Page 8 - Revista AXIOMA 23
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Mónica Raquel Tamayo Maggi, Diego Christian Cajas Quishpe

        Grammar provides the structure of the language and helps learners to   Figure 2 shows that participants consider the current class conditions as
        construct sentences that make sense and are within the acceptable con-  the main factor to make the writing classes challenging, followed by time
        ventions of English (Manolescu 2019).  Jaramillo & Medina (2011) explo-  availability and teaching aids.
        red the role of grammar in writing short descriptive texts in English. Their
        results confirmed that most of the difficulties students had were related to   Class conditions revolves around the class environment and refers to
        the construction of sentences, grammatical errors, vocabulary and difficul-  large classes and reduced physical space, which, according to the par-
        ties in reading comprehension. They concluded that learners may have be-  ticipants limits personalized attention to students and reduces students’
        tter writing results when they have time to develop their tasks, their ideas   English practice. Large classes is not a phenomenon that occurs only in
        and when the writing topic is clear.  Time plays a fundamental factor since   Ecuadorian educational institutions. Instead, it happens in different parts
        students can reflect on their works and identify their own grammar lapses.  of the world.  Emery (2012) highlights that large classes is one of the
                                                              most mentioned problems encountered by English teachers.  Likewise,
        Regarding the Spanish interference, Alabere (2011) suggests that if L2   Khajloo (2013) also points out that one of the challenges in teaching
        students have difficulties in phonology, vocabulary and grammar of the   English is the size of the classroom.
        second language are due to the interference of habits from mother ton-
        gue. Aisa (2015) further suggests that regular practice and error analysis   Regarding the effects of having large classes, Zhang (2010) identified
        can help teachers find out how far the interference affects the learners’   three issues:  discipline problems,   students' and teachers' weary and
        performance in the target language they are learning. Although teachers   inefficient learning. Furthermore, Aoumeur (2017) states that problems
        may always emphasize the need to  think  and  write  in  English  as    such as anonymity and passivity among students, poor engagement with
        much  as  possible,  it is difficult for them to completely devoid from   course content, and low motivation  are the consequences of being tau-
        native language and culture.                          ght in large classes. Opposite to the existing literature that suggests
                                                              classes with a limited number of students as a premise to successfully
        Native language influence is not always negative, in fact, it can also be   achieve the expected language outcomes, there are studies that empha-
        a factor that scaffolds the success of writing of EFL students (Harmer,   size the positive role of the teachers’ methodology and techniques to
        2015). It is in the teachers’ hands to use it to their benefit and plan activi-  work with large classes effectively.
        ties to enhance their student’s Writing.  EFL students tend to transfer the
        meaning, culture, and forms of their first language to the second langua-  The second factor that makes writing classes challenging is the inade-
        ge and culture they are learning.  Ultimately, it has a positive impact on   quacy of allocated time to teach Writing. All participants mentioned that
        the learning of the target language. It is, then, important for the teachers   their institutions do not have an official distribution of hours for the de-
        to start exploring the principles and advantages of translanguage.   velopment of different language skills. It depends on the teacher. There
                                                              are certain constraints for time allocation. For example, teachers have a
        Regarding the students’ motivation, Jabali (2018) identified in his study   textbook to finish and, in most cases, the allotted time is directed pro-
        with Palestinian EFL students that they showed willingness to do well in   portionally to the textbook advancement. This results in teachers having
        writing but they were not as interested in learning as they were with the   limited time to plan and conduct other activities since they may not be
        other language skills, leaving Writing apart from their interests. This shows   able to finish all activities presented in the textbook.
        the need to find appropriate mechanisms to develop all language skills
        at the same time. In this line, Lucas (2010) states that making students   Furthermore, ten (10) teachers emphasized that the students need a
        aware of the importance of language will urge students to improve their   longer time to practice Writing and, in many cases, they cannot cover
        motivation to learn even if they do not have enough intrinsic motivation.   all language skills due to time constraints. This is also because teachers
                                                              have to explain the topic to the learners, have them practice writing, and
        Regarding the teacher-related factors, participants mentioned that this   assess their production.  According to Ajibola (2010), although English
        revolves around the teaching practices, and within this, they identified   learners start to learn this language from the very first year of school,
        class conditions, time availability and teaching aids as the aspects that   most of them fail to gain an adequate competence in English due to time
        make a writing class challenging as presented in figure 2.  constraints.

                                                              It is important to mention that students attending EFL classes in their
                                                              university language centers are, at the same time, studying their under-
                                                              graduate programs and they have to juggle between English and their
                                                              academic subjects. Thus, increasing the time allotted for learning English
                                                              may affect their performance in their academic courses. Teachers, then,
                                                              need to look for creative ways to infuse writing activities along with their
                                                              EFL class activities. For example, Lin et al. (2014) found out that blogs
                                                              in EFL writing through process-based approach have a positive effect on
                                                              writing achievement.

                                                              The last aspect that participants believe makes teaching writing challen-
                                                              ging is teaching aids.
                 Figure 2.  External Factors that contribute to teachers´  It may be the result of the sole use of a single textbook in EFL classes. Parti-
                        challenges in teaching Writing
                                                              cipants mentioned that they use the textbooks as the main teaching resource
                                                              and some added that despite existing extra resources to teach English in
                                                              their language centers, they prefer to use the textbook as the main resource
                                                              and limit the use of the writing activity suggested in the textbook
        AXIOMA - Revista Científica de Investigación, Docencia y Proyección Social. Julio - Diciembre 2020. Número 23, pp 5-9.
        ISSN:  1390-6267- E-ISSN:  2550-6684
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