Nhóm dự án - Một chất xúc tác trong việc dạy kỹ năng thuyết trình

Kỹ năng thuyết trình là một trong những kỹ năng quan trọng mà các nhà tuyển dụng yêu cầu không chỉ các nhân viên đang làm việc tại cơ quan của họ mà còn cả những nhân viên sắp và mới được tuyển dụng. Tuy nhiên, không phải sinh viên nào cũng nắm chắc được kỹ năng này trước khi tốt nghiệp. Có thể do họ không được học kỹ năng này ở trường, hoặc cũng có thể do họ thiếu ý thức về tầm quan trọng của kỹ năng này trong tương lai nên không học nghiêm túc. Bài viết này là kết quả của nghiên cứu về thực tế năng lực thuyết trình của một số sinh viên tiếng Anh thương mại tại Trường Đại học Kinh tế Quốc dân, và một số yêu cầu của các nhà tuyển dụng về kỹ năng này trong các cuộc phỏng vấn xin việc. Từ những thông tin về thực tế và yêu cầu đưa ra trong bài viết, tác giả của bài viết giới thiệu một giải pháp- sử dụng nhóm dự án- như là một chất xúc tác để giúp giáo viên trên lớp tạo một môi trường thực tế cho sinh viên sử dụng kỹ năng thuyết trình để trình bày các kết quả nghiên cứu của một nghiên cứu thực tế của họ. Sinh viên sẽ có cơ hội được “nhúng” vào môi trường yêu cầu sử dụng kỹ năng này và rèn luyện để tạo thành thói quen sử dụng kỹ năng thuyết trình trong công việc tương lai. Bên cạnh đó, từ những thông về yêu cầu của nhà tuyển dụng về kỹ năng này, nghiên cứu này cũng dấy lên nhận thức của sinh viên về tầm quan trọng của kỹ năng này trong công việc tương lai của họ ngay từ khi còn ngồi trên ghế nhà trường.

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Ti u ban 5: #ng d$ng công ngh và thit b trong ging dy và nghiên c%u v ngoi ng 728 NHÓM DỰ ÁN - MỘT CHẤT XÚC TÁC TRONG VIỆC DẠY KỸ NĂNG THUYẾT TRÌNH Phm Th Thanh Thùy Trường Đại học Kinh tế Quốc dân Tóm t t: Kỹ năng thuyết trình là một trong những kỹ năng quan trọng mà các nhà tuyển dụng yêu cầu không chỉ các nhân viên đang làm việc tại cơ quan của họ mà còn cả những nhân viên sắp và mới được tuyển dụng. Tuy nhiên, không phải sinh viên nào cũng nắm chắc được kỹ năng này trước khi tốt nghiệp. Có thể do họ không được học kỹ năng này ở trường, hoặc cũng có thể do họ thiếu ý thức về tầm quan trọng của kỹ năng này trong tương lai nên không học nghiêm túc. Bài viết này là kết quả của nghiên cứu về thực tế năng lực thuyết trình của một số sinh viên tiếng Anh thương mại tại Trường Đại học Kinh tế Quốc dân, và một số yêu cầu của các nhà tuyển dụng về kỹ năng này trong các cuộc phỏng vấn xin việc. Từ những thông tin về thực tế và yêu cầu đưa ra trong bài viết, tác giả của bài viết giới thiệu một giải pháp- sử dụng nhóm dự án- như là một chất xúc tác để giúp giáo viên trên lớp tạo một môi trường thực tế cho sinh viên sử dụng kỹ năng thuyết trình để trình bày các kết quả nghiên cứu của một nghiên cứu thực tế của họ. Sinh viên sẽ có cơ hội được “nhúng” vào môi trường yêu cầu sử dụng kỹ năng này và rèn luyện để tạo thành thói quen sử dụng kỹ năng thuyết trình trong công việc tương lai. Bên cạnh đó, từ những thông về yêu cầu của nhà tuyển dụng về kỹ năng này, nghiên cứu này cũng dấy lên nhận thức của sinh viên về tầm quan trọng của kỹ năng này trong công việc tương lai của họ ngay từ khi còn ngồi trên ghế nhà trường. T khóa: nhóm dự án, kỹ năng thuyết trình; các bên liên quan Abstract: Presentation skills are one among many skills many employers require from their present staff and newly employed officers. However, not all students master this skill before graduating either because their universities do not provide them with this skill, or because they may not really be aware of the importance of this skill and hardly learn it. This research diagnoses the real situation of newly graduated Business Students in the National Economics University, Hanoi about their capacity in giving academic presentations, and provides some information about employers’ requirements on this skill in job interviews. Besides, from all the information, the study addresses the problems by introducing project work which can be used as a catalyst in teaching presentation skills to help teachers provide their students with a practical environment to immerse into this technique presenting their own research results, and use the technique in their future job. Besides, information about employers’ requirements will partly raise students’ awareness of students about learning this most-demanded skill when they are still learning at their universities. Keywords: project work; presentation skills, stakeholders. PROJECT WORK (PW) - A CATALYST FOR TEACHING PRESENTATION SKILLS FOR SENIOR BUSINESS ENGLISH STUDENTS TO MEET THE REQUIREMENTS OF LABOR MARKET Introduction If we have a look at advertisements at job vacancies, it is obvious that in the 21st century, nearly two-thirds of all high-growth, high-wage jobs advertised require a college degree. Besides, In 1999, Cornell University President David J. Chin lc ngoi ng trong xu th hi nhp Tháng 11/2014 729 Skorton once stated on a new school year ceremony that a college/university education is increasingly recognized as critical for career success; therefore, some colleges/universities are soon changed into a job training enterprise. It is suggested that universities/colleges should change their education curricula by adding some subjects which can provide their students what the labour market wants. Although changing curriculum is not an overnight task because this task leads to some changes in teaching methodology, teaching time, etc. Besides, in some universities or colleges, traditions are often entrenched and rarely any academic department wants to take risk to change what they are using for a long time, many universities including the National Economics University - a university in Hanoi which is famous for educating economics - are aware of the importance of changing their curricula which meet the demands of business leaders. The National Economics University in general and Faculty of Foreign Languages have changed their curricula to teach their students what is needed for the labour market, not what is available in the universities and department. This paper reports the results of an action research project on applying project work to teaching presentation skills in English for senior students at English for Business Department to show the effort of teachers in this department in changing their syllabi to teach what the society demands. With an aim to explore the requirements of companies to their employees about presentation skills to fill the gap(s) between classroom and workplace, we conducted a short survey with 14 questions (see appendix) asking some stakeholders at some International Banks, Non-Government Organizations, International Enterprises and Educational Institutes, Tourist agencies, Hotels where English Business students may apply for jobs. Besides we also interviewed some key leaders to find out some in-depth information or double check the questionnaire. The results of the survey are rather meaningful. Since understanding what stakeholders need, it will be easier to see how newly graduated students can meet these demands and how universities can fill the gap between education/training and social demands. 1. Demands of some stakeholders on presentation skills in English According to a quick survey conducting among newly graduated students from Business English Department (DBE) in the National Economics University (NEU) after 6 months from their graduation, 85% of students from DBE after their graduation are employed, the small number of students continues pursuing their further study abroad or in some domestic master courses. Most of employed students work for limited companies, or for 100% capital foreign companies. Among employed students, 40% work in sale department, 23% work at training department, others work at such department as policy development, plan development which requires them to present weekly in English. Their presentations start from short talks in front of their colleagues to show their opinions, or from a formal presentation before their company’s business campaign. During the presentations, presenters have to use English, which is different from normal talks in Vietnamese. Giving presentation is becoming popular in many companies. In most of the companies interviewed, presentations are on sales targets or sales achievements at the end of each month (25%), and other kinds of presentations have aims at introducing new policies or showing proposals (15%). Besides, most of the presentations in English are professional (72%) and dynamic, which means presenters have to use academic language and answering a lot of follow- up questions after their presentations is obvious. Another piece of important information provided by some employers is that what drives them to success of a presentation is presentation techniques. According to them, having an obviously clear content is very important; however, pace of speech is measured the most important thing to make a presentation successful. Followed are tone and pronunciation. Clear visual Ti u ban 5: #ng d$ng công ngh và thit b trong ging dy và nghiên c%u v ngoi ng 730 aids, and directness are at the same rank. Question handling, language accuracy, and styles in presentation are measured the same role. These points show that sometimes the presentation content is not really the decisive factor, but what makes a presentation successful is in fact the techniques with which the presenter employs in their speech. It is lucky that these techniques may be taught in the university. When interviewing some employers in some foreign companies where presentations in English are required, we were surprised at their complaint about the lack of speaking skills that newly graduated employees perform. At the same time, many employers were creaming for workers who are better trained for problem solving, collaboration, communication, and presentation. Many employers complained that many newly graduated employees use new technologies and inappropriate styles in workplace communications for their presentations, which declines the effectiveness of their presentations. At another extreme, many newly graduated employees applied too formal styles taught in their university from books in their working presentations which are not welcomed, which makes their presentation less persuasive. As for us, colleges and universities should take responsibility in providing students with not only basic academic knowledge (within the scope of this paper is basic knowledge of a good presentation); but also a practical environment/context for them to practice to improve their communication, critical thinking, information fluency, collaborative work, quantitative literacy and especially accumulate their presentation experience. To meet this demand, project work is a good tool in the teacher’s hand. 2. Diagnose the situation. 2.1. Problems come from class-rooms Students learning presentation skills in our department are taught in laboratory room where each student is equipped with a computer accessing to the internet. The teacher controls the students’ computers by pressing on controlling buttons such as “broadcasting”, “template”, “sending picture”, “sending voice”. When pressing these buttons, the teacher sends his/her screen to all the students, or the teacher can observe the screen; listen to the voice of any student in his/her practicing process. Sometimes, the teacher can send one or two screens of a template student to the whole class for comments after a pair or a group activity. The whole class can look at their screens and give comments on other students’ product. However, the laboratory with computers is a drawback for a presentation skills class. Students are separated by computers and partitions. With a separated aquarium for each student, students find it difficult to join team work or pair work assigned by the teacher. Besides, noise from computers and the standing air-conditioner distracts students from focusing on the teachers’ explanation. Both teachers and students wish to come back to a traditional class-room where teachers don’t have to waste their energy to “shout” in their lessons to students and students can easily work with their classmates in group or pair activities. Furthermore, studying EAP speaking in a laboratory also causes students troubles when they want to have any idea or when the teachers call any student to present in front of the whole class. Hardly anyone at the back row or at the opposite row of the class can hear the presenter(s) clearly, let alone seeing any of them because of the distraction of the partitions separating computers. After teaching in the laboratory for more than two years, the teachers understand that teaching speaking skills in general and EAP speaking in particular in a laboratory with computers is not suitable at all. 2.2. Problems come from teaching method Being aware of the importance of presentation skills in working environment, DBE designs an EAP (English for Academic Purposes) speaking course which can provide students relevant Chin lc ngoi ng trong xu th hi nhp Tháng 11/2014 731 theories easily applied in working environment. The program is designed in 15 weeks which provide students basic knowledge about how to prepare, how to start a presentation, how to conduct a presentation and handle questions during and/or after the presentation, and finally how to end the presentation. The book Pubic Speaking (David Zarefsky, 2008) is used as a core course material. Besides, students are asked to read some referent books to get useful language, tasks and activities of presenting skills such as Effective Presentations (Comfort, J. 1995); Presentations in English (Erica J.William, 2008); Presenting in English (Mark Powell, 1997) and Giving academic presentations (Susan M.Reinhart, 2005). In each class, the teachers used slides to teach students much basic theories about specific steps to give a good presentation. It is obvious that during the course the majority of students understand the theory designed with professional power point slides; however, before each lesson, when being asked to remind what they had learnt in the previous lessons, most of students could hardly speak out useful language points mentioned in the previous lessons, and applied theory into their short presentation in the classroom. After four weeks, it was recognized that students did not focus on the lesson, and had a lot of private talks during the course. It seemed that most of students were reluctant to participate into the lessons. Although some students enthusiastically gave some comments on the video clips which were downloaded from the internet, they rarely used any signpost listed in the previous lessons. The time for practicing was also short because most of students changed discussion time into small talks. From this real situation, we are aware that the situation must be improved and changed as soon as possible. Besides the result of observation showed no improvement was recognized, a small survey asking students about what ability they CANNOT improve was also conducted. Most of the important features making a good presentation, sadly, were assessed as unimproved. Chart 1: Some unimproved criteria of students’ speaking skills after 4 studying weeks As can be seen in the diagram, most of skills which are really essential to make a good presentation are considered very badly improved under the students’ eyes. Persuasiveness and professional speaking style are mainly used among unimproved criteria. Besides conducting a survey, we kept a teaching diary/research diary which could help us record what we felt and everything we observed in the classroom. Some interviews with some of my students in the class indicated that the language we had been teaching in the classroom had little to do with the language of the subject matter they were learning. They felt that the slides providing skill instructions did help them a lot in building up presentation skills, but they had no idea how to Ti u ban 5: #ng d$ng công ngh và thit b trong ging dy và nghiên c%u v ngoi ng 732 transfer these skills to have a better and more natural presentation. Moreover, more analysis of good and bad presentations relating to specific skills should have been added during the course. The student feedback was consistent with our diary entries. 3. Amended planning and Action stage: Project Work After realizing the problem should have been changed, we improved the situation by applying task-based language teaching approach, particularly project work (PW) into this subject. By definition, a task refers to “a work plan that requires learners to process language pragmatically in order to achieve an outcome that can be evaluated in terms of whether the correct or appropriate propositional content has been conveyed” (Ellis, 2003). We quickly asked students to work in group of four and elicited a topic which either based on group members’ interests or a problem in the society. After registering the topic and title to the teacher, since then, each group would work consistently with the topic. The topic would be a context for students to apply the techniques we taught in the classroom and made a final 15-minute presentation at two last weeks of the course. We found a big change in the atmosphere in the classroom. Exciting group discussion indeed filled the classroom. Although different opinions in building main ideas and supporting points which would be mentioned in the presentation occasionally caused frustration and sorrow to some members, all these differences seemed to be reconciled because they were constructive and built up by mutual trust and collaboration. Most of the heated but friendly discussion ended up with some better ideas and students also learnt how to prioritize group harmony for the common project goal. Besides that, project work is also a distinctive approach to learning in that it represents a natural extension of what is already taking place in class. Through participation in the project, students were encouraged with a driving question that bears real- world concerns. After each theory period (45 minutes) at the beginning of each class, we asked students work with their group members and after 30- minute discussion and preparation, some groups were called randomly to give a short 5- minute presentation in front of the class. In this short 5-minute presentation, students had to apply what they had learnt in theory including useful language signposts into their presentation. For example, after being taught about how to design and use visual aids in presentation, students had to surf the internet to find some relevant pictures/ visual aids relating to some points in their registered topic and designed some slides which would be used in their short 5-minute presentation. It is obvious that, bridging the inside of a classroom (theory taught through slides) with the outside world (burning topics of the society they chose), project work enables students to go beyond the boundary of an EAP presentation classroom setting by which they are normally constrained. Project work also brings benefits to learner- centeredness. Although we (the teacher) played a role in offering support and guidance (theory and techniques at the beginning of each class and comments during students’ slide preparation) through the project work process, students were making concerted efforts to achieve a common goal, while gaining experience in diverse opinions and viewpoints as well as negotiation and reconciliation. Project work did give students a lot of chances to develop purposeful and authentic communication in various social contexts through their chosen topics. Once again, project work in this EAP presentation course created opportunities for us (the teacher) to treat our students as intellectual users of language rather than “defective speakers” (Liddicoat, Crozet, & Lo Bianco, 2000). The teacher basing on the students’ work, took the role of a facilitator to give students some guides or comments, say adjust parallelism in their slides, to add some more eye contacts or have more accurate gestures in their presentations. Chin lc ngoi ng trong xu th hi nhp Tháng 11/2014 733 Project work; in addition, assisted our students with different language competence to participate in a single project. Working together for many 5- mintue presentations then finally at a 15-minute presentation gave all students a sense of achievement and boosted their motivation. Students were allowed to choose members of their group. The whole group after that was moni