The perceptions of Chinese junior high and senior high students regarding the teaching and learning of English listening and speaking skills
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Education researchers, professional associations and classroom teachers firmly believe that more authentic curriculum and revamped teaching methods are critical to school improvement. The current literature has demonstrated a general agreement that student perceptions play an important role in the improvement of language teaching and learning. Considering that a mismatch or inconsistency exists between the perspectives and preferences of teachers and students in language teaching and learning, this dissertation examines the perceptions of Chinese secondary school students regarding the teaching and learning of English listening and speaking skills. One belief the researcher firmly holds is that for most highly motivated students the goals of using English to communicate meaningfully can be achieved through appropriate teaching methods which are based on students' interests and perceptions of what and how we teach. This study, using a 60-item self-designed questionnaire in the format of five-point Likert-type scale (1=strongly disagree; 5=strongly agree) examined three research questions about form-focused and communication-focused English instruction as well as student integrative and instrumental motivation. The subjects used in this study were 600 Chinese secondary school students (300 ninth-grade and 300 twelfth-grade students), who were enrolled at two public secondary schools in a medium-sized city in China. In this study, factorial validity was ascertained using principal component analysis followed by varimax rotation method. Data analysis included frequency distributions, percentages, means, standard deviations, two-way MANOVA and multiple linear regression. Results from two-way MANOVA analysis indicated that significant differences existed in the means of form-focused instruction, communication-focused instruction, integrative motivation and instrumental motivation between the two groups of junior high and senior high students. Senior high students were more positive toward communication-focused instruction, and more integratively and instrumentally motivated to learn English. Results from two-way MANOVA also showed that there were significant differences in the means of form-focused instruction and integrative motivation between male and female students. Female students were more positive toward communication-focused instruction, and more integratively motivated to learn English. However, no significant differences existed in the means of communication-focused instruction and instrumental motivation between male and female students. From multiple linear regression analysis, integrative motivation was the best predictor of student English achievement. Form-focused instruction, communication-focused instruction and instrumental motivation had some relationship with students' academic achievement, but the relationship was not strong enough to be significant. Conclusively speaking, this quantitative study contributes to the growing understanding of the perceptions of Chinese secondary school students regarding their English learning experience and learning motivation. Its findings are beneficial to the improvement of students¡' English listening and speaking skills and to the future studies in this area.