Iranian Non-English Majors' Language Learning
Preferences: The Role of Language Institutes
by Azam Noora
Many language teachers in Iran, assume that non-English majors can be treated with the same standard approach and as a result students in different non-English majors, with or without the experience of attending language institutes and with different levels of proficiency attend the same General English class. However, there was no assume that students with or without the experience of attending language institutes, have the same interest and outlook, value the same skills or generally appreciate our efforts in the same way? More specifically, to show this is the case or not, the following hypotheses were formulated:
H1: Non-English majors with the experience of attending language institutes are different with those without such an experience in their preferred language skills.
H2: There is a significant difference between the two groups'(mentioned in H1) preference for learning English in an all- English environment.
H3: The two groups of non-English majors, differ significantly in their preferred teaching method.
H4: There is a significant difference between the two groups' perspectives about college language course.
H5: The two groups differ significantly in their motivation to learn English language .
ELT in Iran:
English is formally taught as a foreign language to Iranian students from the second year in junior high school. The students have about three hours of formal instruction in English every week. Teachers use a combination of grammar-translation method and audiolingual method in most schools. At the university level, students mostly study English for academic purposes (EAP) and therefore, reading is the most emphasized skill. The first course university students have to take is3-credits of "General English" and then they take more specialized English courses in which they focus on their field related English texts and learn related terminology. The curriculum in high schools is a top-down curriculum; the Ministry of Education dictates all the decisions regarding the textbook selection and the exams. However, not much control is exerted on teaching methodology. The culture of teaching is basically a teacher-centered one in Iran. Contrary to secondary education, at the university level, instructors have the freedom to choose the textbooks and activities for their classes. Compared to EFL learners in other contexts, Iranian EFL students do not have much exposure to English outside the classroom. Very few English programs are broadcasted on TV or radio. Of course, through advancements in technology and the more frequent use of the Internet, satellite, and rapid growth of private language institutes in Iran, the opportunities for English language learning have greatly improved (Talebinezhad & Aliakbari, 2002).
Although English is taught as a required subject both at universities and schools in Iran along with other subjects, the real act of English learning takes place not in these educational centers but in non-academic centers. This might be due to the deficiency of public schools and universities in satisfying students' ever-increasing desire to learn English communicatively. Whatever the reasons might be, many students resort to non-academic places to learn English.
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