Factors affecting students’ acquisition of speaking skills in English among secondary schools in Turkana East District, Kenya
Verah, Mekonge, Kerubo
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The purpose of the study was to identify the factors affecting the acquisition of speaking skills in English amongst secondary students in Turkana East District, Kenya. Teachers use Standard English for instruction yet the learners find it difficult to communicate using Standard English and this is reflected when expressing themselves. The main concern was to identify factors affecting students‟ acquisition of speaking skills in English. The objectives were to: establish the instructional resources used in teaching speaking skills in English, establish the methods teachers of English use in the teaching of speaking skills, establish the common errors that students made when speaking in English and to identify other factors affecting the acquisition of speaking skills in English. The findings of the study were to provide teachers of English, students and the heads of English department with insights on the problems that students face in the process of acquiring speaking skills in English as well as help them improve their verbal communicative ability. The scope involved students from 5 public secondary schools in Turkana East Sub-county, Kenya. The research was guided by Krashen‟s theory of language acquisition and learning. Literature was reviewed as per the study objectives and a descriptive survey design was employed to gather information on the factors that affected students‟ acquisition of speaking skills in English. The variables under investigation were independent, intervening and dependent variables. The target population comprised 1210 students and 9 teachers of English out of which 4 were Heads of Department. In one school, a Kiswahili teacher was the HoD. The total population was 1219 respondents. The sample size comprised 3 randomly and purposively selected public secondary schools, 137 form three students, 6 form three teachers of English out of whom were 3 were heads of the English department making a total of 145 respondents. Data was collected using questionnaires, interview schedule, observed schedule and a checklist then analysed using the Statistical Package of Social Sciences (SPSS) program. The analyzed data were presented descriptively using tables, charts, graphs and percentages. The findings indicated that English course books, literary texts and the chalk board were the most available and accessible instructional resources in the schools. Teachers used few learner-centred teaching methods that enhanced students to speak English in the classroom. Role play was disliked by teachers as it was time consuming. However, in the questionnaires teachers indicated that they employed the method in teaching English speaking skills. Students made errors when they spoke in English. Students‟ acquisition of speaking skills in English was affected by their age of enrolment, lack of motivation and lack of practice. It was concluded that schools lacked variety of instructional resources. Age of enrolment in school affected acquisition of speaking skills. Teachers did not employ enough teaching methods that could give students opportunities to practice speaking good English. This would minimize the errors they made while speaking English. The researcher recommended provision of a variety of instructional resources and teachers to vary the teaching methods that enable students to acquire speaking skills in English successfully. Children should start school at the right age.