsewhere instead to continue the traditional way of living. It is also difficult for the rural students to learn English as anti colonial beliefs are handed down for generation. Therefore this rural non English speaking setting is not conducive for learning English and will affect the attitude of the students, motivation, peer influence and even the teaching methods used by rural English teachers in the learning of English. As social interactions are within the rural boundaries, the students are shy to speak English. Rural life is known to be simple, carefree and contented with much time and leisure of the rural population spent on religious activities. These are some examples of the exclusive rural cultural traits in this study.
  5. 5. International Journal of Arts and Sciences 3(10): 26 - 55 (2010) CD-ROM. ISSN: 1944-6934 © InternationalJournal.org 1.5 METHODOLOGY This study investigates and examines rural students’ problems when learning English. This is carried out by semi structured interviews with twenty students as well as ten teachers from six rural schools in East coast of Peninsular Malaysia. Open ended questions were used in both interviews and questionnaire in order to obtain their views of the problems of learning and teaching English. 1.6 SIGNIFICANCE OF THE STUDY It is hope that the collected data would provide significant and invaluable insights into the teaching and learning of English in the rural areas. These findings will shed light on the relationship between the students’ proficiency and the rural cultural variables and may help to provide solutions for better teaching. These solutions will consequently help rural students to attain a higher proficiency in English. These findings would be a helpful guide to teachers and educational authorities with regard to strategies, kinds of learning activities and appropriate teaching materials, especially in rural schools. Hopefully curriculum planners can use the empirical data as a basis for future planning and organizing appropriate materials for Malaysian students who live in different learning environment. 1.7 LIMITATION OF THE STUDY This study is limited in its scope as data were collected from only 20 students and ten teachers. The fact that data were collected from shy, non English speaking rural students therefore posed a number of problems. Most of them could not really understand most of the questions asked and the researcher has to translate the questions and responses into Malay. A large part of the interview was carried out either in code switched dialogue (English and Malay) in informal interactions or only one language-Malay. The students do not speak standard Malay but use the local dialect, Kelantanese hence at times researcher faces problems in interpretation and transcription. The open ended questions lend themselves to a quantitative data analysis. However the overall analysis is qualitative in nature. 2.0 REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE Language learning involves a complex interplay of personal and social variables such as motivation and attitude. Other factors include negative attitude toward learning English, limited exposure to the target language and peer influence .Gardner and Lambert (1959) show how success in language learning is related to attitudinal variables like attitudes towards the language learned and towards the speakers of that language and culture. Spolky (1969) also studies the relationship between proficiency of second language and
  6. 6. International Journal of Arts and Sciences 3(10): 26 - 55 (2010) CD-ROM. ISSN: 1944-6934 © InternationalJournal.org attitude of the students towards the language learnt of 315 foreign students from different backgrounds studying in America and discover a profound relationship between the attitudes of the students towards English and their grades in English. However local studies by Jayatilaka (1982) studies 132 second year students in Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) finds a negative attitude held by some of the students towards the learning of English does not adversely affect successful second language learning. Similarly Chandrasegaran (1979) studies the upper Secondary Malay medium students show low correlation between proficiency and attitude towards English Learning. Several researchers like Mueller & Miller (1970 cited in Gardner, 1985) and Mueller (1971 cited in Gardner 1985) assert that attitudes towards French speaking people correlate with grades in French. Students with positive attitudes towards the French have higher proficiency levels in French. This is supported by Jacobsen and Imhoof (1974) who find that the positive attitude of 600 Protestant missionaries towards the Japanese community living in Japan contributed to their success in mastering Japanese. However studies by Teitelbaum et al (1975) on the students in New Mexico assert that a positive attitude towards the local Chicana community does not affect their successful acquisition of Spanish. Chichana & Oller (1978) also find a correlation between factors from attitude measures and EFL proficiency when they try to assess attitudes of Japanese students towards themselves as Japanese who speak English. This is confirmed by Anie (1982) and Chandrasegan (1979). Motivation can be considered a good predictor of success in second language learning in local and overseas studies. Gardner & Lambert (1979) were pioneers who equated integrative motivation as necessary for the mastery of language proficiency. Thevanathampillai & Baba’s (1984) extensive study on 295 fifth formers or Grade students taken from 7 schools in Fiji shows the role of motivation in the learning of English. There is a significant correlation between the intensity of motivation and proficiency level. Students with greater motivational intensity perform better compared to students with low intensity. Other factors discussed in literature search include exposure to target language, SES (Socio economic status), parental attitude, peer influence role of teachers and shyness factor. The model of linear-casual relationship (Gardner 1959), socio educational model (Gardner 1979) and Social Education Model (Gardner 1993) with social cultural milieu is discussed (Figure 1 & 2) .To conclude learning a language is a highly complex issue, which involve a complicated interplay of many factors and variables.
  7. 7. International Journal of Arts and Sciences 3(10): 26 - 55 (2010) CD-ROM. ISSN: 1944-6934 © InternationalJournal.org
  8. 8. International Journal of Arts and Sciences 3(10): 26 - 55 (2010) CD-ROM. ISSN: 1944-6934 © InternationalJournal.org 3.0 RESEARCH DESIGN In this research, the English language proficiency is the first variable and measured by PMR results and a proficiency test (adapted by the researcher) and the other variables include rural attitudes towards English, peer pressure motivation, rural school culture, teaching methodology and the effect of religion-rural cultural factors as the second factor. 1) First variable -English Proficiency (PMR & Cloze test) 2) Second variable-Rural cultural factors 3.1 SUBJECTS Twenty student respondents coming from different ethnic backgrounds with different socioeconomic backgrounds studying in six rural schools are randomly selected as subjects in this study. They are interviewed for an hour as they have to take English for the public exams, they consist of 16 Malays, 2 Chinese and 2 Indians. Ten are males
  9. 9. International Journal of Arts and Sciences 3(10): 26 - 55 (2010) CD-ROM. ISSN: 1944-6934 © InternationalJournal.org while ten are females. As for the teacher respondents, ten teachers of different ethnic backgrounds, gender, academic qualifications and years of teaching experience are randomly chosen .They were asked to respond to the given questionnaires (Appendix B) 3.2 RESEARCH TOOL Semi structured interviews sessions were carried out for the students while the teachers were given a questionnaire. The interview sessions were carried out in an informal manner sitting under a tree in a school compound over four weekends to create a non threatening atmosphere. Each student met the researcher for an hour except for two pairs of male students who preferred to be interviewed together(See Appendix A) 3.3 CLOZE TEXT AND ERROR IDENTIFICATION Cloze tests, a global text of English proficiency (Darnell 1968, Oller1872, Spolsky 1968, Stubbs and Tucker 1974 cited in Foto 1991).Two passages (adapted from past SPM exam papers) with twenty blanks each (Appendix C) were used to test the students. The second part of the test consists of error identification questions testing the ability to detect grammatical errors in the sentences and correcting them. The purpose of the test was to measure the structural proficiency of the 20 student respondents. The teachers favored the use of the questionnaire as they were busy and preferred to write down their opinion. Their response serves to cross validate the findings from the students’ interviews (a similar methodology used by Patton, 1996) (See Appendix C) 4.0 METHODS OF DATA ANALYSIS The method of data analysis used for this study comprises of the following steps: i) Analysis of data from student respondents (Interviews) ii) Analysis of data from the teacher respondents (Questionnaires) iii) Making a connection between the rural cultural variables 4.1 Data Analysis of the proficiency level of the student respondents Table 4.1 Breakdown proficiency scores of the student respondents 10-20 21-30 31-40 41-50 51-60 61-70 71-80 Total 7 3 2 2 2 3 1 20 The table 4.1 shows seven students obtained 10-20 marks,3 students obtained 21-30,two student respondents scored marks ranging from 31-40,another two obtained marks from 41-50, two scored 51-60 while three students scored marks ranging from 61-70 and finally one student obtained 71-80 marks.
  10. 10. International Journal of Arts and Sciences 3(10): 26 - 55 (2010) CD-ROM. ISSN: 1944-6934 © InternationalJournal.org Table 4.2 Proficiency grade of student respondents (based on Reading Program Scale) 0-40 Grade C 41-60 Grade B 61-100 Grade A 12 students (60%) 4 students (20%) 4 students (20%) When using the class Reading Program scale, Table 4. 2 show that 12 students fall in the Grade C category, 4 in Grade B while another 4 in Grade A. In other words, 60% of the student respondents are not very proficient, 20% are in the middle proficiency level and another 20% can be considered proficient as they obtained Grade A in the test. As for their PMR results, only 3 students scored A, 6 obtained B while 11 got Grade C. The answers to the eleven questions asked in the questionnaires are also analyzed. Since the view of the teachers and students are fairly similarly, the identified responses with regards to problems in learning English in the rural setting will be analyzed together. This section will consist of 1) the analysis of the views and suggestions of the student and teacher respondents and 2) compares the views expressed to the features of rural settings. 4.2.1 Analysis of the students’ perception of the importance of learning English All the twenty students(100%) agreed that English is important .The reasons given are English is a world language, English for further education, to pass exam for professional course, to get scholarship for travelling purposes and to seek jobs .As for the teachers’ perception all agreed on the importance of importance of English.70% feel that English is needed greatly in universities as reference books are in English,65 % as world language, 40% for professional courses,20% to obtain scholarships,10% mention English as an travelling purposes,10% to seek jobs and 5 % relates the importance of English with exams. 4.2.2 Teachers’ perception of the importance of learning English All the 10 teacher respondents agree that English is important and cannot be underestimated.80% of the teacher respondents feel English is greatly needed in universities especially as most of the reference books are in English.8 teachers state that English is also a language of international communciation.20% associate it with international traveling, 10% relates the importance of English with examinations while 10% for the acquisition of knowledge. From the analysis, it is clear that all teachers reiterated the importance of English. 4.2.3 Students’ attitude towards the learning of English 60% feel it should be made compulsory.(Table 4.3) 15% describe that science is more important.10% feel that it is difficult to learn writing and vocabulary as they lack the
  11. 11. International Journal of Arts and Sciences 3(10): 26 - 55 (2010) CD-ROM. ISSN: 1944-6934 © InternationalJournal.org necessary study skills to excel in the acquisition of English.10 % mentioned they learn just to pass English as a subject. Table 4.3 Students’ attitude towards the learning of English Views learning English Number of students % 1.Important to learn 12 60% 2.Unimportant to learn 3 15% 3.Dislike learning English 2 10% 4.Difficult to learn 1 5% 5.Learn to pass exam 2 10% 4.2.4. Teachers’ attitude towards the teaching and learning of English As for the teachers’ attitude towards the teaching of English (Table 4.4), 100 % agree that there is a need to study English. One teacher respondent mentions it is an asset. Other terms used by teacher respondents concerning the need to teach and learn English are ‘crucial’ and ‘necessary’, ’should be encouraged’ ‘very important’. Table 4.4 Teachers’ attitude towards the teaching and learning of English Views on teaching of English Number % Should be emphasized 1 10% Made compulsory 4 40% Very Important 5 50% Other terms used by teacher respondents concerning the need to teach and learn English are ‘crucial’ and ‘necessary’, ’should be encouraged’ ‘very important’. 4.2.5 How student respondents studied English The table above (Table 4.5) shows all the twenty students learns English in a classroom setting. They have to depend on their English teachers to provide intensive drills; class projects and English activities.20% read on their own to improve their English and learn new things about language.10% attend tuition classes. Other ways stated are self study, vocabulary exercises, speaking with friends and listening to radio programs.
  12. 12. International Journal of Arts and Sciences 3(10): 26 - 55 (2010) CD-ROM. ISSN: 1944-6934 © InternationalJournal.org Table 4.5 How student respondents studied English (Note student respondents can give more than one answer to all open ended questions). Ways of learning Number of students % Class activities/exercises 20 100 Reading 4 20 Sentence/vocabulary 2 10 Pressured by teachers 2 10 Tuition 2 10 Other ways.eg. radio etc 2 10 Speaking with friends 1 10 Self study 1 5 4.2.6 Problems in learning English according to student respondents When asked about the problems in learning English, the entire student respondents tend to blame the non supportive school culture towards the learning of English. According to the student respondents, there is no support or encouragement from the authorities concerned to speak English in school. This is followed by 80% of the students who feel that the negative attitude of the students is another reason.75% of the students name the lack of an English speaking environment as another factor. Other factors include boring teaching methods (30%) and that English is unimportant compared to Science and Mathematics (20%).It is clear that a non supportive culture. lack of English speaking environment and a negative attitude to English are the major problems associated with the learning of English. Table 4.6 Problems in learning English according to student respondents Problems Number % Non supportive school culture 20 100 Negative attitude 16 80 Lack English environment 15 75 Lack motivation 10 50 Boring teaching methods 6 30 Science & Mathematics more important 4 20 4.2.7 Problems in learning and teaching of English as perceived by the teachers Table 4.7 shows the problems as viewed by the ten teacher respondents. All of the teacher respondents feel that the negative attitudes of the students’ lack of an English speaking environment, boring teaching methods as well as non-supportive school culture are the main problems in the learning of English in rural schools. Like the student
  13. 13. International Journal of Arts and Sciences 3(10): 26 - 55 (2010) CD-ROM. ISSN: 1944-6934 © InternationalJournal.org respondents, many also feel that there is a need to vary teaching methods and techniques. Teaching techniques according to 30% of the students are boring and out of date. Based on the interviews with teacher respondents ,it is clear that if innovative methods are used, there is a fear of negative reaction from rural students for example drama. The rural people did not support and considered it unIslamic to stage an English drama as there is a difference between western and eastern values. Moreover the boring English teaching methods employed like language drills, grammar quizzes in classes are examination based, One teacher expressed that “at the end of the day, people are going to judge you on your student achievement’. Therefore it is safer and relevant to use examination approach technique than games and fun filled activities. Teachers end up with distributing worksheets closely related to examinations to attain the goal of reaching the targeted examination results. Group work technique, Cooperative Learning and Integrative methods can be introduced to make students assertive and encourage them to help one another in learning English. Table 4.7 Problems in learning and teaching of English as perceived by the teachers Problems Number % Student attitude 10 100 Lack of motivation 5 50 Lack of exposure 1 10 Boring teaching methods 10 100 Non supportive school culture 10 100 Science & Mathematics more important 2 20 Government policy on English 6 60 Rural thinking 1 10 Use of Malay 5 50 Red Tape 2 20 Political reasons 1 10 Difficult to teach 1 10 Low proficiency 1 10 Parental role 1 10
  14. 14. International Journal of Arts and Sciences 3(10): 26 - 55 (2010) CD-ROM. ISSN: 1944-6934 © InternationalJournal.org 4.2.8 Different methods of teaching English used by teacher respondents Table 4.8 Different methods of teaching English used by teacher respondents Drills Exam exercises Group work Others(Quiz etc) 5 (50%) 5 (50%) 1 (10%) 2 (20%) Both the teachers and students therefore agreed that there is a need to introduce a variety of more creative activities in classes like movies, less examination oriented exercises so as to arouse the interest of the students. (Table 4.8) When asked further on the problems of teaching of English in the rural areas, two teachers stress that it is difficult, challenging, time consuming to teach English in rural setting. They compare the teaching of English to ‘fighting in a battlefield’’ So while the teachers think it is tiring, the students think it is boring. 4.2.9 Common problems reported by student and teacher respondents Table 4.9 Common problems reported by student and teacher respondents PROBLEMS STUDENT NUMBER STUDENT % TEACHER NUMBER TEACHER % 1.Negative attitude of students 16 80 10 100 2.Lack of motivation 10 50 5 50 3.Unsupportive school culture 20 100 10 100 4.Boring teaching methods 6 30 10 100 5.English unimportant 20 100 6 60 6.Science & Mathematics more important 8 40 20 20 The first problem mentioned is the negative attitude of the students towards the learning of English in schools.80% feel that the stumbling block towards the learning is the attitude of their peers (See Table 4.9) Students are shy to use English for fear of making grammatical mistakes and therefore are not willing to learn as the environment does not encourage the use of the target language. Teasing among peers is rampant and to avoid embarrassment (malu, segan and ejek), their response is to be silent as well as face saving to avoid conflicts as well as maintain personal integrity) it is better to refrain from
  15. 15. International Journal of Arts and Sciences 3(10): 26 - 55 (2010) CD-ROM. ISSN: 1944-6934 © InternationalJournal.org speaking in English. As 99% of the students come from luar bandar (rural) there is limited exposure to English, rural students try to please each other so as to be accepted for solidarity reasons and comradeship. Therefore they not minimize the use of English but also follow the general behavior and attitude of the larger society. One student gave an example where if an outsider is not accepted by one resident in the village. Most of the villages will also not accept the outsider, the so called ‘follow the crowd’ mentality. Positive peer influences can therefore help to influence the rural environment because if the peers try to speak they can create an English speaking environment. Besides they can help one another in reinforcing and motivating the learning of English. The rural students are often teased when they attempt to speak English hence they prefer to code-switch (mixing two languages when speaking or mixing English with their mother tongue) for the sake of solidarity to avoid conflict and maintain social harmony. Even if English is used, Students who use it will be make fun of as English is called Bahasa Jajahan (colonial language).In rural setting too, negative beliefs passed down from their grandparents regarding the western culture do to some extent influence their attitude in wanting to learn English. English is Budaya Barat and unfavorable historical views of colonialism expressed by the older generation as well as peer teasing can of course negatively influence the attitude towards the learning of English. 4.2.10 Lack of exposure Table 4.10 Lack of exposure Media for Exposure Number of students % Books 20 100 Movies/DVD 20 100 Others e.g. cyber cafes etc 20 100 All students agreed on the need for contact or exposure to the English language regardless of whether it is in written or oral form. (Table 4.10) The availability of suitable English books, movies and materials can help. English movies have Malay subtitles and this is not helpful. The student respondents feel that other ways of exposures like cyber cafes, program student exchange, excursions etc are lacking. Another finding is the lack of infrastructure and facilities in the rural areas.5 out of 20 students (Table 4.11) talk about the geographical distance away from Kuala Lumpur and other English speaking towns. This may cause less contact with new ideas, innovations and acceptance of new things in a new language. Besides, the distance away from big cities results in increase cost in prices of books, magazines and teaching aids. English movies are rarely screened as there is no theatre. Besides English movies are associated with violence and fights and are considered aggressive anti rural, anti religion and anti Islamic.
  16. 16. International Journal of Arts and Sciences 3(10): 26 - 55 (2010) CD-ROM. ISSN: 1944-6934 © InternationalJournal.org Table 4.11 Differences in characteristics between the urban and rural areas in learning environment perceived by the students Characteristics Number % Lack of English speaking environment 13 65 Distance from the English speaking towns 5 25 Lack of exposure e.g. books English VCD 4 20 Negative student attitude 4 20 Lack of facilities’ 3 15 English as foreign language 1 5 Table 4.12 Students’ perception on whom to blame for the low proficiency in English in rural areas Who is to be blamed Number % Students & Peers 13 65 School authorities 10 50 Rural environment 3 15 Society/parents 2 10 Others 1 5 4.2.11 Students’ perception on whom to blame for the low proficiency in English in rural areas 65% of the student respondents feel that the school authorities, the students, teachers as well as the rural society should be blamed for the poor proficiency in English among rural students. (Table 4.12)The school authorities must set good examples to speak English to support the English teachers and create a more suitable school culture to motivate language learning. If the principal, head of department teachers and non academic staff are not able to speak Standard English hence they find it difficult to encourage students to use English, In other words there is a need for leadership by example to motivate the rural students.
  17. 17. International Journal of Arts and Sciences 3(10): 26 - 55 (2010) CD-ROM. ISSN: 1944-6934 © InternationalJournal.org 4.2.12 Students’ perception of the role of rural cultural factors in learning English Table 4.13 Students’ perceptions of the role of rural cultural factors in learning English Rural cultural factors Number of students % Yes (Agree) 19 95 No(Disagree) 1 5 From the above Table 4.13, it shows almost all student respondents agree that the rural cultural setting is a problem in the learning of English and similarly all the teachers also mention that the rural culture does not help in the teaching of English. 95% of the students agree that the school culture in the rural area does not encourage the learning of English.20% feel that the teachers have a role and must stress the importance of English. They have to be professional and try to propagate the use of English both in the class and outside the class and even among the other staff. The teachers blame the school authorities for not only encouraging the setting up of an English speaking environment but also cause the failure in the planning of effective English programs in schools. These rural schools influenced by the local culture are entirely different physically, geographically and economically as well as socially from the urban ones. Table 4.14 Other variables that result in problems in learning English Problems Student % Teacher % 1 Role of Malay Language 7 35 5 50 2.Red Tape - - 2 20 3.Political reasons 4 20 1 10 4.Low proficiency - - 1 10 5.Attitude of teachers 1 5 - - 6.Attitude of non academic staff - - 1 10 7.Society - - 8 80 8.Lack of study skills 4 20 - - 9.Distance/Infrastructure 5 25 - - 10.Lack of parental support - - 2 20
  18. 18. International Journal of Arts and Sciences 3(10): 26 - 55 (2010) CD-ROM. ISSN: 1944-6934 © InternationalJournal.org 4.1.13 Other variables that result in problems in learning English The widespread use of Malay in the rural areas is one reason expressed by both the student and teacher respondent for the poor proficiency of English among rural students. (Table 4.14) 50% of the teachers feel there is a conflicting role in the part played by Malay as the first language and English as the second language or even third language. The ease and popularity in the use of the first language does not encourage the use of English which is rarely used in the rural setting. School authorities use Malay as the medium of administration. The non English speaking teachers consider teachers who do speak Malay as unpatriotic. This it is difficult to seek the help of other staff and ask them to encourage the students to speak English as teachers themselves do not speak the target language. In fact some for the student respondents said that there is no example set to the rural teachers in speaking English, Another view expressed by the teacher respondents is the present political situation created when the government have to gain support of the public will retain the use of Malay. The government stresses religious practice in administration, business, education and life style. This might frighten the English speaking tourists or even Malaysian English speakers from coming to Terengganu. The rural community stress Malay as a political unifying tool which will create more confusion and misconceptions of the use of English and provide a future hindrance toward as development and modernization as modernization requires the use of English especially if Malaysians want to compete in the global market.10% lack study skills when learning English .4 students feel it is hard to learning English compared to science and Mathematics .The study of literature itself is a problem as the English culture conflicts with the eastern values systems. To learn and cultivate a love for literature is hard as language proficiency is already a problem and to study the way of life of the west will be another difficulty. From the above analysis one can notice that all the identified problems(negative attitude, peer pressure & lack of motivation, teaching methodology, lack of English speaking environment and a non supportive school culture) given by both students and teachers respondents are somehow closely related to the rural scenario. It is the rural setting, traits practices and culture that give rise to the problems, which causes the low proficiency of English of the rural students. To conclude one can say that the rural cultural setting does affect the proficiency level of English among the students in rural schools. 5.0 Recommendations to resolve the identified problems 5.1 The role of the students The students need to change their negative attitude towards the learning of English to a positive one. Attitudinal variables can affect the learning of the second language. Local studies like Subramaniam’s(1976) shows students in urban areas have a positive attitude towards English, therefore they can acquire better proficiency of English than students in rural areas. Attitudinal studies by Gardner & Lambert (1959).Ainsfield and Lambert
  19. 19. International Journal of Arts and Sciences 3(10): 26 - 55 (2010) CD-ROM. ISSN: 1944-6934 © InternationalJournal.org (1961) and Spolsky (1969) also show that positive attitude can affect the success in the learning of a second language. The rural students consider the use of English as being unpatriotic and rural cultural belief. The negative attitude must be corrected. Students must realize it is a global language and should be encouraged to speak English. A duty roster to supervise and regulate English speaking situations can be made. Announcements in school assemblies should be bilingual (Malay and English for a start).Students should also plan their daily English activities i.e. they have English logbooks to write their thoughts and feelings. All students have to take turns to compose essays and poems in English. Notice boards have English compositions, proverbs and new vocabularies. Grammar quiz, Vocabulary Contest, Spelling bee, English mail, English sketch, singing and drama, educational trips & visits to English speaking factories, office and higher institutions are encouraged and other creative activities. Students should take the initiative to lead and not wait for English teachers to suggest new plans to help them. They should be empowered to organize, plan and implement activities. The school authorities should guide them, not discourage them so that a positive and supportive approach will help change the current negative attitude towards the learning of English. The students are masters of their learning and hopefully their success in the learning of English will change their negative attitude towards English. Likewise in schools a pass in English can be made an essential criterion in passing public examination. Streaming the students into equal linguistic abilities can help students to learn better as shyness factor (Zimbardo, 1977) is prevalent among rural students. 5.2 The role of teachers The role of teachers in helping to change the attitude of the students is crucial too. They are the best personnel to counsel and guide the students. They not only endorse their school activities but also help to give their invaluable views on correct form of grammar. In class these students lack study skills hence teachers must make sure their explanations are clear. The teachers must be proficient in all the four skills in English. Unfortunately there are insufficient English teachers in rural schools hence it is common to find non English i.e. Conversion teachers from other subjects to teach English. In Terengganu there is a shortage of 600 qualified teachers (The Sunday Star, 21.1.2000) while in Ipoh city there is a surplus of 140 English teachers. The Ministry of Education must ensure fair distribution of qualified English teachers in rural schools. Language learning is not merely the accumulation of knowledge but the building up of linguistic skills hence it is better to teach the correct grammatical skills than to let the students relearn and reconstruct the errors learnt from non-TESL teachers .For example Pidgin English usually spoken by the less proficient English teachers might not help change the attitude of the students. According to a retired UKM lecturer “only 30% of B. Ed TESL students are qualified to teach English as most of them ‘can’t even string together a proper sentence (The Sunday Star, 28.1.2001)
  20. 20. International Journal of Arts and Sciences 3(10): 26 - 55 (2010) CD-ROM. ISSN: 1944-6934 © InternationalJournal.org 5.3 The role of the parents Parents like the teachers should also help to motivate and create a need to use English for example, short English conversations and singing together at home. They must get rid of the traditional belief of the past effect of colonial rule, an exclusively rural cultural trait and speak English if they can to set good examples and help students develop positive attitude. Besides, motivation from other subject teachers and administration is much needed. If possible school administrators can try using English books as rewards like the best staff, best disciplined students and the most diligent teacher so as to make students aware of the importance of English and hence motivate them to learn English. 5.4 The peer pressure and lack of motivation The rural students in this study are also influenced by the narrow-mindedness and shyness mentality of their peers. This is typical of limited exposure. According to Musgraves (1972) and Murdock (1965) peer help is important as peers are capable of influencing each other. English teachers can implement punishments and a fine system to curb the ‘teasing, jeering, laughing and shyness culture (a rural cultural feature) among the peers, hence monitoring the reactions of students when their peers speak English. The students need support from the peers so as to overcome their shyness, ‘segan’ and ‘enggan’ to speak English. 5.5 Teaching methodology The ten teacher respondents admit the difficulty of using the most up to date method in the teaching of English and the twenty student respondents felt strongly that their poor proficiency results from the boring techniques of their English teachers. According to Gill (2001), uninspiring, traditional, uninteresting and conventional styles of teaching will kill students ‘interest resulting in students not learning. Teachers are expected to be ‘actors’ and each performance must interest the audience so as to create a conducive ’proactive’ learning environment(The Star,10.11.2000).This suggestion needs more attention especially in the rural schools where exposure to English is limited and the rural cultural belief that English is colonial in nature and related to yellow culture. Examination oriented teaching approaches must be geared to create interest and motivate rural students .New teaching approaches can incorporate the use of computer, a rare feature in rural schools, educational visits, dramas, movies, games and speak it method can be used. For rural students, silence is one of their major cultural traits (Bahiyah, 1992) either to show politeness or for group solidarity and silence can be overcome by asking them to speak more. Encouragement to speak can be in the form of interesting language activities. Zimbardo (1977) asserted that shyness is negative in language learning and in rural schools this is true. Speaking helps us to understand the language.
  21. 21. International Journal of Arts and Sciences 3(10): 26 - 55 (2010) CD-ROM. ISSN: 1944-6934 © InternationalJournal.org 5.6 The influence of the ruling Islamic government and its effects on English Learning Since the government, which stresses on Islamic teaching rules Terengganu, it does have some effects on the learning of English among students in schools. This current emphasis and mandatory change into Islamic ways of administration and practices create a religious rural setting. The rural students are influenced by the traditional beliefs handed by their grandparents and parents, for instance the effects of colonial rule and the association of English with yellow culture. Rural life therefore depends on religious beliefs. Rural students should be awaited that change is necessary for progress and learning a foreign language is not forbidden in the religion. Students should be given frequent talks about Islamic teachings in English so that this rural cultural misconception regarding English language can be corrected. 5.7 Non supportive school culture & setting Rural school culture includes the following features like non-English speaking environment, negative attitude of the school administrators, lack of educational facilities, the greater importance given to Science and Mathematics. 5.7.1 Lack of an English speaking environment All the respondents mentioned the lack of a favorable environment to inhibiting the learning of English. One can create this English environment by conducting English assembly. The library, the classes as well as the tuck-shop and ‘Balai English’ or English Hall can be centers for English notices so students can read English literary work. The school public announcement system, speaker corners, English tables can convert the ‘fear factor’ into ‘love English culture’. English Day can be made compulsory while all staff, academic and non academic staff is exposed to Basic English Grammar and English conversation courses. Once exposed to these courses, the background support will help students help learn and utilize the language. 5.7.2 Attitude of the school administrators The school culture is created by the teamwork of students, English and other subject teachers, principals and the school and educational administrators. If each and every member of the school plays his part in encouraging the use of English, then the school culture will be conducive. However all respondents feel that the rural school culture is negative and non conducive towards the learning of English. Frequents visits by students to English speaking corporate bodies and institutions can encourage the learning of English. The principals and assistant principals are key personnel in schools and they should be broadminded regardless of whether they are fluent or not.
  22. 22. International Journal of Arts and Sciences 3(10): 26 - 55 (2010) CD-ROM. ISSN: 1944-6934 © InternationalJournal.org 5.7.3 Priority given to Science and Mathematics In this study all the respondents agree that Science and Mathematics are more important than English. One good suggestion is to correct their perception and inform them that without English one just cannot proceed in the study of Science and Mathematics at tertiary level. It is true that to be engineer one needs mathematics but without a good command of English, an engineer might encounter difficulties in doing research as profession bodies use English in their literature and practice. One good recommendation is to make either a pass or even a credit in English a compulsory entrance criterion for entry into Science and mathematics courses in universities. It will motivate the rural students to learn English. 5.7.4 Lack of facilities This study points out the lack of modern physical and educational facilities for teaching due to the distance away from English speaking towns. New innovations and ideas take time to be transferred. The educational authorities should be aware of the need for a pool of proficient English teachers. Selection for English teacher training must be carefully done based on their proficiency and personality. Entry requirement to English training course must be raised as we cannot have English teachers speaking improper English. Usually ‘mediocre’ teacher (The Sunday Star 12.9.2000) will produce mediocre students. As for the vernacular schools, Students have to master three languages at the same time that is after Malay, English and their mother tongue of Tamil or Mandarin which is the official Chinese dialect. There is bound to be a lot of interference, not only for the first but second language e.g. in Tamil students get confused word order and the characters in Mandarin are divergent to English. The educational authorities should therefore provide specialized training for these English Teachers. If careful and professional planning is provided for the teacher trainees having English as the third language perhaps these students will benefit and excel in the learning of English. 5.7.5 Role of Malay and English as the second or third language In the colonial time, English was the medium of teaching in school, the command of English is therefore higher. The low proficiency of English in Malaysia can be improved if we change English into the medium of instruction. Of course, such a drastic move would be politically unacceptable. It is hard to do so as we need political unity but we can use two languages, Malay official language and English as the ‘informal’ official language as two acceptable mediums of instruction in Malaysia. The issues of English as the second language or in practice a third or fourth language for non Malay students need to be clarified too. To complicate matters, English is a foreign language for the rural students(David 2000)The English divide between the urban and rural students is really wide and getter wider by the year(Gaudart cited in The Star 3.1.2001)The government after proclaiming Malay the official language made English the second language as it is
  23. 23. International Journal of Arts and Sciences 3(10): 26 - 55 (2010) CD-ROM. ISSN: 1944-6934 © InternationalJournal.org important for international contact. The second language becomes the third or fourth and even a foreign one to students of different ethnic backgrounds. Hence if this distinction is made less confusion arises especially in the rural context. It cannot function as the second language effectively, perhaps it can be made into an effective foreign language like Arabic which has been successful as many Malay students can speak and use it. This may help to improve the proficiency level of English especially in rural areas. Implications The result for this study calls for a better understanding of the reasons why rural students cannot excel in their performance in English examinations. The Ministry of Education must plan the special training of English teachers to teach in rural schools as the learning situation is different in urban areas. On the basis of this study, 2 suggestions are needed 1) The need for an effective English teaching methodology in rural schools 2) The role of school culture in the learning of English in rural schools REFERENCES Ainsfield, M. & Lambert, W.E 1961 Social and psychological variables in learning Hebrew In R.C.Gargner and W.C.lambert (eds).Attitudes and motivation in second language learning, 217-227.Rowley, Massachusetts: Newbury House Aitken, K.G.1977.”Using cloze procedure as an overall procedure as an overall language proficiency test” Tesol Quarterly, Vol.11/1, 59-67 Allport, G.W.1954. The historical background of modern social psychology In Lindsey, G(Ed), Handbook of social psychology Cambridge, Mass: Addison-Wesley American Heritage Dictionary.1996.Third Edition Bartleby Com Anie, A.1982 Attitudes of Malay learners towards the learning of English as a Second Language in Richards, B. Noss(ed). Studies on socio cultural factors affecting language education, 38-48.Singapore: RELC Asmah Haji Omar, 1992 The linguistic scenery in Malaysia. Kuala Lumpur. Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka Bahiyah, A.H 1992 “Malu-shyness behavior in the English language classroom” The English Teacher, Vol.12, 97-105
  24. 24. International Journal of Arts and Sciences 3(10): 26 - 55 (2010) CD-ROM. ISSN: 1944-6934 © InternationalJournal.org Balaetham, K.1982.Bahasa Inggeris di sekolah aliran Melayu:sebab-sebab Kelemahan.Isu pendidikaaaaan di Malaysia.Kuala Lumpur:Dewan Bahasa and Pustaka Carroll, J.B 1965.Research on teaching foreign languages. In N.L.Gaga (Ed). Handbook of research on training. Chicago: RandMaNally & Company. Chamkaur, S.G 1996 ‘Using drama technique to encourage oral interaction” The English Teacher, Vol 15, 61-72 Chandrasegaran, A.1979.Problems of learning English in national schools in Johor, Malaysia: An investigation of attitudinal motivational variables learning strategies and exposure to English. Unpublished M.A Dissertation, University of Singapore Chandrasegan, A 1980.Problems of learning English as a second language An investigation of factors affecting the learners of ESL in Malaysia Singapore University Press. SEAMEO. Regional Center Singapore Connors, V 1983, “Predictors of second Language reading performance’ Journal Multilingual & Multicultural Development, Vol 4/4,271-288 Crookes.G. & Schmidst, R.W.1991 ‘Motivation: Reopening the research agenda’. Language learning, Vol 41/4.469-512 David. M.K 1992.How late is late? In Jamiliah Mohd Ali et.al(Ed) International Conference on Language and the perception of Time and space Kuala Lumpur: University of Malaya.19-20 David. M.K 2000 “Status & Role of English in Malaysia: Ramification for English Language Teaching.”English Australian Journal, 14-16 Dornyei, Z.1994 “Motivation & motivating in the foreign language classroom” Modern Language Journal, Vol 78/3,273-284 Education Guide Malaysia, 1966.With a comprehensive directory of private educational institutuion.3rd (Ed) Kuala Lumpur Challenger concepts Fatimy, J.J., & Bilton, L.1992 “The social dimensions of TEFGL education: The Oman File” Journal of multilingual and multicultural development, Vol.13/3,269-289 Fillmore, L.W 1991.Second language learning in children A model of language learning in social context In E.Bialystok(ed) Language processing in bilingual children 49- 69.Cambridge: Cambridge University press
  25. 25. International Journal of Arts and Sciences 3(10): 26 - 55 (2010) CD-ROM. ISSN: 1944-6934 © InternationalJournal.org Fotos, S.S 1991 “The cloze test as an integrative measure of EFL proficiency. “A substitute for essays or college entrance examinations?” Language Learning, Vol 41/3 313-336 Fries, C.C 1945.Teaching and learning of English as a foreign language Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. Gardner, R.C 1960.Motivational variables in second language acquisition In R.C. Gardner & W.E. Lambert (1972).Attitudes and motivation in second language learning, 199-216.Rowley, Massachusetts: Newbury House Publishers Gaudart, H.1987.”English Language teaching in Malaysia:”A historical Account” The English Teacher Vol 16, 17-30 Hamayan, E., Genesse, F & Richard T 1977 “Affective factors and Language Exposure in Second Language learning’ Language learning Vol 27,241-255 Jacobsen, M & Imhoof, M 1974.Predicting success in learning a second language’ Modern Language journal, Vol 58,329-36 Jamali, I.1992 Learning English in a non supportive environment: The problems in Malaysian schools. In Basil Wijasuriya & Hyacinth Guadart (eds),Teaching and Learning English in challenging situations,7-16 Kuala Lumpur: Malaysian English Language teaching Association Lukmani, Y.M.1972.”Motivation to learn and language proficiency” Language Learning Vol.22/2,261-273 Mohana, N.K 1984.Language Learning and language use among selected Form 4 students in Selangor. Unpublished M. Ed practicum Report, University of Malaya Mueller, T.H.1971.”Student attitudes in the basic French course at the University of Kentucky Modern Language Journal Vol.55/4,290-298 Ong, K.L 1986.Relationship between achievement in Chinese as a second language and home background, motivation and peer influence. Unpublished in M.ED Dissertation National Univerity of Singapore Oxford, R&Shearin, J1994 ’’Language learning motivation: Expanding the theoretical Framework.’’Modern Language Journal, Vol 78/1, 12-28
  26. 26. International Journal of Arts and Sciences 3(10): 26 - 55 (2010) CD-ROM. ISSN: 1944-6934 © InternationalJournal.org Rosli & Malachi, E 1990 “A comparative study of the achievement and the proficiency levels in English as a second language among learners in selected rural and urban schools in peninsular Malaysia” The English Teacher,Vol,XIX,48-56 Satiadevi, K.K 1996.Proficieny in ESL: A study of Indian urban and rural learners. Unpublished MESL dissertation, Universiti Malaya Spolsky, B.1969.”Attitudinal aspects of second language learning “Language Learning Vol 19, 271-283 Subrayan, M 1986.Attitudes, motivation and achievement of the First Year Islamic Faculty students in learning English as Secondary language in UKM, Unpublished thesis, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Svanes.B.1987, Motivation and cultural distance in second acquisition Language Learning, Vol.37/3,341-359 The New Straits Times 12.9.2000 The Sunday Star 21.01.2000 The Sunday Star 28.01.2000 The Sunday Star 02.09.2008 The Star 10.02.2000 The Star 12.07.2000 The Star 11.08.2000 The Star 08.11.2000 The Star 10.12.2000 The Star 21.12.2000 The Star 22.12.2000 The Star 03.01.2001 The Star 09.06.2009 Thayalan, X.1996. The influence of individual and social variables on English achievement A comparative study. Unpublished thesis Universiti Malaysia Vijchulata, b & Gan , S.L 1995.”A survey of students’ motivation for learning English” RELC Journal, Vol 16/1 68-73 Wilhelm, K.H.1995, Identification of LL (Language Learning) background variables associated with University success. Illinois: Indiana University. Zimbardo, P.G.1977.”Shyness can be quiet yet devastating problem” Learning Vol.6 68 - 70.
  27. 27. International Journal of Arts and Sciences 3(10): 26 - 55 (2010) CD-ROM. ISSN: 1944-6934 © InternationalJournal.org APPENDIX A Interview Checklist The following questions were used in the interviews for students. 1. Why do you think English is important? 2. Do you think students should learn English? 3. How do you go about learning English? 4. What do you think are some problems in learning English? 5. What ways can you suggest fir a student in rural school to learn English? 6. Compared to your peers elsewhere especially in the urban areas, what do you think the rural school lacks? 7. Do you think that students learn English because of examinations? 8. How do you defend yourself if you are accused of not being interested to learn English? Why? 9. Do you think the school culture helps you in learning English? 10. Do you agree that the ‘rural cultural factor” hinders the learning of English in the rural areas? Note that examples of rural cultural factors like non English speaking environment, peer pressure etc was not given. 11. Who in your opinion should be blamed for the failure of motivation to learn English in your school? Why? 12. Do you blame the lack of exposure as one of the problems for poor proficiency in rural area? 13. What do you think are other issues that can be considered to influence the learning & teaching of English in your school or in the East Coast at large? Appendix B Questionnaire for teachers Background Name: Qualification: Classes taught: Years of experience: 1. Why do you think English is important here? 2. Do you think students should learn 3. What are the problems you encounter in teaching English in the rural setting? 4. How do you go about teaching English in the rural setting? 5. What are the ways you can make a student interested in English? 6. Compared to the teachers in urban areas, what do you lack here to help in the teaching of English? 7. Do you agree that the rural cultural factor e.g. peer pressure, rural school culture) hinders the acquisition of better proficiency level of students? 8. Do you think you teach English for exam purposes or for other reasons? 9. Do you think the school culture (non-English speaking environment) helps you in the teaching of English in the rural areas? 10. Who should be blamed if the students fail to be proficient? 11. What other issues can you think of which may influence the learning and teaching of English in the rural areas?
  28. 28. International Journal of Arts and Sciences 3(10): 26 - 55 (2010) CD-ROM. ISSN: 1944-6934 © InternationalJournal.org APPENDIX C Cloze Test In the following passage, each of the numbered blanks stands for one word that has been omitted. Read the passage right through and then fill each blank with one word. Choose the word that you think would best fill the blank. The first Blank has been filled for you. Passage 1 When dinner-time arrives, we begin to feel hungry. Our bodies let us know that we are in need of food. For example, there are hunger pangs (0) in our stomachs. if… (1) tasty food is given…(2) us, our mouths water…..(3)is a sign…(4) it is time to….(5). Eating food can be….. (6) great pleasure. Besides, this… (7) a busy important part…(8) our daily activity. Our … (9) need food and water…(10)day. Every living cell… (11) have some food from…(12) to time, otherwise we…(13)no longer live. The… (14) we eat is changed…(15)form before it reaches(16)body cells. This changes… (17) place in our stomachs…(18)change all the solids…(19)liquids and remove…(20)waste material in the food we have swallowed. In other words our organs digest the food. Passage 2 Bukit Takun is a limestone hill near Kuala Lumpur. It has a height of about (0) 380 to 400 meters… (1) a circumference of more…(2)200 meters. Its magnificence………(3)a landmark draws attention…(4)every passer-by. Some of…(5)animals and plants found…(6).Takun are very rare…(7)example, goats, antelopes…(8) as serows live here…(9) they are now threatened…(10) extinction. Even some plants… (11) grow here can only…(12) found in Malaysia but nowhere else Near Bukit Takun….. (13) another hill which is…(14) Anak Takun.This smaller hill…(15) an intricate network…(16) limestone caves which are…(17) of unique formations. Vistors… (18) these caves should find… (19) interesting to explore the,… (20) few people know about the rewarding experience that awaits them. Section B In each of the questions below, four parts are underlined and marked A, B, C or D One of these parts contains an error. Decide whether it is A, B,C or D 1. My mother is such a good cooker that she is always called upon to use her cooking A B C skills when there are weddings and birthday parties. D
  29. 29. International Journal of Arts and Sciences 3(10): 26 - 55 (2010) CD-ROM. ISSN: 1944-6934 © InternationalJournal.org 2. Despite of many strong objections from his relatives. Subramanian took over the A B C family business when his father passed away last month. D 3. When I arrived home from after work. I was horrified to discover that somebody had A B broken into my house and take all my valuables. C D 4. The brown box which arrived at the railway station was so heavy that either Amin nor A B C Bala could lift it. D 5. Please give my regards to your parents and convey my thanks to them for their warm A B C hospitality, when I stay as a guest in your house last week. D 6. We are very grateful to Encik Ismail, the State Career officer, for come to the school to A B give us a talk on “Careers for school leavers.” C D 7.To my opinion, boys, too, should learn to cook as it is important that they know how to A B C prepare a simple meal if the need arises. D 8. Please told your mother that Mrs. Lee rang up to inform that she would not be able to A B C take her to the office tomorrow. D
  30. 30. International Journal of Arts and Sciences 3(10): 26 - 55 (2010) CD-ROM. ISSN: 1944-6934 © InternationalJournal.org 9.Members of the floor, I strongly opposed the motion that television does more harm A B C than good in the world today. D 10.Zainal turned to face the man who suddenly takes out a knife from his pocket and A B C pointed it at him. D Answers to the Cloze test Passage 1 Passage 2 1 .Some 1.and 2. To 2.than 3. This 3.as 4. That 4.to 5. Eat 5.the 6 .A 6.on 7 .Plays 7.for 8 .In 8.known 9. Bodies 9.but 10. Every 10.with 11. Must 11.that 12. Time 12.be 13 .Can 13.is 14. Food 14.called/named 15. In 15.has 16. Our 16.0f 17. Takes 17.full 18. They 18.to 19. into 19.it 20.the 20.Very Answers to the Error Identification questions 1A 2A 3D 4C 5D 6B 7A 8A 9C 10B

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