Research Paper Final Version
Chapter I: introduction
1. Rationale Over the centuries, there has been a great deal of research proving the strong organic interconnection between language and culture. Language is rooted in culture and culture is reflected and passed on by language from one generation to the next (Emmitt & Pollock 1997). In other words, language is the cover of culture expressed by ideas or words. They are entwined so deeply that one cannot survive without the other. From this, we can infer that learning a new language requires learning a new culture.
Derived from that objective, the teachers of English Department, Hanoi University of Languages and International Studies, Vietnam National University, compiled and applied the course book General Geography of the U.K. and the U.S. to teaching languages. It is considered the first step of teaching and studying English for specific purposes, towards teaching and studying specialized subjects in next semesters, such as British Studies and American Studies. This subject has changed our first glance that we might think studying geography somehow unexciting when just memorize the names of countries, cities, places or signs on a map. However, geography is much more than that. While history studies events through time, geography illustrates the relationship between human beings and their environment through location and distinctive features, which is a premise for us to study further about culture.
The book General Geography of the U.K and the U.S is the prescribed text used in the course for second-year students. It not only systematically provides learners with basic knowledge about human and physical geography of the U.K. and the U.S. but also offers students opportunities to widen vocabulary, train language skills, especially reading and speaking, practice pronunciation as well as to improve elementary cultural awareness and critical thinking.
In fact, in the studying and teaching process, a great number of problems have occurred to students, involving the material, method and attitude. Nonetheless, these problems have not been taken seriously, with little research on the same topic about studying General Geography of the U.K and the U.S. That inspires us to carry out scientific research more specifically on the difficulties in studying General Geography of the U.K. and the U.S. and students attitudes towards this subject.
2. Scope and aims
After the first year studying HULIS-VNU, the students in Department of Anglo-American Languages and Cultures have the chance to study General Geography of the U.K. and U.S.. During one semester studying the subject, they often have many troubles, thus, we do this research for them about their difficulties appearing in materials and method of studying. The course book named General geography of the U.K. and the U.S., the compulsory material for learners and the skills required for studying method like language skills, searching or synthesis skills are what we analyze in the research. Besides, we think learners attitude towards any subject is one key factor that strongly influences the amount of knowledge they get from the subject. Consequently, we started analyzing the attitude of the second year students towards General Geography.
Doing this research, we hope to give our general and critical view on the situation of studying General Geography among the second year students of HULIS-VNU. Beyond that, we aim at giving some suggestions for them to overcome the difficulties in studying the subject and get better results in more specialized subjects such as British Studies, American Studies, and Cross Cultural Communication3. Study method
The Literature Review was built by referred from some other research and journals. Then the survey questionnaire survey was designed and issued to targeted students. The data analysis and discussion were processed then some suggestions was come up to. Finally, the conclusion was made.
4. Design of the research
The research is divided into six chapters. Chapter I, Introduction, includes Rationale, Aims and scope of the study, Study method and Design of the study. Chapter II contained Definition, Characteristics of the subject and Previous research. Chapter III is the Methodology in which Data collection instruments, data analysis an interview are presented. In chapter IV, Results and discussion includes Materials for General Geography, Method of studying General Geography and Attitudes toward General Geography. Chapter V, Suggestions, is the suggestions for better studying General Geography. The last chapter, Conclusion, mentions Summary, Research Limitation and Suggestion for further researchChapter II: literature review1. DefinitionAccording to Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913), Geography is the science which treats of the world and its inhabitants; a description of the earth, or a portion of the earth, including its structure, features, products, political divisions, and the people by whom it is inhabited.Thralls (1958) stated that Geography is the physical-social science which describes, maps, and seeks to explain the interrelations between man and his physical environment.The two definitions above means Geography is the science that describes, analyzes and explains the earth as the home of human beings and specially emphasizes on physical and social environment However, beyond the surface meanings of knowledge, Geography assists to develop peoples cultural awareness.
Then, as a course, General geography of the U.S. and U.K. basically introducing the rudimentary knowledge of physical and social environment of U.K. and U.S. for students of English. Thereof, the advantage of this subject for those students are supposed to be obvious.
2. Characteristics of the subject
From the definitions, the physical and human elements are inter related, and the interpretation of that interrelationship gives distinctive characteristics to the subject of geography.
Some highlighted characteristics of General Geography possibly named are acquisition of locations and their names, the typical features of the locations such as their symbols and meanings, topography, weather and climate, etc. Moreover, this course provides the large amount of reading passages for each unit that students need to proofread; consequently, requires comprehension and summary ability from students, which infers to the language skills, mainly reading and speaking. In addition, the subject is characterized by the various extended general knowledge about human geography, i.e. politics, economics, laws but in the most humble way.
Understandably, the course General geography of the U.K. and the U.S. is an enthralling subject yet challenging. The main challenges originated from both the shortcomings of the course and the students.
3. Previous researchWe have surfed on the Internet and other sources of information for other research that share the similar aims with ours, but we failed to find any relevant one.
Most of them deal with problems and solutions of studying General Geography for students in their own languages, which means language is no more barrier for learners. A sample journal: World Regional Geography and Problem-Based Learning: Using Collaborative Learning Groups in an Introductory-Level World Geography Course, Fournier, Eric J., The Journal of General Education - Volume 51, Number 4, 2002, pp. 293-305.Other research built up the method of studying and teaching General Geography of the U.K. and U.S. for students of foreign languages. However, they did not provide us with main obstacles and attitudes towards the subject of students. A sample study: Using visual aids to study General Geography of the U.K. and the U.S., Nguyen Thi Lai (2006) Realizing the situation, we have decided to venture our research to this intriguing topic.Chapter III: methodology1. Data collection instrumentIn order to achieve our objectives, a survey questionnaire was designed. Then it was copied and distributed to the sample of 128 students including 120 second year students of mainstream and 8 second year students of fast-track program in Department of Anglo-American Languages and Cultures, Hanoi University of International Languages and Studies, VNU.
The questionnaire was divided into three parts. Part I, Materials for General Geography, includes 4 questions concerning the materials to study General Geography. Part II is Method of studying General Geography which elaborates the methods students use to study General Geography with 5 questions. Finally, Part III is Attitudes towards General Geography with 3 questions which determine students thinking and expectation of the subject.
2. Data analysis After being collected, the copies of questionnaire were counted and synthesized by statistical method. Then they were presented by tables and charts and added comments by researchers.
3. InterviewIn the end, an interview was conducted to check the validity and reliability of the questionnaire. 24 students who did the survey were randomly chosen to involve in the interview. Chapter IV:
results and discussion We did a survey among 128 second-year students of HULIS, VNU (eight students of fast-track groups and 120 students of mainstream groups) and an interview among 24 students involved in the survey questionnaire and received the results as follows:1. Materials
Question 1: What do you think about the amount of information in the course book General Geography of the U.K and the U.S (GG)?
C. Too much40.5%
Although 52.5% of the second year students found the amount of information of the course book enough for them, there are still a large percentage