The Factors Causing English Language and Study Skills Gaps between Foundation and Undergraduate Programmes; an Exploratory Study at Majan College (University College), The Sultanate of Oman

| September 8, 2013
The Factors Causing English Language and Study Skills Gaps between Foundation and Undergraduate Programmes; an Exploratory Study at Majan College (University College), The Sultanate of Oman

Keywords: foundation and undergraduate programmes, higher education, study skills gaps, weaknesses

Muhammad Tanveer
English Language Lecturer at Majan College (University College),
Muscat, the Sultanate of Oman,
Affiliated with the University of Bedfordshire, UK

Mr. Muhammad Tanveer is an English Language Lecturer and Quality Assurance Co-ordinator on the Foundation Programme at Majan College (University College). His research interests include second language acquisition, communication strategies, e-learning and e-teaching, learners’ beliefs and perceptions, and error analysis. He teaches a number of modules such as English Language Study and Academic Skills, Grammar in Context, Academic Writing, Academic Reading, etc. He is an MA in English Language and Literature from International Islamic University, Islamabad, Pakistan and an M.Ed in English Language Teaching from the University of Glasgow, UK.

The paper presents the findings of a recent research study at Majan College (University College), Oman, which aims at exploring gaps in English language and study skills between English Foundation Programme (FP) and undergraduate (UG) level studies. This paper mainly focuses on the areas of students’ weaknesses in English language and study skills after they successfully complete FP and start undergraduate courses, the possible factors behind these weaknesses and strategies to effectively alleviate them. The study used three data gathering tools: (1) it interviewed 8 UG lecturers, (2) administered a five-point Likert Scale questionnaire along with some open-ended questions with 176 students, and (3) conducted a focus group discussion with 9 English lecturers. The qualitative data were analyzed using a coding system and quantitative data were analyzed using computer excel programme to get the highest and the lowest frequency rate of subjects’ responses. The study finds that a gap in terms of English language and study skills still exists between both the levels of studies. The major gaps reported are related to writing and reading skills of students, which mainly remain underdeveloped due to their lack of vocabulary and lack of exposure to English. The paper discusses the factors that cause these gaps under three main categories: factors pertaining to (1) SLA, (2) students, and (3) the institution’s academic system. The study discusses students’ inefficiency of transferring skills, limited time available to achieve the required English proficiency level for higher education, students’ satisfactory approach to studies rather than to excel, and less social and personal usage of English as the main factors causing these gaps. The study recommends a standardized entry test prior to enrolling on undergraduate courses, reevaluation of study material or some course books, taking care of students’ transition and integration needs etc. as the main strategies to narrow down these gaps. The study concludes that completion of Foundation Certificate does not mean an end of foreign language learning. Instead, it is a continuing process which undergraduate lecturers should further build upon by activating students’ prior knowledge of English language and study skills learned on the Foundation programme.
[private] See page: 161-200
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Category: Main Editions, Volume 15 Issue 3