Chapter 1: Introduction

1.1 Background of the Study

People are social beings and language barriers do not limit their interactions. Various technologies have been developed to facilitate communication among people all over the world. Globalization has increased demand for second language to enable people realize full benefits from it. It is indisputable that in the new millennium English has become the most demanded international language. The necessity to use English in the modern world is evident everywhere. In various places of the world parents are sending children to bilingual schools or emersion pre-schools to provide them with a head start of learning English language.

1.2 Childhood Second Language Acquisition

Acquiring language at a tender age is a natural process which results from prolonged exposure to a certain language. Whereas the written language has to be taught to the children, a spoken one does not need to be taught formally to children. Every kid develops a fluent language if consistent exposure is made within a social setting. In this case, the child is not limited to understanding one language, but may acquire a native fluency in as many languages as he/she is exposed to. However, the natural ability to develop an understanding of a spoken language diminishes sharply as one approaches puberty. Beyond this age, acquiring new language requires deliberate effort. In essence, the exposure to a new language in teenage results in a definite interference with the language or languages learnt earlier.

1.3 Adulthood Second Language Acquisition

In adulthood language acquisition is a learning process. The process is deliberate, intellectual, painful, and hardly leads to a total native-like fluency compared to those who acquire it when young. This deficiency is more evident if learning is made at phonetic level. In this case, the adult who acquires a second language usually speaks it with some non-native accents.

Second language acquisition does not necessarily mean acquiring the second language, rather, it means acquiring any other language in addition to the ones already known. The fist language is not a barrier for second language acquisition (Ellis, 1994). This is because children are able to acquire the second, third, or any other number of languages as long as they are exposed to them early enough. Therefore, maturity and age determine the ease of acquiring the second language as opposed to the first language.

1.4 Learning and Teaching English

There are different methods used in teaching. Some of them include use of lectures, brainstorming, panel of experts, class discussion, videotapes, role-playing, and inviting guest speakers among others. Different institutions use different modes of instructions. These modes include: peer teaching, case studies, class instructions, journal articles, and textbooks among others.  The mode used depends on the nature of material being taught. Use of peer teaching in second language acquisition has a widespread use.

The appropriate teaching technique to be used should depend on student’s learning style for better understanding. Generally, there are three major learning styles. A learning style refers to the preferred method by which an individual learns and remembers what he learnt. One of the learning styles is the visual style. In this case, the learner is able to remember whatever he read or learnt by creating mental pictures of what he experienced. Such individuals learn easily by seeing and their memory is attached to a strong visual association. Use of peer teaching among these learners proves to be very helpful because proper use of demonstrations is made.

Secondly, there are learners who learn best by listening: auditory learners. They prefer conversations and storytelling, which are possible techniques of peer teaching. The third learning style is the kinesthetic style. Here the learner needs to play and touch whatever they are learning about. The kind of freedom that these learners require may be achieved through peer teaching and hence facilitate the second language acquisition.

1.5 Statement of the Problem

As globalization spreads, interactions among people increase. People require moving across continents and their success in doing so is dependent on the ability to communicate with the natives in every destination. This has led to higher demand for the international languages (Ellis, 1985). It is easier to learn a new language while young but because this is a new phenomenon, we have many adults who need to learn second language. English seems to be the leading language in the current world and many techniques have been developed to teach it to adults. Among them is the peer teaching technique which has gained popularity from its effectiveness in achieving the expected objectives. Although many researches were done regarding peer teaching in linguistic, little is known about the peer teaching benefits and challenges. This study seeks to describe the benefits and challenges experienced in English peer teaching.

1.6 Significance of the Study

The research findings will be availed to different groups of people to facilitate peer teaching. These will include students and teachers in order to discover areas that may require improvement. The institution management may also use the findings when formulating policies.

1.7 Objective of the study

  1. To describe the benefits derived from English peer teaching;
  2.  To identify the challenges experienced when using peer teaching to teach English;
  3. To establish the relationship between English peer teaching and learning styles.

1.8 Research questions

  1. What benefits are derived from English peer teaching?
  2. What challenges are experienced in English peer teaching?
  3. What is the relationship between English peer teaching and learning styles?

Chapter 2: Literature Review

2.1 General Literature

According to Zander (1974), peer teaching has significant impact on generating teamwork among the students. Students achieve higher motivational levels than they would do if they were studying on their own taught exclusively by a teacher. Denying students a chance to create groups undermines the group efforts and the society loses the benefits that it would get from teamwork.

According to Bruner (1972), the teaching processes benefit both the tutee and the tutor. By allowing the student to pick the teaching role among themselves is giving them new opportunities of acquiring new knowledge (De, 1978). He further explains that peer teaching results to increased self-confidence, increased motivation, better cooperation among students, raises self-esteem, and reduces the destructive competitive behavior among the learners. Piaget (1971) advocates peer teaching as a way of developing active learning for knowledge development.

2.2 Specific Literature

Brewster (1984) provided an insight on the benefits that are realized from incorporating peer teaching in institutions. One of the advantages that he discusses relates to the cost of teaching. He asserts that the demand for knowledge such as the second language acquisition, leads to a higher student-teacher ratio (Ortega, 2009). Incorporating peer teaching leads to reduced cost without compromising the learning outcomes. A detailed analysis by Whitman (1988) revealed existence of different groups with different understanding of the subject matter. Such groups are relevant to encourage development of understanding through increased self-esteem. He emphasizes the paramount influence that co-peer teaching has in learning.

According to Selinker and Grass (2001) acquiring second language involves learning a nonnative language. They found out that acquiring new language requires conducive environment with efficient access to fluent speakers of the targeted language. As such, peer tutors with better understanding of the target knowledge are better positioned to help others learn (Krashen, 1982).

2.3 Conceptual Model

Second language acquisition using peer teaching involves a learning process that has to be worked out well. In any case, students must be motivated to appreciate taking the role of teachers. Also, the environment should encourage engagements among the students. Active engagement promotes group formation and hence group learning.  

Chapter 3: Research Methodology

3.1 Research Design

The objective of this study is to generate understanding of the challenges faced during peer teaching of English and the benefits realized. This research will use data from primary sources of University of Toronto. It will involve interviewing teachers and student on matters related to learning English as a second language. The interview schedule will be prepared one month before the study and a pre-test will be performed in Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. The pre-test will help evaluate the effectiveness of questionnaire and method of analysis in meeting objectives of the study. The questionnaire will consist of open-ended questions to help probe information from the respondents.

3.2 Data Collection

One hundred people comprising of teachers and student from University of Toronto will be interviewed. The sample is significantly large to reduce the sampling error and allow making non-biased conclusions. The method of simple random sampling will be used. Information received from the respondents will be used to fill the questionnaire. The data will then be coded to facilitate analysis. Similar responses will be given similar codes to use statistical analysis.

3.3 Data Analysis

The quantitative analysis will be appropriate for this study to help generalize the result to the entire population of adults who are striving to acquire their second language in learning institutions. Data analysis tools such as regression will be used to understand relationships and the degree of correlation between the dependent and independent variables.

3.4 Presentation and Recommendations

The collected data will be represented by use of tabular and graphical presentation. This may involve presentation of trends in second language acquisition upon introduction of peer teaching. As such, the finding will be easy to understand and hence useful to the policy makers in institutions that are considering incorporating peer teaching.

3.5 Ethical Consideration

This study will be conducted in accordance to the ethical values of the society. As such, no respondent will be forced to participate in the interview. The interviews will also begin will privacy assurance to create confidence among the respondents. Informed consent will be sought from all respondents. 

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