1. the biggest obstacles for EFL learners. One of

1. Introduction

 

            There are four most basic and important elements that we
need to focus on when we learn English language such as reading, listening,
writing and speaking. However, according to Nazara (2011), speaking is the most
neglected skill during language learning process as a result to its challenging
nature. It can be related to the surrounding of our community in Malaysia and
it is a lot harder compared to our own mother tongue. Egan (1999) stated that
speaking skill is generally not preferred because it is hard for teachers to
assess learners while they are speaking. One of the reasons may because
speaking skill needs a lot of time to practice and as all of us know that we
would only have 5 hours per week to learn the second language (SL). Thus,
speaking skill is not the main focus since it is not evaluated in most
examinations.

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            As Mennaai (2013), Zhang (2009) and Somsai &
Intaraprasert (2011) argued in their research that speaking continues as the
most difficult skill to master for the majority of English learners. Other than
that, they are still considered as incompetent to communicate orally in
English. Dil (2009) reported that anxiety and unwillingness during the English
speaking process are considered two of the biggest obstacles for EFL learners. One
of the factors that make these happen is when the learners are afraid of being
evaluated when making mistakes, especially in front of their friends. Rababa’h
(2005) said that there are many factors, which can cause difficulties in
speaking English among EFL learners such as the learners themselves, the
teaching strategies, the curriculum, the lack of a target language environment
and the lack of involvement in real-life situations.

 

            In this 21st century, we cannot deny that
technology plays such a crucial role in teaching and learning process. This is
because it is considered as an additional instrument to enhance our learning
development. Though studies including Area (2010) revealed that even though the
availability of technological resources has increased in educational
institutions, that do not necessarily imply a significant modification of the
traditional teaching models rather, Burgues (2011) mentioned that teachers and
students require strategies to promote their own learning abilities. Other
researchers that support this statement are Coll, Mauri, & Onrubia (2008)
who stated that it is essential to transform the current teaching practices to
motivate university students to assume their role as autonomous learners. Moreover,
we are able to see variety of teaching and learning method being implemented in
classrooms.

 

            Apart from all of these, teachers and students have
different point of view about the viability of mobile technologies
implementation in enhancing speaking skill. However, only several studies have
actual teacher feedback, student preferences and perceptions about feedback,
and teachers’ opinions of their feedback practices at the same time. This also
can be related to Montgomery and Baker (2007) whom pointed out the lack of
comparing student preferences and perceptions about feedback to actual teacher
feedback or teachers’ self-evaluations of that feedback. Hence, I agree with
Fernandex and Torrez (2015) whom argued that, we have to increase learners’
direct, and the way they interact with the community and the searching for new
evaluation process. This can help us to get good feedback from both teachers
and students.

 

            The goal of this study is to see the difference and comparison
between students and teachers’ perceptions on the viability of mobile
technologies implementation to enhance speaking skill among adult learners.

 

2. Literature Review

2.1 Speaking Skill

            Speaking is defined as an act of making vocal sounds. We
can say that speaking means to converse or expressing one’s thoughts and
feelings in spoken language. English, on the other hand, is the world’s global
language that unites us all in communicating to anyone without a single
barrier. Firth A (1996), the role of English as lingua franca in today’s world
and its crucial role in cases where the interactants do not know each other’s
language.

           

            It is true that speaking skill is by far the most
demanding among four macro skills (Jung, U.O.H, 1995). However, it is known as
the most difficult skill to master (Hinkel, E. 2005), is more than simply
knowing the grammatical and semantic rules of a language (Shumin, K 1997).  It is also about the control of a highly
diverse set of activities, which involves many distinct mental and physical
skills (Jung U.O.H 1995). 

 

            To its complexity, it is not particularly supported with
real situations in language learning contexts, (Gan, Z. 2012) rather, it is
taught within the confines of a school class, which serves as the only setting
for learners to practice English. (Kouraogo P. 1993, Liu, N-F and W. Littlewood
1997). This issue makes it difficult for language learners to gain proficiency.

(Gan. Z, 2012, Liu N-F and W. Littlewood, 1997) Furthermore, it is an
anxiety-provoking skill, which hinders performance (Horwitz, EK, M.B Horwitz
and J.Cope, 1986, Liu, M. and J. Jackson, 2008, Young, D.J., 1990), as EFL
learners become more concerned about their performance and believe they are not
performing well enough (Liu, N-F and W. Littlewood, 1997). Other than that,
Bahrani & Solatani (2012) stated teachers would choose and prefer to focus
more on structural aspects of language such as grammar, vocabulary, and
comprehension while teaching English instead of dealing with challenging
features of speaking skill which can influence the students not to take
speaking skill as something that is very crucial.

 

            There are many reasons that make speaking as a skill that
is very important in EFL learning. First and foremost, Kurudayioglu (2011) suggests,
speaking is considered as fundamental and basic in language learners’
performance both individually and socially since it is a tool for human
communication to interact on a daily basis. Other than that, Diyyab et al.

(2013) suggested that communicative competence is required in order to get the language
mastery rather than just focus on sole language literacy. Moreover, Ellis
(2012) asserts, interaction is the key element in a language classroom and
learning takes place when the meanings and unclear points are discussed using a
collective interaction in the classroom. Ellis (2012) also stated that gaining
grammatical and structural competence could be achieved by mastering the
speaking skill. Nonetheless, Wardhaugh (2006) claims that speakers of one
language tend to possess grammatical structure of the language automatically.

Thus, we can conclude that by speaking and communicating in the target
language, we can contribute to the development of other language skills that we
have. By looking at all the progress being made by adult learners in Malaysia
can prove these statements. We choose to learn to speak first then only we
learn to understand the forms and structures.

 

2.2 Adult learners

            Adult learners have the ability and experience in
making decisions independently. Mohd Amin (2016) mentioned about adult’s self-concept
and through the implications of this self-concept, learning should take place according
to the needs and characteristics of the learning community. Moreover, it should
be done through collaboration in the learning where involvement between
learners in diagnosing learning needs to be defined in setting and learning
objectives, thus enable them to participate in the learning activities. Adult
learners will then make use of self-evaluation in evaluating themselves in
order to know better about their learning whether they have achieved the
objectives of the learning.

 

            Mohd Amin (2016) also stated the four forms of adult
learning. Firstly, formal education in which is the appearance or expression of
adult learning. It started by recognising characteristics composed by
professional educators. There is a defined curriculum, and it frequently prompts
a qualification. Secondly, non-formal education, a sort of learning happens
when individuals see a requirement for a systematic instruction, however in a
one-off or random mode. Thirdly, informal learning, where learning happens when
individuals consciously attempt to learn from their experience. It includes
individual or gathering reflection and exchange, yet does not include formal
instruction. Fourthly, it is called as secondary learning which is a kind of
learning happens when individuals perform different activities. Such learning
is incidental to the action in which the individual is involved, and is
frequently unspoken and not seen as learning (Foley, 2004).

 

            Though it is said that adult learners have the ability
and experience to learn independently, a contrasting view by Aladdin Assaiqeli
in which he discussed many theories of language learning but touched the issue
of language ego in adult learners slightly in his research paper. The critical
hypothesis (CPH) as proposed by Lenneberg (1967), talks about how primary
language acquisition must occur during a critical period that ends at about the
age of puberty with the establishment of cerebral lateralization of function.

Krashen (1975), Lenneberg (1967), Scovel (1969) stated any language learning
that takes place after the age of puberty will be slower and less successful
compared to the normal first language learning. Hence, these statements conclude
that adult learners may have difficulties in learning a foreign language if it
is not being learned or stressed before the age of puberty.

 

            Apart from that, Ambu and Saidi (1997) revealed numbers
of the factors that lead to learners’ speaking difficulties such as the huge
number of students in the classroom, the insufficiency of the English teaching
periods, and the syllabus that does not satisfy the learners’ communicative
needs. They also added that teachers and students less emphasize on speaking
skill because it is not being tested. This is consistent with Al-Lawati’s
(2002) findings in her study where many students were reported to give such a
special attention to writing, reading, and listening tasks that are similar to
exam items, but giving the least attention to speaking tasks in the textbooks as
speaking is completely excluded from exams.

 

            This is concurred with Al Hosni (2014) and Miles (2009)
who stated that EFL learners need explicit instruction in speaking which, as
any language skill is generally has to be learned and practiced. They also
indicated that oral language development has largely been neglected in the
classroom, and most of the time, oral language in the classroom in used more by
instructors than by students.  Therefore,
it is very important to develop the necessary speaking abilities of EFL
learners to encourage them to participate successfully in different
communicative situations either in the classroom or in real life ones.

 

2.3 Viability of Mobile Technologies Implementation

 

            According to Cavus (2011), the brisk advancement of new
technologies makes change in the educational practice inevitably. Mobile
learning or m learning is identified by Lan and Sie (2010) as a new type of
learning model, which allows learners to receive learning materials without
limitation of time and place through wireless telecommunication network and the
Internet. The tools used to support m learning are notebook computers, portable
computers, Tablet PC, and mobile phones. This concept is consistent with Low
and O’Connel (2006) who stated that mobile learning increases flexibility and gives
feelings of freedom to students.

 

            Brown (2008) stated learning through mobile phone can
occur anywhere and anytime. Kizito (1012) asserts that mobile devices such as
Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, Short Message Services (SMS) and camera can be applied for
various educational practices. Hoppe (2009) states that students can read
materials such as e-books and can watch lecture on mobile phones. According to
Kafyulilo (2012), downloading feature on mobile phones can be used to get
various kinds of materials and video. Furthermore, most of the mobile phones
have features that can be used for recording and playing multimedia contents,
so students can use a camera on mobile phone for documenting visual materials
and collecting scientific data (Cuing & Wang, 2008).

 

            Mobile phones have been found to be effective in
improving educational outcomes because it (a) improves access to education and
(b) promotes learning that is learner-centered, personalized, collaborative,
situated and ubiquitous. (Valk, Rashid and Elder, 2010).  There is some evidence that mobile phones can
create pleasant learning environment and have a positive effect (Cobcroft,
Towers, Smith, & Bruns, 2006; Serrano- Santoyo & Organista- Sandoval,
2010). A lot of studies have investigated student’s readiness, attitude and
perceptions towards mobile learning by using quantitative method (Al-Fahad,
2009; Donaldson, 2011; Rahamat, Shah, Din, & Aziz, 2011) and the findings
showed satisfactory outcomes. With that being said, it is very easy to learn
English language using mobile technologies especially mobile phones in this
modern era.

           

2.4. Teachers’ Perceptions

 

            The important role teachers have in educational systems
requires teachers to be equipped with certain knowledge and skills. Teacher
quality is a complicated concept (Heck, 2009). Although qualities of teachers
are categorized in various ways in the literature (Ausubel & Robinson,
1969; Demirel, 1999; ?en & Eri?en, 2002; Çelikten, ?anal, & Yeni,
2005), it is critical to note that these qualities should be regarded as a
whole, with each having complementary features (Sefero?lu, 2004).

 

             At this point,
teacher qualities can be classified into two: general teacher behaviors and
teaching skills. Some general teacher qualities are the ability to consider
individual differences, set an example for the students, value and respect
students, give the students a central place in the learning process, guide
them, plan the lesson effectively, and implement it with flexibility, use the
class time efficiently, be knowlegeable about the subject field, confident, and
willing to change and improve (Aç?kgöz,1998; Bilen, 2006; Sönmez, 2008;
Özçelik, 2010; Demirel, 2011; Borich, 2014).

 

            The research literature on evaluation of instructors’ skills
can be divided into two groups. The former includes scale development studies
(Dalg?ç, 2010), and the latter includes studies aiming to evaluate the instructors
in terms of properties of an ideal teacher (personal features, communication
skills, teaching skills, class management, subject area knowledge and
measurement and evaluation) (Aç?kgöz, 1990; Akgül, 1994;

Ergün et al., 1999; ?en &
Eri?en, 2002; Watthaisong, 2003; Erdem & Sar?ta?, 2006; Parpala
Lindblom-Ylanne, 2007; Özdemir & Uzel, 2010; Gül, 2010).

 

 

            Sürel (2010) contributes to the related literature with
his research where he compares teaching styles of the teachers working in
different faculties. Investigating the teaching skills of a teacher at teacher
training faculties based on certain variables has potential to make a
contribution to the training of more qualified teachers. In the related literature,
there are numerous researchers pointing to the importance, value, and
reliability of evaluating teachers based on students’ opinions (Swanson &
Sisson, 1971; Cohen, 1980; Aleamoni, 1981; Murray, 1983; Arubayi, 1987). One of
these studies claimed that teachers prefer students for performance evaluation
as they know the teachers well (Koçak, 2006). It is believed that this study
will be a significant as it will enable teachers to know themselves with
respect of effective teaching skills, and direct new studies on this topic.

 

2.5 Students’ Perceptions

 

            Students’ perceptions of assessment have also changed and
they now see assessment as part of their learning, which can be practiced by
themselves or their peers (Rastgoo et al., 2010). Ronles and Braathen (2002)
described the change that occurs when moving to online learning: In the online
environment, the student is responsible for his or her learning. This has
supported by Liang and Creasy (2004) whom stated that the assessment method in
an online environment should reflect the nature of the online learning that
gives the learner more responsibility for his or her learning. This approach
can be applied where some of the assessment responsibility is taken from the
teacher and given to the learners (McLoughlin & Luca, 2001). Thus, learners
become responsible not only for building their knowledge and learning but also
for assessing that learning by being involved in the assessment activities and
receiving feedback. The e-assessment supports such an approach that is
appropriate for this generation of learners who want to participate in making
the decisions of their learning experience. (Prensky, 2005).

 

            Students’ attitude towards ICTs can be also defined as:
students’ impression from participating in activities developed on computers
(Sun Tsai, Finger, Chen, & Yeh, 2007). Thus, positive attitudes have the
power to increase students’ chances of success when they use mobile devices in
their diverse academic works.  On the
other hand, negative attitudes reduce students’ interest and chances to
complete successful learning activities. Hence, attitudes “influences our
perception of the world around us, and determine how we respond to different
entities of the world” (Farhat & Kazim, 2011) in special, if these are
related to the acquisition of new knowledge, experiential, and ideational
levels in the higher education context (Halliday, 2014).