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Literatura y lingüística

versión impresa ISSN 0716-5811

Lit. lingüíst.  no.39 Santiago jun. 2019

http://dx.doi.org/10.29344/0717621x.39.2011 

Artículos de Lingüística

Authentic audio-visual material in the development of oral fluency in university intermediate english students

Material Auténtico Audiovisual en el Desarrollo de la Fluidez Oral en Universitarios Nivel Intermedio de Inglés

Mercedes Chamba** 

Christian Gavilanes*** 

** Ecuatoriana. Magíster en Lingüística Aplicada a la Enseñanza Bilingüe Español- inglés. Profesor Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador, Quito, Ecuador. mchamba902@puce.edu.ec

*** Ecuatoriano. Magíster en Enseñanza de Inglés. Profesor Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador, Quito, Ecuador. cggavilanes@puce.edu.ec

Resumen

Esta investigación muestra los beneficios de los recursos auténticos en la fluidez oral. 96 encuestas fueron aplicadas para conocer si los profesores utilizan materiales auténticos y 31 grabaciones de voz para conocer el nivel de fluidez. Luego, 22 estudiantes de tercer nivel (MCER-A2) de inglés fueron elegidos al azar, 15 participantes para el grupo experimental y 7 para el grupo de control. El grupo experimental recibió recursos auténticos y el de control utilizó un texto y material didáctico. Para medir el progreso de fluidez oral se contabilizó el número de palabras, pausas, y rellenos vocales considerando la precisión del uso de vocabulario. Las pruebas posteriores indicaron una mejora significativa en la fluidez oral.

Palabras clave: enfoque comunicativo; fluidez oral; material auténtico; materiales audiovisuales

Abstract

This study reports the benefits of authentic aids on students’ oral fluency. 96 surveys were applied to know whether teachers use authentic materials or not, and 31 voice recordings to identify the oral fluency level. 22 students of the third English level (CEFR-A2) were chosen randomly: 15 participants for the experimental group, and 7 for the control group. The experimental group received authentic resources while the control group received input from a textbook and abridged material. To measure the oral skill improvement, the number of words, pauses, and vocal fillers were counted considering vocabulary and accuracy. The post-tests reported significant oral fluency improvement.

Key words: communicative approach; oral fluency; authentic materials; audiovisual materials

1. Introduction

The field of Teaching English as a Foreign Language undergoes diverse challenges in helping learners communicate their thoughts and ideas effectively. With this view, the integration of authentic materials in the EFL classroom as potential linguistic input is necessary to foster students’ speaking skills. Over the last decades, many cases of difficulties in the process of oral production have increased, particularly in the oral fluency in students of English as a foreign language due to the lack of authentic materials in the classroom. Many teachers just follow the textbook provided by the institution and use it as the only resource to foster an environment for teaching and learning. Tis causes an inactive environment where there is insufficient oral interaction among the students. For instance, Eckard & Kearny (1981) indicated that traditional textbooks have short and direct answers; thus, learners who have memorized the “classic” answers to questions often struggle to maintain a conversation with native English speakers. Learners need instruction and practice in developing oral production, so they can improve their oral fluency through the use of authentic resources, which contain a natural and real language.

Oral production is one of the most important skills in teaching and learning a foreign language. For Chaney and Burk, speaking is the process of building and exchanging meaning through the use of verbal symbols in a variety of contexts. Oral language production involves the selection of ap-propriate vocabulary and phrases according to the audience, setting, and topic. Indeed, Chaney and Burk mentioned that it is almost impossible to have a command of any language without speaking it (Chaney & Burk, 1998).

Moreover, with respect to authentic materials, they are resources (Tomas, 2014) that are produced for real communication. The sole purpose of authentic materials is to convey meaning and information instead of teaching the language. On this basis, Tomlinson (2012) reported that authentic materials provide significant exposure to the language as it is used, motivate students, and help them develop a range of communicative skills.

According to Edge (1994), there are two reasons for its importance: (1) language- authentic resources represent the actual goal of language learning, and (2) motivation-they link the means of learning and the learning purpose because they provide a direct connection with the world outside the classroom. Even though the reason for its production was not for teaching, they make a radical change in language classrooms (Healey, 2013).

In Ecuador, English as a foreign language (EFL) has been considered within the curricula in both public and private educational institutions. Many Ecuadorians start learning English in elementary school and some even during the pre-school years; yet, most students are far from reaching the desired level in the integral skills, especially in the oral production. According to the report of the Multinational Education First about English proficiency Index (2017) Ecuador ranks 55th out of 80 countries, which places it among the countries with a weak English level.

The Ecuadorian EFL teaching and learning education process has been identified as one of the examples mentioned above where teachers follow a grammar textbook and use abridged materials from grammar tasks downloaded from the Internet. Also, students sometimes memorize the grammar rules to pass an institutional English exam. All of these leads students to struggle when they try to maintain a conversation in English. So, in order to provide students with proper assistance in the process of learning this foreign language and help them succeed in communicating in English and because of the great variety of benefits it is essential to implement authentic materials. For these reasons it is fundamental to carry out the present research because through this work EFL teachers and authorities can start considering the implementation of these useful resources in the EFL classrooms.

2. Theoretical framework

2.1. Authentic materials

Authentic materials are tools that have been produced to communicate meaning and information instead of teaching a language. Many people use these resources outside of the classroom despite that they are not designed exclusively for language classes (Healey, 2013). Likewise, Edge (1994) said that authentic materials have not been originally produced for learning a language. They are resources that are normally used on a daily basis and were not prepared for instruction. However, they are used in language instruction because they provide a wide variety of benefits (Nikolic & Cabaj, 2000). One of those benefits is to provide aid to students to become independent learners because working with these kinds of supplementary materials goes hand in hand with autonomous learning (Lennon, 2012).

Authentic resources can be classified into two groups: audio and visual materials. These two kinds of materials play an important role in the teaching and learning language process. Audio materials increase students’ motivation and interest at the highest degree because they require the use of both eye and ear and thus they produce two main effects. First, learners get used to the teaching of language. Second, visual and audio media have a great impact on learners’ mind (M.F. & Praveen, 2008).

The previous ideas are associated with Sercu point of view (Sercu, 2005) that audio and video authentic materials, such as newspapers, magazines, advertisements, song lyrics, tourist brochures, leaflets, maps, photographs, and paintings foster students’ motivation and give them a great opportunity to learn with up-to- date materials. Learning from authentic materials makes students feel closer to the target country. Indeed, authentic materials not only bring richness and reality to the classroom but also provide the needed resource by which the teacher is able to link the formal and artificial classroom environment with the real world (Duran & Sánchez, 2008).

In addition to these thoughts, authentic materials are essential in the classroom, but learners need to understand its context and intention. Besides, materials from different origins with different perspectives need to be used together to enable learners to compare and analyze the materials critically (Whittaker, y otros, 2011). For Tomlinson & Masuhara (2010), authentic materials like stories, letters, tourist brochures, science articles, and magazine opinions pieces must help learners react to the texts as real readers, that is think and talk about the content.

Matsuda stated that the tools used for integrated practice in teaching English as an international language (IPTEIL) are not textbooks but authentic materials such as TV news and electronic newspapers (Matsuda, 2012). In addition, Duran and Sánchez recognized two well-defined groups of them: (1) “materials which contain language, and (2) materials which stimulate language production.” Tis distinction points out that there are kinds of materials that are not providers of the language in themselves (an unedited newspaper article or a film with no subtitles) because they de-motivate learners due to the amount of language they do not understand (Duran & Sánchez, 2008).

Furthermore, nowadays it is easy to access authentic audio visual re-sources thanks to the Internet, which has undoubtedly become a rich source of authentic materials. Tus, increasing dramatically the amount of audio and video content that is used in the world of education, including foreign language education. Besides, since oral language proficiency continues to be the major goal of language learning, the availability of a huge variety of authentic materials on the Internet provides students with more opportunities for foreign language education, especially oral language production (Chan, Chin, Nagami, & Suthiwan, 2011).

Additionally, watching a film is listening to authentic, native language use (Rymarczyk, 2013). Unquestionable, authentic language input is extremely challenging, but the sounds, non-verbal language, and pictures help students understand. Likewise, García (2006) stated that the use of audiovisual input has a notable impact on pragmatic development. Authentic materials allow students to communicate with real audiences (Perinan, 2007). Additionally, House (2011) said that teachers can also engage learners in language production.

From Sell’s point of view, the key point for participatory pedagogy is to teach a language using different types of genuine tools, which of course needs to suit the “learner’s own age-group¨. For example, attention needs to be paid to child language such as slang words. Also, an evident characteristic is that learners try to speak the foreign language using the appropriate accent. Tis is crucial to them because, they are able to communicate in the foreign language (Sell, 2002). For Krashen and Terrell the natural approach involves the learning of vocabulary, gram-mar structures, and types of language spontaneously (Krashen & Terrell, The Natural Approach: language acquisition in the classroom, 1983). Tis has very much to do with the input learners receive in this case from the different kinds of authentic resources.

Moreover, the use of these tools from real- life resources is a great mean to help learners express themselves properly. the use of both oral and written authentic materials in context provides learners with a range of experiences (Savignon, 2002), which are vital for the learners because they are able to build their own “variation space” to express meaning appropriately. Also, according to García (2006) audiovisual authentic input, such as videos, films, and TV programs are efficacious to address the pragmatic knowledge system and the knowledge of its appropriate use.

Furthermore, Whong (2011) expressed that there are times when learners need to be immersed in implicit input, which refers to the natural spoken language and authentic written materials because leaners can respond well to natural, authentic input in terms of meaning. For example, when leaners receive audio or visual input, they are able to understand the whole meaning even though they do not understand every single word and once they get the main meaning they are able to express themselves.

In addition, materials used in the classroom need to come from a real life communication in the target language, which intend to communicate meaning. From the point of view of Gu authentic materials are written material for native speakers to read or spoken materials for native speakers to comprehend (Gu, 1998). In other words, the only purpose of authentic materials is to communicate meaning among native speakers and this, in addition, helps learners be prepared to communicate in real settings because they are able to express themselves better due to the input and the exposure to native language.

On the contrary, according to the constructivist pedagogy Chan, Chin, and Suthiwan (2011), learners need to build meaning by integrating pre-existing knowledge and new knowledge to create new knowledge. Tis involves that learners have to be active constructors. Therefore, the use of authentic texts is essential because it allows learners to “perceive the meaning and relevance of the tasks and how the knowledge received can be useful in the real world.”

Furthermore, Nikolic and Cabaj shared the same thought about the concept of authentic materials. They pointed out that authentic materials are tools normally used on a daily basis and they were not prepared for instruction (Nikolic & Cabaj, 2000). Among those materials, they mention magazines, brochures, newspapers, and forms written in the target language. The English language instruction becomes more useful and meaningful when teachers use these kinds of materials because they expose learners to “real-world materials used in real world contexts.” In other words, they provide reliable knowledge. Also, they mentioned that people do not speak like books; therefore, being able to read a newspaper in the target language gives learners a certain kind of pride. Of course, teachers need to prepare activities that involve interaction and do not result in boredom. Besides, (O’connor, 1991) expressed that in order for language learners to get native- like mastery, they need to be exposed to materials that have native speaker use.

Data from (Soler Lorente, 2008) reading authentic pieces of material stated that it is better at higher levels because learners are able to comprehend the text better, but they can also be applied at lower levels to develop reading comprehension, tasks with vocabulary, reading aloud, skimming, and scanning. Furthermore, the author also stated that these kinds of materials can also be used to foster the oral production that involves habitual situations like conversations or written messages such as letters, notes, e-mails, and text messages.

Moreover, some of the strategies that can be used in face to face communications are clarifications, repetitions, and turn changes. In other words, authentic materials can be used at any level with adequate strategies and activities, especially those ones that are meaningful to the learners because they will become more interested in the activities and thus there will be better results.

The use authentic tools is a necessary intake for language learners (Fox, Hoey, & Sinclair, 1993). Tis implies that it is a necessity for the students to be able to use authentic materials in the class because they will be more likely to identify the use of grammar and also most of the expressions and phrases used in real contexts.

2.2. Types of authentic materials

According to the University of Oregon authentic materials are good tools to be used in class because they are interesting, use real language, illustrate accurate use of language, and students are able to get as much information as they can even if they do not understand everything or very much (Oregon, 2009). Tis university explained four kinds of authentic materials: (1) Realia: toys or items, (2) Printed texts: books, magazines, brochures, and newspapers, (3) Images: photographs, maps, charts, drawing, posters, bulletin boards, comics, (4) Multimedia: radio programs, audio tapes, CDs, videos in the form of documentaries, movies, and animations.

The University of Oregon also showed five guidelines to keep in mind while selecting authentic resources: (1) Interest to the age group, (2) Purpose of the lesson, (3) Usable language style, (4) Available locally, (5) Good quality picture and sound.

Data from previous studies have shown that authentic materials in EFL classrooms make a significant difference. For instance, Bahrani and Sim conducted research about the use of audiovisual news, cartoons, and films as sources of authentic language input and language proficiency enhancement (Bahrani & Sim, 2012). The main objective of this study was to find out to what extend the exposure to audiovisual news, cartoons, and films fosters learners’ language proficiency level. In the process of answering the above hypotheses, two samples of IELTS tests were used to get the information from the pre-post tests.

Tis experiment lasted 10 weeks, and the participants were 60 learners with a low language proficiency level according to the pre IELTS sample test. The participants were divided into three different groups, and each group was exposed to a different type of audiovisual mass media 3 hours a day. The results showed that group two, which was exposed to cartoons, and group three, which was exposed to films, improved their language proficiency level due to the audiovisual exposure. On the contrary, the participants from group one, who were exposed to news, did not improve their language proficiency level significantly.

Similarly, Khalili & Mahsefat (2012) carried out a study about the impact of authentic listening materials on elementary EFL learners’ listening skills. Tis study was conducted to find out if listening to authentic materials makes a significant difference between the experimental and control group regarding the listening skills and also to discover the students’ attitude toward authentic listening materials. In this study, sixty elementary students at university level participated, who were assigned to two different groups. One group labeled as the control group and the other as the experimental group. The participants aged from 18 to 27 and were studying English for general purposes.

A series of video and audio tracks produced by native speakers were used. The instruments for this study were an English paper-based test (Oxford Placement Test) used for the pre-post tests, and a student feed-back survey to know how effective they found the integration of these tools. As a conclusion it was known that the participants who were ex-posed to the authentic materials improved their listening skills becoming more proficient in listening comprehension. The surveys also confirmed that the participants had a positive attitude towards the use of them.

Furthermore, Guo (2012) developed some research on using authentic materials for extensive reading to promote English proficiency. Tis study aimed to investigate the effects of reading authentic materials on students’ English proficiency with regard to grammar development and vocabulary improvement. Additionally, this study also intended to discover the effects of authentic materials on other language skills. The participants were fifty college students with a similar English level. These participants were assigned to the control and experimental group randomly.

Then online reading materials related to the course topics were used with the experimental group for three months, and a simulated TOEIC test with grammar and vocabulary sessions was the main instrument used in this study. Also, an opinion survey was applied to learn students’ attitudes and thoughts about the reading authentic materials. The findings showed that the participants from the experimental group performed significantly higher in both grammar and vocabulary than the participants from the control group. With regard to the attitudinal test students showed a positive attitude towards the reading materials used during the experiment.

2.3. Oral fluency

Based on the conclusion of Götz fluency is the ability to talk easily, smoothly, appropriately, correctly, with ease and effortlessness (Götz, 2013). According to Wood fluency takes into consideration the speaker’s pauses and hesitations in speech production (Wood, 2010). Tis author also stated that fluency is usually considered as a synonym of effective spoken use of the language and in second language learning it refers to the naturalness and speed of language production.

Therefore, when oral production is assessed, fluency is a key element to be considered. Some variables in speech to measure fluency are: speed, hesitation, pauses, and fillers. A similar concept is discussed by Schmidt (2008) who referred to fluency as “automatic procedural skills” which means that it is the ability to speak with “little or no effort and attention.”

Fluency is the ability to fill time with talk and talking in a coherent and semantical form. This author also pointed out that fluency has to do with having appropriate things to say in a wide variety of contexts and being creative and imaginative enough at using the language. In addition, he mentioned that speech, coherence, accuracy, appropriateness, and creativity, are all implicit in fluency (Fillmore, Kempler, & S-Y-Wang, On Fluency. Individual Differences in Language Ability and Language Behavior, 1979).

Lennon (2000) refers to oral fluency as the rapid, smooth, accurate, lucid, and efficient translation of thoughts or communicative intentions using the language. Fluency also refers to the learner’s control over the linguistic L2 knowledge and the speed and efficiency of communicating meaning (Housen, Kuiken, & Vedder, 2012). Fluency is the ability to “sound good” and reduce and decrease the length of time between utterance (Freed, 1995). This refers to the ability of being able to express yourself smoothly and with no hesitations.

Krashen (1982) explained that there are two acquisition learning hypothesis, called acquired system and learned system. Acquired system involves subconscious process and a learned system involves conscious process. This implies that fluency in a second or foreign language has to do with what students have acquired subconsciously and not learned.

Fillmore, Kempler, & S-Y Wang (2014) claimed that fluency is also associated with informality, speaking rapidly without noticing small details, principally with orientation to language production with flow and continuousness, coherence, and semantic solidity Furthermore, the term fluency is considered as the capacity to speak a foreign language like a native speaker (Chambers, 2016).

Even though there are many interpretations of the word fluency, Chambers mentions fluency from a communicative approach which describes fluency as the success of language use within the limitations of incomplete linguistic knowledge and the qualitative approach which includes quantifiable sequential variables including speed rate, number and length of pauses, or regular use of lexical and non-lexical fillers.

Moreover, fluency is considered as a phonological phenomenon because it involves three sub-dimensions of fluency which are well-known as: speed fluency (rate and density of language parts produced), breakdown fluency (quantity of length and location of breaks), and repair fluency (wrong starts, mis-formulations, self-corrections and repetitions) (Skehan, 2009).

Fluency is considered a significant aspect within a language course. Indeed, fluency development is reflected as one of the four characteristics of a well-balanced language course (Nation, 2007). Among the four elements are meaning-focused input, meaning- focused output, language- focused learning, and fluency development. Therefore, each one of the four strands needs equal time in a course, which means that one quarter of the total time of a course needs to be devoted to fluency activities. In addition, the other three elements also have a great impact on fluency improvement.

2.4. Speaking fluency activities

One of the best ways to improve the speaking fluency is recording your-self. The learner makes a recording of a short text. Then, listens to it and rerecords it until the learner is convinced that it is the best recording (Muller, Adamson, & Brown, 2014). Another speaking fluency activity is the following. The pupils work in pairs, learner A and B. Learner A talks to learner B about a familiar topic for four minutes. Repeat the same talk with at least three different learner B’s and then change the roles and it is learner B’s turn (Maurice, 1983).

Teachers need to keep in mind four characteristics while designing their own fluency activities, a message focus, easy material, pressure to go faster, and quality of practice. From these four aspects choosing easy material is important because it is hard to become fluent while exposed to difficult material (Muller, Adamson, & Brown, 2014).

2.5. Communicative approach

At this point it is worth to mention that the main purpose of PUCE’s English language school is that its students reach a high level of communicative competence. Tus, authentic resources to enhance oral fluency are used along with the communicative approach and the ESA methodology.

On this light it is significant to comment some features that Richards and Rodgers acknowledged concerning the communicative approach. All the dialogues are focused around communicative purposes and are not memorized, language learning is learning to converse and the sole purpose is to reach effective communication. Also, attempts to communicate are sought from the very beginning. The target language system is learned best by struggling to communicate, the anticipated aim is communicative competence, and students are expected to interact with other people (Richards & Rodgers, 2001).

Furthermore, Pratima stressed that the communicative language teaching approach focuses on both, form and meaning or structure and function (Pratima, 2010). Besides, learning occurs by doing, and contextualization is a basic requisite for learning language items. Importance is given to fluency rather than accuracy, all the four skills listening, speaking, reading, and writing are developed, and it is a learner-centered approach.

3. Hypothesis

To what extend does the use of authentic materials in an EFL classroom help students foster their oral fluency in college students?

4. Research methodology

4.1. Research type

The research done corresponds to a mixed type of study which occurs when the researcher uses both a qualitative and quantitative research method (Mackey & Gass, 2008). This is a qualitative study because the student recordings were done in their own classrooms and the researcher was able to observe and interact with them in the original setting to find out the types of problems the students have in terms of oral fluency.

It is a quantitative research because this project aimed to determine the influence of authentic resources in the oral fluency through a field experiment, which involves the counting of words, vocal fillers, and pauses to measure the fluency level. Sabino (2002) explained that field research allows the collection directly from reality. This data is called primary because it is from firsthand and original product of the ongoing investigation.

4.2. Participants

The participants of this study were 22 mixed-gender college students at the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador. 15 learners participated in the experimental group and 7 students in the control group. The participants’ ages were between 20 and 34. Most participants were from Quito, but there were some leaners from other cities who were living in Quito at the time. Most of them belong to the upper socio-economic status. The semester has two cycles and therefore, during the first cycle the, treatment was applied to the experimental group in the schedule from 18:00 to 20:00 from Monday to Friday. Ten, in the second cycle, the students from the control group attended classes during the same schedule.

In order to enroll at the third level, students must have attended and successfully passed the previous levels offered in the program: Level one, where students are taught vocabulary and very basic grammatical structures, and level two, where students internalize the knowledge learned in the first level and learn vocabulary and their level’s grammatical structures. The students who have taken the institutional placement test and have a pre-intermediate English level are also able to enroll in the third level.

4.3. Procedure

First, intensive research was conducted to identify the different types of audiovisual authentic materials that could be used in the EFL classroom and their benefits, which was essential to know before conducting the field research. Tis research was carried out taking into consideration the types of authentic materials that the University of Oregon (2009) stated in the video “Shaping the Way We Teach English: Module 8, Authentic Materials,” which classifies the authentic materials as following: realia, printed texts, images, and multimedia.

For this research, different sources such as journal articles, textbooks, and the Internet were used. Then, a total of 96 surveys were administered to students to find out the types of authentic resources that teachers use.

Additionally, descriptive field research was done, which included the recording of the students for a minimum of one minute. This information was transcribed and the number of words, vocal fillers, and unnecessary pauses produced per minute were counted to have an idea of the students’ oral fluency at this level. The students with a smaller number of words and more vocal fillers and pauses were considered less fluent.

In addition, taking into account the results of the recordings and surveys, a list of communicative activities using and adapting audiovisual authentic materials was done. For the selection of the authentic resources, the characteristics that the University of Oregon mentioned in the video “Shaping the Way We Teach English: Module 8, Authentic Materials,” was taken into consideration: (1) The materials must be relevant to the age group, (2) Must be related to the point of the lesson, (3) Have a usable language style, (4) Be available locally, (5) Have good picture and sound quality.

Finally, to verify the benefits of authentic resources in speaking fluency, a large variety of these materials was used for five weeks (50 hours). Two groups participated in this experimental study: the experimental group, which was exposed to authentic resources, and the control group, in which traditional resources, such as the textbook and abridged materials, were used.

The method applied to the experimental group involved applying a number of communicative activities with authentic resources, focusing on the speaking fluency. Each activity had three parts, a pre-activity (which stands for engage), during-activity (study), and post-activity (activate). A pre-test was applied at the beginning of the experiment and a post-test at the end. These tests consisted in having the students record themselves about a familiar topic for a minimum of one minute and then transcribing and counting the number of words, vocal fillers, and pauses.

Some of the topics used are presented as follow:

1. Talk about your family. What do your parents and siblings do?

2. Talk about your most and least favorite subject at the university? Why?

3. Tell us about your last vacation. How did you spend your last vacation?

4. What do you do in your free time? What sports do you practice?

5. Do you have a job? If so, what do you do?

6. What kinds of clothes do you like to wear? Where do you like to go shopping? Why?

At the end of each week, both groups underwent short tests, which included recording themselves about a topic they chose.

4.4. Instrument

One survey questionnaire was filled out by the participants to offer information about the use of authentic materials in their previous classes. Such survey was adapted from a previous survey about the use of supplementary materials to teach English as a foreign language that I used in previous re-search. Also, at least two other instructors expressed their opinions about both surveys’ accuracy and appropriateness. It included the following questions: (1) Which ones of the following materials have your teachers used in levels 1 and 2? The items included were printed texts, images, multimedia, and realia. Each category included about eight examples of each material for the students to choose from. (2) What other materials have your teachers used in previous English levels?

5. Results and discussion

5.1. Diagnostic survey results on the use of authentic materials

The following data presented in Figures 1 to 4 was obtained from 96 surveys applied to EFL university students who were studying in the third level at PUCE. The surveys were applied in 8 different classrooms at the end of the summer classes, the 3rd semester of 2015. The participants were students of different schools at PUCE. According to the results related to printed texts, most students said that their teachers do use books in class, but some of them misunderstand the purpose of having abridged versions of books, which are not examples of authentic material because those books had been written for EFL learners and are classified in different levels. Even though the surveys were in Spanish, some learners asked about the meaning of some items listed in the surveys, such as brochures and leaflets. They also asked if the English grammar and practice handouts given in class were examples of authentic resources.

Figure 1:  Diagnostic survey results on the use of printed authentic texts. 

Based on the survey results presented in Figure 2, it is clear that some teachers already use images in class, such as drawings, charts, and photographs. The problem arises when these materials, in most cases, are extract-ed from the teacher and student’s book, and are not authentic materials.

Figure 2: Diagnostic survey results on the use of authentic images. 

According to the results shown in Figure 3 about the use of authentic multimedia materials in class, some students said that their teachers tend to use email messages for teaching. However, these emails were the ones sent by the teachers with instructions about certain assignments the learners were supposed to carry out. Even though the purpose of these emails was to convey meaning, learners did not do any specific tasks with these email messages, and they were not used as an additional aid to the class. Also, some teachers did use songs, videos, and CDs in class, but their purpose was to help students improve their listening comprehension skills and provide assistance with their written tasks.

Figure 3:  Diagnostic survey results on the use of authentic multimedia. 

Regarding realia, it is revealed in Figure 4 that 29 students of 96 mentioned that their teachers used realia in their classes. Realia had been used by some teachers with different purposes, but not specifically for helping students improve their oral fluency.

Figure 4:  Diagnostic survey results on the use of realia. 

In conclusion, it is not sufficiently clear to some students the difference between authentic materials and materials meant for EFL teaching and learning. Also, some of them misunderstand the purpose of these materials, which additionally leads to the conclusion that an exceptionally small amount of authentic material was being used in class. When teachers used authentic materials in class, the objectives were to improve their listening comprehension skills and conversational activities, rather than to specifically help them enhance their oral fluency.

5.2. Diagnostic test results on students oral fluency

The participants were 31 students from 2 different classes who were given 9 small cards with different topics to choose from. The learners selected the topics that they best liked and talked for two or three minutes. A digital voice recorder was used to record their voice. The students pressed the button to start and stop recording whenever they wanted.

For the analysis, the information of 22 students was used because it was difficult to transcribe the information of the other students. They also read the topics or questions they had in the cards. In addition, after listening to the whole two to three-minute recordings, it was decided that only one minute would be transcribed and analyzed because the amount of information and word number of each participant were alike. The results were classified as in Figure 5 low average level, weakest, average, high average, and highest level.

Figure 5:  Diagnostic test results on students oral fluency. 

From 22 students’ one-minute recordings and keeping in mind the number of words, pauses, and vocal fillers as unproductive time, the results were as follows. On a scale from 50 to 111 words, six students produced between 50 and 60 words per minute; therefore, these learners belonged to the group of students with the weakest level of oral fluency in the class, and had a hard time expressing themselves and stopped many times to look for words to express their ideas. Seven students produced between 61 and 70 words, which placed them in the group with a low-average level of oral fluency. Four learners produced between 71 and 80 words, placing them into the group with an average level of oral fluency. Tree students produced between 81 and 90 words and thus belonged to the group with a high-average level. Finally, two students produced between 95 and 111 words. These two students had the highest level of oral fluency in the class.

It is worth mentioning the English background knowledge of the students with the highest level of English oral fluency. The learner who produced 95 words per minute has his father living in an English-speaking country, and they sometimes communicate in English. The learner who produced 111 words per minute spent six months living in the U.S. with a host family and had the opportunity to speak in English.

The learners who produced between 50 and 60 words per minute used the most vocal fillers and pauses. For instance, student 5 produced 54 words per minute and had 5 pauses and 9 vocal fillers. Student 7 also produced 54 words per minute and even though this learner had fewer pauses, she used more vocal fillers (10 fillers). On the contrary, the learners who produced between 95 and 111 used the fewest vocal fillers and pauses. For example, student 15 said 95 words per minute, had 2 pauses, and used 3 vocal fillers. Similarly, student 21 produced 111 words per minute, had 2 pauses, but used 7 fillers. The difference between these two students was that student 15 spoke slower and with less confidence than student 21. Tus, it is evident that the more vocal fillers and pauses the learners use, the fewer words they produce. Also, a certain level of self-confidence influenced the performance in their speech. Some learners hesitated when choosing the vocabulary to express their ideas.

In addition, it is quite important to mention that the learners were assessed at these levels of oral fluency by talking about cognitively un-demanding topics, which involved talking about their own experiences and topics that are familiar to them. For example, they discussed their last vacation, family, hobbies, clothing style, parents and siblings’ work and duties, an exciting day, most and least favorite subject at the university, favorite sports team, and their job, if they had one. According to Freeman & Freeman (2009), the amount of demand depends on the speaker’s previous experience. In this case, having learners talk about themselves and their own experiences is not cognitively demanding, but it helps us conclude that their oral English fluency regarding basic interpersonal communicative skills are quite well developed, keeping in mind the students are in the third level of English (CEFR-A2).

The next part of this study shows the results of the application of a list of communicative activities using authentic audiovisual materials to increase EFL students’ oral fluency. These activities included both cognitively undemanding and cognitively demanding topics to help students improve their oral fluency, not only in terms of Basic Interpersonal Communicative Skills (BICS), but also Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency (CALP), because the main objective of the English language school at PUCE is to help students communicate in English in any situation that life may present and get ahead in the changing world.

5.3. Results on the Use of Authentic Materials Experimental and Control Group

Figure 6 shows a contrast between participants from the experimental and control group. The information to make this contrast was chosen from each participant from the experimental and control group. Ten, the increase in the number of words that the students used and their fillers and pauses were added.

Figure 6: Results of the experimental and control group. a) Number of Words. b) Vocal Fillers. c) Number of Pauses. 

As it is seen in figures above, the participants from the experimental group increased the number of words significantly. On the contrary, the participants from the control group did not increase the number of words to a significant degree. Tree students from the control group even said fewer words than in the pretest. In addition, there was not a great difference between both groups in the number of fillers and pauses. Keeping in mind that the number of participants from the experimental group was 15 and the control groups 7, it is confirmed that the use of authentic resources was a success.

6. Conclusions

Authentic aids undoubtedly have an enormous impact on EFL learners due to the input and exposure to the language that they provide. They also in-crease students’ motivation and interest because it provides them with the opportunity to learn with up-to-date materials and link the classroom with the real world. Oral fluency refers to the ability to talk easily, smoothly, appropriately, correctly, and with effortlessness. It involves number of words, pauses, fillers, and rate of speed in language production.

The student survey diagnosis revealed that most teachers use the institutional textbook and abridged materials for teaching. The voice recordings reported that the third level English learners at PUCE show a weak level of oral fluency.

The results from the experimental group confirmed that authentic materials do have a great impact on EFL learners. The experimental group participants increased their oral fluency level from the pre-test to the post-test positively. The results from the control group showed a different outcome. Some participants’ word numbers decreased.

It was also found that the participants felt that the use of authentic aids in class helped them considerably and students showed clear preference for the use of some resources such as: TV commercials, videos, songs, newspaper articles, brochures, leaflets, photographs, movies, and paintings. In addition, some findings reported that authentic aids enhance students’ spontaneous participation, confidence to express themselves orally, and markedly decreased the use of mother tongue in class.

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* Este artículo se inscribe en el Proyecto de Investigación de la Pontificia Universidad Católica del Ecuador CPI-PUCE-2017

Received: September 14, 2018; Accepted: December 04, 2018

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