Pros and Cons of Dancing in the Dark: Enhancing EFL learners' oral proficiency in an unplugged learning community

Document Type: Research Paper

Authors

1 Department of English Language, Isfahan (Khorasgan) Branch, Islamic Azad University, Isfahan, Iran

2 Department of English, Majlesi Branch, Islamic Azad University, Isfahan, Iran

Abstract

Recent thrust of research has focused on non-conventional classrooms for teaching to EFL learners. Amongst the newly developed models, Unplugged Classroom Model (UCM) is the most debated one as textbooks are aside and the syllabus is based on conversation-driven activities. This study sought to determine the pros and cons of unplugged teaching for enhancing EFL learners' oral proficiency. From a pool of 317 intermediate and upper-intermediate Iranian EFL learners, 120 intermediate and upper-intermediate learners (60 each) were selected based on SPEAK NOW 1-4 Interview Placement Exam and were divided into conventional and non-conventional classrooms at each proficiency level. The participants in the non-conventional classrooms received unplugged instruction; whereas, their counterparts in the control group (conventional) classrooms were taught according to their textbook's instruction. Both quantitative and qualitative methods were used to measure learners' performances before and after instruction through paper-based exams and interviews. Participants' perspectives and viewpoints in the non-conventional classrooms were analyzed using the Community of Inquiry (CoI) questionnaire and the instructor's observations, respectively. The findings revealed that not only did the UCM participants enjoy collaborative learning but also enhanced their learning ability to produce more orally proficient utterances and to expand their gained knowledge in order to scaffold their classmates' conversation.

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