PECHA KUCHA: BOLSTERING EFL SKILLS OF UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS- AN ACTION RESEARCH STUDY
ESPOL Polytechnic University (ECUADOR)
About this paper:
Conference name: 13th International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 11-13 March, 2019
Location: Valencia, Spain
Abstract:According to Education First (EF), the English Proficiency Index (EPI) of 2017 demonstrates that Latin American countries have experienced a downward trend in the English as a foreign language (EFL) skills. Although governments of the region aimed to guarantee free access to education, economic inequality, corruption and violence affect the performance of students at all the educational levels as well as their proficiency in English. In Ecuadorian tertiary academic settings, the Higher Education Council (CES, acronym in Spanish) mandates that undergraduate students must reach a B2 level of a foreign language according to the Common European Framework of Reference for languages (CEFR). Concurrently, English is the lingua franca of the academic communities around the world. Thus, in the Foreign Languages Center of the Higher Education Institution (HEI) where this study took place, the undergraduate students take English along with other subjects that are part of their academic majors’ curricula. Furthermore, in the surveys about the alumni performance in their work places, employers recommended that undergraduate students should receive intensive training in writing and speaking. Hence, the third institutional learning outcome in the HEI addresses the undergraduate students’ ability to communicate effectively in oral and written English. For this purpose, the Foreign Languages Center of the HEI adopted student-centered approaches that facilitate opportunities where the students can practice EFL reading, writing, listening and speaking through innovative strategies and methodologies. In this context, this action research seeks to address how undergraduate students can enhance their EFL skills with the Pecha Kucha oral presentation style. Therefore, the setting of this study is a public Polytechnic University of Guayaquil, Ecuador where forty five students of A2 and B1 CEFR level learnt about the Pecha Kucha. Hence, students attended face to face sessions where the teacher responded to diverse questions and concerns regarding the oral presentation format. In addition, Pecha Kucha information sheets and other relevant resources were available on the online platform of the university. Data collection included observations, interviews, documents, and authorized videos. Findings revealed that students experience with Pecha Kucha presentation format was unique and presented challenges which affected either positively or negatively the students’ oral performance. Moreover, the students integrated their EFL skills as they had to read, write, listen and speak to comply with the task. The selection of a topic related to their majors was another positive factor. In addition, students’ preparation and practice were key factor in making an outstanding presentations. However, students also reported anxiety when speaking in English for an audience with a set time frame. Lack of vocabulary and fluency were other disturbing factors. In general, the experience highlighted compelling information for reflection and analysis.
Keywords: Pecha Kucha, EFL skills, undergraduate students, higher education institution (HEI), Action Research.