Critical Thinking

In speaking anxiety that is caused to students

In the essay below, a critical review will be given about the article
“What makes learners anxious while speaking English: a comparative study of the
perceptions held by university students and teachers in China”.  The article was written by Deyuan He and was
published in the journal “Educational Studies” in 2013.  It was published in the 39th volume of the journal,
in the 3rd issue and was in the pages 338-350.

This study focuses on the causes of FLSA to Chinese students.  FLSA is the speaking anxiety that is caused
to students who learn a foreign language.  China holds the record for the most students
learning English as a foreign language, but most of them have learnt “mute
English” as they are not able to express themselves orally in English. FLSA may
be one of the most important factors for this major problem.  On the contrary, this important problem has not
been directed in the Chinese educational system.  The certain study attempts to contribute
positively in this aspect.  The
researcher uses two cross-validated methods: questionnaire survey and focused
interview.  The study collected broad
data from 332 participants at two Chinese universities and concluded that there
are 14 main reasons which cause Chinese students’ FLSA.  The essay also cross-referenced the views of
both students and teachers about these reasons and found the important similarities
as well as differences which emerged. Moreover, it claimed that understanding
these factors is a major step in reducing FLSA and therefore improving how
students use English orally. (Deyuan 2013: 

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In the essay below, the article’s strengths and weaknesses will be
identified, focusing on methods, instruments, and its research design.  Ways in which the weaknesses could be
overcome in future studies will also be suggested.

Paragrafos gia

The researcher used the questionnaire method which had some strengths and
contributed positively to the research. 
Firstly, for the questionnaires, 332 participants were chosen.  This gave a broad spectrum to the researcher
as it was a large number, thus it included more opinions.  The participants were chosen from two Chinese
universities, one of which is a key university while the other is a second-tier
university.  Moreover, the study contains
opinions from both students and teachers. 
Deyuan (2013: 340) chose university students and teachers due to their
everyday involvement in learning and teaching English as a foreign language
which makes the study’s results more objective as  not only students got to express their opinion
as to what causes them FLSA but teachers who observed them on a daily basis
contributed as well.  Deyuan’s sample can
also be considered objective due to the fact that he took into consideration
some factors such as age, gender, students’ disciples and teachers’
qualifications.  He used a broad and
balanced sample.  For example, Deyuan
(2013: 340) states that “All 302 student participants were native Chinese, ranging
in age from 17 to 23(x = 19.9). Among them, 44.4% (134) were female and 55.6%
(168) were male.” 

Furthermore, Deyuan used a structured questionnaire with closed
questions.  More specifically, he used a
Likert-scale including 5 points.  By
using a structured questionnaire, the researcher ensured that the data would be
easy to process and analyze.  It has been
mentioned that “Closed questions prescribe the range of responses from which
the respondent may choose”. (Cohen et al 2007: 321)  Deyuan’s choice of closed questions resulted
in data that were easy to analyze statistically and code.  The questionnaires’ results were easily analyzed
and helped the researcher reach a conclusion something that would have been
harder with open-ended questions.  By using
the scale-questions, Deyuan preserved his goal of gathering statistical data
while making the questions more personal and learning to what extent the
participants agreed with the statements.  (Cohen et al 2007: 325-6)  In addition, the questionnaire statements
were short and simple which made the experience for both the participants and
the researcher more efficient.                 


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