Background of the Study
Language is the most remarkable tool that man has invented, which has been used to ensure survival, express ideas and emotions, tell stories, remember the past and negotiate with one another. It is a feature of every human society and culture. Azikiwe, (1998) opines that language is a human characteristic that distinguishes man from the lower animals. According to Azikiwe, lower animals make varieties of communicative sounds and gestures but none of them has evolved a communicative system, as powerful and flexible as human language.
Consequently, the Federal Republic of Nigeria (FRN), 2004) states that Government appreciates the importance of language as a means of promoting social interaction and national cohesion; and preserving cultures. Thus, “French is now Nigerian’s second official language and it shall be compulsory in primary and Junior Secondary Schools”, (FRN, 2004: 10). Ministerial Committee on the Review of French language Syllabus and Curriculum (MCRFLSC) held in June, 2006 to develop the curriculum for use at the Junior Secondary School level. Some of the objectives of this curriculum are as follows:
- To encourage the innovative capacity of the teacher who should be able to improve on materials in order to enhance effective delivery;
- To carry out continuous writing in French language employing correct usage of grammar, idiomatic expression, orthography, punctuation and other mechanics of the language;
- To manifest creativity in French language through composition of short stories, plays, news-sheets, word-games, songs and other innovative techniques; (Federal Ministry of Education (FME, 2006).
However, Language is not only spoken but survives in written form, such as in essay writing. The National Curriculum in French language was structured by MCRFLSC in 2006, in line with the above objectives. The second and third objectives which deal with the written dimension of the curriculum are of particular interest in this study. This is because according to Umo, (2001) the utility values of any language lie in the ability to communicate ideas effectively in oral and written forms. Writing is one of the four basic language skills (spneaking, listening, reading and writing). Essay writing has been defined in a variety of ways. Otagburuagu, Oba, and Ogenyi, (2010) opine that essay writing is a process of communicating idea in continuous prose format. To Ayo, (2006), essay writing is a literary device for saying almost everything about anything. It is also a short literary composition on a particular theme or subject.
Essay writing can be grouped into: narrative, expository, argumentative, and descriptive essays. At Junior Secondary School (JSS) stage, essay writing in French according to FME, (2006) are in six forms: simple description, narration, reports, letters, invitation and correspondences. At this stage, school expects basic essay writing skills where the students have to describe things around them such as: pets, school, or parents. This is simple and provides a starting point for the learner to think of things that surround them. Moreover, it teaches the learners to notice various elements and think of them in such a way that it helps them describe those elements for the class (FME).
However, an essay is written to convince the reader that the argument it contains is intellectually justifiable. Thus, the reader is the most important person in the essay writing process and this is reflected in the introduction which must provide the reader with an incentive to read the essay. The main point-(the main idea) of the paragraph is elaborated and its meaning explained and illustrated or supported by example, data or quote. The end of a good essay has a conclusion which restates the argument, reminds the reader of the two or three points which provide the most important support for the argument and then draws the essay to a close.
Essay writing is very significant in students’ academic career as it is one of the first things the students are demanded to write by their schools (Ike, 2005). In other words, one can say that essay is the outset footmark to enroll into the arena of writing. Throughout the timeline of schools, students are asked to write essays on different topics concerning their knowledge abilities. The process of essay writing is considered as a significant tool in determining students’ writing and reading attainments, presentation, analytical and climacteric approach skills and the power to write within a dictated time and word frame (Ayo, 2006). Writing process energizes basic of understandings and contributes to intellectual maturation. It is a good exercise for further written examinations. When one is involved in academic essay writing, one’s language improves (Ike, 2005).
In learning French essay writing in Nigeria, students are faced with many problems ranging from those that relate to the grammatical to those that stem from socio-cultural differences. The Nigerian learner of French essay writing usually has a mother tongue (L1) on which he/she imposes English (L2) as a second language. Thus, he/she is from time to time faced with the task of transposing his/her thought from these two languages to the French language which he/she is made to learn in school as a L2. Moreover, the act of writing is deprived of an immediate context of communication. Thus, for effective writing, one has to use a large number of formal features in order to help his/her readers infer the intended meaning. Essay writing involves: capitalization, punctuation problems, inexplicitness, poor organization/illogical sequence, spelling and grammar problems. For instance, these are some problems the learners encounter in learning essay writing in French: Example: garcon, pere, et marche for garçon, père et marché. There are some categories which involve incomplete sentences or wrong spelling of words. For examples are: Ma miere est dons…; Il y a quatre enfnfants (Ma mere est dans la maison et Il y a quatre enfants) and inappropriate techniques used by teachers of French.
According to Ayo, (2006), the above problems can be corrected by the use of activity-based techniques. French essay teaching has often been regarded as an activity-based, formal activity at JSS level. In teaching French essay writing at this level (JSS), activity-based techniques are often required to modify an essay text and if well developed, they can be used effectively for all topics of different essay lessons. According to FME, (2006), in order to make an essay writing lesson effective, beneficial, and interesting a teacher should use some well developed and fascinating innovative techniques in the classroom. An example of such techniques is the use of the technique of song (TS).
TS is an act of using song/music to present the material for instruction. According to the researcher’s experience as a L2 teacher, when students make a major breakthrough in learning, it is a song/music to the teacher’s ears. Uga, (2006) states that there is nothing more rewarding to a teacher than seeing his/her learners smile and laugh while they learn. This means that students who are taught in a fun and creative way, love coming to class. Songs have been part of the human experience for as long as one can remember. According to Wadswork, (2009), a song is a piece of music; an art of organizing tones to produce a coherent sequence of sounds, intended to elicit an aesthetic response in listener’s vocal or instrumental sounds, having some degree of rhythm, melody and harmony. Bob, (2009) opines that song is a communicative activity which conveys to the listener moods, emotions, thoughts, impressions, or philosophical, sexual, or political concepts or positions. From the above, a song and music are inseparable and interchangeable. A song is also a short lyric narrative text set to music. This music often reproduces the mood of and lends heightened emotional expression to the song text (Bob, 2009). Songs generally manifest in tune, melody rhyme, and lyrics. Songs can be a very interesting and motivating source of real life instructional technique for one’s students and one that particularly reaches into the learners’ world. A teaching technique according to Ike, (2006) is a specific action taken by the teacher to make his/her lesson easier, faster and more enjoyable, more self-directed, more effective and more transferable to new situations. Such activity-based techniques are expected to help learners overcome any linguistic deficit.
A technique of song (TS) is therefore, a teaching technique of combining singing and psychology with language learning; it is also a short lyric essay text set to music, generally with an accompanying instrument, such as: drums, piano and others for teaching and learning. TS is a way in which a teacher uses song-activities to present his/her material for instruction.
TS can be in two forms: stimulating or sedating music. According to Wijia, (2009) the stimulating TS affects one through its rhythm, makes one feel more active like awaking after a good sleep while the second part (sedating one) makes the listener calm, sleepy or inactive. The one that will be helpful in this study is the stimulating from which is very motivating. It can be in form of an essay passage (containing important structures and vocabulary for the lesson) set to song/music; it can be recorded in a disc or sang orally. TS contains some elements (melody, harmony, timbre, rhythm, tempo and lyrics) that can be exploited to elicit ideas in writing. For example, according to Bob, (2009), the context, lyrics and rhythm provided in the song can stimulate learners’ imagination. Moreover, when the students sing and perform the TS activities, those elements can help them create friendly and cooperative atmosphere that is significant in essay learning (Bob, 2009). Uga, (2006) emphasizes that TS is an important technique in teaching grammar which is an essential essay writing skill. It is then hoped that TS will offer a change from routine classroom activities.
TS has many advantages for using it, in the language classroom. Bob, (2009) further explains that TS is one of the most enchanting and culturally rich resources that can easily be used in language classroom, and since it provides authentic texts, it is motivating. Medina, (2002) states that through the prosodic features of the language such as stress, rhythm, intonation can be presented through TS, thus, through using them, the language which is cut up into a series of structural points becomes a whole again. Moreover, using contemporary popular TS, which are already familiar to teenagers, the teacher is expected to meet the challenges of the teenagers in the classroom. Since TS is highly memorable and motivating in many forms, it constitutes a powerful subculture with learners’ rituals (Medina, 2002). Thus, listening to stimulating TS can encourage extensive and intensive listening, and inspire creativity and use of imagination in a relaxed classroom atmosphere. In this mood, TS can also soothe listener’s soul and this comforting mood adds the creativity in one’s imagination. This can also help learners solve the problems in starting to write. Medina, (2002) emphasizes that TS facilitate learners to express their ideas and feelings in L2 writing. The background of the TS can be played/sung during the writing process to stimulate internal processing, to smooth the progress of creativity, and promote personal reflection. Medina’s (2002) study revealed that learners wrote twice as much with TS than without. There are various ways of using TS as a teaching technique in French essay class but the level of the students, their interests, age of the learners intervening variables and so ‘French as a second language (FSL)-TS Essay Activities’ mainly depend on the creativity of the teacher:
The TS Teaching Tips: the teacher Presents TS. For example, Mon École (My School) (Appendix O: 165); Description: Students dance to TS (mon école) they learn later. This is to familiarize students with the new melody prior to hearing the lyrics for the first time. It is also to allow ‘incidental learning’ to occur. Often, acquisition takes place in the absence of explicit instruction (Medina, 2002). Play (sing) the TS in the background while the students’ teams listen and discuss ways in which the TS can be choreographed; have groups perform for the larger group. The class will vote for the best choreography; Make a short list of new vocabulary words which are found in the TS lyrics on ‘Mon École’; distribute a copy of this list to the students; Have groups of three or four students create a skit (short funny sketch) which incorporates the target vocabulary words of ‘mon école’; Encourage students to perform their skits for the class. Use as many props and costumes as possible; play the TS for the class while the actors/actresses perform it; have student pairs practice. Only specific errors are corrected by the teacher; Circulate about the room making certain that students change partners several times; have teams practice lip syncing (harmony) to the TS-lyrics; Have students repeat the words without singing them; Point out more new vocabulary, idioms, grammar items, and give needed pronunciation cues; gradual method can lead to the out-of-class associations that are crucial to French essay learning; Teacher play/sing the TS again, letting the students join in when they feel confident about singing along; learners write an essay describing ‘Mon École’ (My School); Students and teacher are excited by students’ writing
From the above, TS is expected to assist one’s teaching of essay writing topic, while providing a relaxed atmosphere which motivated students. Such activities are student centered, hence, by using them, students will express themselves orally or in written forms and enjoy themselves during learning. There is therefore, and undeniable fact that if one’s concern is to provide a successful and beneficial teaching, one has to use TS, an innovative and activity-based technique, which brings the structural, pragmatic, prosodic and communicative aspects of written language together, in one’s language classrooms (Bob, 2009).
Generally, when a lesson lacks such activity-based technique (TS), it becomes teacher-centered, boring and makes students passive listeners in the class. It can also block students’ input necessary for language acquisition. Absences of activity-based technique like the (TS) in French essay JSS class can result in docile and sleepy. Some may even choose to move out on seeing the teacher of French coming into the class (researcher’s experience). This may be one of the reasons that many students drop out the French language class after JSS classes. Thus, students’ poor attention towards the study of French language is not inherent in the subject itself, but can be traced to, among other factors, teachers’ use of inappropriate techniques and materials in teaching. Ndubueze, (2006) explains that poor teaching technique has been one of the problems confronting effective teaching and learning of French language in Nigerian secondary schools, since its introduction as a secondary school subject. The technique that is dominantly used by most French language teachers in teaching virtually all aspects of French language study is the translation/memorization (conventional) technique.
The conventional technique (CT) is subject-matter oriented and seems uninspiring to students. Its emphasis is on cognitive performance, especially, as it affects memorization and simple recall of facts which students may not be interested in. This technique (conventional) requires the learners to write essays with little or no guidance from the teacher and at the end of the lesson; the scripts are collected for marking. Such classes are usually dull and as such, the teacher and students view writing as an uphill task. The conventional technique deprives the students virtually of all responsibilities for using their own mental abilities to compare and decide what is important to learn. It overlooks the individual differences of the learners, and denies them adequate and prompt attention of the teacher.
Many other techniques have been used in teaching French essay writing in secondary schools to ensure students’ acquisition of essay writing skills. These techniques are: writing project, guided composition, audio-lingual and product techniques. The teaching of essay writing in this technique is accuracy-based and teacher-centered. The product technique uses drills extracts or prose passages, from reputable authors as models for good writing which do not make learners proficient in the essay writing skill. These techniques are also conventional. They are very important techniques but tax learners’ memory greatly. It may not be suitable for all grades of French learners and may be boring and frustrating for teaching French essay writing at JSS level. Even when it comes to using basic grammatical skills to communicate feelings, ideas and messages in writing, the students are found wanting. Consequently, Ayo, (2006: 9), asserted that ‘French should be talked into the child…Grammar is only for those who have the language…’
Problems confronting the effective teaching of French essay writing in Nigerian secondary schools are many. The written expression which deals with ‘la grammaire du verbe’ (l’ accord du verbe avec le sujet)’ is poorly taught (Ike, 2005; Ayo, 2006 and Abraham, 2008). Abraham further pointed out that the recognition of conjugation in the rules guiding the formation of sentences which is so important in French essay teaching/learning is not emphasized by many teachers. Ike, (2005) further expresses that lack of recognition of conjugation of French verbs results in students’ inability to harmonize sentences in French essay writing.
The researcher’s interaction with some schools showed that Junior Secondary School (JSS) students read and write French alphabets, and find it difficult to use to the letters to form words and sentences. Moreover, many teachers of French are ill-equipped to handle the writing skill. Such teachers tell the students what to do instead of providing meaningful real-life learning situation for the students to practise and acquire the language skills for writing good essays. Thus, lack of language proficiency can be an important barrier preventing to L2 learners writing confidently and effectively. The learners have difficulty in finding the right vocabulary and using the correct grammar in stating their opinions. The most frequent problem often encountered by Nigerian learners of French essays is the difficulty in eliciting ideas, as pointed out by Abraham, (2002). Most French writing styles state the main points directly, while some Nigerian writers, for example, the Igbos are accustomed to writing the main ideas by ‘beating around the bush’. As a result, many students write ‘un-French’: ‘Vos soeurs et vos l’ école; Il y a faites-vous le noel; J’ ai gar lar lan cousin un (researcher’s experience).
It is expected that the French language learners at the secondary school level should be able to develop ideas in effective sentences and paragraphs, and write good essays. Writing is the medium through which the academic achievement of the students is assessed but it is unfortunate that most Nigerian secondary school students find it difficult to write good essays or compositions in French. This is disheartening. After many students have spent three or six years in the secondary school, they fail to obtain a pass mark in French. Thus, the students’ inability to write good essays may contribute to the poor achievement in the subject. The level of students’ achievement in French language is not encouraging. To buttress this point, Appendix N: 165) shows the JSSCE results in French of four schools in Enugu State after a period of five years (2008-2012).
Appendix N shows that for five schools’ results pulled together, the total percentages of outright failures of the schools mentioned above were: 21%, 29%, 30% and 34% for the years 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012 respectively. This shows that about one third of the class that took the examination in three out of four years failed. Moreover, ordinary passes which is equally regarded as failures in the GCE standard are 42%, 18%, 19%, and 15% failure rates for the four years respectively. For the results of individual schools: School, A had failures of about 25% and above in three out of the four years. School B had failures of 25% and above for the entire four years or an average of 33% failure for four years. School D had failures of 34% and above for the entire, or an average of 52% failure for four years while School E had failures of 40% and above for three out of the four years or an average of 38% failure for the four years. It goes to prove that the students are not performed highly in Junior Secondary School Certificate Examination (JSSCE) in French language. Further to this, in the WAEC Chief Examiner’s Reports: WAEC, 2008, 2009 and 2012 the chief examiners pointed to the fact that students are not achieving as expected in French language. For instance, the reports were unanimous in pointing out that candidates were unable to express themselves very well in an acceptable French language; had poor knowledge of grammatical rules; were unable to spell or punctuate correctly; used incorrect grammar such as wrong tenses and wrong numbers; were ignorant of the difference between a sentence and a phrase; were unable to express ideas correctly in French; had immature vocabulary and used wrong words/used words out of context.
The errors in spelling, punctuation and grammar cost most candidates all the marks allotted to the Mechanical Accuracy/Expression aspects of the essay test. The above-identified indices of poor achievement are specifically related to French essays. The contributory factors to this poor achievement could be found among the followings: lack of interest by parents, teachers and students (Ayo, 2006 and Ezeoba, 2008), and poor teaching techniques (Chiawa, 2008 and Monachi, 2009).
Students’ interest-based participation in every learning activity can promote learning and enhance achievement in essay writing. According to Ezeoba, (2008), interest-based learning refers to children’s engagement in activities which provide the students opportunities to express their interests and acquire new knowledge and abilities. Ezeoba further states that learners’ interest-based involvement in a variety of experience promotes students’ learning. Okon, (2004) sees interest as an inner state of need or desire that activates an individual to do something. This means that children’s, interests in French essays influence their participation in the subject, the ways in which they engage in it and their understanding and achievement in the subject.
Interest in French composition can be the satisfaction and attraction of a learner in studying the subject. To secure the learners’ interest in essay writing means to attach some features of seductiveness to the essay learning activities. Thus, every essay learning situation is expected to be attractive, enjoyable and captivating for a learner if the student is to gain significantly from it.
According to Krapp, (2002), there are two types of interest that can influence a learner’s involvement in essay learning. They are personal (intrinsic) and situational (extrinsic) interests. Personal/intrinsic interests are learner’s individual likes, preferences, and favorites. They involve both a learner’s knowledge of and positive feelings about an experience, object, or activity Krapp, (2002). Personal interests are specific to individuals and tend to endure and evolve over time and across different situations. Situational interests refer to interests that are evoked by an exciting situation or context. Krapp, (2002) further posits that situational interest emerges when the characteristics or features of an activity, toy, material, person, or event attract a learner’s attention, arouse his/her curiosity, or invite him/her to become involved. This means that situations that have elements of novelty, surprise, exploration, or the unexpected can evoke situational interest. Both personal and situational interests can affect whether and how a learner engages in essay writing activity.
Considering the above discussion, it appears that the task of an educator must be to promote in learner, an interest in education. A teacher, thus, in planning his/her work especially, in French essay writing is then, expected to aim at making it lively and enjoyable (Okon). This can be achieved by creating, using situational interests and identifying and using children’s personal interests to provide experiences that are likely to capture their attention, get them involved in everyday essay activities, and provide them opportunities to do the things they like to do, practice the things they are able to do, and learn to do new things to achieve the targeted goal.
The students’ poor achievement in French composition may further be attributed to some variables such as gender and location. Gender is a variable that plays an important role in academic achievement. According to Hancock, (2003), gender refers to the varied socially and culturally constructed roles, qualities, behaviours and attributes that are ascribed to men and women from different societies. Sammons, West and Hind, (2002) asserts that gender is a cultural construct developed by the society to distinguish the roles, behaviors, mental and emotional characteristics between males and females. Gender also refers to a social labeling by which one distinguishes two groups of people. Hancock further explains that the difference between sex and gender is that sex is a physical distinction while gender is a social and cultural one. This shows that roles and expectations of male and female are defined by societies and cultures. Thus, men are expected to behave in a certain way and to perform certain duties different from those of female.
The role of gender in French essay writing achievement may be very crucial. This is because Ike, (2005) emphasizes that personality characteristics are essential in teaching/learning. Moreover, females generally, appear to be more suspicious, worried and introverted than males. Thus, females have general tendencies to think that they are defected in their personality and as such, they may not attain their objectives. As a language teacher, the researcher observed that most female students have general tendencies to think in negative ways about the task in which they engage. Such attitude of females can affect their achievement in French composition which is a complex activity.
Another factor that may influence students’ achievement in French essay writing is school location. School location may have great influence on students’ achievement and interest in French essay learning. Ike (2005) states that school location refers to the environment where teaching and learning take place. It can be a place (urban and rural) designated for teaching and learning French. In Nigeria, secondary schools are located in both urban and rural areas. The difference in school location is expected to result in a differential impact in skill acquisition, in French language academic achievement. Okon, (2004) states that urban schools achieve better in L2 learning than those in rural schools. The following factors are given to support the claim: limited access to reading materials; inadequate reading culture and inadequate graduate teachers of L2 learning in rural schools. Adequate provision these facilities can improve learning of French composition by learners while inadequate provision can hamper it. Based on this assumption, there may be need to address the location differences in order to enhance students’ achievement and interest in French composition.
Essay writing is an important aspect of French language. It is a formal and complex skill which requires stimulating the learner to write. This complex nature of essay writing has led to the use of many techniques in teaching it to see whether learners’ achievement can be improved. Moreover, students should possess good knowledge of the acceptable French before they can write good essays in French language. One way of achieving this fact is by the use of TS which aims at equipping the learner with the necessary communicative competence in the target language which is the ‘le français stardard’ (standard French). Furthermore, because of the importance attached to essay writing in any language examination, there is need for teachers to adopt suitable teaching techniques that will enable learners to acquire the skill effectively. This research work therefore has tried to investigate the effect of the technique of song on students’ achievement and interest in French essay writing.
Statement of the Problem
Essay writing is a core aspect of every language as a subject at the Junior Secondary School level in Nigeria but has been confronted with poor achievement of students in the country, Enugu State inclusive. This is evident from the poor results of the Junior and Senior Secondary School Certificate Examinations for French language in Enugu State (Chief Examiners’ Report: 2008; 2009; 2012, and for Junior Secondary School Certificate Examination for French essay writing for the year 2008—2012 (Appendix N: 165).
This low level achievement of the students in French essay writing may be attributed primarily to poor teaching techniques. The technique currently used by French language teachers is translation/memorization technique. This technique seems infective since it has not improved students’ achievement in essay writing. It has therefore become necessary to look for other alternatives that would allow teachers to adapt learning to the level of students’ understanding. The use of innovative instructional and activity-based techniques may bring about more meaningful learning of French essay writing. TS seems to has the potential to improve learning. Thus, it can be employed in the classroom in teaching French essay writing.
Although the use of song as a teaching technique has been tried in English and French grammar, its effectiveness is yet to be determined in the study of French essay writing. To the best of the researcher’s knowledge no study has explored the effect of the technique of song (TS) on students’ achievement and interest in French essay writing at JSS 11 in Enugu State. Based on the foregoing, therefore, the problem of this study put in question form is: what is the effect of technique of song (TS) on students’ achievement and interest in French essay writing?
Purpose of the Study
The main purpose of this study is to determine the effect of the technique of songs (TS) on students’ achievement and interest in essay writing. Specifically, the study aims at:
- determining the achievement of the students taught French essay writing, using TS and conventional technique;
- finding out the effect of gender on the achievement of students taught French essay writing, using the TS;
- finding out the effect of location on the achievement of students taught French essay writing, using the TS;
- determining the effect of TS on the interest of students taught French essay writing;
- finding the effect of gender on the interest of students taught French essay writing, using the TS;
- determining the effect of location on the interest of students taught French essay writing, using TS;
- determining the interaction effect of the TS and gender on students’ achievement in French essay writing;
- finding the interaction effect of TS and location on students’ achievement in French composition;
- determining the interaction effect of TS and gender on students’ interest in French essay writing;
- determing the interaction effect of TS and location on students’ interest in French essay writing.
Significance of the Study
It is hoped that the findings of this study will be beneficial to students, teachers, teacher educators, curriculum planners, textbook authors, school administrators and researchers. If the new technique (TS) is adopted, it has a wide range of activities for students which are geared towards effective writing. Through the repetition of TS lyrics, students will learn vocabulary and expressions in French language that will be useful in essay writing. Moreover, since TS involves dancing, listening, imitation, singing, repetition, competition, co-operation, and writing, the learners will be stimulated to be actively involved in the class essay activities and so learning becomes interesting and effective. Learners’ attitude and interest in the language will also be positively changed.
The findings of this study may also sensitize secondary school teachers through seminars, workshops and publications to the technique (TS) thereby encouraging them in teaching their subjects. If the use of TS turns out to be effective, the French language teachers can use it to increase their students’ interest and achievement. The teachers of French language will then benefit from it because when they use TS, it will help them to achieve the objectives of their lessons. The results of this study are also expected to make French teachers to re-examine their methods and techniques of teaching in order to improve instruction, achievement and the interest of learners in their subjects. It is hoped that the TS will enable the teachers to make positive and constructive input that will enhance students’ essay writing achievement. The teaching of writing is often a tedious task because of the intrinsic nature of the skill: thus, most teachers test writing instead of teaching it. The TS is hoped to provide relief for teachers by empirically providing an instructional technique that will enhance students’ achievement in the teaching of French language essay writing.
If TS is applied in teaching in the teacher training at the colleges of education and universities, it may be beneficial to student teachers. Such, student teachers will be able to appreciate the usefulness of the technique early in their careers.
If curriculum planners are exposed to the new technique through workshops, they may find the technique effective in teaching French language generally and essay writing in particular. Consequently, they may make recommendations for the inclusion of TS in implementing the curriculum by the teachers.
It is hoped that authors of French language textbooks who may be exposed to the TS teaching technique through workshops will find the technique useful in organizing essay writing exercises in their works to include exercises that involve the use of the TS. Such exercises will provide favourable opportunities for the learners to exercise their creative potentials.
Through seminars and workshops, the school administrators may be aware of the benefits of TS usage in teaching. Moreover, TS can improve the achievement of their students in certificate examinations. Consequently, such findings will inform school administrators of the benefits of TS in teaching French language and such information can make those administrators to encourage teachers in their schools to use the TS in teaching essay writing in French. Then, the school time table will also be made flexible to accommodate the use of this technique (TS).
It is expected that this study will be helpful to researchers. The findings may serve as available data for future researches on efficient and effective teaching techniques. This study may also open up more areas of research in the use of innovative techniques in teaching and learning, so as to improve instruction, students’ achievement and interest in secondary school essay writing.
Theoretically, this study is anchored on Krashen’s theory of second language (L2) acquisition, based on the use of language in communicative situations without recourse to the native language which advocated child centered education (Krashen’s, (1982). According to Krashen, the extent to which learners can lose themselves in activities involving meaningful communication which determines the amount and the kind of acquisition the students will experience and the fluency they will ultimately demonstrate. Thus, all reality should be viewed only in terms of what can be known through human experience. Ndubueze, (2002) believed that through the use of TS, learners can gain meaningful learning on their own. TS contains numerous activities that when students are engaged in them (singing, dancing, demonstrating, writing and so on), they will be encouraged to participate fully in the essay writing activity. It is hoped that some vocabulary and structures learned through singing will be retained and become useful to the students when they write essays in examinations. The findings of this study would further lay credence to the efficacy of Krashen’s theory on comprehensive input in low anxiety situation. Through the use of TS, it is expected that students would attain maximum self-development and fulfillment in the essay learning process; this is because the students’ abilities, needs, and interests would be at the fore front in the TS activity-based and problem-solving essay learning development. Through the use of TS, in essay teaching, students would be adequately motivated to learn for life.
Moreover, through the use of TS, students can learn meaningfully on their own. The findings of this study would further lay credence to the efficacy of the naturalistic, communicative approach to language acquisition (understanding language that contains structure a bit beyond one’s current level of competence ‘(i+1)’ (from known to unknown) (Krashen), that can be transferred to the real-life situation (essay writing) which is a post-positivistic development theory in education.
If the teachers are acquainted with the naturalistic communicative, activity-based technique through seminars or workshops, they may try to work out a sequence of assignments on essay writing based on the abilities of students to learn more complex tasks after they have mastered a simpler one (i+1). It will also help all the teachers in selecting the best methods/techniques in teaching the French essay writing class. Thus, this technique (TS) which was used in the study is expected to be beneficial to both teachers and students if adopted.
Scope of the Study
The study was limited to the Enugu State public single sex secondary schools. It was conducted in two urban and two rural Junior Secondary Schools (JSS) in Nsukka Zone. The sample was restricted to 201 Junior Secondary School Class Two students.
The aspect of French essay writing consists of: descriptive, narrative, expository and argumentative essay writing. Guided descriptive essay writing was chosen because it has been identified to be among the difficult skills in the Junior Secondary two (JSS) French language curriculum (WAEC Chief Examiners’ Reports, 2009 and 2012). This study examines also the influence of gender and school location as variables.
The following research questions guided this study:
- What are the mean scores of students taught essay writing in French language using TS and those taught using conventional technique?
- What are the mean achievement scores of male and female students taught French composition using TS?
- What is the effect of location on students’ mean achievement scores in French composition using TS?
- What are the mean interest scores of students taught French composition using TS?
- How does gender affect the mean interest scores of students taught position using TS?
- How does location affect the mean interest scores of students taught composition using TS?
- What is the interaction effect of TS and gender on student‘s achievement in French essay writing using TS?
- What is the interaction effect of TS and location on student achievement in French essay writing using TS?
- What is the interaction effect of TS and gender on students’ interest in French essay writing using TS?
10. What is the interaction effect of TS and location on students’ interest in
French essay writing using TS?
The following hypotheses will be tested at 0.05 levels of significance:
- There is no significant difference in the mean achievement scores of students taught French essay writing using TS and those taught using conventional technique (CT);
- There is no significant difference in the mean achievement scores of male and female students taught French composition using the TS;
- There is no significant difference in the mean achievement scores of urban and rural students taught French essay, using the TS;
- There is no significant difference in the mean interest scores of students taught French composition, using the TS and those taught using CT
- There is no significant difference in the mean interest scores of male and female students taught essay writing in French, using the TS.
- There is no significant difference in the mean interest scores of urban and rural students taught French composition using the TS.
- There is no significant interaction effect of the TS and gender on students’ means achievement scores in French essay.
- There is no significant interaction effect of the TS and location on students’ means achievement scores in French essay.
- There is no significant interaction effect of the TS and gender on students’ means interest scores in French essay.
- There is no significant interaction effect of the TS and location on students’ means interest scores in French essay.