Australian Classroom the Effect of Learners' Past Discussion Chapter

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Australian Classroom

The effect of learners' past experiences on L2 communication

Lack of opportunities for practice and use L2 at home

A transition from English teachings in Iraq to Australia

Peer interaction and learner-centred method

The choice of using educational learning resources and technology

Comprehensive input

Strategies used by learners in coping with language communication difficulties

Point of noticing in second language acquisition SLA

Self-learning, access and support

Interpersonal relationship- peer interaction opportunities for input and output

Using authentic and relevant resources- access to the media

The necessity of cultural exposure and input

Body language

Facial expressions and eye movements

Summary

Overview

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This chapter presents and reports significant findings from the individual and group interviews with six Iraqi new arrival students attending the secondary school in Australia. It also discusses findings with regard to the central research questions and makes links to the literature review presented in Chapter Two. The aim of this study, as mentioned earlier, is to explore the language communication difficulties faced by Iraqi newly arrived high school students in the mainstream classrooms in Australia. The research questions aimed to investigate the possible challenges faced by these students, factors which have influenced such challenges, and the strategies that the participants have employed in coping with these challenges.

Discussion Chapter on Australian Classroom the Effect of Learners' Past Assignment

Previous research on this topic of investigation has yielded little results; however, there is plenty of literature regarding Arab, international, Middle Eastern, and Asian students in the Australian context. Arab people are accustomed to sharing the dominant Arabic language in their daily interactions and communications with each other. Some differences appear in the dialects, but it does not mean that they share the same cultures and traditions among them. Arab countries are religiously and ethnically diverse with Islam as the dominant religion in most countries. Accordingly, the researcher seeks to highlight some educational and cultural issues of Iraqi students in Australia to show that little difference has strong and direct impact on their language communication within classroom.

To explore Iraqi students' language communication difficulties, three central research questions were set, these as follows:

1. What are the language difficulties faced by Iraqi students in English communication in the mainstream classroom?

2. What factors have influenced such difficulties?

3. What strategies have students employed to cope with these difficulties?

In response to the research questions, several themes emerged regarding Iraqi students' language communication difficulties. These themes are presented and discussed in more details in the following sections.

4.2 The Effect of Learners' Past Experiences on L2 Communication

Effective language communication is a critical aspect of one's everyday life and in the language learning process. Communication mentioned throughout this research paper is the students' interaction with their teachers and classmates within the Australian mainstream classrooms. Strong communication skills help learners to comprehend and convey messages. This research study addresses language communication difficulties faced by new arrival Iraqi students attending mainstreamed schools in Australia, specifically, Southeast of Melbourne, Victoria. Many factors such as English language teaching method, cultural issues, lack of educational technology and other learning resources affect Iraqi students' learning in Iraq. These factors have reflected negatively on the students' learning process in the Australian mainstream schools. Therefore, improving Iraqi language communication skills is essential for Iraqi students as they are living and studying in Australia where English is the primary and dominant language, and they need to communicate and integrate with everyday society.

This section shows that the using of Form-focused instruction method- one of the Grammar-Translation Approach methods - in the Iraqi educational schools has a strong impact on students' learning process of English, especially on language use and communication. Moreover, the section presents another factor that has influenced Iraqi students who studied English in Iraq, which is the lack of use of English and exposure to language input.

At the beginning, I learned alphabetic and few simple words during the first two years. In the secondary stage I learned a basic grammar and how to make a sentence which consists of subject, verb and adjective or completion However, we didn't speak English outside the classroom as all students and people speak Arabic. (Hashim)

In addition, it seems that the student's motivation in learning English in Iraq is varied from their goals in Australia. Students want to pass the examination only to move to the next grade/stage while in Australia they need to communicate with and understand others which is the major issue for most students.

I studied English in Iraq for three years, two years in grade 5 and one year in grade 6. I didn't pass grade 5 in the first time because English subject was my problem, I couldn't learn it easily. I faced difficulties during those three years. (Fahad)

Moreover, the data indicate that the lack of use of English and exposure to language input are main factors that have influenced Iraqi students who studied English in Iraq. Without L2 practice and use, learners will forget it easily; therefore, Iraqi students (especially those who studied English during the primary and intermediate schools) did not have enough information about English when they arrived to Australia. Due to these factors, most of Iraqi students face language difficulties when they attend mainstream schools (attached below are the questions asked of the learners).

I studied English in Iraq for five years and I don't want to remember that... I didn't learn English in Iraq because there wasn't any effective communication in and outside the classroom. All people speak Arabic outside the classroom as it is our first language and we studied English as a foreign language. (Adam)

Appendix A

Interview Questions

Could you please tell me about yourself and your educational background?

When did you arrive to Australia?

Does anyone in your family speak or study English? If yes, do you try to speak English at home?

Could you please tell me about your parents' educational background?

What were the main difficulties that you faced in the classroom when you started studying in the high school?

How did manage to cope with such difficulties?

What is your opinion in dealing with peer interaction?

What do you feel when you do not understand what your teacher/friend/classmate says?

What kind of Body language do you use when speak and listen?

Do you feel that you have the language proficiency?

If yes, how did you gain this proficiency?

How much per cent of language proficiency can you give yourself?

What is the best strategy/method to improve your language? Why?

What is your advice to new arrival students who enter the high school?

Are there any other comments you would like to make about any of the issues which have arisen in the interview?

Appendix B

Focus Group Topics

Can you explain students' interaction in Iraq and Australia?

What are the communication challenges?

What strategies have been used in coping with any challenges?

What do you regard as language competency?

4.3 Lack of opportunities for practice and use L2 at home

Question three asks if the Iraqi learners speak English and if they can, is it an activity they perform at home. The findings (shown below-with quotes and a graph) demonstrate that 100% of the Iraqi students speak English. The six Iraqi students report that his or her siblings all speak English and that Arabic is the preferred language at home. Another finding is that English is spoken primarily by the fathers and rarely by the mothers. With Arabic as the language spoken at home the Iraqi learners have limited opportunities to practice with his or her parents and siblings.

We do not speak English at home in front of my father because he encourages us to use Arabic so we will not lose or forget it. I like to speak English with my younger brother to improve our speaking, pronunciation and listening. (Adam)

When I have homework or presentation... my sister corrects spelling or pronunciation mistakes or need for improvement. I sometimes teach my mother some words that she needs them when she goes shopping or sees her doctor. (Amal)

We don't speak English to each other at home just a few words which my youngest brother doesn't understand them in Arabic. My father urges us to teach him the words in Arabic not in English so that he will not forget or lose his first language. (Hashim)

I sometimes speak English with my youngest brother because I see that it is very easy to inform or communicate with him. My mother refuses to do that in front of her because she can't understand us. (Nuha)

Appendix C

English Speaking Parents

English Speaking Characteristics

4.4 A Transition from English Teachings in Iraqi to Australia

All of the Iraqi students surveyed arrived in the late spring or summer of 2008. The time frame presents a unique situation; the learners would have the May, June, July, and August to study English and to be better prepared for the Australian school system because the English skills obtained in Iraq were porous.

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