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LINKING THEORY TO PRACTICE: IMPLEMENTATION OF CLT

BY TAIWANESE UNIVERSITY TEACHERS OF ENGLISH

Yu-ju Hung

Submitted to the faculty of the University Graduate School


in partial fulfillment of the requirements
for the degree
Doctor of Philosophy
in the Department of Department of Literacy, Culture, and Language Education,
Indiana University
December 2009

UMI Number:3390275

All rights reserved


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Accepted by the Graduate Faculty, Indiana University, in partial fulfillment of the


requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.

Doctoral Committee
Larry J. Mikulecky.

David Joseph Flinders

Faridah Pawan

Sharon L. Pugh

September 11, 2009

ii

2009
Yu-ju Hung
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

iii

Acknowledgements

My sincere thanks go to my committee members who not only served as consultants


during the entire research process but also guided me through the exploration of my doctoral
journey. My advisor, Dr. Mikulecky, worked as a gatekeeper to ensure the methodological
rigor, solved numerous problems when I was stuck during the research process, and reminded
me a doctor should always make things work. Dr. Flinders suggested the theoretical
framework, specifically looking at local teachers acting as cultural mediators. Dr. Pugh
directed me to develop a localized CLT model and helped me with the academic writing of
this paper. Dr. Pawan shared her understandings of English teaching in Asian contexts. Their
expertise makes the quality of this study much better than the original idea that I started.
I am grateful to those Taiwanese college teachers who kindly agreed to participate in
the survey and have a dialogue with me in the interview. Their insights and experiences were
invaluable for me in clarifying the current English education in Taiwan as well as suggesting
a culturally adapted approach of English instruction. Also, thanks to Kathy who examined all
of the quotations, the perspectives of these participants could be appropriately expressed.
My special thanks go to friends in Bloomington, Anne, Candace, Nick, Sarah,
Seonmin, and Yi-ching. They are members in our weekly dinner group. I am really lucky to
join the dinner every Tuesday and attend a lot of fun parties and events during these three and
half years, which have included Pre-Semester Parties, End-of-Semester Parties, Thanksgiving
meals, Halloween Parties, IU Christmas Shows, many Musicals (including Joseph, Aida,
and Rent), Bloomington Food Festival.These friends and fun activities have provided
laughter and enjoyment, which enable me to handle the drudgery and stressful life in a
doctoral program.

iv

I just bother you a lot. This is what Mun usually said about her contribution to me.
Mun is a Korean friend I made in the U.S. We shared our study, work, and life when we took
a walk in the trail in summer and in the gym in winter. Her diligent attitude toward study and
positive attitude toward life worked as my best model and mental nutrition, so I could be
strong enough to cope with the workload and stress. She said we were Dao Ban, study
partners who are also friends. Her being here always made me feel I was not alone, as the
way most international students felt. I kind of like this bother.

Yu-ju Hung
Linking Theory to Practice: Implementation of CLT
by Taiwanese University Teachers of English

For the past several decades, Asian teachers of English have been traveling to English
L1 countries to do graduate work and return home ready to try new teaching approaches
(Golombek & Jordan, 2005; Liu, 1999; Major & Yamashiro, 2004). Among these approaches,
Communicative language Teaching (CLT) of English is a teaching innovation that has had
sufficient time to be learned by Asian EFL teachers, endorsed by the government, and
implemented with varying degrees of success and resistance in Taiwan (Kuo, 1995; Su, 2002;
Wang, 2002). By closely examining the degree of implementation of this teaching approach
in Taiwan as well as the challenges and forces at work influencing its implementation, it
should be possible to learn more about how the best of Western teaching ideas might be
adapted to Asian contexts and to develop a more effective model for teacher preparation.
To address this issue, this study was framed with the theory of curriculum
implementation and aimed to answer the following three questions: 1) How have Taiwanese
EFL Teachers implemented CLT in Taiwan? 2) What factors facilitate or inhibit the
implementation of CLT? What effects do these factors have on CLT implementation as
enacted? 3) How do Taiwanese adapt CLT in EFL classrooms in Taiwan? What are the
underlying constructs of the adaptation process?
To answer these research questions, this study applied a systematic random sampling
method to recruit 71 English teachers from 20 colleges. Also, mixed methods research was
vi

used by surveying these participants, examining course syllabi and course materials, and
interviewing 20 of them. The findings reveal that nearly all teachers report in their syllabi
using some CLT principles with the vast majority (about 80%) confirming use in the survey
and interviews. Those who do not implement CLT or have stopped using it mainly teach low
level students in very large classes. Even among these teachers, however, some have
succeeded in adapting CLT. These teachers are the ones aware of educational policies,
sensitive to students traditional ways of learning, and willing to differentiate their teaching
based upon students proficiency levels.
Larry J. Mikulecky
David Joseph Flinders
Faridah Pawan
Sharon L. Pugh

_____________________________________________
___________________________________________
___________________________________________
_____________________________________________

vii

Table of Contents

CHAPTER 1 .............................................................................................................................. 1
INTRODUCTION ..................................................................................................................... 1
Background ............................................................................................................................ 1
Statement of the Problem ....................................................................................................... 2
Significance of the Study ....................................................................................................... 4
CHAPTER 2 .............................................................................................................................. 6
LITERATURE REVIEW ........................................................................................................... 6
Theoretical Framework .......................................................................................................... 6
Introduction of CLT ............................................................................................................... 9
Fundamentals of CLT Concepts ......................................................................................... 9
Development of CLT Frameworks..................................................................................... 9
Clarification of CLT Concepts ......................................................................................... 12
Practice of CLT .................................................................................................................... 13
Initial Practice and Resistance ......................................................................................... 14
Partial Acceptance and Constraints .................................................................................. 17
Adaptation of CLT ............................................................................................................... 20
Obstacles and Reasons ..................................................................................................... 20
Suggestion and Reconstruction ........................................................................................ 24
A Tentative CLT Implementation Model ......................................................................... 25
Conclusions .......................................................................................................................... 28
CHAPTER 3 ............................................................................................................................ 30
METHODOLOGY .................................................................................................................. 30
Research Design and Instruments ........................................................................................ 30
viii

Research Questions .......................................................................................................... 30


Participants ....................................................................................................................... 30
Sources of Information .................................................................................................... 32
Data Analyses....................................................................................................................... 36
Research Question 1 ........................................................................................................ 37
Research Question 2 ........................................................................................................ 39
Research Question 3 ........................................................................................................ 41
CHAPTER 4 ............................................................................................................................ 42
FINDING ................................................................................................................................. 42
Research Question 1 ........................................................................................................ 42
Research Question 2 ........................................................................................................ 61
Research Question 3 ........................................................................................................ 80
Conclusion ....................................................................................................................... 95
CHAPTER 5 ............................................................................................................................ 97
DISCUSSION .......................................................................................................................... 97
Discussions and Implications ............................................................................................... 97
Policy ............................................................................................................................... 97
Culture............................................................................................................................ 109
Teaching ......................................................................................................................... 114
Research ......................................................................................................................... 118
Implications.................................................................................................................... 121
Conclusion ......................................................................................................................... 122
Limitations ......................................................................................................................... 124
References .......................................................................................................................... 126
Appendix A Questionnaire ................................................................................................. 134
ix

Appendix B Interview Protocol ......................................................................................... 137


Appendix C Codes ............................................................................................................. 138
Appendix D Textbooks ...................................................................................................... 139

List of Tables
Table 1 Obstacles of Practicing CLT ....................................................................................... 20
Table 2 Obstacles of Practicing CLT: Administrative Factors ................................................. 22
Table 3 Obstacles of Practicing CLT: EFL Contextual Factors ............................................... 23
Table 4 Obstacles of Practicing CLT: Cultural Factors ............................................................ 23
Table 5 Documentary Research Tool ....................................................................................... 35
Table 6 Cross-checking List of Five Principles of CLT........................................................... 38
Table 7 Document Analysis: Communicative Objective ......................................................... 43
Table 8 Document Analysis: Practice of Communicative Objective ....................................... 43
Table 9 Document Analysis Communicative Role ............................................................... 44
Table 10 Document Analysis Practice of Communicative Role ........................................... 45
Table 11 Document Analysis Four-Skill Integration ............................................................ 46
Table 12 Document Analysis Practice of Four-Skill Integration .......................................... 46
Table 13 Document Analysis: Authentic Material ................................................................... 48
Table 14 Document Analysis: Practice of Authentic Material ................................................. 48
Table 15 Document Analysis: Communicative-function Evaluation....................................... 51
Table 16 Document Analysis: Practice of Communicative-function Evaluation .................... 52
Table 17 Document Analysis: Practice of CLT Principles ....................................................... 53
Table 18 Document Analysis: Subgroup Comparison of CLT Practice ................................... 54
Table 19 Questionnaire: Practice of CLT Principles ................................................................ 56
Table 20 Questionnaire: English Use of Four Skills ................................................................ 58
Table 21 Inhibitive Factors ...................................................................................................... 62
Table 22 Inhibitive Factors: Comparison of Practicing Group and Not Practicing Group A .. 63
Table 23 Practice of CLT Principles: Comparison of Schools ................................................. 64
Table 24 Practice of CLT Principles: Comparison of Majors .................................................. 65
xi

Table 25 Inhibitive Factors: Comparison of Practicing Group and Not Practicing Group B .. 67
Table 26 Class Size .................................................................................................................. 67
Table 27 Correlation: Class Size and Practice of CLT Principles ............................................ 68
Table 28 Inhibitive Factors: Comparison of Practicing Group and Not Practicing Group ...... 70
Table 29 Inhibitive Factors: Comparison of Related Literatures ............................................. 73
Table 30 Facilitative Factors .................................................................................................... 74
Table 31 Questionnaire: Portion of English Use...................................................................... 84
Table 32 Resource Allocation: Comparison of English Majors and Non-English Majors .... 107
Table 33 Recommendations ................................................................................................... 121

xii

CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION
Background
For the past several decades, Asian teachers of English have been traveling to English
L1 countries to do graduate work and return home ready to try new teaching approaches
(1999; Major & Yamashiro, 2004). However, these approaches are not panaceas in every
context. These new approaches (e.g. Communicative Language Teaching, Whole Language,
and Critical Pedagogy) have often been developed in Western ESL contexts, and have a
history of not transferring to Asian contexts with high levels of success (Bax, 2003; Lo, 2003;
Shin & Crookes, 2005).
Among these approaches, Communicative Language Teaching (hereafter CLT) of
English is a teaching innovation that has had sufficient time to be learned by Asian EFL
teachers, endorsed by the government, and implemented with varying degrees of success and
resistance in Taiwan as well as the other countries in East Asia (Kuo, 1995; Y. Su, 2002;
Wang, 2002). After CLT was developed in the U.K. and the U.S. in the late 1960s (Canale &
Swain, 1980), the policymakers in Japan, Korea, China, and Taiwan started to import this
approach to compensate for the sole focus of reading and writing in their traditional English
education systems in the 1990s (Kuo, 1995; LoCastro, 1996; Yoon, 2004; Yu, 2001), which
almost always resulted in students not being able to communicate in English after taking
English as one of the compulsory courses in middle schools for six years. Moving away from
complete resistance to this innovative Western approach, local practitioners were also
realizing that the traditional Grammar Translation approach failed to develop students
communicative ability.

Developing students communicative ability has been mandated in the English


education in higher education institutes by the Ministry of Education in Taiwan (Curriculum
Guidelines, 2002). In the Curriculum Guidelines for Foreign Language Education, the first
objective of English instruction is to enhance students abilities in listening, speaking,
reading, and writing and apply these skills to meet the needs in daily life (p. 76).
Conforming to the government policy, CLT was gradually tried out in English class in college
level.
Statement of the Problem
The initial practice was not as successful as expected due to various barriers, such as
concerns with teacher qualifications, institutional realities, and student resistance. The related
studies unanimously suggested that this Western approach could not be adopted in
non-Western contexts without modification. Adaptation needed to be made to best use this
approach (Rao, 2002; Saengboon, 2002; Y. Su, 2002; Sugiyama, 2003). Adaptation at the
college level is an important issue because many students arrive with insufficient
communication skills despite years of prior study of English.
The Taiwanese governments promoting CLT gives rise to the need for qualified
English teachers. Therefore, a lot of English teachers in Taiwan decide to participate in
Western teacher preparation programs to gain pedagogical knowledge of this approach and
enhance their English communicative competence to be capable of teaching in C LT
classrooms. The majority of these teachers gain Doctorate degrees or Master degrees and
return to Taiwan to serve as English teachers in college, in which, except for English majors,
students are required to take General English in the freshman year and sophomore year. Some
universities might even ask students to take more English courses than this basic requirement
or provide elective English courses for juniors and seniors due to the emphasis on English
education in Taiwan.
2

Having policymakers support and more qualified teachers, CLT has started to gain
popularity in higher education in Taiwan. However, as with the implementation of CLT in
other Asian countries, the gap between theory and practice is probably still as wide, if not
wider. There are always discrepancies between expectations from policymakers and educators
and the results of classroom practice. Particularly, the higher education system in Taiwan is
becoming complicated after educational reform. During recent years, the Taiwanese
government has enforced a policy to establish a large number of universities with the good
intention to offer all the people in Taiwan opportunities to obtain high education and hold at
least Bachelor degrees. These newly established universities are mostly previous vocational
high schools or junior colleges upgraded to post-secondary level and titled science and
technology universities. Unlike traditional universities, whose main focus is to develop
students academic ability, the primary objective of these science and technology universities
is to cultivate students vocational skills and prepare them for future occupations. Therefore,
English might be less interesting to them when most of them do not anticipate using English
in their future jobs.
Establishing a large number of universities further creates the consequence that some
schools have difficulties recruiting new students and need to lower admission standards to
compete for students. This phenomenon impacts private schools to a greater extent because
these schools usually charge higher tuitions and are not as prestigious as public schools. As a
result, students who enroll in private universities, particularly those newly founded
universities, generally have lower academic achievement. With increasing achievement gaps
among schools, the always wide range of proficiency levels among EFL learners is getting
worse at the college level. Implementation of CLT in different schools might yield
significantly different results.

In such a complicated educational context, English education faces many issues. Have
educational policies regarding English teaching been updated to cope with these new
challenges? When those English teachers return from Western countries, are they familiar
with the current situation? Do they encounter transitional shock when they apply CLT in
English classrooms? Do other long-standing problems, such as large class size, students
resistance to class participation, test effect, and access to authentic materials, uncovered in
the previous studies, still exist in current classrooms? What are the effects of these barriers?
Do these barriers prevent teachers from implementing CLT either completely or partially?
How do English teachers deal with them and adapt CLT to their teaching in a contextually
responsive way? Except for the possible concern resulting from educational reform, what are
other underlying constructs of these difficulties? The answers to these questions still remain
at issue.
Significance of the Study
Most of the literature addresses this issue based on qualitative data and provides a
descriptive report of current implementation of one or several instructors or institutions. Also,
even though possible barriers have been investigated in previous studies and suggestions have
been made, few of them, if any, examine the effects of these barriers and describe an actual
adaptation process. Therefore, to go beyond the previous related studies, the present study
applies the theory of curriculum implementation (Snyder, Bolin, & Zumwalt, 1992),
specifically the themes of fidelity, mutual adaptation, and enactment: first, fidelity is
examined by looking at the current implementation of each principle of CLT and factors that
facilitate or inhibit implementation, then mutual adaptation is explored by observing how
CLT has been adapted to Taiwanese EFL contexts, and finally enactment is investigated by
exploring the constructs underlying why those factors identified influence the implementation
and why the decision of adaption has been made.
4

This study applies a mixed methods approach using both quantitative and qualitative
data to assess the degree and nature of CLT implementation in Taiwan on a larger scale,
involving 71 participants from 20 universities. Random sampling data collection also better
represents the higher education population in Taiwan. Syllabi and course materials are
examined as well as the voices of 20 local teachers by in-depth interviews to reveal a clear
picture of current CLT classrooms.
Therefore, by closely examining the degree of implementation of this Western
teaching approach in Taiwan as well as the challenges and forces at work influencing its
implementation, it should be possible to learn more about how the best of Western teaching
ideas might be adapted to Asian contexts and to develop a more effective model for teacher
preparation. When a new approach is implemented, more realistic help can be offered to
prepare teachers ready to teach rather than just telling them what to teach (Gorsuch, 2000).

CHAPTER 2
LITERATURE REVIEW
Theoretical Framework
This study is grounded on the theory of curriculum implementation, which informs the
scope of the study and frames the research questions. The most conventional meaning of
curriculum refers to the planned curriculum that may be embodied in a course of study, a
textbook series, a guide, a set of teacher plans, or an innovation program (Snyder, et al.,
1992, p. 427). Implementation is defined as the actual use of an innovation or what an
innovation consists of in practice (Fullan & Pomfret, 1977, p. 336). Research on curriculum
implementation is a recent phenomenon upon which researchers did not focus until the late
sixties and early seventies (Snyder, et al., 1992). Fullan and Promfret (1977) reviewed the
first decade of research and pointed out four rationales for conducting curriculum
implementation research. First, to know what has changed requires us to conceptualize and
measure it directly. Second, identifying the most problematic aspects of implementing the
change reveals why some educational innovations fail. Third, other aspects of the change
might be confused or ignored if the actual problematic aspects are not recognized. Fourth,
examining implementation enables us to interpret learning outcomes and possibly relate them
to aspects of the change. In the next two decades, fidelity, mutual adaptation, and curriculum
enactment emerged as three approaches to curriculum implementation (Snyder, et al., 1992).
Cho (1998) suggested that these three approaches in a continuum could be understood in
connection with positivism, postpositivism, and constructivism respectively (Guba & Lincoln,
1994). In this study, however, these perspectives are not used to place teachers practices on a
continuum between poles but rather as themes that provide multiple perspectives on these
practices in order to obtain as accurate a picture as possible.

The main intent of a fidelity perspective is to determine the degree of implementation


of an innovation in terms of the extent to which actual use of the innovation corresponds to
intended or planned use (Fullan & Pomfret, 1977, p. 340). In the fidelity perspective, the
curriculum innovation is designed by experts outside the classroom. Implementation is
evaluated based on the degree to which the teachers carry out the innovation. Therefore, the
properties of the innovation need to be clearly identified when researchers develop a checklist
or a scale to examine to what extent each characteristic has been implemented. Following this,
factors that facilitate or hinder the implementation as planned are also investigated as a
reference for future improvement (Snyder, et al., 1992). Based on the fidelity perspective, in
the present study, five major CLT principles drawn from the literature are used as a scale, in
which the participants are asked to rate to what degree each of the principles has been
implemented. The barriers identified in the related studies are listed for the participants to rate
as major problems, potential problems, or not problems.
For researchers who hold the perspectives of mutual adaptation and curriculum
enactment, it is impossible to implement a curriculum identical to the prescribed curriculum
because it is an abstract document, and actual implementation is a real life re-creation (Marsh
& Willis, 2007). From the perspective of mutual adaptation, innovation should not focus on
technological change only. Organizational change, such as changes in the structure of the
institutional setting, the culture of the school, educational technology, or teacher behavior,
should not be ignored. Implementation is not just adopt a model, but a process of
mutual adaptation in which project goals and methods are modified to suit the needs and
interests of participants and in which participants change to meet the requirements of the
project (McLaughlin, 2004, p. 172). Mutual adaptation researchers are concerned with what
has happened in a given context and what kinds of support adopters needs for implementation.
Intensive, descriptive data about the problems of education are expected to be discovered
7

(Snyder, et al., 1992). Therefore, the participants in this study were asked to delineate the
adaptation process and how they modified their teaching to address encountered problems.
Marsh and Willis (2007) see curriculum implementation as analogues to the text of a
play and an actual production. Teachers are like directors and actors of a play. Although the
text (planned curriculum) is there for them, they still need to interpret (enact) it. From the
enactment perspective, curriculum is characterized as the educational experiences jointly
created by student and teacher. The externally created curricular materials and programmed
instructional strategiesare seen as tools for students and teacher to use as they construct the
enacted experience of the classroom (Snyder, et al., 1992, p. 418). The educational
experiences that students and teachers undergo are emphasized in this perspective (Marsh &
Willis, 2007). Curriculum enactment researchers attempt to discover the enacted experiences
and the effects outside factors have on curriculum as enacted (Snyder, et al., 1992).
Accordingly, the effects of each inhibitive or facilitative factor indicated and their underlying
reasons are uncovered.
Following the themes of the three perspectives, the present study starts from the fidelity
perspective by looking at the current implementation of each CLT principle as well as factors
that facilitate or inhibit the implementation, followed by the perspective of mutual adaptation,
how CLT has been adapted in Taiwanese EFL contexts is explored. Finally, the enactment
approach is applied to closely look at why those factors identified influence the
implementation and why the decision of the adaption has been made. The findings answer the
following three research questions.
1. How have Taiwanese EFL teachers implemented CLT?
2. What factors facilitate or inhibit the implementation of CLT? What effects do these factors
have on CLT implementation as enacted?

3. How do Taiwanese EFL teachers adapt CLT? What are the underlying constructs of the
adaptation process?
Introduction of CLT
Fundamentals of CLT Concepts
As opposed to attending solely to structures and forms instead of meanings as in the
Audiolingual Method in the 1930s and 1940s and the Grammar-Translation Method in the
1940s and 1950s, CLT was brought up in the late 1960s (Brown, 2001). CLT originated from
two central concepts, functions of language and communicative competence (Richards, 1986;
Savignon, 1997, 2002). The British linguist M. A. K. Halliday proposed that language
learning should not be limited in mere structures or forms, but integrate both structural and
functional approaches. The function achieved by a certain grammatical structure could be
understood only by looking at situations in which the language was used and what the social
roles of the speakers were in terms of their interpersonal relations (Halliday, 1970, as cited in
Savignon, 1997). Also, arguing against Chomskys (1965) theory, which was only concerned
with the innate ability of human beings, but ignored the social context in which the language
was acquired and used, an American sociolinguist, Dell Hymes accentuated the importance of
communicative competence (Hymes, 1972, p. 281, as cited in Richards, 1986), which
emphasized the appropriate language use a speaker needed to know. A communicatively
competent speaker knew whether and to what degree something was formally possible and
contextually appropriate.

Development of CLT Frameworks


Centering on the CLT fundamental concepts in the 1970s, the functional approach and
communicative competence, several well-known CLT conceptual frameworks were proposed
in the 1980s and have been widely applied in language classrooms since then. Canale and
9

Swains (1980) theoretical framework for communicative competence includes three


competencies. First, grammatical competence refers to knowledge of lexicon, morphology,
phonology, syntax, and semantics, which enable learners to understand and express the literal
meaning of the language accurately. Second, sociolinguistic competence involves
sociocultural rules of use and rules of discourse. Sociocultural rules of use indicate how
appropriate the utterances are with regard to the sococultural context and the social roles of
the speakers. Rules of discourse can be interpreted as the cohesion of the combination of
utterances and coherence of communicative functions. Third, strategic competence is used
when communication breakdown occurs. Speakers are able to paraphrase what they intend to
express with their limited linguistic resources. For example, when strategic competence is
applied in sociolinguistic perspective, speakers know how to converse with a stranger when
they are not sure of the strangers social status.
Littlewood s (1981) framework divides CLT into pre-communicative and
communicative activities. Under the category of pre-communicative activities, structural
activities, such as drills or question-and-answer practice, provide learners a chance to acquire
the language forms for later communicative purpose. At this stage, learners are expected to
produce acceptable language. The other subcategory is quasi-communicative activities, which
help learners to connect language forms and communicative functions. In communicative
activities, learners integrate and put into practice their knowledge acquired in
pre-communicative activities. The first subcategory, functional communication activities,
requires learners to perform a task effectively with current available resources. The second
subcategory, social interaction activities, enables learners to go beyond getting meanings
across and are able to produce socially appropriate speech with regards to situations and
relationships.

10

In 1983, Savignon (1997) proposed a hypothetical model of CLT, later called the
inverted pyramid model (Savignon, 2002). This model specifies four interconnected
communicative competences. First, with grammatical competence, learners have gained
knowledge of sentence-level grammatical and are able to apply this knowledge in meaning
negotiation, but not explaining the grammatical rules. Second, discourse competence refers to
connecting a series of utterances to form a meaningful, coherent text. Third, sociocultural
competence takes into account appropriateness of language use in relation to the social roles
of the speakers, such as the information they commonly share and the function they intend to
achieve. Particularly, cultural awareness is pointed out in this category. Learners are more
willing to negotiate meanings when having sensitivity to cultural variations of language
conventions. Fourth, strategic competence refers to coping strategies that enable learners to
continue their conversation even when they are constrained by limited knowledge of
language rules or unfamiliar contexts.
The above CLT models (Canale & Swain, 1980; Littlewood, 1981; Savignon, 1997) are
three conventional frameworks which CLT researchers and practitioners have been widely
referring to. Although these frameworks have some differences, they share several common
threads, including focusing on both forms and meanings, continuing meaning negotiation
with available language knowledge, performing communicative functions, and attending to
social roles and contexts. Based on these CLT features, principles regarding practicing CLT
has been laid out in teacher education references. In Approaches and Methods in Language
Teaching, Richards (1986) describes how to implement CLT as follows. First and foremost,
learning is centered on the idea that tasks which involve authentic language use and real
communication promote learning. The roles assumed for teachers are facilitators, needs
analysts, counselors, and group process managers. Instead of dominating the class, teachers in
CLT classrooms facilitate the communication process, analyze and determine learners needs,
11

exemplify effective communication, and organize communicative activities. A great variety


of instructional materials can be used in CLT classrooms. For example, text-based materials
typically include themes, a task analysis for thematic development, a practice situation
description, a stimulus presentation, comprehension questions, and paraphrase exercises.
Task-based materials usually provide information about games, information gaps, role plays,
and other task-based communication activities. Particularly, teachers are encouraged to bring
into the classroom authentic, from-life materials, such as signs, magazines, and newspapers.
Adding to these characteristics, Larsen-Freemans (2000) book, Techniques and
Principles in Language Teaching, emphasizes that CLT classroom should be student-centered.
Students are communicators, expected to interact with others and be actively engaged in
meaning negotiation. Language functions might be emphasized over forms. Students errors
are tolerated when the focus of the activity is fluency. The language that students work on
goes beyond sentence level to discourse level. All four language skills are emphasized and
integrated. Evaluation also includes fluency and accuracy, targeting on a real communicative
function. For example, students might be asked to write a letter to a friend.

Clarification of CLT Concepts


Although the principles of CLT are introduced by researchers and textbook writers,
practitioners may have different interpretations. Thompson (1996) criticized some of these
interpretations as misconceptions. CLT was first used to complement the deficiency of sole
focus on discrete-point linguistic elements in the Grammar-Translation Method and absolute
accuracy in the Audio-Lingual Method. When the focus of teaching shifts to communicative
function in CLT, speaking is the first and most common skill learners will use. Therefore,
classroom teachers tend to neglect teaching grammar and emphasize only speaking. However,
CLT was originally designed to include both form and function and integrate four skills.
12

Besides, in order to avoid the drudgery of drill practice in the Audio-Lingual Method, role
play and group work are often used to create interaction. This may give people the impression
that CLT is all about group work and role play. In fact, group work and role play are used to
promote communication, but are not what CLT is all about. Echoing Thompsons (1996)
arguments, Savignon (2001) pointed out what CLT is not to clarify what CLT is. CLT does
not exclude skills other than oral communication. CLT does not neglect knowledge of rules or
metalinguistic awareness of rules. CLT encourages but does not require group work.
Stemming from the original core concepts of CLT, the present study synthesizes the
above discussions and uses the following definition of CLT.
The main objective of CLT is to enable students to negotiate meanings with
interlocutors in the target language and perform appropriate functions in relation to
different settings. Language teachers act as a facilitator to establish situations to
enhance communication. For example, students need to negotiate meanings to
make themselves understood and understand others when engaging in
communicative activities, such as games, role plays, problem-solving tasks,
information gaps, and group discussions. CLT classrooms integrate four skills.
Form and meaning are both emphasized. Since this approach focuses on
communicative intent, functions might be emphasized over forms, fluency is
emphasized over accuracy, and the target language is used as much as possible.
Authentic materials and task-based materials are often utilized in classrooms. The
goal of evaluation is to assess whether students can achieve a real communicative
function or not, such as asking them to write a letter to a friend (Canale & Swain,
1980; Larsen-Freeman, 2000; Littlewood, 1981; Richards, 1986; Savignon, 1997,
2001; Thompson, 1996).

Practice of CLT
First proposed and practiced in the ESL contexts in the late 1960s and early 1970s, CLT
has been considered a modern Western approach (Carrier, 2003), which has been gradually
exported to EFL contexts or other foreign language classrooms. However, the indiscriminate
application of this approach might create problems in East Asia, whose cultures vary greatly
from those of the English-speaking countries. As a result, the gap between theory and practice
might be wider and more difficult to bridge. EFL teachers responsibility to connect theory
13

and practice turns out to be even more essential (Edge, 1996). Previous practice can provide
some insight for future practice. Therefore, this section will explore how CLT has been
practiced, what challenges are encountered, and how the challenges have been addressed to
adapt CLT to local contexts in Asia.

Initial Practice and Resistance


In the 1990s, the governments in Japan, Korea, China, and Taiwan realized that their
English learners were not able to use English to do real-life communication after learning
English for several years with the traditional Grammar Translation Method and the
Audiolingual Method. They imposed top-down policies to implement CLT in their English
education, intending to improve learners communicative ability. The new curriculum was
first enforced in middle schools and then extended to elementary schools in the 2000s (Kuo,
1995; Liao, 2004; LoCastro, 1996; Major & Yamashiro, 2004; Wang, 2000; Yoon, 2004).
However, this innovative approach created a lot of resistance at the beginning stage
when the traditional teaching approach and sociocultural factors were disregarded. Burnaby
and Sun (1989) investigated 24 Chinese EFL teachers in college level on the applicability of
CLT in China. A questionnaire with 29 multiple-choice and open-ended questions was
administered. This group of language teachers were selected to participate in a cooperative
Canadian/Chinese program in Canada. The participants reported that CLT was only
appropriate in Canada, an ESL setting, or only applicable to students who planned to study in
an English-speaking country. Their concerns included English teachers limited
sociolinguistic and strategic competence in English, the constraints of the wider curriculum,
traditional teaching methods, large class sizes, fixed schedules, insufficient resources and
equipment, and low status of teachers who taught CLT. Echoing these concerns, Anderson
(1993) further pointed out that Chinese students were less willing to accept this new approach
14

than their teachers. For example, students tended to associate games and communicative
activities with fun instead of learning. They considered learning should be serious and felt
skeptical about the value of these activities. These attitudes and learning styles might
originate from the rooted Chinese culture and tradition regarding teaching and learning.
Similarly, Kuos (1995) study yielded the results of inappropriateness and
ineffectiveness of importing CLT in the English instruction at a junior high school in Taiwan.
The researcher conducted a qualitative study and triangulated the data by observing three
English classes 14 times, interviewing 12 English teachers, 21 students, the principal of the
school, and the dean of Division of Academic Studies, and taking notes from informal talks
with students parents. It was found that English was still taught in the traditional
Grammar-Translation Method although the new curriculum promoted communicative
teaching. The study concluded there was incongruence between actual English teaching
practice and the objectives of the English education policy. Five major problems were
indicated: teachers limited linguistic and sociolinguistic competence, learners not having
survival needs to communicate in English, impact of grammar-based exams, large class sizes,
and fixed schedules. On top of these problems, the researcher argued that the major reason
which made the old way die hard was cultural differences which promoted the notions of
learning as memorization, teachers role as a knowledge transmitter, and students role as a
knowledge receiver, against the theory of CLT. The researcher concluded that in a
hierarchical society like Taiwan, the power of the higher-level system is over the lower-level
system. However, this study showed that culture was on the top of the hierarchy and
influences the entire system. This brought to light that culture and traditional concepts should
be taken into account when policymakers decide to adopt this Western approach.
LoCastros (1996) ethnographic description as a result of around 30 classroom
observations and several unstructured interviews with teachers over years illustrated a
15

detailed picture of English language instruction in Japanese high schools. The results
revealed a mismatch between policy and practice. Even worse, the ignorance of other aspects
of this new curriculum and related sociocultural factors stimulated pervasive hostility. First of
all, the period of teacher training as short as two weeks did not equip teachers to practice this
new curriculum. The constraints of sociocultural contexts were found similar to those of the
above Asian contexts, such as a washback effect of the entrance exam system; traditional
teacher-centered classes; class size with at least 47 students in one class in high schools and
sometimes more than one hundred in universities; class content emphasizing grammatical
accuracy, translation, word use, and pronunciation; and the influences of Confucian concepts
about learning and teaching in Chinese culture. What was unique in the Japanese context was
Japanese nationalism developed in the Meiji Era fostering a belief that learning a foreign
language kept them from maintaining Japanese spirit intact (Wolferen, 1989, p. 380, as
cited in LoCastro, 1996). This ideology further decreased some students motivation to learn
English. The researcher concluded that Japanese English classrooms precluded CLT.
The above studies show a consensus that CLT could not really be implemented in Asian
EFL classrooms at the initial stage even though the governments, which usually had a great
power in hierarchy systems, imposed adoption of this new approach. The previous studies
revealed that the problems encountered were mainly due to the cultural perspective and
administrative factors. The administrative factors, specifically teacher training, exams effect,
authentic materials, class size, and fixed curriculum, showed that the old system was not
ready to implement this new curriculum. Moreover, the cultural factors seemed rooted in
learners as well as teachers and therefore might need to be taken into account over other
possible factors.

16

Partial Acceptance and Constraints


Although CLT aroused a great deal of resistance and did not yield the positive outcome
that policy makers had expected, it was agreed that traditional methods did not cultivate
students communicative ability and the advantages of the new approach could compensate
for this problem. Therefore, the old English education still needed to be changed. The new
approach was tried out in Asian countries. Along with the gradual and partial acceptance and
practice, different problems emerged.
Li (1998) looked at the adoption of CLT in Korea. Although CLT was not completely
rejected, substantial concerns or challenges were still pinpointed. The researcher surveyed 18
Korean EFL teachers who had participated in a teacher preparation program in Canada and
went back to teach in secondary schools. Based on their report about difficulties in
implementing CLT, the major source of difficulties was related to teachers (99 mentions),
followed by educational systems (61 mentions), students (50 mentions), and CLT (34
mentions) (Li, 1998, p. 687). The most frequently mentioned difficulties included teachers
deficiency in spoken English, teachers deficiency in strategic and sociolinguistic competence,
students low English proficiency, large classes, grammar-based examinations, and lack of
effective and efficient assessment instruments. Each of them was mentioned 18 times. The
researcher concluded that the difficulties were due to the differences between the underlying
educational assumptions of Korea and Western countries. The researcher proposed that the
implementation of this Western theory should be grounded on individual EFL situations.
In Japan, the advantage and practicability of CLT were gradually recognized by teachers.
Sato (2002) investigated 19 EFL teachers in a private senior high school in Japan. The data
were collected from interviews of 19 teachers, classroom observations lasting for one month,
a questionnaire survey about school culture, and analyses of related documents, including
teaching materials, examination papers, curricula, department goals, and school handbooks.
17

The findings demonstrated the tension between teachers beliefs and the underlying goal of
the curriculum. Although the participants expressed their recognition of the value of
communication-oriented English in the interviews, the observations of the classroom practice
showed that teaching was conducted in Japanese and heavily emphasized grammar
explanations. The teachers had difficulties changing the learners attitude toward learning
examination-oriented English, so most of the teachers complied with their students
expectation to avoid conflict. A few teachers who tried communicative activities indicated
some problems of practicability, such as learners heterogeneous levels of ability, students
limited proficiency levels, insufficient in-service teacher learning opportunities, and unclear
goals of communication-orientation teaching.
Sugiyama (2003) looked at how Japanese EFL teachers who received education in
TESOL programs in the U.S. acted as a bridge to practice this Western approach back in high
schools and universities in Japan. The data were collected from interviews of four
participants and document analysis. The participants identified the benefits of overseas
studying experiences, such as increasing their confidence in their English ability, gaining
cultural and pragmatic knowledge, developing understandings of students learning process,
and serving as role models of successful language learning. These developed qualities
strengthened their beliefs that they could practice CLT in their classrooms. Unavoidably, their
implementation of CLT was still constrained by some contextual factors, such as the
objectives for English instruction with emphasis on exam preparation, large classes, time
limitation, and students low motivation and low proficiency levels.
Sus (2002) study of three Taiwanese college teachers who got their Ph.D. degrees in the
U.S. shed a similar light. The total of 24 interviews showed that in addition to accumulating
abilities and positive experiences, they developed a strong belief in teaching English for
communication from their experiences of overseas study. All of them continued to implement
18

CLT in their classrooms. In addition to the inner debates pointed out by the EFL teachers in
Sugiyamas (2003) study, the participants in Sus (2002) study also struggled with whether
their classrooms should be teacher-centered or learner-centered, and they also indicated other
challenges, including teachers concerns about losing their own English ability, students
resistance to CLT, students diverse needs, students demands for accuracy, the influence of
traditional educational beliefs, insufficient teaching resources, and limited in-service
professional training. Regardless of these challenges, the EFL teachers in this study showed
their willingness to compromise and continue to implement CLT. They agreed that there was
no perfect method. Most importantly, they needed to be flexible enough to adjust and adapt
the innovative method to local contexts. Other than the above difficulties, they also
pinpointed that a CLT model customized for students in Taiwanese contexts should be
developed.
Moving away from the complete rejection of CLT, recent studies demonstrate that the
importance of communicative competence has been recognized. Overall, language teachers
agree with the main assumptions of language learning promoted in CLT. Interactive activities
that involve real communication promote learning. Learning by doing is encouraged.
Language should be used to perform meaningful tasks. Learners should be provided
opportunities to engage in meaningful interactions and practice meaning negotiation (Rao,
1996). However, along with the initial acceptance of CLT, new debates about the feasibility
of CLT emerged, such as whether to instruct in English or not, to focus on product or process,
to teach grammar or not, to do error correction or not, and to use learner-centered or
teacher-centered approaches. This indicates that, in addition to previously identified
difficulties, such as teacher training, class sizes, fixed curriculum, and effect of
structure-based exams, new challenges related to classroom practice call for more attention.

19

Adaptation of CLT
Responding to these difficulties, those teachers started to wonder Must the traditional
approach and the modern approach be deemed mutually exclusive? Is the modern necessarily
better than the traditional? Certain compromise or integration between West and East,
Modern and Traditional, and ESL and EFL seems necessary. Holding the idea that
development of communicative competence is still the objective, certain adjustment and
adaptation are indispensable. In the following, the challenges will be revisited. Underlying
reasons and solutions will be discussed to trace how this Western approach has been adapted
to EFL contexts so far.

Obstacles and Reasons


The following table lays out difficulties encountered in Asian English classrooms
reported in the previous studies (Table 1). Concluding from the researchers interpretations,
these challenges can be put into three groups, administrative factors, EFL contextual factors,
and cultural factors (Tables 2-4).
Table 1 Obstacles of Practicing CLT
Burnaby
& Sun
(1989)

language
proficiency
sociolinguistic
competence
pre-service
training
in-service
training
material
development
authentic
materials
large classes
fixed
curriculum/
schedule
funding,
facilities

Kuo
(1995)

LoCastro
(1996)

Li
(1998)

Miller
(1998)

Sato
(2002)

Sugiyama
(2003)

Su
(2002)

Rao
(2002)

Teacher Insufficient Communicative Competence/Teacher Preparation

Time, Resources, Support and Class Size Concerns


v

v
v

20

Sato &
Klienssaer
(1999)

colleagues
support

structure-based
exams

Student Resistance
v

v
v

v
v

v
Classroom Practice Concerns

textboundness
teach in
English
process vs.
product
grammar/form
/error
rote
memorization/
repetition
heterogeneous
grouping/
diverse needs

Testing Concerns

assessing
instruments

language
proficiency
low
motivation
low value of
English
resistance to
participation
teachers role
concept of
learning

v
v
v
v

v
v

v
v

v
v

First, policymakers often do not prepare administratively before they jump onto the
wagon to practice this Western theory. Problems such as insufficient teacher training, large
classes, fixed schedules, prescribed textbooks, insufficient funding and resources,
grammar-based exams, lack of assessing instruments, and heterogeneous grouping are factors
that need to be dealt with in the school administration and the educational system. Second,
CLT was originally designed for use in ESL contexts. The differences between ESL and EFL
are reflected in such factors as lack of authentic materials, students low English proficiency,
students lack of motivation, students resistance because of low valuing of English, the
conflict of using English only in instruction, and the conflict of doing grammar explanation
and error correction. In EFL contexts, students do not have much exposure to the target
21

language because they do not need to use this language to survive or simply because they do
not have access. Although electronic media provide easier access to English, EFL learners
ability might not be advanced enough to do self-learning without teachers guidance or
scaffolding. Most of their language learning still occurs in language classrooms only. In order
to help EFL learners understand the linguistic system, a certain degree of focus on form and
repetition is indispensable although CLT prioritizes fluency over accuracy. These differences
between second language contexts and foreign language contexts can also be found in other
foreign language classrooms. For example, Sato and Klienssaer (1999) looked at the
practicability of CLT in Japanese as a foreign language in Australia. The findings showed that
the instruction focused a lot on form. This demonstrated that form focus is essential in foreign
language classrooms regardless of cultural differences. Similarly, Butler (2005) investigated
elementary school teachers concerns about practicing CLT in EFL classrooms in Korea,
Japan, and Taiwan. The teachers expressed concerns that students produced inaccurate
expressions, and that no specific goals were set up in CLT classrooms. The third group of
problems are concerned with the underlying CLT assumptions reflecting Western culture that
may not be appropriate in Asian culture, such as emphases on class participation, teachers
role as a facilitator instead of a knowledge transmitter, use of multiple texts, emphases on
process over product, and de-emphases on rote memorization and repetition (Tables 2-4).
Table 2 Obstacles of Practicing CLT: Administrative Factors
Burnaby
& Sun
(1989)

language
proficiency
sociolinguistic
competence
pre-service
training
in-service
training
material

Kuo
(1995)

LoCastro
(1996)

Li
(1998)

Miller
(1998)

Sato
(2002)

Sugiyama
(2003)

Su
(2002)

Rao
(2002)

Teacher Insufficient Communicative Competence/Teacher Preparation

v
v

Time, Resources, Support and Class Size Concerns


v
v

22

Sato &
Klienssaer
(1999)

development
large classes
fixed
curriculum/
schedule
funding,
facilities
colleagues
support
structure-based
exams

v
v

v
v

Testing Concerns
v

assessing
instruments

Table 3 Obstacles of Practicing CLT: EFL Contextual Factors


Burnaby
& Sun
(1989)

authentic
materials
language
proficiency
low
motivation
low value of
English

Kuo
(1995)

LoCastro
(1996)

Li
(1998)

Miller
(1998)

Sato
(2002)

Sugiyama
(2003)

Su
(2002)

Rao
(2002)

Time, Resources, Support and Class Size Concerns


v

Sato &
Klienssaer
(1999)

Student Resistance
v

v
v

v
Classroom Practice Concerns

teach in
English
grammar/form
/error
heterogeneous
grouping/
diverse needs

v
v
v

Table 4 Obstacles of Practicing CLT: Cultural Factors


Burnaby
& Sun
(1989)

resistance to
participation
teachers role
concept of
learning
textboundness
process vs.
product
rote
memorization/
repetition

Kuo
(1995)

LoCastro
(1996)

Li
(1998)

Miller
(1998)

Sato
(2002)

Sugiyama
(2003)

Su
(2002)

Rao
(2002)

Student Resistance
v

v
v

Sato &
Klienssaer
(1999)

v
v

v
Classroom Practice Concerns
v

v
v

23

Suggestion and Reconstruction


Suggestions to address these challenges imply a call for special attention to EFL
contextual factors and cultural factors. The following are the seven suggestions pulled out
from previous studies. The first three suggestions acknowledge that EFL learners do not have
exposure to the language as much as ESL learners do. The first is to integrate form and
meaning. As opposed to the indirect approach, which claims that learners can learn a
language simply through communication, incorporating form to a certain extent is
recommended, such as teaching grammar explicitly (Saengboon, 2002; Su, 2002), applying
grammar rules in contexts after explaining the rules (Rao, 1996), balancing linguistic
competence and communicative competence (Rao, 2002), and offering enough chances for
repetition and accurate reproduction (Mitchell & Lee, 2003). The second is to create
opportunities for interaction and meaning negotiation since EFL learners do not have urgent
needs to use the target language in their lives. College teachers in Taiwan recommend
selecting meaningful topics and themes, providing varying classroom activities,
implementing strict turn-taking between and among teachers and students to ensure that every
student can practice the language, and doing more meaning-based presenting and questioning
(Su, 2002). For example, Rao (2002) suggested designing authentic communicative scenarios
for the real use of the language. The third is to use students L1. Although using the target
language as much as possible is encouraged in CLT, EFL students language ability might not
be proficient enough to participate in all-English classes. English teachers do not need to
banish L1 completely (Rao, 1996; Saengboon, 2002).
The other suggestions for adapting CLT are pointed out to accord with Asian students
concepts of learning and teaching impacted by their culture. First, textbooks are regarded as a
primary source by Chinese teachers and students. Instead of discarding them and using
authentic materials only, using textbooks and then adapting authentic materials are considered
24

more appropriate (Su, 2002). Second, overcoming students resistance to speak up in class is
specifically emphasized because they are educated to be a listener, not a speaker in class.
Teachers can start with building students confidence, such as requiring controlled speech
first and moving to spontaneous speech, avoiding direct corrections, and providing a
supportive mood (Miller, 1998; Su, 2002). Students need to be provided chances to get ready
for the transition to the role of communicator (Rao, 1996). For example, teachers offer clear
directions of doing tasks to dispel students fears and doubts, encourage cooperative learning,
allow a silent period, and allow them to write before speaking (Miller, 1998; Saengboon,
2002; Su, 2002).
The second is to reorient students to take a positive look at CLT. Asian students might
think CLT is all about playing games and excludes grammar. Teachers need to help to correct
students misconceptions of what constitutes good English learning, clarify that grammar
should be a tool, not the end, and explain advantages and purposes of CLT activities. Students
will be more willing to participate in the activities after recognizing their value (Rao, 2002).
The third suggestion is to balance teacher-centered and student-centered approaches. Asian
students tend to depend on teachers guidance (Gao, 2006) and expect teachers to act as role
models and provide controlled input (Mitchell & Lee, 2003). Previous studies show that
teachers who practice CLT mostly agree that teachers still need to display authoritative roles
to a certain degree and try to find a balance between being facilitative and directive
(Saengboon, 2002).

A Tentative CLT Implementation Model


The challenges that emerged and the suggestions addressing them both imply that the
current CLT practice in Asia is still constrained by administrative factors, EFL contextual
factors, and cultural factors. Among them, culture is rooted in students and teachers
25

thinking systems and should be considered primarily. When teachers adapt the Western
approach, they choose to start from traditional Asian ways of learning and teaching and look
for some space to incorporate the Western innovative approach. They also call for attention
to the differences between ESL and EFL contexts. Teachers need to modify their teaching
methods according to students ability and needs.
In Asian hierarchical societies, governments educational policies are on the top of
decision making systems and have a greatest impact on education. However, Kuo (1995)
claimed that culture is more powerful than the top of the hierarchy system. The philosophy
about learning and teaching rooted in traditional Asian culture requires teachers cultural
awareness to accommodate this Western approach, so teaching can be more culturally
appropriate (Ellis, 1996). Congruently, Hu (2002) and Rao (1996) pointed out several
traditional Chinese concepts that might cause students resistance to the communicative
approach and deserve teachers attention. First, education has been regarded as accumulation
of knowledge from reading books, which is incompatible with the tenets of CLT, such as
focusing on process instead of results, using authentic materials, and students role as
meaning negotiators. Second, a famous Chinese saying, by reviewing the old, one learns the
new, highlights the importance of recitation and rote memorization. Again, this emphasizes
results and implies the importance of accuracy. Third, the concepts of maintaining a
hierarchical relation between teacher and students and teachers role of being the model for
students to follow and passing on knowledge (Rao, 1996, p. 461) do not follow the idea of
student-centeredness in CLT classrooms. Traditionally, students are not encouraged to talk,
but listen to teachers. The concept of the teachers role rooted in Chinese tradition has lasted
till now. In Zhang and Watkinss (2007) study with regards to the perception of a good
tertiary EFL teacher in China, teachers and students in China still expect teachers to act as a
good model and knowledge transmitter. They concluded that the criteria of good teachers in
26

China are different from those in Western countries. Fourth, Asian students tend to pursue
perfectionism. Although students are encouraged to speak up in CLT class, Asian students
usually hesitate to do so because of their imperfect language ability. Nevertheless, not all of
the features in Chinese culture are at odds with CLT. The collective orientation in Chinese
culture is consonant with collaborative learning and peer and group interaction. It is essential
that English teachers be aware of which parts of students culture hinder or facilitate students
learning.
The argument of the importance of cultural factors can be supported by a cross-cultural
study. Mitchell and Lee (2003) compared CLT practice in an EFL classroom in Korea taught
by a Korean teacher with a French as a foreign language classroom in England instructed by
an English teacher. Although explicit grammar rules were not explained in the classrooms,
language forms were taught inductively. Both teachers expected students accurate production.
They both assumed that language could best be learned through repetition. However, some
cross-cultural differences remained. Group activities were frequently used in the Asian
classroom whereas individual activities were promoted in the Western classroom. The
researchers speculated that this might be due to Western individualism and Eastern
collectivism. Ready-made language textbooks were used in the Asian classroom, and
hand-outs and supplementary materials were used in the other. Also, the EFL teacher
regulated students seats, grouping, and classroom management much more than the Western
teacher. This implied the phenomenon of the teacher as the authority in Asian contexts. This
study supports that some factors, such as focusing on form and repetition, are necessary in
foreign language classrooms regardless cultural differences. Other factors, such as using
textbooks, doing group work, and regarding teachers as authority are related to Asian culture.
Based on the above discussion, cultural factors are considered as the central issue, along
with administrative factors and EFL factors, influencing CLT practice. The tentative
27

contextually responsive CLT model is proposed as below. The results yielded in this study are
expected to support or disconfirm this argument as well as underscore which sub-factors
significantly influence current Taiwanese English teachers implementation of CLT and
deserve more attention, resulting in a refined model.
Tentative Contextual Responsive CLT Model

Conclusions
Applying CLT to compensate for the insufficiency of the traditional methods which do
not cultivate students communicative competence is indispensable in EFL contexts. However,
the previous studies also illuminate that this Western approach can not be adopted without
adaptation. Various factors need to be taken into account to make this approach contextually
and culturally responsive (Bax, 1997, 2003). Those factors vary in different contexts. C LT
28

can be best used only when critical factors are identified and possible solutions are addressed.
Also, the rationale of decision making leading to the adaptation can inform us why the
current practitioners do what they do.
So far, only a few case studies have been conducted to address this issue. Among them,
studies specifically targeting teachers who obtain their degrees in Western countries are even
fewer. Therefore, this study aims to apply a mixed methods research to look at how
Taiwanese EFL teachers who participate in teacher preparation programs in Western countries
practice and adapt CLT to EFL classrooms in universities in Taiwan.

29

CHAPTER 3
METHODOLOGY
Research Design and Instruments
In order to answer the research questions, a mixed methods study was conducted. Mixed
methods research is defined as the class of research where the researcher mixes or combines
quantitative and qualitative research techniques, methods, approaches, concepts or language
into a single study (R. B. Johnson & Onwuegbuzie, 2004, p. 17). One of the strengths of
mixed research is to be able to provide stronger evidence to draw a conclusion.

Research Questions
1. How have Taiwanese EFL teachers implemented CLT?
2. What factors facilitate or inhibit the implementation of CLT? What effects do these factors
have on CLT implementation as enacted?
3. How do Taiwanese EFL teachers adapt CLT? What are the underlying constructs of the
adaptation process?

Participants
The targeted participants were Taiwanese EFL teachers who completed their Master or
Doctorate degrees in Western teacher preparation programs and served as college English
teachers in Taiwan. This study focused on this level because most of these teachers taught in
college after they got their degrees in Western countries, and also educators had more
autonomy to decide what to teach and how. The Western countries in which they attended
their graduate programs included North America, Great Britain, and Australia, the so-called
NABA countries where the majority of EFL teachers pursued higher degrees overseas
(Holliday, 1994). The titles of teacher preparation programs might vary. The programs which
30

emphasized English language teaching to non-native speakers were included, such as TESOL,
ESOL, Language Education, ESL, EFL, and Foreign Language Education.
A survey was sent to these participants by email. When they sent back the questionnaires
by replying to the email, they were asked to attach course-related documents, such as syllabi,
exercise sheets, or assignment descriptions for future document analysis. If the teachers
taught both English major and non-English major students, they were asked to do the survey
based on one of the courses they were teaching. Only the participants who taught language
courses were recruited, and this was addressed in the recruiting email. In order to encourage
the participants to participate in the survey, the results of the study would be reported back to
them for their reference.
Probability sampling is the most rigorous form of sampling in quantitative research
because the investigator can claim that the sample is representative of the population and, as
such, can make generalizations to the population (Creswell, 2005, p. 146). This study
applied one type of probability sampling, systematic sampling, in which every nth individual
was selected, so their responses could better represent the general situation of CLT
implementation in Taiwan. In this study, out of 158 postsecondary schools listed by Ministry
of Education in Taiwan, every fourth was selected, so 39 schools were recruited. The
information of the educational background and contact information of the possible
participants were obtained from the staff information posted on the school websites. In total,
383 participants met the criteria and were sent the survey. Excluding five incomplete
questionnaires, 71 questionnaires were collected. The response rate was 19%.
A follow-up interview was conducted after collecting the questionnaires. Based on the
extent to which they practiced CLT as indicated in Question 10, In the scale of 1 to 5, where
would you place your current implementation of each principle of CLT? the participants
were divided into two groups. Ten participants who got the highest scores of Question 10 and
31

another ten participants who got the lowest scores of Question 10 were recruited to
participate in interviews. If they declined to participate in the interview, the next participant
who got next highest or lowest score was recruited. In total, 20 participants were interviewed.
The participants were contacted through email. Because the participants taught in different
regions in Taiwan, a telephone interview was conducted in Mandarin Chinese except for the
last question to which participants responded in English as a means of providing a sample of
their oral performance in the target language, and the whole process was audio recorded. The
interview process lasted 40 to 90 minutes. All of the interview data were transcribed and
translated into English simultaneously.

Sources of Information
In addition to random sampling participants, this study also triangulated data to ensure
the trustworthiness of the information yielded. Triangulation is an important process to
enhance the accuracy of a study (Creswell, 2005, p. 252). As Guba and Lincoln stated
(1989), triangulation should be thought of as referring to cross-checking specific data items
of factual nature (p. 241). Therefore, multiple data sources, including survey, interview, and
document analysis, were collected to compare and contrast to validate findings. Also,
inter-rater agreement was sought. A Ph.D. student who was from Taiwan and studied in
Indiana University served as the second rater. The inter-rater reliability was 0.89.
Questionnaire
The questionnaire included three sections. Questions 1-7 were designed to obtain
participants background information, including their names, ages, genders, teaching
experiences, educational backgrounds, students majors, and courses currently teaching. In
addition to demonstrating the participants demographic information, the obtained results
could be further compared between English major students and non-English major students,
32

public universities and private universities, traditional universities and science and
technology universities, teachers with Doctorate degrees and teachers with Master degrees,
and large class size and small class size (Appendix A).
Questions 8-10 corresponded to the first research question, How do the participants
practice CLT? Question 8 asked whether they learned CLT in their teacher preparation
programs. Question 9 asked their practice of CLT. Question 10 asked to what extent, from
fully to rarely, they practiced each CLT principle. The five items of Question 10 were main
CLT principles drawn from the studies of Canale and Swain (1980), Larsen-Freeman (2000),
and Richard (1986). Question 11 was designed to answer part of the second research question
about what factors inhibited the implementation of CLT. The problems listed were drawn
from related literature (Burnaby & Sun, 1989; Kuo, 1995; Li, 1998; LoCastro, 1996; Miller,
1998; Rao, 2002; Sato, 2002; Sato & Kleinsasser, 1999; Y. Su, 2002; Sugiyama, 2003).
Twenty-three problems were listed to respond to five sources of concerns: 1) Teacher
Insufficient Communicative Competence/Teacher Preparation, 2) Time, Resources, Support
and Class Size Concerns, 3) Testing and Teaching Philosophy Concerns, 4) Student
Resistance, and 5) Classroom Practice Concerns. The participants were asked to indicate each
of the problems as a major problem, a potential problem, or not a problem. Because the
challenges that the participants encountered might not be listed, the item others was also
provided so they could write them in (McBurney, 1998).
Interview Protocol
As Steiner (1996) claimed, qualitative interview is a uniquely sensitive and powerful
method for capturing the experiences and lived meanings of the subjects everyday world.
Interviews allow the subjects to convey to others their situation from their own perspective
and in their own words (p. 70). Therefore, interview could serve as a tool to enable the EFL
teachers to voice their experiences and perceptions regarding implementing CLT. After
33

collecting the questionnaires and related documents, semi-structured follow-up interviews


were conducted, which covered the major themes of the study and at the same time provided
the interviewees further room to express themselves (Steiner, 1996). (Appendix B)
Document Analysis
Document analysis is one of the tools used to employ inductive reasoning or a
bottom-up approach in qualitative research (Lodico, 2006, p. 5), in which systematic
observations are conducted before themes and patterns are formed. Documents are defined as
all sources which can be used as part of the evidence base for your research, but are not
produced specifically for your research (Burton, Brundrett, & Jones, 2008, pp. 109-110).
Often times, documents are contextual data (p. 110) and serve as a base-line against which
other sources can be compared and contrasted (p. 112).
Therefore, this study used syllabi, which contained major course information, as the
main document, along with other course documents, such as textbooks, supplementary
materials, tests, activity sheets, and other related materials. The document research tool in
this study was developed based on the results yielded in Eberly, Newton, and Wiggins (2001)
study of analyses of 145 syllabi covering 100 courses in a university. Several themes emerged
in the data, such as Basic Course Information, Information about Course Reading, Content,
and Format, Information about Performance Evaluation, and Information Referring to
General Education Guidelines. The researchers also concluded that the information contained
in each theme implied various characteristics of those courses. For instance, information
about course reading showed what types of materials were used. Was it a textbook, reading
packet, or other handouts? Were there any supplementary materials? As to format, was it a
lecture, interactive format, or class demonstration? This information could present what kind
of content was covered and whether this was a teacher-controlled or student-centered course.

34

Similarly, analyzing these themes and the content in syllabi of the English classes could
reveal their course structures and characteristics. The following documentary research tool
was developed to examine which CLT principles were implemented. The results could be
compared with the results yielded from the survey and interview. The research tool was
constructed in three sections: 1) information about the document; 2) information the
researcher wished to gain to answer the research question; 3) the researchers informed
opinion after the review of the document (Burton, et al., 2008, p. 118).
Table 5 Documentary Research Tool

Documentary Research Tool


Instructor:
Class Title:
Meeting Time Per Week:
Checklist for Document Analysis
Course Information
Course Objective
Does it contain communicative intent?
Does it cover four skills?
Course Reading
If a textbook is used, is it designed to develop
communicative competence?
Is the reading in attempt to develop four skills?
Are there any authentic materials supplemented?
Course Content
Are the topics listed in schedule related to students
daily life?
Are the topics listed in schedule related to fulfill
communicative functions?
Course Format
Does this course include other interactive activities,
but not mainly lecture?
Performance Evaluation
Are the students required to perform a real
communicative function in the evaluation or
assignment?
If participation is part of the grade, does it require
to practice communicative activities?
Are the assessments implemented in forms other
than paper and pencil tests?
Opinion:

35

Yes

No

Can not tell

Data Analyses
Three major data sources, 71 questionnaires, 71 sets of documents, and 20 interviews,
were used to answer the research questions. For the questionnaires, descriptive statistics were
used to present the data. For Questions 1-9, total numbers and percentage were reported. For
Question 10, practice of each CLT principle was coded as 5 (fully practice) to 1 (rarely
practice). Question 11 was coded as MP (Major Problem)=5, PP (Potential Problem)=3, and
NP (Not a Problem)=1. Average scores were tabulated and the ranking was presented. In the
document analysis, the percentage of the answer YES for each question was calculated.
The transcripts of the interviews were coded in accordance with the three perspectives of the
implementation theory. First, based on the fidelity perspective, the current implementation of
CLT principles as well as factors that facilitated or inhibited the implementation were
investigated. Also, the participants were asked to give examples of communicative activities
that they did in their classrooms and to make comments on their textbooks, so the data were
coded as Degree of Practice_CLT Principle, Facilitative Factor, Inhibitive Factor. Activity
Example, and Textbook. The perspective of mutual adaptation looked at how CLT had been
adapted to Taiwanese EFL contexts, so the data was coded as Adaptation. Third, the
enactment perspective explored why those factors identified influenced the implementation
and why the decision of the adaptation had been made. The data were coded as Effect of the
Facilitating Factor, Effect of the Inhibitive Factor, and Reason of Making Adaptation
(Appendix C). Each interview transcript was saved as an individual file in Microsoft Office
Word. The phrases or sentences which matched the codes were highlighted and the
corresponding code with the pseudonym of the interviewee was marked as comments using
the review function. After coding, the function of searching in comments was used to locate
the quotations under the same code. The quotations were then pulled out, listed with the
interviewees, and saved as an individual file. They were easier to navigate and tabulated and
36

the quotations could be traced back to the original transcripts. The results yielded from the
above three data sources were analyzed to address each research question.

Research Question 1: How have Taiwanese EFL teachers practiced CLT?


This question responded to the fidelity perspective, proposing that the first step to
evaluate the curriculum implementation was to examine to what extent CLT had been
implemented as planned (Fullan & Pomfret, 1977). To answer this question, the data analyses
started with reporting the data drawn from the document analysis. By examining the syllabi,
textbooks, and course-related materials, the content of the course components, such as course
objectives, readings, formats, and evaluation were examined, so concrete examples could be
indicated as evidence to support whether the CLT principles were practiced or not. For
example, to evaluate the implementation of the first principle: The objective is to develop
students communicative competence. Activities have communicative intent and involve
social interactions, three decision-making criteria were used, including Communicative
Intent, Related to Daily Life, and Communicative Functions. The principle was considered as
P (practiced) if at least one answer to a decision-making criterion was Yes. If answers to the
decision-making criteria all fell into the category Can Not Tell, the principle was coded as
NP (not practiced). Also, the principle was coded as NP if one or more of the answers were
No regardless of whether the rest answers were Yes or Can Not Tell. (Table 6). The
number and percentage of each principle practiced or not practiced were reported. This would
also show that some of the principles might be more challenging than the others. In addition
to evaluating whether the materials matched the CLT principles, the materials commonly
used by those English teachers could be recorded as extra information.
The second stage was to analyze the results yielded in the questionnaires and the
interview. The questionnaires (Q9-Q10) presented whether the participants claimed to have
37

implemented CLT and to what degree they claimed to practice the five CLT principles. For
Q9, the numbers and percentages of the participants who were currently using CLT or the
ones who were not using CLT then and never used CLT were calculated. As to Q10, the mean
score of implementing each principle was calculated. The third data source was drawn from
the second interview question. The interviewees were asked to explain in detail their course
syllabi and provide examples of how they practiced CLT.
At the third stage, the results of the questionnaires and document analyses were
cross-checked to evaluate whether the self-report data in the questionnaires were reliable or
not. The following table showed the items in the document analyses tool corresponding to the
five principles of CLT in the questionnaires. The decision point was set as 3. If the degree of
practice reported in a questionnaire was equal to or more than 3 in a 5-point scale, a principle
was rated as Practiced (Table 6).
Table 6 Cross-checking List of Five Principles of CLT

1.

Questionnaire (P or NP)
The objective is to develop
students communicative
competence. Activities have
communicative intent and involve
social interaction.

2.

The role of the students is a


communicator.

3.

Four skills are integrated. Both


form and meaning are
emphasized.
Instructional materials include
authentic materials

4.

5.

Students are evaluated both


fluency and accuracy by being
asked to perform a real
communicative function.

P=Practice; NP=Not Practice

Syllabus Analyses (P or NP)


1a. Does the course objective contain
communicative intent?
1b. Are the topics listed in the schedule
related to students daily life?
1c. Are the topics listed in the schedule
related to fulfilling communicative
functions?
2a. Does this course include other
interactive activities, but not mainly
lecture?
2b. Is participation part of the grade?
3a. Does the course cover four skills?
3b. Is the reading in attempt to develop
four skills?
4a. If a textbook is used, is it designed to
develop communicative competence?
4b. Are there any authentic materials
supplemented?
5a. Are the students required to perform
a real communicative function in the
evaluation or assignment?
5b. Are the assessments implemented in
forms other than paper and pencil
tests?

38

Although a rough picture of CLT implementation was illustrated via document analysis,
the cross-check with the other two data sources, questionnaires and interviews, revealed that
not all of the participants really did what the syllabi claimed. The present study judged that
the participants self-report data in the questionnaires along with interviews were more
trustworthy, and therefore could be used to give a closer estimation of the extent of current
practice of CLT in Taiwan. Therefore, for each CLT principle, the mean score of the rated
results in the questionnaires were reported, and descriptive data and some representative
quotations from the interviews were delineated. Also, the extent of implementing CLT was
compared between the subgroups, including teachers who had Doctorate degrees and teachers
who had Master degrees, teachers who taught in public schools and teachers taught in private
schools, teachers who taught in traditional schools and teachers who taught in science and
technology schools, and teachers who taught English majors and teachers who taught
non-English majors. In addition to reporting the descriptive data, such as average scores and
percentages, an independent T-test was also applied to evaluate whether the differences
between subgroups were significantly different.

Research Question 2: What factors facilitate or inhibit the implementation of CLT? What
effects do these factors have on CLT implementation as enacted?
Following the fidelity perspective, the second research question aimed to look at what
factors facilitate or inhibit the participants implementation of CLT. Also, the enactment
perspective was used to investigate how those factors affected CLT implementation as CLT
was enacted in different classrooms. The data sources drawn from Question 11 in the
questionnaire and Questions 3-4 in the interview were used to answer this research question.
The data analyses began with reporting these data sources. The participants report of each
problem as a major problem, a minor problem, and not a problem in the questionnaires were
39

calculated and ranked from more problematic to less problematic. From Interview Question 3,
the numbers of the instructors who indicated the same factors were also calculated and ranked.
New factors not listed in the questionnaires but emerged in interviews were specifically
pointed out. These might be factors not indicated in the previous studies, but specific to the
Taiwanese context. The top 10 inhibitive factors appearing in the two data sets were
compared. The factors that appeared in both lists were considered as major concerns and
reported.
The second stage was to examine the effects of each factor on implementing CLT. The
group of participants who reported that they were currently not implementing CLT (Not
Practicing Group) were identified to compare with the group of participants who were
implementing CLT (Practicing Group). If a factor was identified as a major problem by the
majority of the Not Practicing Group, but not by the Practicing group, the factor was more
likely to stop instructors from practicing CLT. If a factor was rated as a major problem by a
large portion of the instructors in both groups, it was judged as a barrier that impeded the
implementation to a great extent. When factors were rated as major problems by 20% to 40%
of the participants in both groups, these factors were considered as irritants to implementation
of CLT, but not major concerns. The three groups of inhibitive factors, the factors which
stopped the participants from practicing CLT, the factors which impeded the implementation
to a great extent, and irritant factors, were reported respectively. The interview data and
quantitative data were used as evidence to support the conclusion. Quantitative data included
mean differences between teachers who taught different types of schools as well as teachers
who taught English majors and non-English majors, the descriptive data of class size, and
correlation between class size and the degree of CLT implementation. The results of the
inhibitive factors were also compared with the previous studies, especially Burnaby and
Suns (1989) study and Lis (1998) study, which also conducted survey in China and Korea.
40

The chronological differences among these two studies and the present study might be
revealing. The concerns two decades ago might be different from those in this study.
The last stage was to look at the facilitating factors drawn from the fourth interview
questions. The numbers of the participants who addressed the same factors were calculated
and ranked. The top 10 ranked factors were reported. Also, the interview data were used to
illustrate why these factors helped to implement CLT. Finally, possible themes emerged from
the lists of facilitative data, inhibitive data, and their effects were discussed.

Research Question 3: How do Taiwanese EFL teachers adapt CLT? What are the underlying
constructs of the adaptation process?
How CLT had been adapted to English classrooms in Taiwan and the underlying
constructs of the decision making were developed from both the adaptation perspective and
the enactment perspective respectively. The results drawn from the first interview question
were the primary data source used to answer this question. The participants comments in
response to other questions throughout the interview regarding the current teaching and
learning phenomena and how they solved problems or made modifications were also used as
supporting data. This part of the data was coded as adaptation, under which emergent
themes were identified. Each theme was discussed. Representative quotations and other
possible supporting data drawn from questionnaires and document analysis were presented. A
possible CLT implementation model was proposed based on the conclusion of the findings to
the third research question.

41

CHAPTER 4
FINDING
This study of implementation of CLT in Taiwanese EFL classrooms uses three data
sources to answer the research questions. Excluding five incomplete questionnaires, 71
English instructors from 20 universities participated in this study. Data include 71 sets of
documents, 71 questionnaires, and 20 interviews, drawing results from which this chapter
reports findings as follows.

Research Question 1: How have Taiwanese EFL teachers implemented CLT?


Course syllabi are generally considered as official contracts between teachers and
students, and presumably can represent what the English classrooms are like. Therefore, this
study first uses document analysis to obtain an overview of how CLT has been practiced in
Taiwan. The document analysis to address this question considered 71 course syllabi as the
primary data, supplemented with 12 exam sheets, 11 activity sheets, and 23 textbooks
(Appendix D). Some decision-making rules were used to examine whether each CLT
principle was practiced. The principle was considered as P (practiced) if at least one answer
to a decision-making criterion was Yes. If answers to the decision-making criteria all fell
into the category Can Not Tell, the principle was coded as NP (not practiced). Also, the
principle was coded as NP if one or more of the answers were No regardless of whether the
rest of the answers were Yes or Can Not Tell.
In total, 11 decision-making criteria were identified to evaluate practices of five CLT
principles: Communicative Objective, Communicative Role, Four-skill Integration, Authentic
Material, and Communicative-function Evaluation. Three decision-making criteria were used
to evaluate the practice of the first CLT principle: The objective is to develop students
communicative competence. Activities have communicative intent and involve social
42

interaction. More than 80% of the syllabi show positive responses to each criterion (Table 7).
Based on the aforementioned coding guidelines, 93% of the syllabi indicate some practice of
CLT Principle 1 (Table 8). That being said, the majority of English instructors recognize
developing communicative competence as a main course objective in their syllabi.
Table 7 Document Analysis: Communicative Objective

Communicative
Intent
frequency
percent
58
82
1
1

Yes
No
Can Not
Tell
Total

Related to Daily Life


Frequency
65
2

percent
91
3

Communicative
Functions
frequency
percent
59
83
2
3

12

17

10

14

71

100

71

100

71

100

Table 8 Document Analysis: Practice of Communicative Objective

Practiced

frequency
66

percent
93

Not Practiced

Total

71

100

Examples of how decisions were made follow below.


criterion is:

The first decision-making

Does the course objective contain communicative intent? This can be

confirmed in the course objective sections of syllabi. The following are some examples of
syllabi receiving yes ratings.
Students will be engaged in a variety of communicative activities and
discussions and thus develop the ability and knowledge of applying
English to real-world context. This course will also develop students
presentation skills and communication strategies (T1_Syllabus).
This course is specifically focused on the acquisition of listening and
speaking ability in order to help students to be a better listener and a
better communicator. The communicative student-centered activities keep
the students engaged and involved (T44_Syllabus).
This basic language study class aims to stimulate students interest in
learning English anduse English to express opinions with confidence in
communicative situations (T58_Syllabus).
43

The other decision-making criteria are: Are the topics listed in the schedule related to
students daily life? and Are the topics listed in the schedule related to fulfilling
communicative functions?

Weekly schedules in the syllabi as well as textbooks were

examined. Topics related to daily life, such as leisure time activities, appearance, and jobs,
are commonly covered. Targeted communicative functions, such as greeting, making a
request, or expressing apologies, are also pointed out either in the syllabi or in the textbooks.
Week 16

Week 12

Unit 3
Personality

Unit 15 Lesson 2: Tell me what happened?


(Understanding personal narratives and making inferences from key
words.)
(T26_Syllabus)
Unit 9 What Do You Do On Friday Nights?
Dialogue: Saturday Party
Functional expression: show affirmative
Reading: I forgot!
Grammar: conjunctions
(T43_Syllabus)
Lesson B What type are you?
Get Ready to Read: The changing family: Stating cause and effect
Reading: Understanding the Five Elements: Reading about Chinese
astrology.
Communication: Activity 2 Hes a bit of a shy person: Playing a
personality description game
(T5_Textbook) (World Pass, 2005, p. ix)

Two decision-making criteria were used to examine practice of CLT Principle 2, The
role of the students is a communicator. Only around half of the syllabi met these two criteria,
44% and 60% respectively (Table 9), while 78% of the syllabi showed some practice of CLT
Principle 2 (Table 10). Although the principle of students role as a communicator was
practiced in quite a few of the syllabi, it was not as clearly supported as the first principle,
Communicative Objective.
Table 9 Document Analysis Communicative Role

Yes
No

Interactive Activities
frequency
percent
11
44
0
0
44

Participation Grades
frequency
percent
15
60
2
8

Can Not Tell


Total

14
71

56
100

8
71

32
100

Table 10 Document Analysis Practice of Communicative Role

Practiced

frequency
55

percent
78

Not Practiced

16

22

Total

71

100

The following are examples of how decisions were made. The first decision-making
criterion was: Does this course include other interactive activities, but not mainly lecture?
The clues were obtained from various parts of the documents. In T58s syllabus, one of the
suggestions for students was Be confident in speaking up and participating in classroom
activities. There are a lot of group discussions and presentations. T1 singled out a section
named Communicative Activities. T7 compiled her own textbook in which she designed a
lot of interactive activities.
Communicative Activities
Communication games (pairs and
groups)
Sit-coms; movies; songs
Story-telling

Role-play
Round table discussions
Oral interviews

(T1_Syllabus)
Activity A:
Step 1. Taking turns, students think of a fruit or vegetable, without telling anyone.
Step 2. The rest of the students try to guess which particular fruit or vegetable the student
has in mind, by asking only "Yes or No questions".
Example: Is it green?
"No, it isn't."
Does it grow on trees?
"No, it doesn't."
Dose it grow underground?
"Yes, it does."
Is it a kind ofvegetable?
"Yes, it is."
Do we often see it in the cafeteria?
"Yes, we do."
Do Americans eat a lot of them?
"Yes, they do."
Is it a potato?
Yes! It is."
Step 3. The instructor then corrects the most common errors made by the students during
this exercise.
(In this activity, students should practice asking "Yes/No questions" and to give correct
responses to them.)
(T7_Textbook) (Campus Talk, 2001, p. 22)
45

The second decision-making criterion was: If participation is part of the grade, does
it require practicing communicative activities? To rate this criterion, evaluation items listed
in the syllabi were examined. If participation item was listed without explanation, the
criterion was rated as Can Not Tell. To be rated as Yes, the participation item needed to
specify activities, such as class participation 30% (attendance & discussion) as in T15s
syllabus, and participation/discussion/activities 40% as in T53s syllabus. A counter
example could be seen in T3s syllabus. Only three evaluation items were listed, Quiz 40%,
Midterm 30%, Final 30%. This criterion was rated as No.
The third CLT principle was: Four skills are integrated. Both form and meaning are
emphasized. Language functions are over forms. Fluency might be over accuracy. The
evaluation of practice of this principle depended on two decision-making criteria. Sixty-two
percent of the syllabi were rated as positive on the first criterion and 86% on the second
(Table 11). The rate of some practice of this principle was 93%, which is considered very
high (Table 12).
Table 11 Document Analysis Four-Skill Integration

Yes
No
Can Not Tell
Total

Four-Skill, Course Content


frequency
percent
44
62
1
1
26
37
71
100

Four-Skill, Textbooks
frequency
percent
61
86
2
3
8
11
71
100

Table 12 Document Analysis Practice of Four-Skill Integration

Practiced

frequency
66

percent
93

Not Practiced

Total

71

100

46

In this principle, the first decision-making criterion was: Does the course cover four
skills? Most of the syllabi use integrating four skills as one of the course objectives, for
example, the objective to strengthen students speaking, listening, reading, and writing
skills in T12s syllabus or to help students develop four skills in English through
meaningful tasks in T36s syllabus. However, writing seemed to be shied away from some
syllabi or limited to sentence level, which implies writing might have been less emphasized.
Below are some examples.
This course is 1) to help students acquaint with the appropriate language
use in daily-life conversation and different social situation, 2) to improve
students listening skill by varied listening tasks, 3) to introduce the
speech acts to students for the better comprehension and language
utilization, and 4) to enrich students culture knowledge and lexicon
(T26_Syllabus).
In each unit, vocabulary, sentence patterns which are related to the topic
are included; listening and speaking practices of appropriate level are
integrated into the main topic (T37_Syllabus).
The second decision-making criterion was: Is the reading an attempt to develop four
skills? Current language learning textbooks are generally communicative-based and
integrate four skills. Even though the textbook is mainly designed to develop English reading
ability, its content still encompasses four skills. The following are the unit sections in two
textbooks.
Interchange Unit 1
Snapshot
Conversation
Grammar Focus
Listening
Speaking
Word Power
Perspectives

Grammar Focus
Pronunciation
Speaking

Writing

Interchange 1

Reading
(T28_Textbook) (Interchange, 2005)

47

College Reading Workshop Unit 1


Reading One
Reading Comprehension
Grammar

Reading Two

Listening

Speaking

(T71_Textbook) (College Reading Workshop, 2005)


Two decision-making criteria were used to evaluate practice of the fourth CLT principle:
Instructional materials may include thematic development materials, tasked-based materials,
and authentic, real life materials. The majority of the syllabi met the first criterion (90%).
Only 41% of the syllabi were rated as Yes on the second criterion. However, this result
might be due to insufficient information provided in the syllabi since none of the syllabi was
rated as No (Table 13). As presented in Table 14 almost all the syllabi were coded as
Practiced (96%), which shows that it is not difficult to locate authentic materials for CLT
classrooms.
Table 13 Document Analysis: Authentic Material

Yes
No
Can Not Tell
Total

Communicative-Based
Textbooks
frequency
percent
64
90
2
3
5
7
71
100

Supplementary Authentic
Materials
frequency
percent
29
41
0
0
42
59
71
100

Table 14 Document Analysis: Practice of Authentic Material

Practiced

frequency
68

percent
96

Not Practiced

Total

71

100

The first decision-making criterion was: If a textbook is used, is it designed to develop


communicative competence? The features of materials appropriate for CLT classrooms
48

listed in this principle, thematic-based, tasked-based, and real-life materials, were sought to
rate this criterion. The results show that these features were widely available in the textbooks.
Most of the books content was organized by themes and embedded with interactive tasks. In
addition, some textbooks came with teachers resource books containing printable activity
worksheets. Text-type authentic materials could be found in student books whereas audio- or
video-type authentic materials, such as MP3, CD-ROM, CD, or DVD, were provided as
supplements,. Although authentic materials in the textbooks were generally ready for teachers
to use, text-type authentic materials appeared more often in higher level textbooks, which
indicates language in authentic materials might be too difficult to lower level learners. The
following are examples of supplements that came with the textbooks and of excerpts from
travel brochures, and newspapers included in reading texts.
Summit 1 Components
Students Book
( with Take-Home Super CD-ROM)
Class Audio Program (Audio CDs)
Workbook
Teachers Edition and Lesson
Planner (includes free Teachers Disk
with printable activities)

Complete Assessment Package


(with ExamView software for optional
customized tests)
Summit TV Video Program (DVD)
Full-Course Placement Tests
(T18_Textbook) (Summit 1, 2006)

Teachers Resource Book with Click


&
Change CD-ROM
(Customizable worksheets)
Class Audio CD

Smart Choice Components


Students Book with Multi-ROM
(Interactive CD-ROM with video)
Workbook
Student Website
Teachers Book
Teacher Website

Customizable assessment package


on

CD-ROM
Video from the Multi-Rom (DVD)
(T39_Textbook) (Smart Choice 1, 2007)

49

(T28_Textbook) (Interchange, 2005, p. 5B)

(T18_Textbook) (Summit, 2006, p. 26)


The second decision-making criterion was: Are there authentic materials
supplemented? Although the information was rather limited in the syllabi, one obvious
thread was growing popularity of online resources. In addition to authentic materials
commonly used, such as TV programs, movies, songs, English learning magazines, and
English newspapers, supplementary materials often involved information from selected
websites and language learning databases or online software provided in Multimedia
Language Learning Centers/Self-access Learning Centers. The following are examples of
T7s personal webpage which recommends language learning websites and T25s activity
sheet that applied podcasts in her English activities.

50

(T7_Teaching website) (retrieved from http://www.lage.fju.edu.tw/tracy/ls/)

Listening Practice:

ESL Podcast 297 Being Rich and Poor


Web site: http://www.eslpod.com/website/show_podcast.php?issue_id=4154348
Explain the following words in plain English.
Hypocrite Affluence
Food Stamps
Commute

Student Evaluation:
I think todays listening practice and self-directed learning is _____. a) very useful
all.

b) useful

c) not useful at

(T25_Activity Sheet)

The fifth CLT principle was: Students are evaluated for both fluency and accuracy by
being asked to perform a real communicative function. Only 35% of the syllabi showed that
the first criterion was met, but 78% showed the second criterion was met (Table 15). The
practice rate of this principle was 80% (Table 16), suggesting that evaluation formats were
not limited to traditional paper-and-pencil tests. However, whether students were required to
perform a real communicative function in evaluation was not clear in the syllabi.
Table 15 Document Analysis: Communicative-function Evaluation

Yes
No
Can Not Tell
Total

Performance
Evaluation/Assignment
frequency
percent
25
35
1
1
45
64
71
100

51

Non-paper-and-pencil Tests
frequency
55
1
15
71

percent
78
1
21
100

Table 16 Document Analysis: Practice of Communicative-function Evaluation

Practiced

frequency
57

percent
80

Not Practiced

14

20

Total

71

100

The first decision-making criterion was: Are the students required to perform a real
communicative function in the evaluation or assignment? In the syllabi rated as positive,
students were usually asked to do a role-play in a simulated situation, such as doing a job
interview, or giving a PowerPoint presentation about a certain topic or a book report. Asking
students to perform a communicative function in written form was not revealed in the syllabi.
As to the second decision-making criterion, Are the assessments implemented in forms other
than paper-and-pencil tests?, a syllabus was rated as Yes if either midterm exam or final
exam was conducted as other than a paper-and-pencil test. The syllabi showed that
paper-and-pencil tests were not exclusive in evaluation as in traditional classrooms. In fact of
the11 participants, only 11 provided paper tests actually used with students. Perhaps not
surprisingly, these 11 tests had a large portion of grammar and vocabulary, which suggested
form-focus instruction was still practiced to a certain extent. The following are examples
from the evaluation sheets.

III Grammar
( ) 1. Each of A) boys has their books B) the boys have their books
book D) the boys has his books
( ) 5. I have known him ___ ten years. A) since

52

B) for C) in

C) the boys have his

D) of
(T43_Evaluation sheet)

III. Error-picking: From the underlined parts, choose one that is grammatically wrong. (10%)
1. On the journey back to Beijing, they took two priests to help teach Kublai Khan about
Christianity but, after entering countries in the midst of civil war, the priests were as
A
B
terrify as mice and scurried home.
C
C
2. For twenty-one years, the Polos remained in China and rise to posts of great
A
B
responsibility, for example, designing catapults to win the siege of Xianyang.
C
D
(T71_Evaluation sheet)
As concluded in Table 17, the average rate of practice of five CLT principles was
around 90%, which suggests that, based on these syllabi and the course-related documents,
CLT is implemented to almost full extent in English classrooms in Taiwan. Among these five
principles, the principles of Communicative Role and Communicative-function Evaluation
are practiced to a lesser extent, which implies that problems regarding these two principles
deserve more attention.
Table 17 Document Analysis: Practice of CLT Principles

Practiced (%)
93

Not Practiced (%)


7

Communicative Role

78

22

Four-Skill Integration

93

Authentic Material
Communicative-function
Evaluation

96

80

20

Average

88

12

Communicative Objective

Although a rough picture of practice of CLT is illustrated via document analysis,


cross-check with the other two data sources, questionnaires and interviews, reveals that not
53

all of the participants really did what the syllabi claimed. Three points document the
discrepancies. First, out of 71 questionnaires, 15 participants reported that they were not
practicing CLT then. However, these 15 participants syllabi still showed around an 80%
practice rate (Table 18).
Table 18 Document Analysis: Subgroup Comparison of CLT Practice

Instructors Using CLT


(%)
N=56

Instructors Not Using CLT


(%)
N=15

Communicative Objective

95

87

Communicative Role

80

67

Four-Skill Integration

93

93

Authentic Material

98

87

Communicative-function
Evaluation

82

73

Average

90

81

Second, within the group (N=56), who reported practicing CLT, there were some
differences between their responses on the questionnaires and what was documented in their
syllabi. In the questionnaire, the participants were asked to rate their degree of practicing five
CLT principles from 1 (rarely practice) to 5 (fully practice). When doing cross-check with the
document analysis, the decision point is set as 3. If the degree of practice reported in a
questionnaire is equal to or more than 3 on the 5-point scale, a principle was rated as
Practiced. However, 13 of the data sets from these 56 positively rated questionnaires
showed disagreement. Third, out of 20 interviews, four participants expressed that they were
not really following the syllabi. Their schools required them to use the same departmental
syllabi, but the course design did not fit their individual classes. Also, students in every class
needed to take unified exams, so they had to cover all of the content listed in the syllabi.

54

Doing communicative activities delayed their teaching, and therefore they used little CLT or
gave up completely. The following are examples of two instructors comments.
We have a fixed curriculum. In one semester, we need to finish a certain amount of
content. If I use CLT in one section of the textbook, it might already take half an
hour. ... Many instructors stop using this because it takes too much time.Besides
the textbook, we have a very thick, black grammar book. And we also ask students
to study a 2000-word vocabulary book. This is a loootClass time is very limited.
Its impossible to do any activities (T11_Interview).
We have so-called unified exams. That means we also use the same weekly
schedule. If I spend too much time on CLT, I need to rush to cover the rest of
required content. And our exam doesnt just include oral tests, but also listening
and reading. This makes it even more difficult to practice CLT. In fact, we put
more focus on reading in the second year and listening in the first year. To put it in
a better way, we must integrate four skills, but in reality that doesnt happen.
Because of these factors, its impossible (T14_Interview).
Altogether the results drawn from the syllabi and related documents probably
demonstrate what instructors expect or are expected to do rather than what they actually
do in their English classrooms. Therefore, the assumption can be made that the participants
self-report data in the questionnaires along with interviews are more trustworthy, and
therefore, can be provide a more accurate estimation of the extent of practice of CLT in
Taiwan.
Table 19 summarizes the results of the 56 questionnaires pertaining to practice of five
CLT principles. The average mean score of CLT practice is 3.54 out of 5, which means the
degree of practice is around 70%, approximately 20% lower than what it appears to be in the
syllabi. If the 15 participants who reported they were not practicing CLT then are taken into
account, the extent of CLT implementation is even lower. In terms of differences among
principles, the mean scores of the first principle Communicative Objective and the fourth
principle Authentic Material are relatively higher than the other three. This pattern accords
with the result of the document analysis.

55

Table 19 Questionnaire: Practice of CLT Principles

Mean
N=56
Communicative Objective

3.68

Communicative Role

3.41

Four-Skill Integration

3.41

Authentic Material

3.75

Communicative-function
Evaluation

3.46

Average

3.54

From the 71 participants, 20 instructors were interviewed to delineate their


perceptions and implementation of CLT. From their description of their English classes, four
instructors stopped practicing CLT and one was implementing it only occasionally because of
various difficulties. Other than these, most participants stated that communication was the
primary objective of learning English, and they connected more or less communicative
activities in their classes. Most activities were individual or group presentations and group
discussions about certain topics. Other more interactive activities are listed below.
information gap. Everyone writes his opinions and shares with others. Or
students can use one reading text from the textbook. Let one student skim it first
and tell his partner what the reading is about.We did an activity last week called
Christmas Gift. As a warm-up in the beginning, I asked them what Christmas
gifts they got. They thought about it and talked in groups. Then I gave each student
a card, which listed five gifts. They stood up to chat with others, find out what
others interests were, and send them the gifts based on the interests
(T1_Interview).
Students do show and tell. And they need to create a TV commercial.
(T5_Interview).
I will collaborate with a Korean professor. We will do net pal exchange. We will
ask students to talk through Skype. Its difficult to find Americans....Korean
peoples English is quite good. I planned to recruit 25 students from two classes. It
got full immediately (T6_Interview).

56

We pretend we are in a TV program. They are guests that I invite. Our topic is
online romance. They talk about their experiences. I am the host. I invite audience
to call in. This is a whole group activity. The best activity is job interview. Students
with better English play the roles of employers. For example, they want to hire a
chef. Several classmates apply for the job. Those who are hired can get extra points
(T7_Interview).
They pretend they are applying a graduate school overseas. They need to look for
information online and report the requirements of the university that they want to
apply for admission (T9_Interview).
My students are not able to do free discussions. I do more structured activities. I
arrange them to sit in the first row and the last row. There is a big space between
them. They need to shout. If he just murmurs, the other cant hear. In the
beginning I use very simple sentences, such as Whats your name?, Where are
you from? The other student needs to write down the answer (T14_Interview).
I create an information gap or opinion gap. For example, last lesson was a phone
conversation. Students sat back to back and pretended they were talking on the
phone. Something like asking directions. One student directed the other to the
target place (T16_Interview).
We had a holiday last week. I started with some questions, such as What did you
do on the holiday? They were suggested to try to use past tense to describe it. After
3 minutes of time to think, they talked in group for 3 minutes. After that, the other
partner took a turn to talk for 2 minutes. Then, another talked for 1 minute. Then 15
seconds. Is talking 3 minutes more difficult or 15 seconds? They can experience
the various lengths of time to talk, practice speaking, and practice past tense
(T18_Interview).
As to the second CLT principle Communicative Role, presumably those
communicative activities create a chance for students to communicate by meaning
negotiation. Unless students were highly motivated and proficient, the instructors interviewed
expressed this type of activity still needed a lot of monitoring. Even if they kept encouraging
students to use English in discussions, students sometimes switched to Chinese when
communication broke down and they usually forgot to switch backed to English
(T19_Interview). Meaning negotiation between instructors and students took place even less
frequently. When the instructors were asked whether their students brought up questions their
students either did not ask at all or asked in Chinese. To deal with this problem, T4 set a rule
to push students.
57

Even if they didnt ask, I could predict some words or sentences students might not
know. I would immediately pick up someone to ask.I said Questions? and you
didnt ask. If I asked a student and he or she couldnt answer, the student needed to
write a two-page English letter, double space, to explain why he or she didnt ask
when he couldnt understand. So every student was worried that I would pick them.
They kept asking questions (T4_Interview).
Regarding the third principle, the participants were asked whether they integrated four
skills and emphasized both form and meaning. The instructors who integrated four skills still
tended to focus less on writing unless the course was a writing class. For example, the above
requirement of a two-page English letter was the only writing in T4s class although her class
entailed some grammar instruction. T19 also mentioned the only writing practice was to write
outlines for presentations. However, she assigned 30% of the final grade to the writing
portion to prevent disadvantaging students who were less good at speaking but better at
writing.
The only writing part is they all need to have outlines. They need to write outlines
in every speechThey have to include the introduction, transition, and an outline.
For each speech, 30% of my evaluation is for written outlines. Some students
might not be that good in speaking, but from their outline, you can tell they work
very hard. I give them some credit for that (T19_Interview).
The unequal coverage of four skills also shows in the questionnaires. Item 12 asks
how much English students use in their assignments in terms of each skill. Listening and
reading were used extensively in more than 60% of the participants classrooms. Speaking
and writing were used relatively less. Specifically, writing was used only 34% (Table 20).
Table 20 Questionnaire: English Use of Four Skills

Listening (%)
N=56

Speaking (%)
N=56

Reading (%)
N=56

Writing (%)
N=56

much

68

52

63

34

some

30

36

32

43

little or none

12

23

much: more than a few sentences


some: a few sentences
58

In terms of focus on form or meaning, the pattern that emerged was that meaning was
emphasized with students at a lower English level or first experiencing CLT whereas form or
accuracy was emphasized with students at a higher level or students experiencing this
teaching approach. The initial stage was to help students overcome their psychological
barriers to express themselves in English, so the primary goal was to encourage students to
get meaning across. After students showed less resistance to communicating in the target
language, the instructors paid more attention to their content and accuracy.
A lot of students pronunciation is really good. When you pay attention to their talk,
the content is terrible. Its kind of interesting. For beginners, I encourage them to
talk, to make mistakes. For advanced learners, I am stricter. Its the opposite. If you
require beginners to have accuracy, you are asking them to keep silent, right? For
advanced learners, why do you ask them for accuracy? Because they talk nonsense
with a lot of errors (T2_Interview).
For the fourth CLT principle, Authentic Material, online resources were again
stressed, as in the syllabi. Additionally, the materials selected needed to be of interest to
students. For example, T13s students enjoyed reading an article about a pop singer, and
T14s students were drawn to a YouTube video about a speech of the American president,
Obama, because that was important international news and students in EFL contexts did not
have many opportunities to know about international issues.
Articles on the Internet can be supplementary materialsIn the unit Creativity, I
gave them articles which introduced musicians in TaiwanLet them read for a
while and we could discuss. We talked about Tao-zhe. He is a very talented
composer and singer. We talked about his music, and students were excited
(T13_Interview).
I found it (Obamas speech Yes, We Can) in YouTube and showed it to students.
This drew a lot of their attention. This is sometimes not related to their levels. It
depends on whether the topic is interesting or notBecause the news media in
Taiwan dont introduce much worldwide information. English is like a window
through which students can know more about international issues. If you put
current issues in English class, they are very interested (T4_Interview).
Similarly, when the participants were asked what criteria they used to select textbooks,
their primary concern was topics that were interesting to students and stimulated students
59

discussions. Also, they preferred a textbook that provided interactive activities or tasks that
students could apply the linguistic knowledge they had learned in a unit or chapter. Such texts
were convenient for instructors, as they did not need to spend a lot of time designing
activities. For example, T2 liked her current textbook because it had a role play at the end of
each chapter. It gave assigned roles and settings. On the other hand, T16 did not like the
textbook assigned by the department because it did not have communication tasks at the end
like other books. Also, students who were not comfortable to express themselves in English
or had difficulties understanding instructions of activities could prepare in advance since the
activities were described in the textbook (T19_Interview). However, instructors might need
to modify the activities or tasks because most of available textbooks were written by English
native speakers and designed for ESL settings.
T4, T12, and T20 had a concern that each chapter had too many new vocabulary
words since their students were lower-level learners. They preferred textbooks which did not
introduce too many new words in one chapter, and in which these new words would
re-appear in later chapters. For students at beginning levels, they thought that vocabulary and
grammar that came with Chinese translations or explanation were more desirable.
Taiwanese students close their minds easily. Once they see the textbook is all in
English, they wont even open it. They feel they cant understand anyway.its a
lot of pressure to them. But now some textbooks are compiled quite well. They
provide Chinese in vocabulary sections. The other parts of the books are still in
English. Only the vocabulary is Chinese. Its like students have a tutor
(T12_Interview).
Its grammar has Chinese explanations, too. Like traditional grammar books,
examples are in English, and descriptions are in Chinese. I think its helpful to
lower-level students (T20_Interview).
For the fifth CLT principle Communicative-function Evaluation, the interviews
show that this type of evaluation occurred in an oral form, but not a written form. Students
were usually asked to work in pairs or groups to do a role play or give a presentation. T5 was
the only participant who conducted a one-on-one oral test, probably because she had only 25
60

students, who were English majors in one of the top universities. However, the students
responded to questions in the test without interacting with the instructor. The interviews
related to this principle shows although the instructors tried to use non-traditional evaluation,
it was mostly limited to pre-scripted conversation or one-way communication, still quite
different from real-life communication.
In conclusion of the first research question regarding the extent of CLT implementation
in Taiwan, a large majority (80%) were using CLT while about 20% were not. The group of
instructors using CLT were implementing it to approximately 70% extent. Among five CLT
principles, the principles of Communicative Objective and Authentic Material were practiced
to a greater extent whereas the principles of Communicative Role, Four-Skill Integration, and
Communicative-Function Evaluation were practiced to a less extent. The results suggest that
the instructors agreed that developing students communicative ability should be the main
course objective and locating authentic materials was not a problem. However, difficulties
still existed when putting CLT into practice in English classrooms. This issue will be
addressed in the following section.

Research Question 2: What factors facilitate or inhibit the implementation of CLT? What
effects do these factors have on CLT implementation as enacted?
Item 11 in the questionnaire and the third interview questions are used to explore factors
that inhibit CLT implementation and their effects. Item 11 asks what difficulties the
participants encounter and perceive. The coding criteria are MP (Major Problem) coded as 5,
PP (Potential Problem) as 3, and NP (Not a Problem) as 1. The total counts of each factor are
tabulated and ranked in Table 21 The same issue is addressed in the third interview question.
The numbers of the instructors who indicate the same factors are also calculated and ranked.
In comparison of the top 10 inhibitive factors in two data sets, eight factors appear in both
61

lists and are therefore considered as major concerns, which include students low proficiency,
large class size, students low motivation for developing communicative competence,
students resistance to class participation, teachers limited time for developing materials, the
traditional concept of teachers as knowledge transmitter, fixed curriculum/schedule, and
heterogeneous class groups. In the following, the teachers perceptions of effects of each
factor on CLT implementation and classroom practice will be discussed.
Table 21 Inhibitive Factors

Questionnaire
Ranking Inhibitive Factors
Counts
1.
low proficiency
297
2.
large class size
287

Interview
Ranking Inhibitive Factors
Instructors
1.
low proficiency
14 Ts
1.
large class size
14 Ts
resistance to class
3.
12 Ts
participation

3.

low motivation

271

4.

limited time for


developing
materials

240

4.

low motivation

11 Ts

5.

resistance to class
participation

231

5.

fixed
curriculum/unified
exam

6 Ts

229

6.

traditional concepts of
learning

5 Ts

223

7.

traditional concepts of
teachers role

3 Ts

217

7.

difficult to tell effects

3 Ts

209

7.

3 Ts

207

10.

heterogeneous class
groups
limited time for
developing materials

6.
7.
8.
9.
10

teachers as
knowledge
transmitters
insufficient
funding/facilities
fixed
curriculum/schedule
heterogeneous class
groups
teachers in-service
training

2 Ts

To examine the effects of each factor on implementing CLT, the group of participants
who reported that they were currently not implementing CLT (Not Practicing Group) were
compared with the group of participants who were implementing CLT (Practicing Group). A
large majority of the Not Practicing Group (93%) indicated that students low proficiency and
low motivation were major problems, but only around half of Practicing Group (61% and
46%) rated these two difficulties as major problems (Table 22). Also, four of the 20
participants interviewed reported that they were not implementing CLT now, all of whom
62

described these two difficulties in interviews. It is understandable that these non-practicing


teachers encountered difficulties caused by students low proficiency and low motivation
because most of them taught at schools with lower admission standards. The average
enrollment rates1of college-level institutions in 2008 reported by Ministry of Education in
Taiwan were 96% in public traditional universities, 93% in public science and technology
universities, 83% in private traditional universities, and 78 % in private science and
technology universities (W. F. Su, 2009). Private schools, especially private science and
technology universities, are facing serious problems of recruiting students and need to set
very low admission standards to increase enrollment rates. Eleven out of 15 participants in
the Not Practicing Group were from these universities. Although the other four participants
were from better schools, their students were non-English majors and ranked at the lower end
in their schools. Furthermore, even within the Practicing Group, the degrees of CLT
implementation were significantly different between public and private schools as well as
between traditional and science and technology schools (Table 23). Both the quantitative data
and the qualitative data show that these two factors have a significantly negative impact on
CLT implementation.

Below is a closer look at how these two factors influence classroom

practice.
Table 22 Inhibitive Factors: Comparison of Practicing Group and Not Practicing Group A

Inhibitive Factors
low proficiency
Practicing Group

Major Prb (%)

Pot Prb (%)

Not Prb (%)

61

29

11

1 An enrollment rate is the percentage of the number of students who actually enter a school
out of the number of students that the school is capable of serving. A larger number of
students select to go to public traditional universities, so these universities can set up high
admission standards to recruit better students. Contrarily, private science and technology
universities have difficulties to recruit students, so they set up very low admission standards
to recruit as many students as they can, which results the levels of their students are very low.
63

Not Practicing Group

93

Practicing Group

46

36

18

Not Practicing Group

93

low motivation

Practicing Group: N=56


Not Practicing Group: N=15
Table 23 Practice of CLT Principles: Comparison of Schools

Mean

SD

Sig.

Public School
Private School

27
29

3.83
3.27

.14
.16

2.57

.013*

Traditional
School
Sci. & Tech.
School

12
44

3.97
3.42

.21
.13

2.01

.049*

*p<.05

**p<.01
Students low English proficiency is rated as the top ranked barrier in both

questionnaires and interviews. This finding is confirmed by the significant differences of


degree of CLT practice between English majors and non-English majors (Table 24). Using the
target language as much as possible is advocated in CLT, but lower-level students are unlikely
to understand or respond to their instructors in English classrooms. For example, T1 mostly
used English in his class, but his lower-level students felt panic when they could not
understand and did not know what was going on in the class. Most of the participants
addressing this problem indicated that their students either could not or did not want to talk
because of low English proficiency. Students usually stayed silent, not responding to their
instructors questions, which created an awkward atmosphere and wasted class time
(T11_Interview). Even when students knew the answers, they hesitated to express their
opinions with simple vocabulary or ungrammatical sentences. When practicing conversations,
students limited linguistic resources could prevent them from producing sophisticated

64

dialogs or continuing discussions, with the result that communication broke down or students
switched to their L1.
Table 24 Practice of CLT Principles: Comparison of Majors

Major
Non-major
*p<.05

Mean

SD

Sig.

17
39

4.14
3.28

.17
.12

3.92

.000**

**p<.01
Another issue that several participants raised was that their students levels were too

low and they should not have entered college. This phenomenon does not just impact CLT
classrooms per se, but English education in college in general. During recent years, a large
number of new universities have been established in Taiwan. Based on the statistics reported
by the Ministry of Education in Taiwan (W. F. Su, 2009), the number of expected recruited
college students in 2008 was 350,000, but the number of enrolled students was 290,000. The
average enrollment rate was only about 83%, resulting in a shortfall of students at some
institutions. Competition for students therefore has led to acceptance rates of 100% at some
institutions. In other words, all students who apply get into college regardless of their
academic ability. Several participants pointed out that this was not a problem of teaching
methodology, but educational policy. The government hoped that by having the opportunity
to go to college, all students academic abilities would rise to college level, but contrarily this
group of students dragged down the level of college performance. T3, T18, and T20 gave
examples of their students extremely English levels.
another serious problem is some students levels are really, really low. For
example, there are some students who shouldnt go to college. Their levels are not
college students levels. They might not even have junior school students levels.
To them, using CLT is not appropriate at all (T18_Inerview).
If students levels are good, using this method is very helpful. However, as
students levels become worse, some students even have difficulties writing from A
to Z. Even I comes with am, you comes with are, they have problems
(T20_Interview).
65

Ironically, my cousins son, a 6th grader in elementary school, passed the GEPT
beginning level (a local standardized test). Only 6th grade. When I heard this, I felt
shame. English majors in our school, not a single one passed. Its not that some
passed, and some didnt. Its not a single one passed (T3_Interview).
It seems clear that at some colleges, very low levels of student English ability do exist.
Students low motivation for learning English was also ranked as one of the top
difficulties. Based on the interviews, students had given up on learning English very early in
middle school, and they did not perceive the need to use English currently or in the future. As
T12 described, her low-motivated students came to class just for fulfilling the attendance
requirement. They took a nap in class. Their English was never good anyway. They closed
their minds in the very beginning no matter how hard the instructor tried. Because students
were not majoring in English and did not use it in their daily, they took English courses
because they were required, not because they wanted to.
I dont know whether its because students in the Engineer Department always
have a lot of tests in their major or not. Even though I tell them to do some practice
before class and they can get extra points, nobody wants to do it. Students just
want to get 60 and pass. ..When I want to do activities, I cant activate
them.They usually have a very thick book and do calculating for the next class.
It doesnt help if I ask them to put it away. They might have a quiz right after my
English class (T11_Interview).
Some students always came to take a nap in class. I told myself students might be
sleepy in the morning. If they sleep enough in this class, they should be ok later. In
my 10 am class, some students slept. In my 1pm class, some students still slept.
Even 3 pm, they still slept. I really dont understand in which class they didnt
sleep enough (T14_Interview).
As illustrated in Table 25, a large portion of the instructors in both groups rated large
class size as a major problem when implementing CLT, but the practicing group demonstrated
that it was not completely unfeasible. This point is also supported in the interview data.
Although T7 and T9 had more than 60 students, they were implementing CLT to a degree of
70%. In other words, out of the maximum score of 5, the two participants average practice
rate of CLT principles was around 3.5. As to the next factor, students resistance to class
participation, there was a big discrepancy between the two groups, 60% in the Not Practicing
66

Group but 21% in the Practicing Group. Presumably, the Practicing Group came up with
solutions to cope with this problem. The followings are detailed discussions of the impact of
these two factors.
Table 25 Inhibitive Factors: Comparison of Practicing Group and Not Practicing Group B

Inhibitive Factors
large class size

Major Prb (%)

Pot Prb (%)

Not Prb (%)

Practicing Group

64

20

16

Not Practicing Group

73

20

Practicing Group

21

57

21

Not Practicing Group

60

40

resistance to class participation

Practicing Group: N=56


Not Practicing Group: N=15
Class size was reported as one of the top problems when the instructors implemented
CLT. As illustrated in Table 26, about half of the classes participating in this study had more
than 50 students and over 80% had more than 30 students. Class size and the degree of
practicing CLT were negatively correlated (Table 27), which means the larger the class the
less the extent to which CLT was implemented. T19 described that doing interactive activities
usually created chaos and was very difficult to manage, so she stopped doing these activities.
T7 said she was supposed to listen to tapes that her students recorded in tests, but it was
almost impossible to listen to 80 tapes. Instead, what she could do was to ask her students to
listen to questions and write down answers, which made her evaluate her students oral skills
by reading what they wrote.
Table 26 Class Size

Number of Students
16-19

frequency
(N=71)
2

percent
3
67

20-29

11

15

30-39

13

40-49

15

21

50-59

24

34

60-69

11

70-80

Table 27 Correlation: Class Size and Practice of CLT Principles

Average Score of Practice of CLT Principles


Class Size
(N=56)
*p<.05

Pearson
Correlation
Sig.

-.349
.008**

**p<.01
While communication is the goal of CLT, in large classes, each student can be

allocated only a minimum amount of time or none at all to talk in. As T4 said, even when she
grouped her students, she had ten groups. One person in each group talked to the class 3 to 5
minutes. The two-hour weekly English class was gone. In groups, usually higher-level
students were spokespersons, so some students might take a free ride to avoid speaking up. It
was difficult to monitor group activities when there were so many students. The following are
two instructors descriptions of their large classes.
After all, the amount of time allocated to one student is not much. He knows if he
avoids talking this time, it will be long to be his turn again. I think this is the
major problem. If students have opportunities to talk every time, they will practice
a lot and wont be scared to talk.But to most students, ok, this one is forced to
talk this time. For the next few weeks, he wont have a chance to talk again. He
will become where he was. Big class size is a very, very big problem
(T8_Interview).
The condition in big class is really bad. Students sit close to each other. When I do
activities, I like to walk around and monitor students. When I did group work, the
classroom was packed. My bottom bumped the students every time. Really
embarrassing! Once I walked to one group, I said sorry, sorry, hit you again. That
student answered, Thats ok. Thats ok. I understand your bottom is big. Its really
embarrassing (T14_Interview).
68

The next inhibitive factor was students resistance to class participation. Out of 12
instructors who indicated this difficulty, six specifically pinpointed that students reluctance
to speak up in class was the characteristic of Taiwanese or Chinese students. Students do
not like to express their opinions in front of others because they are too shy to talk or they are
afraid to make mistakes in front of others. T11 indicated absolutely no volunteers talked in
her class. In T8s class, even though some students English was proficient enough to
communicate in English, they still hesitated to talk. Since the participants in this study had
experiences studying in Western countries, they compared students behaviors in two
contexts.
They are afraid to make mistakesIn elementary school, if you raise your hand,
you feel like you should give correct answers. If you give wrong answers, the
teacher will blame you. This is the same in college level.Our culture still
proposes the idea If you talk less, you make less errors.But in the U.S.,
different perspectives are encouraged. We heard very often in the U.S. Thats very
interesting! Right? Nobody would comment What a stupid answer!
(T2_Interview).
But in Taiwan, students are all afraid to talk. Its difficult to continue the class.
Students abroad are used to that kind of context and they do have the needs. But in
Taiwan, we have only 3 hours. Students dont like to talk. The atmosphere of the
whole class becomes very awkward. But in CLT classrooms, teachers are supposed
to interact with students a lot. It becomes very contradictory. The more you talk to
them, they get more scared. They become more distanced from you. When you ask
them their opinions, they are not willing to share their opinions and communicate
with you in English (T20_Interview).
The rest of the factors were rated as major problems by 20% to 40% of the
participants in both groups and some of the participants did not consider them as problems.
This shows these factors, teachers limited time for developing materials, teachers as
knowledge transmitters, fixed curriculum/schedule, and heterogeneous class groups are
irritant factors in implementing CLT, but not major concerns (Table 28).

69

Table 28 Inhibitive Factors: Comparison of Practicing Group and Not Practicing Group

Major Prb
(%)

Pot Prb (%)

Not Prb (%)

41

32

27

40

53

Practicing Group

30

52

18

Not Practicing Group

27

53

20

Practicing Group

38

25

38

Not Practicing Group

33

47

20

Practicing Group

20

52

28

Not Practicing Group

27

67

Inhibitive Factors
limited time for developing
materials
Practicing Group
Not Practicing Group
teachers as knowledge transmitters

fixed curriculum/schedule

heterogeneous class groups

Practicing Group: N=56


Not Practicing Group: N=15
To practice CLT in English class, instructors need to spend extra time on designing
interactive activities or preparing materials. For full-time college professors, heavy research
workloads and administrative responsibilities occupy most of their time. Part-time instructors
usually teach a lot of courses in several schools and deal with different policies and
requirements. As T11 said: We part-time lecturers are actually fighting class. We teach in
so many schools. We feel exhausted already just going to these schools every day. Some
schools require us to give quizzes every week. Grading papers takes a lot of time. We still
need to prepare midterm exam sheets and final exam sheets. We dont have time.
Another factor related to traditional culture is students expectations of the teachers
role. Students expect teachers as authorities and knowledge transmitters. The distance
70

between teachers and students prevents students from talking to teachers with ease. Also,
instead of mutual communication and interactive activities, students expect that instructors to
teach the content of textbooks. In T18s case, students who were asked to do a lot of activities
considered the instructor was not teaching.
I think the main purpose of CLT is to stimulate students interest and increase
student-teacher interactions. I tried to be student-centered. Sometimes if it was too
student-centered, students wrote in teachers evaluation that teachers didnt teach,
but we students taught. I was thinking what happened. I tried my best to put
students in the center (T18_Interview).
Unlike primary schools or secondary schools, college-level institutions should be
places where instructors have autonomy in their teaching, but, surprisingly, fixed
curriculum/schedule is one of the top ranked concerns. In some schools, English teachers are
required to use departmental syllabi and assigned textbooks, and students need to take unified
exams. In this case, if the instructors do not cover the assigned content, their students are
unfairly disadvantaged in these exams. The tight weekly schedules usually do not allow time
for interactive activities. Also, students are not motivated to engage in the activities not
included in the exams.
Based on the interviews, one of the major reasons why schools enforce this policy is
to show the Ministry of Education numbers in order to get funding. T14s school gave
students a pre-test in the beginning of the semester and post-test at the end to show students
improvement. The tests usually included only reading and listening because they were easy to
quantify and more likely to show the effects. Also, schools were evaluated based on the
numbers of students who passed standardized tests, so administrators wanted students to
study what would be tested. Students were encouraged to take the first stage of the General
English proficiency Test (GEPT), a local developed standardized test, or the beginning level
of the Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC). Again, both tested only
reading and listening. Emphases on standardized tests were evident in the syllabi collected.
71

Taking test practice was either encouraged or assigned as part of grades. This phenomenon
reveals the discrepancy of the governments policies. On the one hand, the objectives of
English education set by the policymakers are to develop students communicative abilities
and competence in four skills; on the other hand, the same stakeholders reward schools which
focus on only two skills with test washback effect and indirectly discourage implementing
CLT.
Heterogeneous class groups are a common problem in an EFL class since the range of
language proficiency can be from only knowing the alphabet to having native-like proficiency.
When teaching English majors, instructors might have students who have had experiences
studying abroad. Their levels are much higher than those of other students. In this case, it will
be very difficult to design appropriate communicative activities. For non-English majors,
some schools administer placement tests and put students in different English classes based
on their proficiency levels. Proficiency still varies within the same level. Most instructors
interviewed comment positively on this school policy although it meant that students were
pulled out of their regular group in English. Their concern was that students might hold back
talking. As T18 suggested, getting students to know each other was one of the primary tasks
in the beginning of the semester.
In contrast with two survey studies also conducted in Asia one and two decades ago
(Table 29), in the present study, concerns of teacher insufficient communicative competence
and teacher preparation were not problematic. The difference might be because CLT had been
promoted in Taiwan for a longer time and the participants in this study earned their Master or
Doctorate degrees from Western graduate schools. Their language proficiency and
sociolinguistic competence were likely higher than those of participants in previous studies,
who only attended short-term professional development training. On the other hand, large
class size and students low English proficiency levels are problems across the three studies.
72

Taiwanese government has been investing huge amounts of money to improve English
education every year; however, the funding has not been used to solve the most fundamental
problem, class size. Consequently, although learning English has been advocated by
governments in Asia for many years, students English proficiency is still considered too low
to participate in communicative activities, even though the target students here are college
students who have learned English at least eight years before entering college.
Table 29 Inhibitive Factors: Comparison of Related Literatures
Burnaby & Sun (1989)
24 Chinese EFL teachers in
college level
(Western Program)

Li (1998)
(top 10)
18 Korean secondary
teachers (Western Program)

Teacher Insufficient Communicative Competence/Teacher Preparation


language proficiency
v
v
sociolinguistic competence
v
v
pre-service training
v
in-service training
v
Time, Resources, Support and Class Size Concerns
material development
v
authentic materials
v
large classes
v
v
fixed curriculum/
v
schedule
funding, facilities
v
colleagues support
v
Testing Concerns
structure-based exams
v
v
assessing instruments
v
Student Resistance
language proficiency
v
v
low motivation
v
resistance to participation
v
teachers role
concept of learning
v
Classroom Practice Concerns
textboundness
teach in English
process vs. product
grammar/form/error
rote memorization/repetition
heterogeneous grouping/
diverse needs

This Study

v
v
v

v
v
v
v

In the third interview question, in addition to inhibitive factors, the participants were
asked what made CLT successful in their classrooms in the third interview question. The
73

facilitative factors brought up are coded and the numbers of the participants who addressed
the same factors are calculated. Table 30 shows the top ten ranked factors, which will be
described below.
Table 30 Facilitative Factors

Ranking
1.
2.
2.
4.
5.
6.
7.
7.
7.
10.
10.
10.

Interview
Facilitative Factors
interesting topics/activities
supportive, friendly environment
teacher-student relationship
clear instruction/task/goal
use grades as incentives
students English levels
class size
teacher autonomy
keep students accountable
introduce CLT
achievable tasks
give students enough time to prepare

Instructors
9 Ts
8 Ts
8 Ts
7 Ts
6 Ts
5 Ts
4 Ts
4 Ts
4 Ts
3 Ts
3 Ts
3 Ts

Nine out of 20 participants emphasized importance of providing interesting topics or


activities to motivate and engage students. The recommended topics either introduce new
information to students or are related to students life and culture. T4s students enjoyed
watching English international news in English class because local news media provided
barely any worldwide information. T2, T7, T12, and T20 unanimously emphasized that what
they meant by interesting should be interesting to students, not teachers. They tried to have
at least a brief understanding of popular online games, TV programs, and singers, which they
could incorporate in discussion questions or activities. T13 and T15 would make sure the
discussion questions had some room for topics, such as controversial issues, that students
were able to discuss. T9 and T12 had students at lower levels and with lower motivation. To
motivate these students, they kept records of activities that excited and engaged students for
later use.
Building up a supportive friendly environment is often suggested as a way to decrease
students anxiety, so they will be less fearful to participate in class. To do this, instructors
74

encouraged students to talk, convinced students that making errors was ok, and gave positive
comments on students contributions of ideas or production of utterances, rather than giving
students pressure, such as subtracting points for errors. T10, T16, and T19 specifically
pointed out the importance of giving students enough time and making sure that students felt
ready to talk. Another way to reduce anxiety was that students worked in groups and gained
support from their peers. T4, whose students proficiency levels were relatively lower, would
make sure each group had mixed levels because a group composed of all lower level students
might not be able to function. The levels of T10s students were relatively higher.

Her

students looked for their own group members, so they could work with students with whom
they were familiar and felt comfortable to talk. The following are two interviewees
comments on why developing this sense of security is important in Taiwanese classroom
culture.
Either in advanced or basic classes, build a very friendly, supportive system.
Teachers are the biggest support. In our classroom culture, teachers are the center.
Teachers attitude needs to be very supportive. The errors students make, the
English they speak, the learning process they go through, teachers need to be
supportive. In this kind of learning environment, students will be more willing to
open their mouths to talk, to communicate and interact (T2_Interview).
We emphasize group work more, but not individual work. Students abroad focus
more on individualism. They think every individual is unique. I think in the
education system in Taiwan, unique students are not treated fairly. Dont you think
so? If you have some unique behaviors, teachers think you are a weirdo.
Classmates think you are a weirdo, too. So students think they had better be the
same as others. That is safer. This is the special characteristic in our culture
(T20_Interview).
It is noteworthy that teachers as authorities apparently is still a part of Chinese culture
that strongly influences students in Taiwan. Students consider that teachers should be the
center in classrooms and the ones who dominate the talk, which contradicts the major CLT
principle of students as communicators. Therefore, eight participants emphasized that
improving teacher-student relationships helped them implement CLT. If teachers could
lower their status (T7) to be students friends, stand in students shoes, and build rapport
75

with them, students could be less hesitant to participate in discussions and activities. During
the interviews, when describing how they talked to their students, several instructors switched
to Taiwanese which college students sometimes used to talk with their peers. This shows
those participants tried to shorten the teacher-student distance. As revealed in the following
interview excerpts, it will take teachers a lot of effort to change students perceptions of
teachers since this image of authority is rooted from early education. This requires not only
students but also teachers to open their minds (T13).
students in Taiwan develop the impression of English teachers in elementary
schools, junior high schools, and senior high schools. Teachers are always strict
and correct my errors. Whatever I say, teachers correct it. This makes them have
stereotype of teachers. So in the beginning, if you want to practice CLT, you need
to spend a looooot of effort to build good relationship with students
(T20_Interview).
Teachers should give clear directions and goals for a task and guide students step by
step to make sure they learn something from it. Students will not do the activity if it is too
complicated to understand. As T19 said, she set a goal first and designed activities or games
to accomplish the goal, based on which the instructor could evaluate whether the activity was
effective or not. Students knew what they were expected to achieve in each step and would
not regard doing activities as playing or chatting. Also, a clear task or context could instigate
rich content. The following is an example from T16.
You need to make sure your guidance is very clear. Sometimes you need to help
them. You might need to give them handouts. Or when they cant do it, give them
some hints. Make sure they understand what they are going to do. For example,
you design a scenario, You are watching a football game with your friend. Your
friend has binoculars, but you dont. You want to borrow his binoculars. What
would you say? You give a clear instruction and context to them (T16_Interview).
In addition to increasing students internal motivation, their external motivation can
be enhanced by giving them extra points. It is interesting that some participants stressed that
for lower motivation students, this was the only way that worked and could force them to
talk (T11, T14, T17). In T14s class, if the students were not informed they could get extra
76

points for playing a game or doing an activity, they would not cooperate at all. T5 asked
students to evaluate their own performance and that of their group members when doing
group work. It kept students aware that they should at least say something in English, and the
group members would prompt a student who did not talk enough. This was another way of
using grades as incentives, but probably applied better to good students, according to T15.
As addressed previously, students levels and class size are big factors affecting CLT
classrooms. The participants interviewed suggested that students needed to be at least
intermediate level or English majors. After all, students must have some English knowledge
to communicate. T16 pointed out that although CLT was still feasible with lower level
students, they could not benefit as much as higher level students did. That small class size
helped implementation of CLT was demonstrated in T15s experience. T15 had just
transferred from a private school to the current public school where she had smaller classes.
She thought it was much easier to do communicative activities in a small class though she
needed to prepare a lot. For other participants, reducing class size was good for sure, but
seemed beyond their control.
T5 was glad that she did not need to use assigned books and syllabi, and she could
have her own space for course design which she did not have before as a middle school
teacher. However, this autonomy is not college teachers privilege anymore in some schools.
Using departmental syllabi, assigned textbooks, and unified evaluation has been adopted by
several schools. In this study, these were used mostly for non-English majors in the relatively
new science and technology universities, which were seeking government funding as
addressed above. Under these circumstances, English teaching became test-oriented.
Students talking and interacting time was eroded by school administrators trying to meet
policymaker demands.

77

Whereas encouraging students and being supportive are the first step to motivate
students, keeping students accountable and monitoring them are ways to ensure students
participation.

Setting up a rule and sticking to it are necessary in Taiwanese classrooms, so

the instructors can be sure each student fulfills minimum required practice and not try to
avoid it. For example, T16 knew his shy students did not volunteer to talk and did not like to
be called on to talk. He made a regulation that each student was required to talk in the whole
group several times in a semester and he kept records of it. T5s students were English majors
in an upper level university, so she was rather stricter and tried to push her students. After
each students presentation, the audience were expected to ask questions. If they did not have
questions, T5 would pose questions to the audience. If the students failed to answer, they
needed to write a two-page reflection paper, which made her students attentive to the
presentations and interactive with the presenters.
The next facilitating factor is to introduce CLT to students and reeducate them as to
what learning should be. It is surprising that, although CLT has been promoted for many
years, and students have been learning English since elementary school, some still think they
are learning nothing. The participants think it is still necessary to educate students, so they
can accept this approach. As shown below, T1 tried to apply CLT step by step until students
could accept it. T18 persuaded students that the more they talked, the more they learned.
T20s students eventually realized English classes were not necessarily dry.
Its ok to English majors. To non-English major students, this approach needs to
be used more carefully. In the beginning, make students identify with this approach.
Step by step To some students, they wonder why this teaching approach is so
different from their previous English class. They feel they are not learning anything.
Its different from the way they did a lot of drills and exercises before
(T1_Interview).
Gradually, you let them know its ok to make errors. Language is used to
communicate. If I can understand you, thats ok, and you can modify your
grammar later. They can all accept this methodLet them know the more they talk,
the better. They do it for their own good and for their grades, too (T18_Interview).
78

Giving students achievable assignments can create a sense of achievement and


prevent frustration, especially lower motivated students, who tend to give up easily. As T16
stated, trying to lower their unwillingness to speak in class was important. The difficulty of
the task needed to be what they could handle. The exercise was something they already
knew. It was between known and unknownThey knew part of it and continues something
related. Allowing students sufficient time to prepare and get ready likewise helps to lower
students anxiety. Students feel more comfortable to talk when they feel ready. T16 usually
asked students to write down the points they had discussed in groups first, so the students
who reported to the big group at least had something ready to say. In a speaking class, T19
avoided asking students to talk before they felt ready because that might influence their
confidence.
Why I dont ask them to talk before they are ready is because it will easily
influence their self-confidence. Some students might be happy to take challenges.
They handle their anxiety and nervousness well, but some might get hurt and feel
they do not perform well. So I usually give students timeThe purpose of this
class is communication. I try to make them feel comfortable. Even if you dont do
it well, your teacher is still with youI dont give them a lot of pressure whereas I
give them a lot of assignments. I try to find a balance (T19_Interview).
In conclusion of the second research question, the facilitative factors proposed by the
participants were resonant with the difficulties they had encountered. Most of the facilitative
factors were used to tackle the first four inhibitive factors: students low proficiency, students
low motivation, large class size, and students resistance to class participation. For students
with lower English proficiency, the participants designed achievable tasks, gave students
sufficient time to get ready, and convinced students that making errors was absolutely
acceptable in English class, acknowledging that students prefer to talk when they feel
confident instead of being risk takers. With respect to students low motivation, providing
interesting topics and activities, and building a friendly supportive classroom environment, as
well as setting clear goals, keeping students accountable, and using grades as incentives were
79

techniques used, achieving the best effects by increasing both internal and external
motivation. As to students resistance to class participation, introducing CLT and explaining
communication as the primary goal of language learning were ways teachers tried to change
students perception that traditional learning with rote memorization and drills of grammar
rules was the only way to learn English.
The findings of the first two research questions reveal that complete adoption of CLT
in the English classrooms in Taiwan does not appear to be what policymakers have expected.
Restraints due to various problems obviously exist and modification is needed, so in the
following section, how to adapt this Western approach and implement it in a contextually
responsive way will be discussed.

Research Question 3: How do Taiwanese EFL teachers adapt CLT? What are the underlying
constructs of the adaptation process?
This section addresses the third research question with the findings primarily drawn
from responses to the first interview question, which asks the participants if their practice of
CLT now differs from their previous practice and how and why they make adaptations. Their
comments to other questions throughout the interview regarding the current teaching and
learning phenomena and how they solve problems or make modifications are also used as
supporting data. This part of the data is coded as adaptation, under which emergent themes
are pulled out. The result is reported below.
The problem is the school cant do it. Its useless to think about it. Of course,
the fewer students, the betterWe always hope the situation can be better, but we
already get used to what we have. So the difficulty of big class size, I think its ok
(T7_Interview).
Most of the schools assign the same textbooks and use unified mid-term and
final exams. Under these circumstances, we dont have a lot of room in our
teaching. The tasks I want to do might not be related to the exams at all(What do
you do to solve this difficulty?) Basically, we cant do anything. Hahaha. You know,
80

we are part-time lecturers. Basically, policyholders are in charge and not us. We
cant do much. We are assigned the classes. Thats it (T16_Interview).
As the comments made by T7 and T16 indicated, some factors regarding policies or
administration, such as unified exams and textbooks, class size, and teacher autonomy, are
beyond teachers control. English teachers can not really do anything about these hindrances.
What they are realistically able to do, which mainly involves instructors teaching strategies
and their requirements of students, starts from the context they are situated in and the amount
of space they can make use of. This comment resonates with the participants responses to the
third research question: How do they adapt CLT in EFL classrooms in Taiwan? The
adaptations that the participants have proposed primarily stem from students reactions to
CLT instruction and accentuate teachers classroom teaching. The concerns the adaptations
address, including students proficiency levels, acceptance of CLT, and reluctance to
participate in class, also coincide with the top ranked problems addressed in the previous
section.
Proficiency Level
When the instructors recalled their experiences of practicing CLT after they returned
from Western countries, several participants unanimously responded: It depends on students
levels.
The English major students can accept it quite well mainly because their
proficiency level is good enough (T1_Interview).
It depends on the class. If the students in that class have better English levels, they
usually can accept it better. For example, students in Department of
Construction Engineering or Department of Electronic Engineering, their scores in
the entrance exam are lower. If you happen to teach that class, they resist a lot.
They are still used to traditional methods. The teacher lectures. They absorb.
However, I sometimes teach students in Department of Applied English. Their
levels are better. They accept better. They kind of like it (T4_Interview).
I feel lower level students have difficulties. Higher level students dont have
difficulties. Its easy for them to adapt to the new environment and to change
themselves. As for the lower level students, I can tell they feel painful all these four
years (T5_Interview).
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To me, CLT was a very interesting approach. When I just came back (from the
U.S.), I used much more than now. When I learned it and came back, I was really
enthusiastic and very excited to use this. In the beginning, I probably used too
much, teaching everything in English. Blah, blah, blah. I found a lot of
problems.I found Taiwanese students English levels became worse and worse
(T12_Interview).
Students English proficiency is the beginning, critical point, based on which the
teachers decide to what degree CLT should be practiced and how much English they should
speak in class. When asked to compare their initial practice of CLT after graduating from
Western graduate programs with their current practice, several teachers expressed that their
enthusiasm turned to frustration. While one of CLT principles is to use the target language as
much as possible, they did not expect that lower level students would have so much difficulty
when they could not understand and react to their teachers talk.
When I came back, I was so excited to use this method, but I found out NO, NO. It
was totally different. Why? What happened? Students facial expressions told me
My God! Will the teacher always do that? We need to drop the class. They were
scared. Their eyes were widely open and they looked at me, but NO response. This
first image is still in my mind. I need to be very careful about it. Never talk that
much English in the beginning. Never! That was the first time. I got shocked. In
American classrooms and Taiwanese classrooms, the situation was totally different
(T12_Interview).
I learned it in the U.S.. It was in a methodology courseI thought it was very
interesting. I pictured this was a perfect methodBecause I practiced it abroad.
The class I taught was four skills for ESL students. They were Level 2. Although
their ability was quite limited, basically it was still workable. But after I came back
to Taiwan, I taught in a science and technology school. Even though they were
intermediate students, their oral skills were very very limited. If you used English
to teach from the very beginning, they didnt have any reactions at all. You didnt
know whether that was because they didnt want to react or they couldnt
understand you. The effect was very bad. I tried in the beginning. I was really
frustratedI didnt use it anymore (T14_Interview).
Actually when I started to teach in Taiwan, the situation was very different. I
spoke too fast. No one understood me. Nobody answered my question. That was
very frustrating (T18_Interview).
Another major CLT principle is to involve students in interactive activities, so they
can learn how to communicate in English and learn from communication in English. If
82

students language proficiency is too limited, they do not have enough language resources to
do activities or continue discussions.
Its difficult to carry on activities. Quite obviously, when we do pair or group work
in English Department, students are able to talk quite a lot. In General English,
students only talk when they need to talk. After that, they just wait there.they can
talk in the beginning, but they cant keep it going (T1_Interview).
in General English, I did more activities before. Now I do fewer activities. When
I taught in the beginning, I thought communicative teaching should be focused
more. But if our students dont improve their reading, they will meet a bottle neck
when they learn conversation after to a certain level. They cant go up
(T9_Interview).
In the beginning, I didnt know the different was so big. I thought this method was
fun. Afterwards, I found I was the only one talking. Then I changed little by little.
CLT might be just part of the class. With higher level students, I used more
(T12_Interview).
After the above frustrating experiences, the instructors realized that this approach
does not fit all situations. They need to hold back, modify their instruction based on students
levels, and practice CLT little by little. With regards to teachers talk, T8 adjusted the portion
of English use. T18 tried to talk slowly, and he found that students started to answer his
questions when they understood him. T2 usually used only English with English major
students, but she switched all in Chinese with non-English majors. As shown below, T12
started with simplified English and used L1 if needed. T16 explained instructions for
activities in Chinese.
I use English with English majors. General English? All in ChineseThat (using
all in English) will scare them to death. But I would gradually use more and more
EnglishI tried to use all in English when we practiced more. Of course, I spoke
very slowly (T2_Interview).
Students closed their ears. After that, I realized I should start with simple words.
After they opened their hearts, they would have reactionsI told them,
Assignment is your homework. Assignment is what I will give you and you need
to do it at home and turn in next week. This is called assignment (T12_Interview).
Of course they are different. The most different part was when I learned this
approach in the U.K., I did micro teaching with the other students in the class,
basically their English levels were quite ok. When I came back to conduct this
approach in Taiwan, I found some difficulties. Learners English was not as good
83

as the students in the U.K. The difference was ability levels. Especially instructions.
Sometimes understanding the instruction was more difficult than the task itself
When I gave my students some tasks to do, sometimes they didnt quite follow
what I was saying. Thats why I used Chinese to give them instruction in class
(T16_Interview).
Instructors adjustment of English use is also revealed in the survey. Responding to
how much English they used, instructors reported a much higher use with majors than with
non-English majors (Table 31).
Table 31 Questionnaire: Portion of English Use

more than
80% (%)

51%- 80%
(%)

31%-50%
(%)

less than 30%


(%)

English majors
(N=18)

72

17

non-English
majors (N=56)

17

21

38

24

Since students proficiency levels were not good enough to elaborate their opinions in
open-ended discussion questions or free activities, instructors suggested structured activities,
limited in vocabulary and sentence levels. T14 gave two examples of game-type activities
that were manageable to her students and lessened their fear of speaking English.
In some games, they had a chance to move around. For example, I taught units of
quantity, like a bag of, a bar of, or a jar of. We taught 20 or more items at once.
They couldnt remember them all. I set the rules and gave them some sentence
patterns that they could use. It was like a competition. I grouped them. One of the
group members came to me. I gave them a command to bring me an item. Then
they went back to their groups, said the request in English, and brought back the
item. They needed to use those quantity units. It was like a treasure hunting game.
For example, my class had more female students than males. I asked them to bring
back sun block products. They might use a bottle of or a tube of They couldnt
have free conversations. I needed to give them specific instructions and guidance.
At least they would be more willing to speak English, and they wouldnt just stuck
there. But it was controlled by me, not free conversation. I tried to ask some
questions related to what we had learned, grammar or vocabulary (T14_Interview).
Similarly, T17, whose students were beginners, used interactive activities to check
students understanding after each chapter. She wanted them to practice and apply what they
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had just learned. T26 shared an activity for Mothers Day. The activity was very structured
and her students enjoyed it. T16 used different activities with students at different levels as
well. T14, T16, T17, and T26 were all teaching non-English majors in private Science and
Technology Universities, in which students scores in the entrance exam were low. Also,
based on the teachers assessment, the students levels were quite low.
As I just said, application of CLT to higher level students is more feasible. Its
more difficult to apply to beginnersFor lower level students, I use activities more
like TPR (Total Physical Response). For example, when teaching propositions, I
gave commands in the beginning. Two students came to the front. I said, The pen
is on the desk. The students put the pen on the desk. I could expand the sentence,
on the dictionary, next to something. After I ran 2 or 3 times, I asked another
student to give commands (T16_Interview).

Todays topic: Talking about your mother and learning some speaking skills

There are four statements of different moms.

1. Please read them and talk about why did the mom act like this? with your partner.
2. Share the answers with your classmates.
3. Then, try to make the respond to each statement.
Tracy: My mother has never put on makeup before, but she is so beautiful.
Your response:
(1) Try to use question:
_____________________________________________________________________
(2) Try to offer the agreement:
_____________________________________________________________________
(T26_Activity Sheet)
Lower level students have more psychological and linguistic barriers in language
production, so the initial step that teachers take is to overcome their psychological barriers by
convincing them getting meaning across is the most important task when learning a language.
While encouraging students to focus on meaning and fluency, teachers help them build a
foundation by integrating grammar instruction and also adding reading, so students would
have something to say and be willing to talk.
It depends on the class. Like my previous Speaking and Listening class, because
the students levels were lower and their motivation was lower, the difficulty was
how to motivate them. Their English was not that good, so I didnt pay attention to
their grammar or accuracy. I focused more on fluency (T10_Interview).
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T13 used the foundation of a building as a metaphor to emphasize that grammar


knowledge should be developed. T18 echoed the importance of grammar and T6 recalled that
she benefited from it as a language learner herself.
In the beginning, in order to increase communication, I encouraged them to talk a
lot. I didnt emphasize grammarAfterwards, I find with mere communicative
teaching, if you dont give them basic stuff, its like you dont give bricks and
cement when you build a housethey talk whatever they want, but they dont
improve. They need guidance. When the foundation is correct, at least I know the
living room is here and the dining room is there. We can work on decoration of the
living room later. This is the difference of my teaching processThe purpose is to
encourage students to talk in the beginning, so I wont correct their errors
(T13_Interview).
I think grammar is still important. I asked students to talk in my CLT class, and
some of them used really bad grammar, bad language structures. Sometimes I
couldnt even understand them. So, I think grammar is still important. When
students talked to me, they only used very basic grammar. They started every
sentence with I. I asked What did you do yesterday? I ate breakfast. I slept. I
went shopping. Every sentence was only SVO (T18_Interview).
I would say we cant adopt some Western approaches completely. Communicative
teaching is indeed quite good, but sometimes you cant just say previous Grammar
Translation is not good when you teachIf you say Taiwanese students dont need
to know grammar, thats incorrectWe learned from Grammar Translation. I feel
we are not badNowadays students dont read grammar books at all. They came
to me and said, Ms. Huang, I want to learn conversation. I want to learn this. I
want to learn that. If you dont have grammar concepts, what can you learn? What
can you talk? (T6_Interview).
Contrarily, English majors are usually more used to CLT. They do not have many
difficulties expressing themselves in English. However, as T2 described, they needed to work
on accuracy and content. T4 and T7 also agreed that, in contrast with non-English majors or
lower level students, English majors or higher level students were expected to be good at both
meaning and form.
fluency, this is for General English. For advanced students, I look at accuracy.
Its different. You know why I dont look at their fluency? They tried very hard to
talk fast, to show their fluency, but the content was empty. They were not talking
about anything. A lot of students pronunciation was very good. When you paid
attention to their content, it was terrible. Its kind of interesting. For beginners, I
encourage them to talk, to make mistakes. For advanced learners, I am stricterI
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pick their pronunciation errors. They tend to link words in order to speak fast. Then
they mispronounce the words (T2_Interview).
Because they are non-English majors, they think they dont need to be that accurate.
They use key words to communicate. Thats good enoughBut if you are English
majors, you cant. You need to be very clear (T4_Interview).
We place students in different classes based on their levels. If you teach higher
level students, they are able to talk right away. At this point, you can correct some
of their errors. For lower level students, never correct them when they talk. If you
correct them, they will never dare to talk again. It is so hard to sum up the courage
to talk, so you should just let him talk (T7_Interview).
In addition to requiring higher level students to have accuracy, some instructors
recommended extensive language exposure. T5 was teaching English majors in one of the top
ranked universities in Taiwan. She provided her students a large amount of input, challenged
them, and pushed them to learn.
we should arrange to let them talk at home. In class, we still taught them
sentence patterns, vocabulary, and culture. My class was not just to let students talk
because it was a conversation class. I designed activities to let them talk at home
by themselves or practice with their classmatesGive them a lot of input to apply
(T5_Interview).
I asked students in our department: Which year do you study the hardest? They
almost always answered the year that they had me as their teacher. For example, if
I taught them Sophomore Listening and Speaking, they would answer the second
year. If they had my class in that year, they worked particularly hard. Because I
was the most pushy one. They needed to read an English learning magazine. They
found it took a lot of time to listen and prepare my assignments. That was the year
they worked hardest. This makes me feel push has some effect (T5_Interview).
T10s students were English majors in a public university, too. Compared with the
structured activities designed for lower level students, her activities were much more
challenging.

Presentation: Job Interview


A group of three students conduct a job interview, including two interviewers and one
interviewee. The jobs may consist of clerk, secretary, assistant, teacher,

manager, engineer,

salesperson, and so on. You can include the interview questions on page 74 in the textbook
and those in the handouts. There will be seven groups with 8-10 minutes for the interview.
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Presentation: Role Play (Impromptu)


With only 3-minute preparation, two students choose one of the situations (18~57) in
the handout and conduct a 3-minute role play.
(T10_Acitvity Sheet)
In EFL settings, students levels are more likely to be lower than in ESL settings, and
the variance of students proficiency can be from advanced to absolute beginning, such as
only knowing letters and several words. The adaptation process largely depends on students
levels. Lower level students are more hesitant to participate in class due to their insufficient
language knowledge and lack of comprehension of their teachers. It is suggested that
teachers limit the extent of CLT and emphasize encouraging students to get meaning across,
providing structured activities to engage students, and building language foundation. To meet
the needs of higher level students, accuracy and exposure are considered necessary, so
language teachers tend to correct students errors and create opportunities for students to be
exposed to English through reading and other activities.
Acceptance of CLT
When the participants were asked about the differences between their initial practice and
current practice of CLT, they raised the issue that students were still used to the traditional
Grammar Translation method which they had experienced for at least six years in middle
school before entering college. Students were not used to being asked to interact in class and
had difficulties accepting this Western approach, which was drastic, innovative to them.
To some students, they wondered why this teaching approach was so different
from their previous English class. They felt they were not learning anything. It was
different from they way they had done a lot of drills and exercises before
(T1_Interview).
Like I said, when I got my MA degree and came back, I just put theory into
practice abruptly. There were some conflicts, challenges.I didnt take into
account the aspect of students psychological anxiety, our culture, the long-lasting
educational culture about classroom interaction (T2_Interview).

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When students were asked to do activities or play language games, they felt they were
not learning. Games were for kids.
learn English by playing games? For students in our school, they think Am I a
kid? Why do you want me to play? They absolutely cant accept this
(T3_Interview).
College students dont like games. They usually dont. They feel I am this old, and
you are still telling me to play games. They cant accept it, even videos that talk
about high school students. If its a cartoon, it needs to look like its for adultsFor
example, some teachers put pictures in word cards. The pictures were for children,
but the content matched their levels. Their levels were sometimes lower than
thatThey got angry and felt insulted. Teachers need to be very careful. Because
we evaluate students, students evaluate us, too. If you think CLT is very useful, you
really want to use it. If students cant accept it, they will give you a very low
evaluation (T4_Interview).
Interestingly, other interviewees had opposite comments. In T1s and T18s
classrooms, doing interactive activities created a pleasant, relaxing atmosphere, which would
further increase students motivation to learn English. T14 reported if she did not do activities,
her students fell asleep very soon. The activities should make students move around. Students
would be less afraid to speak English when doing activities. T7 was satisfied with her
teaching when she compared one-way lecture in another classroom with interactive activities
in her own.
Sometimes the activity was easy. I read a sentence Which word do you think I am
describing? I liked to train their listening and word recognition. For example, my
husbands mother. They needed to erase the word on the blackboard. It was like
kids English. The student who did it got one point. You would find those who slept
woke up (T14_Interview).
Like some teachers, they are too serious. They dont even have eye contact with
students. They just lecture in the front. Students lower down their heads and do
their own stuffWhen I sometimes passed by another teachers classroom, there
was no sound at all. In my classroom, you could tell every student looked at me
and had a smiley face. It looked like they were ready to talk to me. In other
classrooms, I felt students lower their head and didnt want to talk, maybe because
their teachers told them not to talk. There was no interaction between teachers and
students (T7_Interview).
These contradictory perceptions show the importance of introducing this approach to
students and re-educating them as to appropriate ways to learn a new language. T2 and T6
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both emphasized introducing students to this approach at the beginning of the semester,
continuing to communicate its purposes, and gradually letting students try interactive
activities.
After I came back from my Ph.D. program, I became more empathetic. I didnt
teach from teachers viewpoint, but I tried to be in a students shoes. ..I imagined if
I were a non-English major student and met a teacher from the U.S., and she used
such a drastic approach, I would be scared to death. The teacher could not expect
the student to be comfortable doing a presentation right away. As a teacher, in my
first and second weeks, I communicated with them a lot and developed some
concepts. I told them it was ok to take it slow. I emphasized this concept gradually
(T2_Interview).
because in Taiwan, Grammar Translation was still the common approach. In the
beginning, students rejected this new approach. They said we didnt learn this way
before. Most were like thisI told them this would be good for you. They
gradually felt their progress and accepted this (T6_Interview).
One way of persuading students that doing activities or playing games is not just for
fun is to inform them about the purpose of an activity beforehand. Also, an activity should be
designed with a learning purpose. Another strategy is to connect activities with textbooks, as
suggested by T1.
Students reject playing games, because the games dont have goals, themes, or
purposes. I learn this from my experience. I play games when there is a purpose. I
never use playing games to kill time. Because of this goal, we have a lot more
interactive activities. For example, I provided some questions, so they could
practice critical thinking and then give them feedback. Instead of just delivering
content,I had interaction with students. We have real interaction, and this
interaction is purposeful (T19_Interview).
If I suddenly gave them an activity not related to the textbook or the context,
students would have difficulties to accept it. The solution I came up with was to
adapt the content in our textbook into activities. The content was still from the
textbook, but I designed my own activities (T1_Interview).
Old ways die hard. English is one of the major courses in middle schools.
Grammar-translation is predominantly used, so students learn English by learning grammar
rules, memorizing vocabulary, and translating sentences from L1 to L2 and vice versa, which
accord with Chinese traditional ways of learning, emphasizing rote memorization and
accumulating knowledge. When college teachers use CLT, which is considered new to
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students though they have been learning English for at least six years, introducing this new
approach carefully and gradually and informing students of the learning purposes can make it
more acceptable.
Resistance of Class Participation
Whereas students role as communicators was one of the most important CLT principles,
another obstacle that the teachers encountered was that students were reluctant to talk in front
of others. As T2 described, students in Taiwan chose to keep silent because they were worried
they would make mistakes. In other classrooms or in the society, our culture (Chinese
culture) still proposes the less you talk the fewer mistakes you will make, unlike American
culture, where diverse perspectives are encouraged. T12s students were afraid to lose face,
so they did not like to express their opinions in class. Particularity, some students had
experienced being laughed at. Some of T14s students did not like to talk because of their
pronunciation with Taiwanese accents.
Taiwanese students are more introverted, probably because of our own Asian
culture. They are reluctant, or afraid to show off in classAnd probably because
students dont want to show their reaction. They are afraid of losing face
(T12_Interview).
They felt their pronunciation had Taiwanese accent. They were afraid to talk. They
got hurt or frustrated before. Their high school teachers were very strict to them. I
found out a lot of them got hurt due to pronunciation. ..I dont know what their
teachers did to them. And one said his classmates laughed at him, his pronunciation.
I need to do psychological rebuilding many times. I say I have Taiwanese accent,
too. But they just cant change their perception. They feel that they have Taiwanese
accent is a shame. Theyd rather die than speak English. Its very difficult to
overcome this part (T14_Interview).
This phenomenon does not only apply to lower level students. T10 mentioned even
though some of her students had good ability, they did not volunteer to talk. T10 had several
foreign students, who usually spoke up in class, so T10 concluded Taiwanese students were
more passive (T10_Interview).
Taiwanese students are not that active. Basically, their ability is ok. They are
students in English Department, so their English is all very good. Their oral ability
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is as good as those foreign students. They are a little bit more passive
(T10_interivew).
The first step the teachers took was to encourage students, educating them it was all
right to make mistakes and express different opinions. What T2 did was to build a supportive
classroom culture, which made students more willing to talk.
I call it a supportive systemIn terms of speaking up in class, they were very very
resistant in the beginning. They were afraid to come to my class. I kept trying to
change the atmosphere, providing a very friendly, supportive and humorous
atmosphere. It was ok if they made mistakes. A humorous atmosphere could open
their hearts and decrease anxiety. I told them School is a place where you
definitely can make mistakes. Teachers correct you, so you know what is right or
wrong. We communicate a lot about this (T2_Interview).
In addition to teachers support, T2 did a lot of group work, so students felt support
from their peers as well in this mutual-supporting system. T10, T14, T17, and T20 also
promoted using group work. T20s students felt safe talking in groups. T10 said working
with the others they were familiar with helped students to overcome their psychological
barriers. To avoid the awkward moment in which students refused to talk, T14 did not ask
students to talk to the whole group. Similarly, T7s students felt more comfortable speaking
English when doing activities than in front of the big group.
Do grouping, avoid individual work. When working in groups, students are facing
their classmates. They wont feel that scared (T17_Interview).
I know they are really shy. I wont ask them to speak English to the whole class.
When they practiced, they talked to another classmate or only to me.I know
asking them to talk to the whole class is a horrible thing to them. One of my
colleagues had this situation before. Whatever you did, he wouldnt talk
(T14_Interview).
Speaking should not be the only conduit to communicate. As suggested by T2, writing
could precede speaking if students had difficulties expressing themselves orally. T16 used
this approach in his class.
Usually non-English major students, when they did group discussions, everyone
talked about 2 or 3 points.I usually let them write down what they were going to
say beforehand (T16_Interview).
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Being supportive and addressing students concerns about making mistakes and losing
face helped to lower learners affective filter. These might motivate students to talk, but they
are not enough. T18 shared his experience that students became too laid back and lazy to
participate after they got used to the relaxing atmosphere in CLT classrooms. They took
English as a chance to have a break between other courses.

After teaching for four years,

his adaptation included sometimes being strict and regulating students.


This approach was fresh to students. English class was not just mechanic practice.
In the beginning, it could stimulate students interest, but students started to
become too relaxed after mid-term. This approach needed students interaction. If I
was also relaxed and didnt require them, some students started to ignore you and
become lazy to interact with youThey had a lot of pressure in other courses, so
they wanted to be relaxed in this class. They probably thought Let me take a good
break! They just laid back and watched other students performanceI think it
still needs to combine with the traditional way, more harsh. Do roll call regularly.
Pick on students to talk. My attitude needs to be strict to be able to oppress students.
For this type of students, let them know learning in English class can be relaxing,
but you need to learn, and you cant just come here to take rest (T18_Interview).
Similarly, T10 purposefully called on passive students who had good ability but did
not talk voluntarily. For students who might have something to say but were anxious about
their Taiwanese accent, T12 tried to use a fun way to invite students to talk without
embarrassing them. Students with really low levels could be asked to do simpler tasks. These
examples bring to light that a certain degree of regulation is recommended and quite possibly
helpful to learners.
I asked for volunteers. I realized that I couldnt keep asking those active students. I
said if you have been called on, lets give chances to the other students.
Especially some of the passive students were more reluctant to raise their hands. I
would particularly invite them to talk. I would pay attention to this
(T10_Interview).
I sometimes spoke not that correct English to students. I said Let us conversation
together /lt as kanvassn tugd/ (Taiwanese accent). They felt my humor. Do
you understand me? Very good. I understand you, too. I felt some students actually
want to talk, but might think they have accent. They were afraid to speak out. I
knew some students were really scared. Then, I would just let them read
vocabulary. You could tell when you looked at students and they tried to avoid you.
You could tell (T12_Interview).
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As pointed out in the previous section, using grades as incentives works well with
students in Taiwan. Reflecting on her changes during her teaching experience, T10 said that
she eventually realized that using grades to motivate students had better effect than
encouragement alone. T2 found that adding points could enable students to take the first step
to talk, raising their hand.
Probably in evaluation, I realize students care about their grades a lot. In the
beginning, I just encouraged students a lot. It was not that effective. Afterwards, I
combined it with positive reinforcement. I reflected it in the evaluation to use it to
encourage students to talk. Whenever they talked, I kept record. This would be
reflected in their participation grades. This motivated them more. In the beginning,
I didnt pay attention to this part. Gradually, I connected it with evaluation.
Students knew once they talked, they got better grades. This was my chance.
Combine it with evaluation (T10_Interview).
Normally students are expected to raise their hands before the teacher calls on them
to answer. I encourage more participation by rewarding those students brave
enough to raise their hands even halfway of if they just respond with a yes/no
answer (T2_Interview).
T13 assigned her students to do research on certain topics in groups and give an oral
report at the end of last semester. Some students did it at the last moment. She adjusted the
process this semester. Constant monitoring and guidance were necessary.
I found last semester hardworking students started early. Those lazy groups, you
could tell they completed the project on the last day and didnt have time to fix it.
So this time, I told them I will give a score before mid-term. Before mid-term, you
need to go through your outline with me. You can work on details after that. And I
required each member to take in charge of one part of their oral report. If this group
had 5 members, they should arrange the way all 5 students could do an oral report.
They had a group score and each student had an individual score (T13_Interview).
The teaching experiences of those teachers reveal that Taiwanese students are
inclining to withdraw from class participation due to their predisposition to be shy and
introverted. To tackle students fear of making mistakes and losing face, the participants made
an effort to re-educate students, encourage them to talk, and create a comfortable supportive
climate in English classrooms. Giving bonus credits helped to trigger students instrumental

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motivation. Along with that, adequate degrees of regulation, monitor, and guidance produced
better effects.

Conclusion
After I graduated from the MA program, I came back and taught for 4 years. I went
abroad to study in a Ph.D. programmy teaching in these two periods back in
Taiwan is different. I still use CLT, but my attitude is differentI have more of
what I would call micro-observation. I do a lot of adjustment based on
observation (of students behaviors verbally and non-verbally). I feel that is very
important (T2_Interview).
Of course, sometimes there is a gap. If the level of the class is quite good, you can
implement fully. But if more than half of the students are really bad, you might
need to combine Grammar Translation and communicative approach. Sometimes,
you cant just use it because the theory is very good. To those whose levels are
really low, its not good (T6_Interview).
Because our culture is different, of course we need to adjust. And its impossible
one of American patterns can be used 100% in Taiwan. Our context is EFL. These
are basically different. What we learn in the U.S. is ESL (T9_Interview).
Changes, in the beginning, I didnt know students learning styles, learning
strategies, barriers, or difficulties. After I teach, I understand better what their
difficulties are. Because of more teaching and research experiences, I understand
better. Teaching becomes better gradually (T10_Interview).
Adaptation of the theory to practice is needed and should be done according to
students needs. The experiences of the Taiwanese college teachers in this study reveal that
learners English proficiency levels should be the primary concern. For lower level students,
CLT should be practiced to a lesser extent with more teacher control, focusing on fluency,
providing structured activities, and building foundation of English knowledge. The degree of
CLT practice can be increased along the continuum at the other end of higher level students,
with whom student centeredness, accuracy, free activities, and extensive input are
emphasized gradually. During the whole process, adequate encouragement, incentives,
guidance, monitoring, and regulation are suggested to motivate students as well as keep them
accountable. The adaptation process is illustrated below.
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CHAPTER 5
DISCUSSION
This chapter will recap the results through the framework of implementation theory.
Based on the results, the following will discuss what the gap between theory and practice is,
why the gap exists, and then implications for policy, teaching, and research will be drawn. A
responsive CLT model will be proposed accordingly.
Discussions and Implications
Theory
The findings of this study show the problems of a fidelity approach, particularly its
neglect of cultural mediation; adaptation as a form of resistance that helps teachers cope with
their work; and the enactment model as one of that recognizes the power of students to
influence instruction and how this model brings into focus the importance of student/teacher
relationships.
Fidelity
Although CLT has been adopted in English classrooms in Taiwan for several decades
and has the governments endorsement, the findings in this study show that the extent of CLT
implementation is far from full practice, implying that the fidelity approach is a limited
approach to looking at CLT practice in that the approach was unable to incorporate cultural
mediated practices that take place at the ground level. Out of the 71 participants, 20% report
they are not practicing CLT. Most of the non-practicing teachers taught at private science and
technology universities with lower admission standards. Their students academic
achievement was low and the goal of their studies was geared toward developing vocational
skills for job preparation. Their students low proficiency and low motivation of learning
English had a significantly negative impact on CLT implementation and were recognized
very likely to stop teachers from practicing CLT. In this case, the curriculum can not be
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assessed as failed because it is not really implemented (Goodlad, as cited in Snyder, et al.,
1992). The installation of the curriculum innovation is problematic. While pushing all to go
to college, the Taiwanese government mandated CLT, which did not fit levels and interests of
students in lower-ranked schools. The conflicting policy goals set an impractical and almost
non-achievable curriculum objective for teachers as well as students.
As to the practicing group, the degree of implementation for those who say they
practice CLT is approximately 70% (3.54 out of 5). Survey responses and interview results
reveal that various problems do exist and Taiwanese EFL teachers are not able to completely
implement CLT. If they are looking for a superior approach to language teaching, CLT has to
be adapted. Students resistance to class participation was identified as the major inhibitive
factor in addition to students low proficiency and low motivation. Also, the identified
facilitative factors, including interesting topics/activities, friendly environment,
teacher-student relationship, clear instruction/task/goal, and using grades as incentives were
used to tackle the problem that students were hesitant to speak up in class. As pointed by
several participants, the barriers of voluntary participation did not just occur with lower-level
students, but also with higher-level students. This psychological barrier came from Taiwanese
students inherent characteristics and traditional ways of learning. That is to say, the results
reflect the failure of a fidelity approach, particularly its neglect of cultural mediation.
Adaptation
Therefore, CLT was not implemented fully as planned but rather adapted by these local
teachers acting as cultural mediators, who understand the inter-play of the social context of
learning, the students interest and level of background knowledge, what represents the most
appropriate approach to learning, and the cultural patterns that the teachers need to make
explicit (Bowers, 2005, p. 110). These teachers realize the so-called modern Western
approach is not the only legitimate way of learning, and tradition should not be deemed as
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conservative and backward. Taking T6s emphasis of grammar as an example, she recalled
herself successfully learning English with the traditional grammar translation approach.
Contrarily, students nowadays wanted to learn English communication without building basic
language knowledge. Their learning outcome almost always turned out to be unsuccessful. T6
concluded the Western approach was quite good, but it could not be adopted fully. Traditional
methods were not necessarily bad. T18 also suggested English class in Taiwan could not be
completely student-centered as in Western classrooms. His students who considered learning
as a process of absorbing knowledge from a teacher thought this English instructor was not
teaching and did not take the English class seriously. T18 modified his teaching by regulating
his students to participate. The traditional way of teacher-control needed to be integrated in
communicative classrooms.
To embed a certain degree of teacher-control challenges the notion of teachers role as a
facilitator emphasized by the modern Western constructivist learning theorists (Bowers, 2005)
as well as in the CLT classroom. These local teachers were aware that traditional students
role in Taiwanese classrooms was more a knowledge recipient than a creator. They regarded
teachers as authorities and relied on their guidance. If teachers act as facilitators, students
may not know what they do not know and may not have knowledge to regulate their own
learning appropriately. As in this study, students were shocked and usually remained silent
when their English teachers implemented CLT all at once. They could not expect their
students to accept this drastic approach and start to communicate in English immediately and
automatically. Based on these teachers experiences, encouragement, offering incentives,
monitoring, and guidance should still be provided when accommodating this Western
approach in Taiwanese contexts.
These local teachers can fulfill the mediating role because they understand and are
aware of differences between students cultural background and the Western culture. All of
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them have experiences attending graduate programs in Western countries. Comparisons


between two cultures were often made when they illustrated their adaptation process. For
example, when talking about why Taiwanese students were reluctant to participate in class,
T2 explained students had always been expected to give only correct answers in classroom
since they were in elementary school while diverse opinions were encouraged in the Western
culture. T12 also stated that students did not want to show their reactions because they were
afraid of making errors and losing face. Taiwanese students introverted characteristic was
part of Asian culture. To mediate between two cultures, cultural mediators need to determine
what differences should be made explicit in the process of primary socialization (Bowers,
2005). In the beginning of the semester, these teachers re-educated their students that
listening to teachers lecture was not the only way of learning. In English class, students were
encouraged to express their opinions and told that making mistakes was all right. When doing
an interactive activity or game, the students were informed its purpose was not just playing
but learning. By doing this, the teachers prevented students rejection to participate because
Taiwanese students would consider learning should be a serious process.
Another task of cultural mediators is to take into account students tradition and
determine what should be conserved and what should be changed (Bowers, 2005). During the
adaptation process, these teachers introduced their students communication and interactions
as

appropriate ways of learning while they modified their teaching to incorporate students

traditional ways of thinking and learning. In this study, students were reluctant to talk in front
of others and express their opinions because they were worried about making mistakes.
Face-saving needed to be carefully done to provide students a comfort zone, in which they
would be more willing to express themselves and participate in class. For example, instead of
speaking up individually, students were asked to practice in small groups. Giving students
sufficient time to get ready and avoiding asking them to respond upfront prevented them from
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being a risk taker and being anxious about losing face. However, understanding well about
Taiwanese students characteristics, these local teachers knew respecting students face issue
was necessary, but not enough. They also realized that grades had been used as the
measurement of academic achievements in Taiwanese classrooms. Unlike process, which is
often focused upon in Western culture, product or outcome was emphasized. Grades were
recognized as the best incentives to motivate students. Adding upon it, these teachers still
needed to play authoritative roles to regulate and monitor students.

This carrot and stick

approach created the best effect for them. In short, holding that communication and
interaction are essential in language classrooms, these Taiwanese teachers try to change their
students over reliance on teachers imparting knowledge and teacher-front activities. On the
other hand, other parts of students tradition should be kept. They are almost impossible to
change anyway.
Enactment
When these local teachers came back from Western countries and practiced CLT as
externally designed, they faced a lot of contextual constraints, particularly students resistance
to this new form of learning. Whereas some of these teachers gave up using this approach,
most of them, holding the idea that promoting communication should still be the norm, took
effort to interpret why a seemingly promising Western approach turned out to be a frustrating
process and how those supposedly interesting activities turned out to be shocking incidences
to students. These local teachers were willing to understand students, mediate between two
cultures, and appropriate their instruction. Although these teachers decided to maintain a
certain extent of authority, they lowered their authoritative status in English classrooms, built
teacher-student rapport, and created a friendly environment, due to which, students were
more likely to open their hearts to try the new approach. Unlike the traditional Taiwanese
classrooms, students were being authorized to participate. Once the first door opened, these
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teachers and students jointly went through the path of deconstruct the teaching and learning
process, interpret what was happening, and co-construct a new form of CLT implementation.
As the enactment model suggests, there would be no curriculum without the teachers and
students giving form to it (Snyder, Bolin, & Zumwalt, 1992, p. 429). Moving from a
consumer in a fidelity perspective, the role of a teacher is more active and integral to the
process from an enactment model. The power of students to influence instruction is
recognized. That being said, it takes the collaboration between teacher and students to make
the curriculum implementation successful, and close student-teacher relationships makes the
collaboration possible.

Policy
In Taiwan, as in the other Asian hierarchical societies, the governments top-down
policy has a great impact on language education. Difficulties caused by policy override
teachers control of classroom practice. Several policies imposed on the teachers by
authorities harm English education at college levels and also de-professionalize
practitioners (Allwright & Hanks, 2009, p. 8).
Issue of universities widely established
Students low proficiency and low motivation are ranked as the top two barriers that
prevent the teachers from practicing CLT. More than 90% of the non-practicing teachers
identify these two factors as the major problems. As illustrated in interviews, the participants
switch back to traditional methods when they teach students who they think are not really
qualified to enter college. These instructor responses challenge the feasibility of using CLT
with this group of students, the majority of whom are non-English majors from newly
founded private science and technology universities, which set very low admission standards
to recruit students.
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The governments policy of establishing a large number of institutions in higher


education has produced the consequence that those schools compete for survival and accept
students whose academic achievement is far below the normal college level. As T2 warned
the researcher, what you learn in the U.S. doesnt work here unless you teach in public
schools. Under this circumstance, implementation of CLT may be doomed to fail before it
starts. If the same standards or teaching approaches applied to the normal college level are
used in these schools, it not only frustrates practitioners but wastes educational resources in
the society.
Although the governments intention to provide everyone opportunities to receive
higher education is praiseworthy, not everyone is qualified to study at the college level, at
least based on the current academic standards in college. Complementary policies should be
customized to meet the needs of this group of students. Their majors are mostly
vocational-based. Arguably, they will be more interested in their specific fields instead of
general English which aims to develop daily communication ability. ESP (English for
Specific Purposes) courses could be offered to focus on specific occupations, and instruction
should start with entry levels of sentence structures and vocabulary knowledge related to their
special fields, which could motivate students to learn English and lead them to read
professional textbooks or articles in the long run. Within this framework, traditional grammar
explanation and instruction with L1 may also be appropriate.
Issue of inconsistency of CLT implementation at different education levels
When the participants reported the factors that helped their implementation of CLT and
the process by which they adapted CLT in their English Classroom, introducing CLT and
re-educating learners that grammar alone should not be the final goal of learning English
were accentuated. The phenomenon that college students are still not familiar with CLT is
surprising because college students in Taiwan have been learning English for at least eight
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years before entering college and CLT has been endorsed for nearly two decades. This is very
likely due to inconsistency of different stages of English education in Taiwan. English is one
of the compulsory courses from fifth grade in elementary school to second year in college.
Some schools even offer English class from third or first grade. Since learners are young,
focusing on communication and meaning transmission is the goal. In middle schools,
however, traditional Grammar Translation becomes the mainstream and lexical and
grammatical knowledge is emphasized in the college entrance exam. Although students take
English class almost every day in middle school, the class is mostly conducted by the
teachers one-way lecture. Students at this stage do not experience CLT classrooms at all, so
students in college are still not familiar with CLT. This phenomenon makes CLT
implementation in college much more difficult than it is supposed to be.
The idea of focusing on both meaning and form and developing communicative
competence should be practiced consistently and coherently throughout formal English
education. This can not be done without policymakers recognition and enforcement.
Policymakers can take into account opinions of scholars and English teachers at all three
levels, design curricula aimed at developing communicative competence, and ensure the
curricula are implemented. Specifically during the six years in middle school, fixed curricula
are adopted and affected by washback effect of college entrance exams. Revision of the
current curricula and the entrance exams to conform to the communicative objective is
recommended.
Issue of discrepancy between the objective and the evaluation
Even though the objective of English education in college is to develop communicative
competence, this objective is influenced by the Ministry of Educations promotion of
standardized tests during recent years and its evaluation of colleges based on the numbers of
students who pass the tests. Funding is allocated accordingly. The evaluation criteria
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significantly influence schools policies. English class becomes test-oriented. For instance, in
T11s school, which used departmental syllabi, teachers were required to supplement a
grammar book and a vocabulary book to develop students abilities to pass the GEPT
(General English Proficiency Test), a local standardized test. It was unlikely that teachers
could squeeze interactive activities into the tight course schedule. T6s school, as well as
many universities, got funding to establish a multi-media self-learning center, which
supposedly should provide abundant learning resources and create an English learning
environment to develop students autonomy of English learning. However, T6s students were
assigned to do TOEIC exercises in the center. In T14s school, students reading and listening
abilities instead of abilities of four skills were trained because the lowest level of TOEIC tests
only these two skills. The school directed efforts toward passing this test, ignoring the
communicative skills of writing and speaking, so the passing rate would appear better to the
Ministry of Education.
The negative test washback effect usually harms those newly founded private
universities, which can not recruit enough students and strive for financial support from the
government. English teaching in these schools is relatively more difficult due to students
general low academic achievement. The governments policy does not help to improve, but
jeopardizes the situation. The same criteria do not impact public universities as much because
their students originally have higher levels of English proficiency, and a larger number of
students will pass the test. English instruction is not necessarily confined by standardized
tests.

It is inevitable that higher ranked schools have higher achievers, get more funding to

provide students better recourses, and apply appropriate teaching approaches, and vice versa
for lower end schools. The vicious circle continues. Consequently, the students who need
help do not benefit from the governments policy, but are disadvantaged.

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Apparently, the evaluation system is problematic because the criteria do not reflect the
objective. Although standardized tests have better accountability, the numbers alone should
not be the only criteria. As proposed by CLT, process should be taken into account as well. To
meet CLT objectives, such as learners as communicators, focus on both form and meaning,
four-skill integration, use of authentic materials, and communicative-function evaluation, the
process of teaching and learning should be examined. To do so, schools curriculum design
and course documents, such as syllabi, evaluation sheets, and activity sheets, teaching
materials, or teaching portfolios and learning portfolios, if available, can be evaluated. Also,
some course observations can be conducted. Evaluation criteria covering this implementing
process as well as four-skill based standardized tests can give a better picture whether
communicative competence is developed and how it has been achieved. Furthermore, to
avoid the problem that the undifferentiated evaluation causes unfair fund allocation, different
criteria of scores of standardized tests and the extent of CLT implementation should be set
congruent with students levels in the school. To top ranked schools, higher scores and a
greater extent of CLT implementation should be sought and vice versa.
Issue of inadequate funding allocation
For two decades, large class size has always been identified as one of the major problems
in CLT classrooms in Asia (Burnaby & Sun, 1989; Kuo, 1995; Li, 1998; Sato, 2002;
Sugiyama, 2003). Survey responses and interview results in the present study reveal that class
size is still one of the major barriers. As reported in the findings chapter, class size and the
degree of CLT practice are negatively correlated (r = -.349, p = .008). Out of the 71
participants, only about 20% have fewer than 30 students. Approximately half of them (48%)
have more than 50 students, and 14 % have more than 60 students. The Taiwanese
government spends a lot of money promoting English education every year, but neglects this
fundamental problem, which means the resources have been allocated inappropriately.
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Table 32 Resource Allocation: Comparison of English Majors and Non-English Majors

English Majors (%)


N=18

Non-English Majors (%)


N=53

less than 20

22

21-30

39

31-50

33

66

more than 50

28

doctorate degree

89

11

master degree

11

89

Resources
class size

teachers education levels

Resource allocation is also problematic regarding balance between English majors


and non-English majors. As presented in the Table 32, more than 60% of English majors have
class size less than 30 students whereas only 6% of non-English majors do. Teachers with
better qualification are usually hired to teach English major students. The majority of the
instructors of English majors have doctorate degrees while most of non-English majors
instructors hold master degrees. All of the instructors in this study obtained their highest
degrees in Western countries. Presumably, the instructors with doctorate degrees had stayed
in Western countries for a longer period of time and had more experiences participating in
Western classrooms than the ones with master degrees did. With these experiences, they
probably had a better command of the English language and were more familiar with the
communicative teaching approach, which was commonly used in Western classrooms. In data
collection, the last interview question was administered in English to have a rough evaluation
of the participants English proficiency levels. The responses of two participants with master
degrees are transcribed verbatim below. The high degree of errors is likely to indicate that the
instructors English ability is rather limited and they might have difficulties to teach in a CLT
classroom.
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R: researcher
T11: Maybe we need some experienced teachers to teach us. To did it maybe more
times for us to know how to actually use it in our class.
R: Maybe they can demonstrate some activities, right?
T11: Yeah. You do it first. Then we know how to use it to teach our students.
R: Thats a good suggestion. What else? What kind of help or training will be
helpful?
T11: What kind of what?
R:
What kind of training or workshop do you think will be helpful?
T11: Yeah, of course.
R: What kind of workshop would you expect to have?
T11: How toIf we have enough time in our class, then I was think how do we
improve students motivation? How do we improve their English ability to
attend, to attend activity?
R:

Do you think your study in the Western country helps you practice CLT in
Taiwan?
T19: I think a little bit.
R: Only a little bit?
T19: Yes.
R: So if you could offer some suggestions for the graduate program to improve
teacher training? What kind of suggestions would you give?
T19: No. No advice. You mean for CLTMaybe they can provide some
practical examples.
The results yielded in this study suggest that more funding should be used to decrease
class size. CLT would be more feasible if each student in class could have more opportunities
to speak up and practice and it would be more manageable for instructors to do interactive
activities, monitor and facilitate students, and conduct communicative-function evaluation.
Also, funding allocated to non-English majors is apparently insufficient. They are a much
larger population than English majors and should deserve more attention than they currently
have from the policymakers. English education for non-English majors has been notoriously
ineffective, and the responsibility has been avoided with the excuse that English is not a field
in which students specialize. To bridge the achievement gap, the resource gap should
probably be tackled first.

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Culture
A difference makes a difference
Having students participate as communicators is one of the major CLT principles.

major obstacle to this principle is the problem of students reluctance to speak up and
participate in classroom activities, which kept emerging in this study. Students resistance to
class participation was one of the top ranked problems reported in the survey. Also, in the
interview, 12 out of 20 participants stated that students hesitated to take part in interactive
activities. Based on the interviews, one reason might be because students did not like to
express their opinions. As T20 said, unlike the individualism advocated in American society,
unique opinions or behaviors are usually not encouraged in Taiwanese society. To cope with
this difficulty, T2 and T10 told their students that diverse opinions were always encouraged in
their English classrooms. Another strategy was to use group work to offer students a friendly
supportive environment, so they would feel more comfortable to talk. A second reason might
be because students were afraid to make mistakes and lose face. As T2 shared her experience,
in Taiwanese classrooms, students were always expected to give correct answers once they
raised their hands to talk. As pointed out by T14, students with Taiwanese accents did not like
to talk in class due to fear of mispronouncing words and being ridiculed by other students. As
a result, building a supportive classroom environment, assigning achievable tasks, and giving
students enough time to prepare were factors that contributed to successful CLT classrooms.
Third, students considered teachers as authority, so students preferred to be listeners. To deal
with this, eight participants tried to improve teacher-student relationships, so students would
be more willing to talk. These distinctive features recur throughout the study.
Although these features are instructors observation and perceptions, they are in
congruence with students viewpoints illustrated in Lius (2001) study of Asian students
classroom communication patterns in U.S. universities. After interviewing 20 students and
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observing their classroom behaviors, Liu (2001) concluded that many Asian students
silence in class related to their concepts of politeness and face-saving (p. 200). To be polite
and show their respect to the teacher, they refrained from expressing their perspectives, which
might be different from those of the teachers. They kept quiet even if they wanted to ask
questions because they were concerned they might waste class time. Their reticence was also
because they tried to avoid making mistakes. They would lose face if they appeared to be
linguistically incompetent.
Both teachers perspectives in this study and students viewpoints in Lius (2001) study
share the results that Asian students behaviors in classrooms are related to their local culture,
different from U.S. culture, based on which CLT was developed. Echoed in Hofstedes (2005)
cultural dimensions model, the dimensions of Asian culture are categorized as a collectivistic,
high-uncertainty-avoidance, and high- power-distance culture whereas American culture was
identified as an individualistic, low-uncertainty-avoidance, and low-power-distance culture.
Unlike American students, who are comfortable with self-expression, taking risks, and
contradicting their teachers, Asian students follow group norms, avoid being risk takers, and
accept what their instructors teach. These cultural differences make Asian students tend to
keep silent in class, and therefore, the implementation of CLT, a theory conforming to
Western culture, results differently in Asian contexts.
Stubborn tradition is still stubborn
These underlying thinking patterns and ways of learning, emanating from distinct
learning tradition and culture, influence students learning and should be taken into account in
classrooms. However, this does not conform to the modern educational philosophy,

110

constructivism, with which CLT shares several similarities. Bowers (2005) 2 argues against
the colonial nature of modern Western constructivism, which imposes a Western model of a
global monoculture (p.78) and judges tradition as backwardness and thus an impediment to
progress (p.5).

The underlying assumption of this educational philosophy implies that

learners traditions can be discarded or neglected when an innovative approach is employed.


As uncovered in this study, students cultural tradition does influence their learning.
Taiwan, as well as other countries worldwide, has been influenced by modern Western
constructivism, which holds the assumption that knowledge can not be transmitted, but is
constructed. The only way that students can learn more effectively is by constructing their
own knowledge. Individual autonomy and self-directed learning, which lead to individualism,
are promoted by constructivists. Teachers should not indoctrinate knowledge to hinder
students experimentation and construction of their own knowledge, but take the role of
facilitators (Bowers, 2005). Contrarily, the results yielded in this study show that students,
especially lower level students, still consider teachers as central and authorities on whom they
rely to help build a language foundation. In English classrooms in Taiwan, teachers still need
to be central, monitoring and guiding students. The philosophy of constructivism as well as
other so-called modern Western approaches probably tends to ignore that learners traditional
culture is always rooted in their thinking patterns. It is not easy, and may be impossible, to
change the stubborn tradition (Sale, 1995, p. 38, as cited in Bowers, 2005). Students should
not be expected to plunge into a new way of thinking and learning when a new approach is
adopted. Students culture, tradition, and past experience should be taken into account and
used as a basis for new knowledge, and not ignored, replaced, or erased. The new teaching
2

Bowers would be critical of national mandates for what most practitioners understand as
"critical literacy" because these approaches have failed to recognize the cultural dimensions of
today's ecological crises. However, his notion that teachers function as cultural mediators is
still relevant to my study because it brings into focus the importance of adaptation and the
enacted curriculum.
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approach will be more likely to succeed when this connection is made because stubborn
tradition is always stubborn.
Teacher as cultural mediator
Instead of associating tradition with being underdeveloped and backward, tradition can
be used as a source of empowerment. To do so, the teacher needs to act as a cultural mediator,
who understands students cultural background and knowledge system as well as Western
culture. By considering both cultures, educational decision making can be done appropriately
(Bowers, 2005). To start with, teachers need to constantly reflect upon their teaching, be
aware of cultural conflicts, and modify their teaching process accordingly. As new teachers
usually experience transition shock (Corcoran, 1981) in the first year when their teaching
experiences wash down (Zeichner & Tabachnik, 1981) what they have learned in teacher
education, several instructors in this study were frustrated by their students responses in their
beginning stage of practicing CLT. They knew they could not put the theory into practice all
at once. They should hold back, observe students reaction, and adapt it to the local context.
Since this group of teachers had experiences studying in Western countries, they were aware
of cultural differences, which could be told in the way that they constantly compared their
experiences in Western culture with those in Taiwan. They realized that insufficient linguistic
competence probably was not the only reason for lack of participation because some students
stayed silent even when they had good ability. A reasonable speculation was Chinese students
were shy and did not like to express their opinions because they were afraid to make mistakes
and lose their face and they considered the teacher should be the one who talked in the
classroom. Therefore, some participants noticed the phenomena and coped with them by
encouraging students to share their opinions, offering clear directions to avoid students
uncertainty, giving students enough time to get ready, shortening student-teacher distance to
create a friendly environment, and creating opportunities to promote collaborative learning.
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They came up with these strategies and tried them in their classrooms. They further realized
that continuously providing incentives, guidance, monitoring, and regulation should be done
in addition to encouragement. Taking into account these Chinese cultural features and
modifying CLT implementation accordingly contributed to successful CLT classrooms in the
local contexts in Taiwan.
Authority can be used to minimize authority
Although it is culturally appropriate to start CLT practice from one end of the continuum,
which is closer to learners L1 culture, such as focusing on teacher-centeredness and
preventing students from losing face, the practice should move towards the other end of the
continuum as students begin to accept it. After all, the objective of learning a language is to
be able to communicate and express ones opinions. The language classroom should be
learner-centered as much as possible, so students have more opportunities to interact with
each other. However, this does not mean undermining learners home culture and
romanticizing the target culture (Bowers, 2005), but developing learners ability to adapt to
another culture while keeping their traditional values and ways of thinking (Liu, 2001).

As

T2 pointed out, learners still experienced traditional classrooms in the other courses, in which
the teacher lectures and students receive knowledge, but she tried to make students feel
English class was a place where they could express their opinions and make mistakes. To do
so, learners need to go through the process of adaptive cultural transformation, in which one
constantly adjusts ones cultural beliefs, values, and behaviors to those of the target culture
and gradually develops the multiple identities (Liu, 2001, p. 221). As done by the
participants in this study, teachers can re-introduce CLT, re-educate students to appropriate
ways of learning, emphasize purposes of doing activities, welcome students to express
opinions, and ensure students it is all right to make mistakes. Teachers are authorities in Asian
classrooms. Students are more likely to accept this Western way of learning if their teachers
113

promote it. Having teachers approval, students are less fearful of speaking up in English.
Teachers power could make student-centered classrooms more feasible. In other words,
teachers use their authority to minimize authority (Liu, 2001).

Teaching
Teachers reconceptualization
This study started out with a synthesized definition of CLT used for comparison with
Taiwanese teachers practices. The results showed that adaptation was necessarily made by
these local teachers who adapted CLT in ways that were contextually and culturally
appropriate. That being said, it would be neither fair nor appropriate to use the prescriptive
notions of CLT to implement CLT or evaluate teachers implementation. To best use this
approach, the Western-educated Taiwanese teachers in this study interpreted CLT in terms of
their own settings, including students, with variations uncovered by the comparison. This
suggests that cross-cultural translation of approaches to teaching/learning is transformative
rather than replicative. It calls for Prabhus (1990) sense of plausibility. Teaching should be
alive and productive instead of being mechanical and overroutinized. Holding the tenet of
CLT, promoting communication, teachers should be open to change, revising their teaching
based on their satisfaction or dissatisfaction after each practice. Therefore, the
conceptualization of CLT should be fluid, not frozen. CLT needs to be reconceptualized and
enacting this Western approach depends on the contexts and students, particularly students
culture as shown in this study.

In other words, there is no best method (Prabhu, 1990).

Teachers sense of plausibility makes each method valid. This needs teachers willingness to
make it work.

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Teachers willingness
The instructor needs to be willing to do it, T19 responded when asked what made her
CLT classroom successful. Practice of CLT requires teachers to exert extra effort to come up
with interesting ideas, design activities engaging students, and prepare authentic materials;
needless to say EFL teachers still need to deal with difficulties from students resistance,
institutional constraints, and other contextual barriers. Some teachers stick to their belief that
students benefit from CLT and practice it whereas other teachers switch back to traditional
Grammar Translation completely once they encounter obstacles. Large class size was
reported as one of the major problems by 64% of the teachers practicing CLT and 73% by the
teachers not practicing CLT. Even though T7 and T9 had more than 60 students, however,
they still practiced CLT to 70% extent (3.5 out of 5). This means the same obstacles stop
some teachers, but not others. While T3 and T4 stopped playing games when their students
complained that games were for kids, T7 and T14 were enthusiastic about doing interactive
activities, which they believed could motivate their students. Teaching big classes might be
difficult and hearing students complaints might be unpleasant. Still, willing teachers are able
to make changes and implement CLT.
Based on the interview, quite a few among this group of teachers were enthusiastic
about their teaching and willing to try hard. T2, T9, and T14 usually noted down activities
that engaged students more for later use. T2 surveyed topics that her students liked in the
beginning of the semester and modified her syllabus accordingly. In contrast to other
teachers complaints about students who were silent and did not even have eye contact with
their teacher, T7 felt that her work to prepare a lot of activities, compile her own teaching
materials, and offer a personal teaching website for her students was worthwhile. Although
T12s students levels were really low and some of them barely knew English, T12 did not
give up but tried to start from very basic knowledge, such as phonics. She also simplified her
115

language and supplemented with a lot of body language. She even browsed popular TV
programs and video games to come up with interesting topics to draw her students attention.
For students with this low level and low motivation, she needed to have a strong belief in
communicative teaching. Similarly, T14 designed structured activities that were manageable
to her lower level students and could wake up her low motivated students. T6 arranged
opportunities for her students to practice English by communicating with students in Korea
on Skype, and even her lower level students signed up to participate and promised her to
work harder. T5 and T15 felt a sense of achievement and their effort was worthwhile leading
to students expressing that they learned a lot from English class. T19 was usually a successful
teacher except in one class. Students in that class were always silent and not active when
doing activities. T19 felt upset and wondered if her students did not like her or her activities,
but she still tried hard to engage students. She was surprised that her students gave her very
positive feedback in her teachers evaluation and told her that their class were always
indifferent to teachers not just her. They appreciated her effort. T19 concluded that she should
not assume students would follow the way she expected them to be. That would be unfair to
the students and herself. An instructor should just try her best to give what she should give.
Apparently, many teachers are willing to put forth effort and enjoy this sense of achievement.
Their willingness to work hard and exert themselves makes their teaching different.
Teachers knowledge
I guess I am creative, T7 answered when asked how she came up with so many activity
ideas. In the interview, T7 gave several examples of interactive activities with ease and she
even compiled her personal communicative textbook. However, not every teacher can be this
creative. The participants were asked to describe their English classrooms and give an
example of CLT activity if possible in the interview. Although some of the participants could
provide examples of interactive activities, several examples were limited to one-way
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delivering instead of interactive communication, mostly in the form of giving students topics
to discuss in groups or do individual reports.

This finding resonates with Kumaravadivelus

(2006, p. 62) doubt of authenticity of some CLT classrooms after analyzing two CLT
believers lessons: Even teachers who are committed to CLT can fail to create opportunities
for genuine interaction in their classroom (Kumaravadivelu, 1993, p. 12).
The participants needs for knowledge of CLT activities can also be recognized when
they were asked for suggestions for teacher preparation programs and professional
development for in-service teachers. In their graduate programs, T4 benefited from doing an
internship in a language course, and T18 learned a lot of ideas from observing three
amazing language teachers teaching. On the other hand, T1, T8, T9, T11, T13, and T17
only learned this methodology in class and hoped to have opportunities to observe how
experienced teachers practiced it in their classrooms and obtain some practical ideas.
Regarding professional development, T1 wanted to know information about teacher resource
books which introduced CLT activities because he usually resorted to this type of books to
design activities. When publishers promoted their books, they usually offered workshops to
demonstrate some teaching ideas along with the books. T4, T6, and T7 thought these
workshops would be helpful. Similarly, T4, T8, T10, T14, T15, and T17 hoped to attend
workshops which provided teaching demonstrations and practical teaching ideas for activity
and material design. T12 liked to have a chance to share experiences with other CLT teachers.
T19 hoped to learn how to design activities that students could interact with online. All of
these suggestions indicate that the instructors are in need of pedagogical knowledge about the
practical implementation of CLT activities, which they could use to engage students and
create more opportunities for communication.
Moreover, the findings of this study reveal that structured activities are appropriate for
lower level students whereas more open-ended activities are suitable for higher level students.
117

The range of students proficiency levels in EFL contexts can be large. English teachers
usually have chances to teach both high level students and low level students. They need to
have a rich repertoire of CLT activities, so they can better serve themselves and their students
by differentiating their teaching based on students needs. As Shulman (1986) accurately
observes about teachers pedagogical content knowledge:

Instructors should be equipped

with the ability of presenting and formulating the subject that makes it comprehensible to
others. Since there are no single powerful forms of representation, the teacher must have at
hand a veritable armamentarium of alternative forms of representation (p. 9).
The voices of this group of teachers lend credence to the belief that teachers
willingness to implement CLT and teachers knowledge of appropriate tools can make CLT
classroom possible and successful. However, not every teacher is willing to try as hard as the
above teachers, and not every teacher is as creative as T7.

The government, universities, or

teacher preparation programs could invite teachers who have succeeded with different CLT
practices, as the above willing teachers do, to offer workshops or make short video
presentations of successful activities and examples to share online, such as in YouTube or
Google Videos. This would both address the need for more professional development and
might help more teachers become "willing."

Research
Current implementation
Previous studies present that the import of this Western approach has moved from
complete resistance (Burnaby & Sun, 1989; Kuo, 1995; LoCastro, 1996) to partial acceptance
(Li, 1998; Sato, 2002; Y. Su, 2002; Sugiyama, 2003) in Asian countries, and conclude that the
importance of developing communicative competence has been recognized and CLT is being
practiced to various degrees. While most of the literature, if not all, draws this conclusion
118

based on qualitative data and provides a descriptive report of current implementation of one
or several instructors or institutions, the present study has used both quantitative and
qualitative data to assess the degree of CLT implementation in Taiwan on a larger scale,
involving 71 participants from 20 universities. The applied random sampling data collection
also better represents the higher education population in Taiwan. The findings from this study
conform to the literature partially. While the participants agree developing communicative
ability should be the objective of English education, the degree of the implementation of each
participant varies and 20 percent of the participants report they are not practicing CLT. The
subgroup comparisons of teachers education levels, students proficiency levels, and types of
schools also show that the extent of implementation between subgroups varies significantly.
Future research can be conducted to further examine CLT implementation. Parallel
studies could examine the implementation in primary schools or middle schools. Also, more
comparison studies can be done at a broader macro level, across three educational levels,
among different countries, or between ESL and EFL contexts, or a micro level, between
English majors and non-English majors, or schools with different admission standards. Not
only could a bigger picture of implementation be illustrated but also possible contextual
factors and their impact could be confirmed, uncovered, or examined in-depth.
Contextual barriers
Since CLT is not implemented fully in Asian contexts, possible barriers are investigated
in the literature (Burnaby & Sun, 1989; Kuo, 1995; Li, 1998; LoCastro, 1996; Miller, 1998;
Rao, 2002; Sato, 2002; Sato & Kleinsasser, 1999; Y. Su, 2002; Sugiyama, 2003). The
problems pointed out in this study generally confirm the findings of previous studies which
indicate that barriers, such as students low proficiency levels, low motivation, large class
size, resistance to class participation still exist. The current study goes further to examine
the effects caused by these factors, such as stopping the instructors from practicing CLT
119

completely, making the practice more difficult, or just bothering the instructors.

In addition,

the current study also ranks factors that inhibit CLT practice and compares perceptions
between CLT practicing teachers and non-practicing teachers. Also, by interviewing the
teachers, the underlying constructs of these barriers, including concerns from policy, culture,
and teaching are revealed. Therefore, factors that stand out in the current sociocultural
context in Taiwan are recognized, such as students low levels due to the recent educational
reform in higher education.
For future research, each of these perspectives can be investigated individually. For
policy, policymakers and school administrators opinions can be included to compare with
practitioners viewpoints. The impact of educational policy on different schools or different
groups of students, such as public or private schools and English majors and non-English
majors, can be compared. Cross-cultural studies of CLT practice can be conducted to look at
cultural or pedagogical aspects. Mitchell and Lee (2003) compared CLT practice in Korea
and England. Emphases on accuracy and repetition occurred in both classrooms whereas
cross-cultural differences, such as preferences for group activities and individual activities,
remained. The results could distinguish factors related to cultures from factors related to
students levels. However, this type of cross-cultural comparison of CLT implementation has
barely been done and could be explored more.
Future practice
All the literature concludes that adaptation is needed, and some suggestions are proposed,
such as teaching grammar explicitly (Saengboon, 2002; Y. Su, 2002), balancing linguistic
competence and communicative competence, using students L1 (Rao, 1996), and building
students confidence (Miller, 1998; Y. Su, 2002). Echoing these suggestions, this study further
explores the participants actual adaptation process examining when these suggestions should
be done, with whom and in what way. A model of CLT practice that differentiates instruction
120

based on students levels is proposed. Future research can be done to try out the suggestions
proposed in the literature or the present study, and modification can be made. When
evaluating the results, students opinions can be compared with the instructors opinions.
Also, studies could examine the adaptation process of CLT and the way local
practitioners reflect upon their teaching experiences and construct their own ways of teaching.
Recent studies evaluating Western education programs point out these teacher preparation
programs fail to prepare students to teach abroad (D. Liu, 1999) and suggest students should
develop the ability to decide what social, cultural, and academic adjustments the prospective
teachers will have to make to fit into the existing setup (Govardhan, Nayar, & Sheorey, 1999,
p. 124). Even though the need has been indicated, few studies have been done to look at
whether this issue is addressed and how. Liyanage and Barletts (2008) study is one of the
few studies, if not the only one, to look at how NNES reflect upon how they apply Western
approaches in their local contexts in a Contextually Responsive Teacher Training program.
Therefore, more research could be done to look at how professional development for
pre-service teachers and in-service teachers can be improved in this respect. Also, the
participants in this study attended graduate schools in Western countries. Their sensitivity
with contextual differences might be different from teachers who learn CLT from local
teacher preparation programs. Comparison between these two groups might provide some
insights for professional development, too.

Implications
below.

In short, the recommendation for policy, teaching, and research are summarized

Table 33 Recommendations

Recommendations for Policy


Alternative English education (e.g. ESP) could be provided to students in the lowest
ranked universities.
121

Communicative Language Teaching could be applied in primary school, middle school,


and university level coherently and consistently.
Governments evaluation criteria of universities could reflect the objective of
implementing CLT.
Different evaluation standards could be applied to schools with higher admission
standards from the ones with lower admission standards.
More funding could be allocated to decrease class size.
More resources could be allocated to improve education qualities of non-English majors.
Recommendations for Teaching
Teachers act as cultural mediators being aware that students traditional ways of thinking
shape their learning behaviors.
CLT could be implemented gradually by starting with re-introducing CLT and educating
students appropriate ways of learning English.
Teachers could use carrot and stick way of teaching by encouraging students, giving
bonus points, monitoring, and providing guidance and regulation.
Teachers could gradually help students to develop multiple identities to adapt to the
Western style of learning.
Teachers could adjust teaching reflecting students proficiency levels. For lower level
students, teacher-centeredness, fluency, structured activities, and foundation building
could be emphasized. For higher level students, extensive exposure, open-ended
activities, accuracy, and student-centeredness could be sought.
Willing teachers could be invited to offer workshops or make video presentations of
successful activities.
Recommendations for Research
Comparison of implementation of CLT in different education levels, countries, ESL and
EFL contexts, students with different levels, or schools with different admission
standards could be made.
The impact of policy on CLT can be investigated individually. Policymakers and school
administrators opinions could be included and compared with teachers perceptions.
The impact of culture on CLT could be investigated in the way of cross-cultural studies
of CLT implementations.
Suggestions or adaptation made in the related studies as well as this study could be tried
and modified.
How teacher preparation programs prepare teachers to teach in their local contexts could
be investigated.
Comparison could be done between teachers attending Western teacher preparation
programs and teachers trained locally.
Conclusion
The findings in this study reveal that CLT implementation in Taiwan is influenced by
the governments rigid top-down policy, learners persistent traditional culture, and students
heterogeneous proficiency levels. Therefore, local L2 teachers need to be able to scrutinize
and navigate the consequence that broader macro-structures, such as educational policies and
122

curricular mandates, have on their daily classroom practices (K. E. Johnson, 2009, p. 114);
have cultural sensitivity to understand that learners cultural values shape their learning
behaviors, and know how to modify classroom interactions to better accommodate them
(Gay, 2002, p. 111); and challenge the modern educational philosophy: language teaching
should be collaborative and interactive rather than transmission-oriented, student-centered
rather than teacher-centered, attentive to meaning and fluency rather than exclusively to form
and accuracy (Kubota, 1998, p. 398).

Accordingly, a Responsive CLT Model is proposed

to reflect the contextual realities that policies control at the top, culture affects the entire
learning process, and teaching differentiates based upon students proficiency levels.

Responsive CLT Model

As one participant reflected, I shouldnt assume students need to be the way I have
expected. I shouldnt assume how a good class should be (T11_Interview). As Prabhu (1990,
p. 162) proposed: Different methods are best for different contexts (p. 162). Simply
reproducing or adopting theory is problematic. It is important for a teachers sense of
123

plausibility to remain alive and therefore open to change, not just look for the best method
(Prabhu, 1990, p. 174). Likewise, several Taiwanese university teachers of English in this
study implement this Western theory from the fidelity perspective, go through an adaptation
process, and construct their enacted experience of the classroom (Snyder et al., 1992, p.
418) to better serve themselves. However, while some instructors are willing and know how
to construct a contextually responsive curriculum, not every one is able to do so. After having
the MOE mandate CLT in Taiwan for decades, it does appear that most teachers, except some
in extreme situations, have adapted and enacted many of the principles of CLT in ways that
respond to local pressures. Some of these teachers have developed strong teaching activities
and adaptations well worth sharing more broadly.
This also leaves a future challenge for located L2 teacher education programs (K. E.
Johnson, 2009):
Constructing locally appropriate responses to support the preparation and
professionalism of L2 teacher is and will continue to be a challenge for L2 teacher
education. It will entail recognizing how changing sociopolitical and
socioeconomic contexts impact upon the ways in which L2 teachers are positioned,
how they enact their teaching practices, and, more importantly, the kinds of
learning environments they are willing and able to create for their L2 students (p.
115).

Limitations
This study has several limitations. First, although random sampling was done to
recruit the participants in this study, the total number of the participants was rather limited
(N=71) compared to the total university EFL instructor population. To better represent the
current implementation of CLT in Taiwan, a larger scale study could be done. Second, higher
numbers from different sub-groups could be sought to more closely examine the opinions and
practices of teachers who taught English majors and teachers who taught non-English majors,
teachers with Doctorate degrees and teachers with Master degrees,
124

teachers at public

universities and private universities, and traditional schools and science and technology
schools. Third, course-related documents were one of the data sources in the current study.
Except for course syllabi and textbooks, only a few activity sheets and evaluation sheets were
collected. To get a detailed picture of the classroom practice, a more complete collection of
documents could be done and these could be supplemented with classroom observations.
Fourth, the findings drawn in this study were based upon teachers points of view. Students
perceptions could be included to compare and contrast with teachers.

125

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133

Appendix A Questionnaire
Questionnaire
I Background information
1. Name: _______________
2. Age: ___
3. Gender:
___male
___female
4. Years of Experience Teaching English After Obtaining Your Highest Degree____
5. Level of Education: Bachelors degree ___ Masters degree ___ Doctorate ___
6. Which group of students are you teaching? English major___ English non-major__
(If you are teaching both, please select one that your answers will be based on.)
7. What courses are you currently teaching?
II Communicative Language Teaching (CLT)
Communicative Language Teaching places a high value actually using oral and written
language for authentic communication and purposes as a means for students to learn. This
approach has been advocated by Western Foreign Language teaching programs for many
years and is now also being advocated by several Asian countries. Please indicate
experiences you have had in learning about and/or using aspects of CLT in your English
teaching.
8. Did you learn about CLT in your teacher education program in Western countries?
___yes
___no
9. Have you tried CLT?
___Yes, and I am still using it now.
___Yes, but I am not using it now.
___No, never (Skip to item 11 if you answered No)

134

10. In the scale of 1 to 5, where would you place your current implementation of each
principle of CLT? (fully practice 5
4
3
2
1 rarely practice)
___The objective is to develop students communicative competence. Activities have
communicative intent and involve social interaction.
(Students use English appropriate in relation to a context or a listener. Example
activities include games, role play, problem-solving tasks, information gap, and paired
or group activities.)
___The role of the student is a communicator.
(Students engage in negotiating meanings and try to make them understood and
understand others.)
___Four skills are integrated. Both form and meaning are emphasized. Language
functions are over forms. Fluency might be over accuracy.
(Students focus on expressing themselves clearly than focusing on grammar analysis
or punctuation. However, it is encouraged to teach grammar in context.)
___Instructional materials may include thematic development materials, task-based
materials, and authentic, real life materials.
___Students are evaluated both fluency and accuracy by being asked to perform a real
communicative function.
(i.e. To assess students writing skill, they are asked to write a letter to a friend.)
11. The following are some difficulties that other EFL teachers had in adopting CLT. Did
you come across these difficulties or do you think they might be difficulties for you in
adopting CLT in Taiwan? MP = Major Problem, PP = Potential Problem and NP =
Not a Problem
Teacher Insufficient Communicative Competence/Teacher Preparation
MP___
1. Teachers limited proficiency in spoken English
MP___
2. Teachers limited sociolinguistic/cultural competence
MP___
3. Teachers lack of training in CLT
4. Teachers having few opportunities for in-service training
MP___
in CLT
Time, Resources, Support and Class Size Concerns
5. Teachers having little time for developing materials for
CLT classes
6. Lack of authentic teaching materials
7. Large classes
8. Fixed curriculum/schedule
9. Insufficient funding, school facilities
10. Lack of support from colleagues and administrators

135

MP___
MP___
MP___
MP___
MP___
MP___

PP___ NP___
PP___ NP___
PP___ NP___
PP___

NP___

PP___
PP___
PP___
PP___
PP___
PP___

NP___
NP___
NP___
NP___
NP___
NP___

Testing and Teaching Philosophy Concerns


11. Grammar-based examinations
12. Lack of assessing instruments
Student Resistance
13. Students low English proficiency
14. Students lack of motivation for developing communicative
competence
15. Students resistance to class participation
16. Students resistance because of the concept of Chinese
culture about teacher as central and knowledge transmitter
17. Students resistance because of the traditional concept
that learning should be serious, not playing games.
Classroom Practice Concerns
18. The conflict of using textbooks or not
19. The conflict of using English to teach English
20. The conflict of emphasizing process or product
21. The conflict of doing grammar explanation and error
correction
22. The conflict of focusing on rote memorization and
repetition
23. Concerns about heterogeneous grouping and students
needs
Other concerns ________ (Please specify)

136

MP___
MP___

PP___
PP___

NP___
NP___

MP___

PP___

NP___

MP___
MP___

PP___
PP___

NP___
NP___

MP___

PP___

NP___

MP___

PP___

NP___

MP___
MP___
MP___

PP___ NP___
PP___ NP___
PP___ NP___

MP___

PP___

NP___

MP___
MP___

PP___
PP___

NP___
NP___

Appendix B Interview Protocol


1. Could you walk me through the process how you learned CLT, your initial practice, and
current practice? When you practiced CLT at the beginning stage, was it different from
what you are practicing now? Do you make any adjustment when you implement CLT in
your classroom? If so, how do you adapt CLT in your classroom? Why do you make this
adaptation?
2. Could you explain your syllabus? Please describe how you practice CLT in your class.
Could you give some examples?
3. What problems have you encountered? How do they influence your practice of CLT? How
do you address the problems? Which problem do you find most difficult to address? Are
there any other factors that influence your practice of CLT?
4. What makes CLT successful in your classrooms? What components do you consider
essential in your CLT classrooms? Why is that?
5. Could we do the last part of interview in English? How do you think your previous
training experiences in Western countries help you practice CLT? What kind of
professional development will be helpful to your current practice of CLT?

137

Appendix C Codes
I Degree of Practice
a. Degree of Practice_ Communicative Objective_Yes (No)
b. Degree of Practice_ Communicative Role_Yes (No)
c. Degree of Practice_ Four-Skill Integration_Yes (No)
d. Degree of Practice_Authentic Material_Yes (No)
e. Degree of Practice_ Communicative Function Evaluation_Yes (No)
II Facilitative Factors
a. Facilitative Factor_(Indicate the factor)
b. Effect of the Facilitative Factor_(Indicate the effect)
III Inhibitive Factors
a. Inhibitive Factor_(Indicate the factor)
b. Effect of the Inhibitive Factor_(indicate the effect)
IV Adaptation
a. Adaptation_(indicate the adapted phenomenon)
b. Reason for Making Adaptation_(indicate the reason)
V Activity Example

VI Textbook

VII Suggestions for Teacher Preparation Programs or Professional Development

VIII Interesting Points

138

Appendix D Textbooks
Course
Business English
Speech, Presentation &
Negotiation
Speech
Conversation
Oral Communication in
English
Composition and
Conversation
English Oral Expression
Listening and Conversation
Listening
Vocabulary
English Selection
English Reading and
Composition
Writing
General English
General English
General English
General English
General English
General English
General English
General English
General English
General English
General English
General English
General English
General English
General English

Textbook
Effective Meetings
Speaking and Presenting
Speech Communication:
Made Simple
World Pass Advanced
Intelligent Business:
Skills Book Intermediate
Strategies: A Rhetoric and
Reader with Handbook
Communication Strategies 3

Publisher
Oxford University Press
South-Western Educational
Publishing Inc.
Pearson Longman
Thomson Learning
Pearson Education
Longman
Cengage Learning

Face The Issues


Intermediate Listening and
Critical Thinking Skills
Listen In 3
Reading Advantage 3
College Reading Workshop
Well Read: Skills and
Strategies for Reading

Addison Wesley Longman

Good reasons: Designing and


writing effective
20th Century American Short
Stories
Submit 1
Outlook 1
Impact Values
Campus Talk

Pearson Longman

English Conversation in
Taiwan Upper Intermediate
Interactions 1
Top Notch TV 3
Interchange 2
English in Action 3
Smart Choice 2
Off We Go Intro, 1
Tune In: Learning English
Through Listening 2
Interchange 1
Fundamentals of English
Grammar
139

Thomson Heinle
Thomson Heinle
Compass Publishing Inc.
Oxford University Press

Heinle & Heinle Publishers


Pearson Longman
Thomson Heinle
Pearson Longman
Tung Hua Book Company
Ltd.
Crane Publishing Co., Ltd.
McGraw-Hill Companies,
Inc.
Pearson Longman
Cambridge
Thomson Heinle
Oxford University Press

Oxford University Press


Cambridge University Press
Pearson Longman

General English

Global Eyes 1

General English

Grammar in Use

Cambridge University Press

140

Vita
Yu-ju Hung
Education
2006. 8 2009. 12

Ph.D. in the Department of Literacy, Culture, and Language

Education, Indiana University Bloomington

Minor: Second Language Studies


2001.9 2003.7

M.A. in English/TESOL Track, National Kaohsiung First


University of Science and Technology (NKFUST), Kaohsiung
County, Taiwan.

1999.9 2001.6
1990.9 1995.6

B.A. in English, NKFUST, Kaohsiung County, Taiwan.


Associate in English, Wen Tzao Junior College, Kaohsiung
City, Taiwan

Honors and Awards

Summer 2009 International Conference Travel Grant from


the Ministry of Education, Taiwan
Spring 2009
Ruth G. Strickland Memorial Fellowship in
Language Education at Indian University
Bloomington
Winter 2008
International Conference Travel Grant from
the Ministry of Education, Taiwan
Spring 2008 Pre-Dissertation Research Grant in The
International Programs Committees (IPC) at
Indiana University Bloomington
Spring 2008
Ruth G. Strickland Memorial Fellowship in
Language Education at Indian University
Bloomington

Doctorate Dissertation
Linking Theory to Practice:
Implementation of CLT by Taiwanese University Teachers of English
Masters Thesis
Taiwanese EFL College Students Experience of Practicing Pleasure Reading:
Preference, Barrier, and Attitude
Publications
Journal Article
Hung, Y. (2009). Reader response and ethnicity: A difference that makes a difference.
Journal of English as an International Language. The English International Language
Journal, 4, 66-92.
(ISSN: 1718-2301)

Conference Proceedings
Hung, Y., & Lee, M. (2009). Students Perceptions of Instructors Roles in Asynchronous
Online Education. In the proceedings of E-learn (pp. 2698-2703). Vancouver, Canada.
Huang, H., & Hung, Y. (2009). An overview of information technology on language
education. In the proceedings of E-learn. Vancouver, Canada.
Hung, Y. (2009). Taiwanese EFL college students practice of pleasure reading:
Experience, preferences, and barriers. In the proceedings of Hawaii International
Conference on Education (pp. 3324-3339). Honolulu, HI.
Hung, Y. (2009). Content-based Instruction Models in L2 Contexts. In the proceedings of
Hawaii International Conference on Education (pp. 3340-3352). Honolulu, HI.
Presentations
Hung, Y., Huang, H., & Coronel-Molina, S. M. (2009, March). The analyses of meaning
negotiation in NS-NNS and NNS-NNS interactions: The sociocultural perspective and
linguistic domain. Paper presented at the American Association for Applied
Linguistics (AAAL), Colorado.
Hung, Y. (2008, March). Reader response and ethnicity: A differences that makes a
difference. Paper presented at the Annual Conference of American Educational
Research Association (AERA), New York.
Hung, Y. & Lee, M. (2003, November). Taiwanese EFL students experience of
practicing pleasure reading: Attitude, preference, and barrier. Paper presented at
Twelfth International Symposium on English Teaching, Taipei, Taiwan.
Chen, Y. & Hung, Y. (2003, November). An investigation of EFL students perspectives
on anxiety and in-class activities. Paper presented at Symposium on Foreign
Language Application and Research at NKFUST, Kaohsioung, Taiwan.

Projects
Research Assistant, Tandem Certification of Indiana Teachers (TACIT) funded by the U.S.
Department of Education through the Office of English Language Acquisition, 2008-2009.
Research Assistant, The Interdisciplinary Collaborative Program (ICP): A Professional
Development Program for Content and ESL Teachers in Indiana, funded by the U.S.
Department of Education through the Office of English Language Acquisition, 2009.
Coordinator, Creating an Effective Campus-wide English Learning Environment: A
Project for Setting up NKFUST Multi-media English Learning Center, funded by the
Ministry of Education, 2003.

Editor, Multimedia English Learning Materials for Students at NKFUST, funded by the
Ministry of Education, 2002.
Editor, Multimedia English Learning Materials for Students at NKFUST: Grammar,
2002.
Editor, Multimedia English Learning Materials for Students at NKFUST: Children
Work Experiences
Nov. 2008- Present
Sep. 2008- Present

TOEFLiBT Writing Rater, ETS


Duties: scoring essays
Instructor, Department of Literacy, Culture, and Language
Education, Indiana University-Bloomington
Duties: teaching two graduate courses: Language Foundation
for ESL/EFL Teachers & Second Language Writing

Sep. 2004 - Jun. 2006 Lecturer, Department of English Education at National


Pingtung Teachers College, Pingtung City.
Duties: teaching GEPT & General English
Feb. 2003 - Jun. 2006 Lecturer, English Department at NKFUST, Kaohsiung County.
Duties: teaching Writing
Sep. 1995 - Aug. 2001 English teacher, Diana Language Institution, Kaohsiung City
Duties: teaching English to elementary school students and
junior high school students