EFFECTS OF COMPUTER-ASSISTED LANGUAGE LEARNING ON SECONDARY SCHOOL STUDENTS’ ACHIEVEMENT, MOTIVATION AND GENDER IN ENGLISH PRONUNCIATION IN GUCHA SUB-COUNTY, KENYA

ABSTRACT
Learning correct pronunciation of words is essential for effective communication in any language. However, this has been a big challenge to most learners of English as a Second Language. Perhaps it is the teaching methods used by instructors or the phonological difference between English and other L1 languages that is responsible for this problem. This study investigated the effects of Computer-Assisted Language Learning (CALL) on secondary school learners’ achievement, motivation and gender to learn English pronunciation. The study adopted a Quasi Experimental Research Design involving Solomon Four Non-Equivalent Group Design. In this design, two Experimental groups (E1, E2) and two control groups (C1, C2) were used. The target population were secondary school students and the accessible population were form two secondary school students in Gucha Sub-county, Kenya who were 1500. Gucha was chosen because of availability of learners whose L1 lacked some consonant sounds which are present in English, thus becoming the source of pronunciation difficulties. The sample comprised of 160 students, who were selected using purposive sampling technique. The English Pronunciation Achievement Test (EPAT) and the English Students’ Motivation Questionnaire (ESMQ) were used to obtain data. These instruments were validated using expert judgment and pilot-testing. Reliability coefficient of the ESMQ was estimated using Cronbach’s coefficient alpha and the EPAT was estimated using the Kuder Richard 21 methods. EPAT and ESMQ yielded a reliability coefficient of 0.76 and 0.73 respectively as they were deemed to be reliable because they were above the accepted level of 0.7. The hypotheses of the study were tested using inferential statistics (T- test, ANOVA and ANACOVA) with the help of SPSS programme and were accepted at (alpa) = 0.05 level of significance. The findings of the study indicated that learners exposed to CALL outperformed those exposed to traditional methods in EPAT. CALL also engendered higher performance for girls in EPAT showing that CALL is better than the traditional methods which sometimes favour the boys. However, the difference was not significant at 0.05 level of significance. Similarly, gender did not negatively affect learners’ motivation to learn English Pronunciation. However, learners who received computer based instructions were motivated more to learn English pronunciation than those exposed to traditional (teacher-based) methods. The study concluded that CALL led to improved performance in both achievement and motivation and did not bring about gender difference. The findings of the study would be of interest to policy makers, teachers of English, teacher educators and Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD) in providing information on ways in which English language pronunciation would be improved among our community in Kenya.

CHAPTER ONE
INTRODUCTION
Background Information
While English is perhaps the defacto language for international business, its place in the political, economic and social life of Kenya is even more important given the fact that Kenya was a former British colony and that English is one of the official languages of the country. In Kenya, the importance of English has sparked a growing interest in the teaching of English as a Foreign Language (EFL). This growing interest implies that initiatives have to be launched in all aspects of the educational system, including the curriculum. Kiswahili has been Kenya’s national language since 1963. This has given it more prominence over the English Language which mainly served as an official language and language of instruction in schools. The promotion of the Kiswahili language has thus given it a competitive edge over the English language. Due to the pervasiveness of Kiswahili and other indigenous languages, proficiency in English language has been severely curtailed, most obvious is the pronunciation of English words that has significantly received strong interference from existing Kenyan language sounds systems. Nyasani, (2012), Mwaniki, (2013), Bishop (1995,) have observed that for Kenyan learners of English as a second language (ESL), pronunciation has remained unsatisfactory. Against this findings, it becomes necessary to examine how Kenyan ESL could be aided to closely approximate the Received English Pronunciation.

Greenwood (2002), avers that because of the tendency toward monolingualism in English speaking countries, English speakers are judgmental and less tolerant of those with accented speech. Accented speech involves phone substitutions or non-native prosodic patterns such as; phonology, syntax, lexical choices among others which might result in an unintelligible message. Therefore, it is important for second language learners of English to have intelligible and comprehensible pronunciation in order to communicate with different people successfully (Munro & Derwin, 1995). Pronunciation should be emphasized from the beginning stages of language learning and it should be included in other activities (Chela- Flores, 2001). First, for Kenyan learners of English, oral communication in English is perceived to be difficult because English is not their native language. Secondly, since English is a foreign language, learners are not readily exposed to fluent English on a daily basis or to English as a normal means of communication. Thirdly, the pronunciation of Kenyan teachers of English, the model of pronunciation for the students, show less approximation to standard English pronunciation, consequently, the students receive the wrong input. (Nyasani, 2012; Mwaniki, 2013).

It is observed that speaking skill (pronunciation) is receiving more attention in English Second Language classrooms since it is recognized that students should primarily acquire it as a fundamental skill because it can affect accuracy and comprehension (Celce-Murcia, 2000, Derwing, 2006; Hahnn, 2004). Khamkhien (2010) notes that without learning correct pronunciation, other aspects of English language like grammar, vocabulary become useless. It is against this background that this study investigated whether an intervention, such as CALL could lead to behaviour change in the pronunciation of English consonant sounds by Ekegusii speakers (A Bantu language spoken in Gucha-a sub county of Kisii county, south-western Kenya). Ekegusii English learners’ language lack the following sounds: /p/, /d/, /v/, /z/, /h/, /ʤ/, /ʃ/, /ð/, /Ɵ/ as in: van, judge, publish, shirt, that, this, dog, zeal, push and help. Learners of English from this community find it difficult to articulate these sounds. This is a common phenomenon in L2 learners. If such persons have to communicate effectively, an intervention has to be put in place.

CALL (Computer-Assisted Language Learning) has been used as an intervention in certain contexts for pedagogical purposes. CALL, as the name suggests, is the use of computer technology to provide language instruction in the classroom. The format can vary from simple programme to a complex system that uses the latest technology. The Computer- Assisted Instruction programmes are taken to be electronic tutors capable of providing individualized learning, keeping accurate account of learner’s interests, knowledge, attitudes and skills, suggesting a pedagogical rationale for introduction of computers into the school curriculum (Kiboss, 1997; kiboss,2004 ; Osodo, 2010). The incorporation of Computer as a resource in teaching pronunciation may be one way of bringing technology/intervention into language classroom teaching.

A study was carried out to investigate the effectiveness of the audio-stories (listening) on fostering students’ pronunciation. A group of 40 students were randomly selected from Norvin Institute in Gorgan city, Golestan Province of Iran, 20 students were in the experimental group and 20 students in the control group. The study was conducted to test the effectiveness of utilizing audio-stories as a strategy to improve pronunciation. The students of the experimental group received training through listening to the audio-stories for eight sessions while the students in the control group did not receive training. T-test was used to determine the mean in the pre-test and post-test pronunciation performance of element three level students. The obtained results showed that there was a statistically significant difference between the means in the overall pronunciation proficiency (Motalallebi &Pourgharib, 2013). The study findings established that using audio stories as a tool was effective in fostering the experimental group students’ pronunciation in Iranian students. There were statistically significant differences between the mean scores of the experimental group on pronunciation pre-test and post-test in pronunciation proficiency test scores. Motalallebi and Pourgharib (2013) also investigated whether audio-stories enhance learners’ motivation to learn pronunciation. The findings indicated that the learners’ motivations was enhanced. This is because the stories provided a relaxed atmosphere for the learners. The output of learners was increased. It was concluded that the program designed based on audio stories (listening) seemed to be effective in improving students overall pronunciation proficiency (Bouacher, 2010).

Gender has also been seen to be a critical factor in achievement and motivation during a pedagogical experience especially in traditional methods of instructions. Solveig and Simon (1995) conducted a study on Computer-Assisted Foreign language learning focusing on the effects of context and gender on listening comprehension and motivation. The result indicated that an interaction between context and gender regarding achievement was significant: Girls, but not boys, made fewer errors after a story-embedded lesson. Similarly, Moochi (2012) and Jones (1989) in their studies, though not computer-based studies, indicated that girls demonstrated a higher achievement in language related skills than boys. They also found out that girls tend to be more fluent and more capable verbally than boys. Equally, there was need to establish whether the intervention in this research would produce gender differences.

There has not been much research on Second Language (L2) pronunciation among Kenyans. In most cases, pronunciation teaching is usually determined by teacher’s intuition. The teacher decides which aspects of pronunciation need more emphasis (Kolokdaragh, 2009). It has been noted that, until recently, pronunciation teaching has been treated as a luxury ‘add- on” which is often perceived by teachers and students to be boring and unproductive (Seidlhofer, 2000).

Teaching is concerned with the transmission of knowledge. The most common methods for the transmission of knowledge include; lecture method, question and answer method, discussions, look and say for pronunciation lessons, use of textbooks, use of dictionaries and recently Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL) method. Teachers are sometimes unable to decide which method of instruction would give the highest outcome in the language classroom. This phenomena calls for scholars to conduct studies especially those embracing modern innovations in order to investigate which mode of instruction could enhance learning in schools. Hence the use of CALL was intended to investigate whether learners could be aided to learn English pronunciation faster using computer programs (Lee, 2008).

Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) transform the teaching and learning process from a dull teacher-dominated activity to an exciting learner-centred process which nurtures confidence, initiative and mental skills (Osodo, Chisikwa & Ongati, 2010). Thus, the use of CALL (Computer- Assisted Language Learning) is an ideal way of reforming the traditional curriculum process and pedagogy. In Kenya, Mwangi (2000), in his study notes that the resources used in the teaching of oral communication and their communicativeness is scanty, yet the teaching of any skill requires special and adequate human and material resources to achieve the laid down objectives. For example, the instructional resources, ranging from language laboratories, video tapes, video-cassettes, to availability of text books are vital in the teaching of oral communication (Nkosana, 1998). Hence, the incorporation of Computer as a resource in teaching pronunciation may be one way of bringing technology into language classroom teaching. CALL may therefore be used in L2 context to give learners the correct pronunciation by the native speakers of English as observed from recent studies.

Statement of the Problem
English is an international language which is used in almost every domain of communication. Correct pronunciation of words enhances communication and as result, all learners should be able to pronounce English words correctly. Without learning correct pronunciation of words, other language aspects such as grammar, vocabulary and meaning become distorted during the communication process resulting in ineffective discourse. Students and teachers in English second language environments become challenged because of the effect of L1 and lack of exposure to authentic English language pronunciation input. Some recent researchers have advocated the use of CALL to teach English language pronunciation over traditional methods such as text books and drilling. The use of CALL is where correct format of pronunciation by native speakers of English have been captured in audio format and learners can learn through self-instruction. No study has been carried out in Gucha sub-county to investigate the effects of CALL in English language achievement, motivation and gender as far as pronunciation is concerned. This study was intended to fill that gap.

Purpose of the Study
The purpose of this study was to determine the effects of Computer-Assisted Language Learning programme on learners’ Achievement and Motivation in English Pronunciation by secondary school students and to ascertain if gender would have any effects on Achievement and Motivation after CALL instruction.

Objectives of the Study
This study was guided by the following four objectives:

i. To determine the difference in achievement in English language pronunciation between secondary school students in Gucha Sub-County taught using CALL and those taught using traditional methods.

ii. To find out the difference in students’ motivation in learning pronunciation in English language between secondary school students in Gucha Sub-county taught using CALL and those taught using traditional methods.

iii. To determine difference in achievement in English language pronunciation between secondary school boys and girls in Gucha Sub-county when they are taught using CALL.

iv. To determine difference in motivation to learn pronunciation in English language between secondary school boys and girls in Gucha Sub-county when they are taught using CALL.

Hypotheses of the Study
This study presumed that:

Ho1: There is no statistically significant difference in achievement in English language pronunciation between secondary school students in Gucha Sub-County taught using CALL and those taught using the traditional methods.

Ho2: There is no statistically significant difference in students’ motivation in learning pronunciation in English language between students taught using CALL and those taught using traditional methods.

H03: There is no statistically significant gender difference in achievement in English language pronunciation when learners are taught using CALL.

H04: There is no statistically significant gender difference in motivation to learn pronunciation in English language when learners are taught using CALL.

Significance of the Study
The findings of this study shall encourage the teachers to use Computer-Assisted Language learning programmes to teach English pronunciation. The study is particularly relevant to curriculum developers (KICD) and subject specialists who may use the findings of this research to recommend and avail materials such as computers, pronunciation programmes in the teaching of English language to non-native speakers of English in the language classroom. The use of computer instruction will improve students’ learning and teachers to develop good learning resources that can help students understand difficult topics (Kiboss, Nassiuma & Tanui, 2004).

Scope of the Study
The English consonant sounds which were considered difficult to pronounce among learners of Gucha sub-county whose L1 is Ekegusii were purposively sampled. The problematic consonant sounds identified during the literature review were: /p/, /d/, /v/, /z/, /h/, /ʤ/, /ʃ/, /ð/, /Ɵ/. These sounds were considered difficult because they exist in English but are absent in Ekegusii language phonology resulting in interference. This brings about phonetic substitution, deletion, sounding of silent letters or wrong generalization on correct pronunciation. The study focused on communicative aspects, such as correct articulation of the sampled sounds.

Assumption of the Study
a) The administrators and the respondents of the targeted schools would co-operate with the researcher in collecting and recording of relevant data. To achieve this, the Researcher sought permission from the school authorities and briefed them on the purpose of the study.

Limitations of the Study
i. The existence of learners in the language classroom whose L1 was not Ekegusii. To enhance the objectivity of the result, the researcher purposively sampled learners whose L1 was Ekegusii.

ii. Generalizability of the findings of this study was a challenge as it only applied to L2 learners whose L1 is Ekegusii. The researcher suggested that CALL be applied to learners whose L1 is different from the one used in this study so as to estimate the efficacy of CALL as a method of instruction.

iii. The scope of this study did not include other aspects of phonology such as stress, intonation (suprasegmental).

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