Teaching english for 5th grade student in primary school via science topics on approach of STEM education: A case study of learning outside school activities

Abstract. Teaching foreign language including English on the STEM education approach has been concerned in many countries. Content and Language Integrated Learning pedagogies (CLIL) has been used as an useful tool to promote students’ language competencies and emotive outcomes in content class, especially for science content. This study addresses the basement for the English teaching on STEM education approach which implements science topics with English for grade 5th students. The case study of learning outside school activities for a small group has been researched.

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61 HNUE JOURNAL OF SCIENCE DOI: 10.18173/2354-1075.2018-0169 Educational Sciences, 2018, Volume 63, Issue 9, pp. 61-69 This paper is available online at TEACHING ENGLISH FOR 5TH GRADE STUDENT IN PRIMARY SCHOOL VIA SCIENCE TOPICS ON APPROACH OF STEM EDUCATION: A CASE STUDY OF LEARNING OUTSIDE SCHOOL ACTIVITIES Hoang Thi Nga1, Tran Thi Lan1 and Nguyen Hoai Nam2 1K65K, Faculty of Primary Education, Hanoi National University of Education 2Faculty of Primary Education, Hanoi National University of Education Abstract. Teaching foreign language including English on the STEM education approach has been concerned in many countries. Content and Language Integrated Learning pedagogies (CLIL) has been used as an useful tool to promote students’ language competencies and emotive outcomes in content class, especially for science content. This study addresses the basement for the English teaching on STEM education approach which implements science topics with English for grade 5th students. The case study of learning outside school activities for a small group has been researched. Keywords: STEM education, primary education, content and language integrated learning (CLIL). 1. Introduction The important role of teaching English toward primary students has been shown in several years. In the conference of teaching English for elementary students in Vietnam in 2009, the prospect trend was confirmed that made students familiar with learning English earlier. English has been teaching not as a language tool but an useful instrument brings about knowledge to others subjects as mathematics, science, technology and so on [14]. This point of view also has been revealed in the latest draft for teaching English for Vietnamese General Education, on January, 2018 [10]. Many researches show the proper of teaching English situated with the context of studying other subjects which are familiar to students in their living and culture settings. The authentic learning not only makes students motivated but brings about the convenience in learning other language except mother tongue [17, 21]. By joining into universal and diversity learning activities, students feel more interested and motivated than boring actions as remembering words and grammar structures. Thus, the students’ skill are developed generally and diversely due to the active and collaborative learning that they take part [17]. Received January 12, 2018. Revised August 22, 2018. Accepted September 3, 2018. Contact Nguyen Hoai Nam, e-mail address: namnh@hnue.edu.vn Hoang Thi Nga, Tran Thi Lan, and Nguyen Hoai Nam 62 Such active environment is also created by STEM education. With the help of active activities as discovery or working as a scientist or implementing design as technologist or engineer, students approach familiar topics attached and appropriated to their lives and views. By that way, the improvement of students’ interest and learning efficiency is explicit [5, 24]. Sharing the same purpose which promotes the motion and development of students’ competencies, teaching English and teaching subjects on STEM education approach have been studied to find the connectivity between such fields [19]. In the context of worldwide and the effectiveness of the 4th industrial innovation, the human force needs to be well educated in professional work and English to meet the demand of the changing settings. Therefore, teaching foreign language including English on the STEM education approach has been concerned in many countries [17]. Content and Language Integrated Learning pedagogies (CLIL) has been used as an useful tool to promote students’ language competencies and emotive outcomes in content class [9], especially for science content [13]. Students in the case-study have positive perception towards science [22]. The advantages of teaching foreign language on approach of STEM education has been carried out for students in learning science in high school and university. The results show the strength of STEM education in developing students’ competencies and bringing about the general and diverse knowledge to students. The successful achievements are reported in several European and American countries [1, 17, 21]. The active learning methodologies as project-based, problem-based and others have been used variously to point out the effectiveness to students at different level including primary [21]. Like others living in the Asian countries, Vietnamese parents pay much attention to their children’s English study due to the belief of their future success related to the English proficiency [6, 12]. In non-English speaking parts of the world, many children learn English as a foreign language in school. The number of children learning English are increasing rapidly. Because of the lack knowledge in English, some parents send their children to have a continual program in non-formal institutions after schooling time [18]. In Vietnamese settings, children are sent to English centre or tutored by a tutor normally is a student in college or university. The issues are concerned to prevent the learning pressure on children, as they have to study rather than play in free time due to the parents’ belief. In order to deal with the issues, invoking the students’ motion and interest plays important role. Learning topics and learning activities should be conducted to present a new learning settings for students rather than repeat the way they studied or answer questions for next lessons in school. This is correspondent to the case study whereas the two first authors are 3th-year students. They do not teach in English institution or English centre. However, they have an English tuition supported by the students’ parents which help them to carry out their teaching plan. The research questions are: (i) how to implement an English tuition on approach of STEM education, and (ii) what the effectiveness of the strategy towards children’s motion and interest, in the case study of learning outside school activities in Vietnam. Teaching English for 5th grade student in primary school via science topics on approach of 63 2. Content In order to find out appropriated answers for all questions, the authors divide the study into two sections. The first section accounts for the relationship versus English learning and STEM education under the umbrella of CLIL for primary education. The role of engineering design-based process is considered to bridge the gap between the students’ interest and their parents’ expectation. Several conceptions will be presented to make connection between these terminologies and content studied. The second section will show the teaching plan in brief and the procedure to carry out on approach of STEM education aligned with engineering design-based process. Twelve students at 5th grade in primary school were separated into 3 groups to do the team tasks and projects. Students were encouraged to work actively as discussion, designing, implementation of the design and discourse on their achievements and products. 2.1. Literature reviews. 2.1.1. Content and Language Integrated Learning CLIL is abbreviation of “Content and Language Integrated Learning” which integrates foreign language teaching and other disciplines. According to this approach, subjects or part of subjects are taught in a foreign language which promotes simultaneously mastering of both subject and foreign language. Thus, CLIL was considered as a suitable strategy for addressing challenges to many nations [20]. In such case, foreign language is understood as a tool for students to study other subjects which allow them to develop their skills in communication. Language learning are more purposeful to solve specific communicative tasks [9]. The principles (4Cs) for CLIL are: content, communication, cognition, culture. The content specifies the aspects of comprehension and understanding related the specific content of the subject or area of knowledge. The communication means using of the second language (L2) while learning about the subject content. The cognition refers to the development of the learning skills to construct the knowledge about content, language, thinking skills and competences. The culture means the interconnection with the social – culture factors surrounding the learning process. Learning theories, language learning theories, and intercultural understanding are merged under CLIL’s umbrella [7]. CLIL has been proved to have a good impact on language skills. It can boot students’ motivation towards learning and benefit cognitional development and skills [11]. Their understanding and tolerance to culturally different people also are developed [7]. A six-stage process is given to teachers a tool for planning and developing their own CLIL model. Teachers are suggested to begin the process by having in mind that the CLIL model is flexible and accordingly can be adapted for all contexts [8]. The first stage in the process of planning CLIL is to come up with a common idea of CLIL. Next stage, teachers will analyze and personalize the CLIL context. Planning a CLIL unit is third stage. A unit based on CLIL must be constructed under the theory of the 4Cs and under other CLIL principles. Preparing the unit is the fourth stage. At the fifth stage, teachers monitor, evaluate, and understand CLIL in the classroom. The data are gathered to plan future units. The last stage for planning a CLIL program is to think of inquiry-based professional learning communities. Hoang Thi Nga, Tran Thi Lan, and Nguyen Hoai Nam 64 2.1.2. STEM education STEM is acronym of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. The purpose of STEM education is to contribute to the development of a STEM-capable workforce and the interest and engagement in STEM of students. Students engage in the practices, cross-cutting concepts, and core ideas of science in order to develop critical thinkers and consumers. Students enjoy activities as discovery or working as a scientist or implementing design as technologist or engineer. Playing role in the context appropriated to their lives and views, student’s interest and learning efficiency is explicit [5, 24]. The experiences may occur in one or several class periods, or throughout a curriculum; they may be reflected in the organization of a single course or an entire school, or they may be presented in an after or out-of-school activity. (p31 in [25]) Engineering has the advantage to students, especially in the primary/elementary school as they enjoy with hands-on activities and creative works [26, 27]. The use of engineering design as a context for learning within science and mathematics is a common trend while as different levels of integration is applied between the STEM disciplines learning efficiency is explicit [5, 24, 25]. Though the use of engineering design as a context for integrated STEM learning is promising, the application at the primary level must be concerned. The shortage of experiences in engineering instructions, the lack of the materials and resources needed for effective implementation of integrated STEM instruction and the limitation of content knowledge within engineering and STEM accounts for the under prepared and overwhelmed feeling of primary teachers. A solution is implemented that provides teacher the literacy of STEM integration and engineering design [23]. 2.1.3. STEM education and CLIL Teaching English and teaching subjects on STEM education approach have been studied to find the connectivity between such fields [19]. CLIL and science share common purpose to promote the learning interest and efficiency of students. CLIL improves student’s language learning (L2) and general performance in science. Practical studies have been shown to benefit for both science content and L2. CLIL science learning environments have positive effects on language and science attitudes to students [15]. Nevertheless, teachers should consider that students’ understanding the content under instruction with foreign language. In order to solve the problems, culture and content should be integrated to stimulate a meaningful real life context. In this way, students clearly understands the language functions in the context of culture and be able to transfer the language to another real life context in a meaningful way [17]. The appropriate content for age and cognitive abilities of students is chosen so that the learners can relate language learning experience to real world language functions. Because Science and Math subjects relate to universal knowledge, whereas Technology and Engineering often develop around cultural practices and perspectives [1]. Participants from different fields and from different educational levels in the STEM context may lead to different results. However, some parents of young learners concerned about the challenge of neglecting the first language for the children. Teaching English for 5th grade student in primary school via science topics on approach of 65 To address the issue, teachers are encouraged to change methodology. They instigate opportunities for purposeful communication and joint action that are supportive of both science and language learning, rather focus only on teaching language. Students’ contributions to the community are valued for their meaning and substance rather than their linguistic accuracy. Language use in the science classroom involves registers, modalities, and interactions. Registers refer to the linguistic features used in talk and text to meet the communicative demands of particular interactions, as from colloquial or every day. Modalities refer to the multiple and diverse channels through which communication occurs (e.g., pictures, symbols, graphs, tables, equations, text). Interactions refer to the communication of students as one to one, one to small group and one to many. Because students communicate with broader audiences, they can rely less on a shared frame of reference. Thus, they require the precision and explicitness that a specialized register affords [16]. 2.2. Research Design The environment protection topic was chosen due to the familiarity to the children’s view. The topic was dealt with the project named “Build an idea and green village”. A well-known process for teaching science topics named as BSCS 5E Instructional Model has been applied variously and shown effectively. The model has 5 phases as: Engage – Exploration – Explanation – Elaboration – Evaluation [2, 4]. The model is believed to promote students gain fundamental concepts in science and other domains. However, in order to set up authentic learning context to evoke students’ emotion, the study addresses the learning procedure according to Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) which integrate engineering with science. Though several different functions and features have been pointed out between science and engineering, and requirements differ for students at different grade, the crosscutting concepts, linking the fields and implementation are concerned to promote students’ learning [3]. In order to realize the connection, a fourth-steps procedure was carried out to organize students’ learning activities as: - Step 1 (Preparation): Working as a tutor, the teacher presents the topic to students. The topic comes from the discussion between the teacher and students. The teacher prepares the teaching plan, learning activities in plan, vocabulary for the topic. Students can also find out the words for the topic by themselves which will be summarized and corrected by the teacher during lessons. The first of the phase aligns with Engaging stage in 5E model. These activities capture students’ attention, connect their thinking to the situation which is familiar to them. After that, students are required to explore the phenomena of pollution by watching the video clip and find out the types of pollution. They are asked to explain the causes of pollution. - Step 2 (Plan): Students are asked to imagine about the ideal village which are not affected by the pollution. They discuss in group to draw an image on paper with a friendly machine to environment. - Step 3 (Create): Students are called for implementing the plan. They create machines with garbage materials and put the product in the space of designed village. Hoang Thi Nga, Tran Thi Lan, and Nguyen Hoai Nam 66 - Step 4 (Disclose): Students present their product to other groups. They are evaluated by other members and teachers. The teaching script carries out into two classes. The first two steps are implementation in the first session and the remainder for another. In comparison with 5E Instructional model, the plan and creative step are extension of “Elaboration”. In other words, it is extension of 5E model or be known as engineering design-based process. With this model, science knowledge is absorbed by solving problems which are required by teachers. The activities are called as investigation of background science knowledge. In relation with the principles (4Cs) for CLIL, the process assures four factors as content, communication, cognition and culture. Because topic is selected in negotiation between students and teachers, the content meets the comprehension and understanding related to the science in the curriculum. Students are encouraged to prepare English words related to the topic, so they have opportunity of using the second language while learning about the subject content. That meets the communication factor. During the process, students are promoted to use language skills as watching, reading, writing, asking, discussing and so on, thus, the cognition requirement is satisfied. Students have their own design of ideal village which include their surroundings. Therefore, it refers to the culture factor in CLIL. Such process also conforms to the shift in the science classroom which involves registers, modalities, and interactions. Because of the familiar topic, students can use the linguistic features which comes from colloquial or every day. Multiple and diverse channels through which communication occur due to the modality of learning as watching video, drawing image or creating machines with friendly materials and equipment’s. With groups and disclosure activities, students interact with classmates and teachers. In sum, the engineering design-based process comes up to CLIL and the shift in the science classroom which leads to the perspective implementation. 2.3. Research Findings and Discussion In order to evaluate the practical process, both the product and learning activities of students are concerned. In communication with teachers as answering, questioning, writing and so on, students understand the cause of pollution. They can identify the types of pollution. All of them (12 students) know several machines which are saving power and clean to environment. 95% students (11 students) can remember and pay attention to the material and equipment to create the model. Students can use English words in writing, talking and presenting their plan and product with excitement. They feel like in evaluating the others’ activities and products. The positive attitude of students reflects in the result of 95% interviewees’ interest in English class on STEM approach. They wish to have more such English lesson because they like the active and funny activities that make learning as playing a game. The positive achievements of language teaching
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