Scholarly article on topic 'Investigating the Effect of Bilingualism and Social Class on Class Participation of Iranian EFL Learners'

Investigating the Effect of Bilingualism and Social Class on Class Participation of Iranian EFL Learners Academic research paper on "Sociology"

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Abstract of research paper on Sociology, author of scientific article — Aliakbar Pormouzeh, Leila Jahani Azar

Abstract This study investigated the effect of bilingualism and social class on class participation of Iranian EFL learners. For independent variable of social class, students were distinguished into three groups of low, middle, and high class, and with respect to language variable participants were either bilingual or monolingual. Population of this study was monolingual and bilingual students of both IAU South Tehran Branch and Allameh Tabatabaei Universities. 120 students were selected as samples that after data collection 90 questionnaires were qualified for analysis. This research was an applied study that measured the level of classroom participation using (Zheng, 2008) questionnaire. The validity and reliability of the study were achieved using Chrobach's Alpha (95%) and experts’ ideas. Data were analyzed using SPSS 20 software. Result showed that there is no significant difference between language groups and classroom participation. Otherwise, there was a significant difference between social status and classroom participation. Therefore, there was a significant relationship between language and social class with respect to classroom participation. At first, monolinguals and high class students had higher classroom participation (mean=3.9333), then bilingual and high school students (3.6000) had higher levels of classroom participation.

Academic research paper on topic "Investigating the Effect of Bilingualism and Social Class on Class Participation of Iranian EFL Learners"

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Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 192 (2015) 290 - 297

2nd GLOBAL CONFERENCE on LINGUISTICS and FOREIGN LANGUAGE TEACHING, LINELT-2014, Dubai - United Arab Emirates, December 11 - 13, 2014

Investigating the Effect of Bilingualism and Social Class on Class Participation of Iranian EFL Learners

Aliakbar Pormouzeha*, Leila Jahani Azara

aMA in Translation Studies, Islamic Azad University, East Azarbaijan Science and Research Branch, Iran

Abstract

This study investigated the effect of bilingualism and social class on class participation of Iranian EFL learners. For independent variable of social class, students were distinguished into three groups of low, middle, and high class, and with respect to language variable participants were either bilingual or monolingual. Population of this study was monolingual and bilingual students of both IAU South Tehran Branch and Allameh Tabatabaei Universities. 120 students were selected as samples that after data collection 90 questionnaires were qualified for analysis. This research was an applied study that measured the level of classroom participation using (Zheng, 2008) questionnaire. The validity and reliability of the study were achieved using Chrobach's Alpha (95%) and experts' ideas. Data were analyzed using SPSS 20 software. Result showed that there is no significant difference between language groups and classroom participation. Otherwise, there was a significant difference between social status and classroom participation. Therefore, there was a significant relationship between language and social class with respect to classroom participation. At first, monolinguals and high class students had higher classroom participation (mean=3.9333), then bilingual and high school students (3.6000) had higher levels of classroom participation. © 2015TheAuthors.PublishedbyElsevierLtd.This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.Org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).

Peer-review under responsibility of Academic World Research and Education Center. Keywords: social status, bilingualism, monolingual, class participation

l.Introduction

In many countries over the world people speak two or more languages, but one of these languages is considered as the formal language (Vaaca et al, 1995). One is bilingual if his/her mother tongue is different from teaching language in the school. Most of the Iranians born with their own mother tongue and then in the school or by exposure to environment they learn the second language and when they learn the third language they became

* Aliakbar Pormouzeh. Tel: 0918 935 5508 E-mail address: a.pormouzeh@gmail.com

1877-0428 © 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.Org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).

Peer-review under responsibility of Academic World Research and Education Center. doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2015.06.042

trilingual. Social class is another variable that its nature still is not totally clear to determine some social groups have more class participation in classroom setting. Studies claimed that bilingualism is a positive factor in educational learning, but this issue needs to be approved. However, social class is a phenomenon in which individuals are classified on the basis of the level of income, education, and power.

This study introduced the effect of bilingualism and social class on class participation of Iranian EFL learners. In this research bilingualism and social class are two independent variables in which the authors attempted to investigate their effects on class participation of TEFL students in IAU University of South Tehran Branch and Allameh Tabatabaei University. Regarding the process of language learning, this study tried to investigate if bilingualism and social class are fostering or deterring factors on classroom participation? And consequently what is their effect on learning English as foreign language? Authors tried to examine either bilinguals or monolinguals have more participation in the classroom while learning foreign language? Social class, retrospectively, was divided into three categories of law, middle, and high classes and participants in each group were examined during learning foreign language. This study is significant as fostering and deterring factors that influence on language learning should be specified in order to release or evolve them in schedules and curriculum design. To fulfill the aim of study, this experimental research answers the following three questions:

1. Is there any significant difference between language groups (monolingual and bilingual) and classroom participation?

2. Is there any significant difference between social classes respecting classroom participation?

3. Is there any significant relationship between different language groups respecting classroom participation?

2. Review of Literature

Classroom participation means being present with all required class materials, answering questions, offering constructive opinions, and generally cooperating with the teacher and other students in the class (Ghasemi, 2013, p. 11). Participation, also, has been defined as "the number of unsolicited responses volunteered" (Burchfield and Sappington, 1999, p. 290). Generally, it is believed that class participation is asking and answering questions, raising one's hand and asking comments in the classroom. Strong evidences can be referred to for the importance of class participation (Lyons, 1989; Petress, 2006; Weaver& Qi, 2005). Junn (1994) concluded that participation enhances student's motivation. Weaver& Qi, (2005) found that students who participate in the classroom discussions better learn materials. Another benefit stated by Kuh and Umbach (2004) is that those who participate in the class are those who had self-reported gains. Moreover, a study conducted by Crone (1997) showed that classroom participation plays an effective role on learners' critical thinking. Armestrong and Boud, (1983) believed participation in discussions improves in-group interactions and according to Girgin and Stevens (2005) it causes functioning in the society. Fassinger (1995) found benefits of students' participation and Fritschner (2000) also found necessity of participation in their own learning. Another study found a positive relationship between classroom participation and learners' scores (Handelsman et al, 2005). In one study it was specified that from among the entire students only one third like to participate in the classroom (Wade, 1994). Karp and Yoels (1976) discovered that only a little number of students in any given classroom participates regularly and they called it "consolidation of responsibility" (P.429). Similarly, in an experimental study Howard and Henney (1998) showed that half of the students did not have any participation in the classroom. There are many factors that influence on class participation, but the two important factors investigated here are bilingualism and social class.

There are limited studies about the effect of social class on classroom participation. Having incorporating the ideas of (Karakayali, 2009; Bogardus, 1947) this study divided the social class into three subcategories namely high, middle and low classes. (Agodini, 2004) in Factors that influence participation in secondary vocational education found that regardless of academic achievement and educational aspirations, students from poor families are more likely to participate in vocational education. Also, he found that black students are just as likely as white students to participate in vocational education, while Hispanic students are slightly less likely to participate. Therefore, poor students that belong to low class more participate in the classroom activities. Closely related to social class for a long period of time it was believed that bilinguals have greater classroom participation and also they are more advanced in their achievement due to their mental lateralization in the result of knowing one extra language than monolinguals. (Kovelman et al, 2008) in a study found that behaviorally, in English, bilinguals and monolinguals had the same speed and accuracy and bilinguals had a different pattern of performance in Spanish and both monolinguals (in one language) and bilinguals (in each language) show increases in activation in classic language

areas.

(Zhou and Nan, 2012) in a study titled as "Factors that influence EFL learners' English class oral participation: a case study in a Chinese university" explored the factors that influenced on Chinese tertiary students' voluntary participation in English class oral tasks. They found that multitude of factors influence on classroom participation and "cultural factors that are rooted in social status of individuals" influences on classroom participation. (Rocca, 2010) in an article titled as "Student Participation in the College Classroom: An Extended Multidisciplinary Literature Review" indicated that instructor communication patterns that provide further evidence on the importance of the instructor's role are facilitating student participation. Also, he stated that negative communication behaviors of teachers influence on participation of students in the classroom. In this study, surprisingly it was specified that students with disabilities or behavior disorders have higher class participation; therefore, such higher rates is the result of "low academic achievement, low educational aspirations, and low socioeconomic backgrounds" - not disabilities or behavior disorders. Whether the factors of social class and bilingualism are influential in class participation that were discussed briefly, now the experimental study ensuring the effect of such variables on class participation seems quite necessary.

3.Methodology

3.1.Participants

This research is a quantitative and experimental study analyzing the effect of bilingualism and social class on class participation. The population of this study are monolingual and bilingual (senior first year) students of Teaching English as Foreign Language (TEFL) in Tehran City. From among this population, students of the two universities (IAU South Tehran Branch and Allameh Tabatabaei University) majoring in TEFL (mainly oral communication lessons) were selected as samples. 120 questionnaires were distributed among participants and 90 questionnaires were eligible to be analyzed, 30 students were excluded for the study, because of incomplete questionnaires. Frequency of the total students in the two universities after answering the social class and bilingualism questionnaires showed that monolinguals were 40 students (44.4%) and bilinguals were 50 students (55.6%). Students were from 19 to 24 years old. Also, the final results of social class of students showed that 28 (31.1%) were low class, 40 (44.4%) students were middle class and finally the number of high class students was 22 (24.4%) students.

3.2.Instruments

The social class and language (Bilingualism/monolingualism) of students were measured on the basis of a researcher made questionnaire containing 10 questions basically measuring participants' education of parents, income and place of life and on the basis of such criteria they were divided into three groups of high, middle and low classes. The questionnaire (incorporating Bogardus's (1926) social class and (Karakayali, 2009) social distance ideas) was revised three times until it was approved by professors and experts of TEFL courses of both aforementioned universities.

To measure the level of class participation the (Zheng, 2008) questionnaire was used. This questionnaire is prepared in 4 parts; section one asks 2 questions about age and sex of students, section two includes one question with five (never to always) items asking about students' idea about class participation and section three includes a story about classroom condition and asks four questions that should be answered using Likert scale, the fourth section includes 20 questions that were scored on the basis of Likert scale from 1 to 5. In this section "1" represented the minimum rate of class participation and "5" was the maximum rate of participation: 1 (low), 2 (average), 3 (good), 4 (very good), 5 (excellent).

3.3.Validity and Reliability

The validity of this questioner was achieved using Chrobach's Alfa and showed that by 95% confident the questionnaire is approved. Also, reliability of the questionnaire was achieved by supervisor's and experts' ideas. To determine the validity of the Persian translation of questionnaires, back-translation was performed and result showed that translation of the questionnaire in Persian language is satisfactory. Translators of the questionnaire were M.A.

students of English Translation field in Allamah Tabatabaei University. A pilot study was conducted among students in Persian literature field in Allameh Tabatabaei University to ensure validity of the questionnaire. This step was taken to test students' understanding of each statement in the questionnaire. It helped students to notice problems in the questionnaire including type, misspelling, and ambiguous words for better understanding and achieving the final version.

3.4.Data Analysis Procedure

To analyze the data, the SPSS software version 20 was used. At first, descriptive statistics related to the variables of the study including the maximum and minimum scores, mean, and standard deviation were represented and normality of data was approved. Then, t-test was applied to measure if low-class monolingual students, middle-class monolingual students, or high-class monolingual students have more classroom participation, and/or low-class bilingual students, middle-class bilingual students, or high-class bilingual students have more class participation. In the next stage using T-independent and ANOVA tests the results were analyzed and finally multiple analysis of variables was performed.

3.Results and Discussion

3.1Results

3.1.1.Normality of the Data

The following table shows that classroom participation of apprentices is normal (mean=3.32) and because kurtosis and skewness of students' participation are in the acceptable range of +2 and -2 the normality of classroom participation is ensured.

Table 1. Descriptive statistics for normality of the data

N Statistic Minimum Statistic Maximum Statistic Mean Statistic Std. Deviation Statistic Skewness Statistic Std. Error Kurtosis Statistic Std. Error

Participation Valid N (listwise) 90 90 1.00 5.00 3.32 1.13 -.190 .254 -.731 503

3.1.2.Testing the Hypotheses

The above table shows that the results of classroom participation are normal. As the result of class participation is hypothesized to be the result of the two variables of language (monolingual or bilingual) and social class; therefore, three hypotheses can be imagined that are examined in the following section.

3.1.3. Testing the First Hypotheses

H1 : There is a significant difference between language groups (monolingual and bilingual) and classroom participation.

H0: There is no significant difference between language groups (monolingual and bilingual) and classroom participation.

The mean level for monolinguals' class participation was 3.28 and the same level for bilinguals was 3.37. Therefore, there is no significant difference between the two scores of class participation for monolinguals and bilinguals.

Table 2. Descriptive statistics for determining the mean and Std. Deviation of class participation among language groups language N Mean Std. Deviation Std. Error Mean participation Monolingual 50 3.2800 1.12558 .15918 _Bilingual_40_3.3750_1.14774_.18147

Table 3. Independent samples T-test for class participation

Levene's t-test for Equality of Means

Test for Equality of Variances

Sig. (2-tailed)

Mean Differ

Std. Error Difference

95% Confidence Interval of the Difference

Participatio Equal

varianc s

assume d

Equal varianc es not assume d

-.394 82.996

.0950 0

.695 -.09500 .24139

Lower -.57367

-.57512

Upper .38367

.38512

The independent samples t-test examines the effect of mono/bilingualism on the class participation. Result of Levene's Test shows that as the sig level (sig=0.69, t=-0.394, df=88) is more than 0.05%, therefore, we have equality of variances, and the H0 is not rejected. In other words, the scores of monolingual and bilingual's class participation are in the same level and there is no significant difference between language groups (monolingual and bilingual) and class participation.

3.1.4Testing the Second Hypotheses

H1 : There is a significant difference between social classes of the subjects and classroom participation. H0: There is no significant difference between social class of the subjects and their classroom participation. The result of descriptive statistics (mean) of classroom participation for the three social classes, namely low, middle, and high classes was 2.66, 3.28, and 3.76, respectively. To analyze the H0 hypothesis one-way ANOVA test was used (table 5).

Table 4. Descriptive statistics for the class participation of social class of subjects N Mea Std. Std. 95% Confidence Interval for Mean Minimum Maximum

n Deviation Error

Lower Bound Upper Bound

low class 18 2.66 .970 .228 2.18 3.14 1.00 5.00

Middle class 42 3.28 1.04 .160 2.96 3.61 1.00 5.00

High class 30 3.76 1.16 .212 3.33 4.20 2.00 5.00

Total 90 3.32 1.13 .119 3.08 3.55 1.00 5.00

Table 5. One-way NAOVA test of class participation between and within groups

Sum of Squares df Mean Square F Sig.

Between Groups 13.71 2 6.85 597 .ÔÔÏ

Within Groups 99.93 87 1.14

Total 113.65 89

As the p-value is less than 0.05 (sig=0.004), the H0 is rejected. In other words, there is a significant difference between different social classes of the subjects and classroom participation. The means showed that high class students have higher degree of class participation. To have precise results about classroom participation of different groups the follow up LSD test was used.

Table 6. LCD test for multiple comparisons of different social classes' classroom participation (I) social class (J) social class Mean Std. Error Sig. 95% Confidence Interval _Difference (I-J)_Lower Bound_Upper Bound

low class middle class high class

middle class high class low class high class low class middle class

-.61* -1.10* .61* -.48 1.10* .48

.30 .31 .30 .25 .31 .25

.043 .001 .043 .064 .001 .064

-1.21 -1.73 .01 -.99 .46 -.02

-.01 -.46 1.21

.02 1.73

• The mean difference is significant at the 0.05 level.

The follow up test showed that there is a significant different between high class subjects' classroom participation and the other two social class groups (sig=0.64). Therefore, high class students have higher classroom participation.

3.1.5Testing the Second Hypotheses

H1: There is a significant difference between language groups and social classes of subjects in classroom participation.

H0: There is no significant difference between language groups and social classes of subjects in classroom participation.

To analyze this hypothesis the General Linear Mode test was used that its result is shown in the following table. Result of descriptive statistics.

Table 7. Descriptive statistics for compound analysis of language groups, social classes and class room participation language monolingual

bilingual

Social class Mean Std. Deviation N

low class 2.58 1.08 1

middle class 3.21 .951 2

high class 3.93 1.09 1

Total 3.28 1.12 5

low class 2.83 .752 6

middle class 3.36 1.16 1

high class 3.60 1.24 1

Total 3.37 1.14 4

low class 2.66 .970 1

middle class 3.28 1.04 4

high class 3.76 1.16 3

Total 3.32 1.13 9

Result of descriptive statistics shows that high class group subjects have higher mean in both monolingual and bilingual groups in classroom participation.

Table 8. Tests of Between-Subjects Effects for interactive effect

Source Type III Sum of df Mean Square F Sig. Partial Eta

Squares Squared

Corrected Model 15.03 5 3.00 2.56 .033 .132

Intercept 796.02 1 796.02 678.03 .000 .890

language .010 1 .010 .008 .928 .000

Social class 11.93 2 5.96 5.08 .008 .108

language * social class 1.32 2 .660 .562 .572 .013

Error 98.61 84 1.17

Total 1107.00 90

Corrected Total 113.65 89

The result of between-subject effects shows that in level of language * social class the p-value is more than 0.05 that represents lack of mutual interactive effects between the two independent variables of language groups and social classes. In the case of the two variables of language groups and social classes based on the sig level (sig=0.928) variable of language groups has no significant effect on classroom participation and only social class variable (sig=0.008) is less than 0.05, and has significant effect of classroom participation.

3.2.Discussion

Result of the three research questions showed that mono/bilingualism have no significant effect on classroom participation. But, variable of social class has significant effect on classroom participation. In addition, the variable of language in cooperation with social class is significant. As the result showed, monolinguals and high class students have higher classroom participation (mean=3.9333) then bilingual and high class students (3.6000) have higher rate of classroom participation. Generally, the order of classroom participation was as follow:

Monolingual and high class >Bilingual and high class> bilingual and middle class> monolingual and middle class> bilingual and low class> monolingual and low class

Generally speaking, we can say that social class is a significant criterion in determining the level of classroom participation.

4.Conclusion

This study was a quantitative and experimental study measuring classroom participation of senior first year students of Teaching English as Foreign Language (TEFL). This study examined the effect of the two variables of language groups (monolinguals and bilinguals) and social class groups on classroom participation. Result of the study showed that mono/bilingualism did not effect on classroom participation among student. But, social class was an influential factor that determines and influences on the level of classroom participation. We conclude that there is a significant relationship between language and social class with respect to classroom participation. At first monolinguals and high class students had higher classroom participation (mean=3.9333) then bilingual and high class students (3.6000) had higher rate of classroom participation. Therefore, language variable itself is not a main factor in determining classroom participation, but when language is considered along with social status variable, it became a significant factor in determining classroom participation. Result of this study with respect to social class is not in line with the result of study by Agodini (2004) as he discovered that poor students have higher rate of classroom participation in vocational skills. Also, with respect to language the result of the study is in line with the result of study performed by Ioulia Kovelman et al (2008) who specified that there is no significant difference between the two monolingual and bilingual groups' classroom participation, but bilinguals have a better performance in third language learning. It is clear that interfering factors may influence on the rate of classroom participation such as motivation, size of class, students personality that in the further studies are requested to be investigated.

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