Grammar denotes the system of rules that guide the conventional setting and connection of words in a given sentence, which means that it addresses the structure or form of languages. There are numerous methods that teachers use while teaching grammar. Some of the approaches are the grammar-translation method, the audio-lingual method, and the direct method. Nevertheless, only the grammar-translation method has a heavy emphasis on grammar, as the other two do not center on the explicit teaching of grammar (Olivero, 2015).
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Apart from the three methods, other approaches are used in teaching English, although they place a different weight on the language elements. For instance, the “Silent Way” has been increasingly employed to draw English as a Foreign Language (EFL) students’ concentration to form. It is best suited to teach the communicative components of language. It has been widely used as an approach of making learners perceive or raise alertness on the English language structure.
The color-coding method uses different highly adaptable tools, which are employed to make the learners mindful of the details of a language’s grammar (Uehara & Noriega, 2016). The most useful tool is the color-coded chart that is made up of different words and colored rods to assist in the representation of dissimilar sections of grammar in a sentence. This method has been widely used in teaching grammar to female Saudi EFL learners in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The use of the color-coding method has been found to be effective since it captures the attention of learners and helps them to write correct sentences with ease.
Female EFL learners have a very short concentration span. They have been found to become easily diverted even by minimal occurrences of friends passing by outside of the classroom. Such learners also face challenges in storing what is learned in the EFL class to long-term memory, particularly when they have a poor vocabulary in the language. This makes the practice of retention and incorporation of structures become a daily problem for the EFL teacher. This research study will seek to establish whether incorporating the use of colors in the EFL class enables minimization of the existing challenges.
Significance of the Study
There is an inadequacy of research on learning practices, particularly in language points such as the use of color-coding in teaching grammar to female EFL learners. This research study will offer literature with valuable information concerning the effectiveness of using the color-coding strategy in teaching grammar to female EFL learners. It will as well provide more data regarding the dissimilarities in the strategy applied to the competence level, gender, and supposed significance of grammar.
The study might also enable female Saudi EFL learners and teachers to gain knowledge of different practices that can enhance the learning and teaching of grammar. Increasing knowledge in the strategy that they presently employ, and examining its effectiveness, might also allow learners and teachers to regulate their learning and teaching.
The following are the research questions that will be used in this study:
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- What is the effectiveness of using color coding in teaching grammar to female Saudi EFL students?
- How does the color-coding method boost teaching of grammar to female Saudi EFL learners?
This study will embark on the establishment of the approaches that EFL teachers employ when teaching grammar. It will also investigate the effectiveness of using the color-coding method in teaching grammar to female Saudi EFL learners. Moreover, the study will explore the influence of using color coding in teaching grammar to female EFL learners on their achievement. The review of the literature section will employ recent and credible peer-reviewed journal articles on the topic.
All the articles are relevant to the problem statement and research questions. They will provide a detailed discussion and in-depth comprehension of the use of color-coding in teaching grammar to EFL learners. A comprehensive assessment of the studies is important since it ensures extensive understanding that is vital for the avoidance and overcoming of the problems in the effective teaching of grammar to female EFL learners.
Using Color Coding
Studies affirm that while using color codes in teaching grammar to EFL learners, educators should understand the best practice of categorizing the words to be color-coded. There is a need to choose the criteria according to which the teacher will color the dissimilar words. Common alternatives are grammatical gender and portions of speech (for example, verb and noun). The teacher should understand the color scheme that should be used (Gómez-Rodríguez & Hernández, 2015; Bukhari, 2016). Once the teacher makes a choice anchored in the color-coding criteria, there is a need to decide the best means of coloring them. This could at times be an arbitrary choice, so the teacher should use the coloring scheme that best appeals to the learners.
Whenever possible, the teacher should use colors that can be intuitively associated with different groups by some means. For instance, in a case where teachers choose to color-code words according to their grammatical gender, they may decide to color masculine words in green and feminine parts in pink (Baleghizadeh, Yazdanjoo, & Fallahpour, 2018). A different approach is the application of a given set of colors for verbs and adverbs (for instance, light green and dark green) and an unlike set for nouns and adjectives (such as dark blue and light blue) with the intention of ensuring that it is easy to make the required associations.
Teachers should know the best approach to coloring words since there are diverse means of doing it (Forero-Rocha & Gómez-Rodríguez, 2016). For example, a teacher could write the color-coded words in a suitably colored font, highlight words in suitable colors, or write down the chosen words on color-coded sticky-notes. It is also possible for EFL teachers to think of words that will be color-coded depending on the familiarity with them. With time, the teacher might choose to just color new words that are encountered in the course of learning and fail to color the words that had previously been taught (Xu & Yan, 2018). This could be a good way of attracting the learners’ attention to new words while enhancing their acquisition.
The Effectiveness of Using Color Coding
Color controls memory performance by improving concentration level and arousal. Color has been proved to influence the degree of alpha brainwave activity that is employed in the healthcare field to assess human alertness. Using the color-coding method in teaching grammar enables the learners to remember the structure taught to them easily (Hosseini, 2016; Tabatabaei & Khashavi, 2016). In this respect, color-coded words have been found to offer more effective study guides when judged against black and white material since they assist learners in the progression of processing new information while it is being taught to them.
In the process of learning English as a foreign language, Arteaga-Lara (2017) established that coloring new vocabulary words enable learners to understand them better. Although there are numerous possible methods that could explain the improvement, the widespread agreement is that color-coding new words improves the likelihood of their easily being encoded, stored, and retrieved successfully (Alzouwain & Lincoln, 2018; Gilbert, 2017). This underscores the value of using color coding in teaching grammar to EFL students since learners are able to facilitate their vocabulary learning process.
Sociocultural theory denotes a theory of the development of higher psychological progressions, which take social interrelations to be the major learning and communication practices. One of the exceptional aspects of sociocultural theory is taking learning to be social in nature, where significance is attained through the application of language in the social sphere (Behroozizad, Nambiar, & Amir, 2014).
Unlike the supporters of cognitive theories who were concerned with the mediation between stimuli and response, sociocultural theory assesses the perspective of the conduct or social condition where the action happens. The fundamental presupposition in sociocultural theory is the notion that psychological formations do not arise in the thinking of learners; instead, they are generated out of continued interaction with the social settings. Therefore, the occurrence of psychological operations relies on social interrelations.
In line with Behroozizad et al. (2014), sociocultural theory perceives learners as active elements in the learning environment. Just as underscored in the sociocultural theory, female EFL learners in KSA are responsible for the betterment of the surrounding environment, as it has the strength to nurture them and support their learning. On the same note, EFL teachers act as crucial constructors in the teaching and learning environments. What the teachers believe strongly concerning language learning by the EFL learners will certainly have an impact on the teaching environment, although learners form the focus of the pedagogical endeavors.
In this aspect, the use of color-coding in teaching grammar will help teachers to reconstruct their insights into EFL teaching through constant practice and improvements. The major concentration of the sociocultural standpoint is not on the learners but on their environment (Ashtiani, 2017). Consequently, the use of the color-coding strategy in teaching grammar to EFL learners improves their learning and makes them understand what is taught to them with ease.
The most considerable contribution of the sociocultural theory to EFL learning and in accordingly reducing the challenges faced by learners is offering a supportive setting for cognitive development. For EFL learners to be successful in grammar learning, in the course of social interrelations in the classroom, it is vital to cherish and improve their learning environment.
This study will be undertaken systematically to facilitate an enhanced comprehension of the effectiveness of using the color-coding method in teaching grammar to Saudi EFL learners in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This section will present the methodological process employed in the study. The mixed-method used in the research is fundamental since it highlights the techniques employed by the researcher to realize the study objectives in the most successful approach. The systematic practice of solving the problem in a study is crucial since it makes the solutions be simply established, and the research attains high credibility and accuracy (Palinkas et al., 2015).
A successful methodology is important in data analysis, as well as interpretation, since it facilitates an improved resolution to the problem. Effective implementation of the set research processes requires proper planning with respect to responding to the research questions. The methodology of this study will assist in the realization of interesting and helpful findings in the effectiveness of the application of color coding while teaching grammar to EFL learners.
This research will utilize both the secondary and primary approaches of data collection and a mixed-method (quantitative and qualitative) of analyzing data. Data for this study will be collected from King Abdulaziz University in Saudi Arabia. Apart from the case study method that will be employed in this study, there are other techniques such as thematic analysis, grounded theory, and the ethnographic method. However, the researcher considered the case study method the best since it allows for a detailed evaluation of the participants in the study.
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Furthermore, the case study method allows the collection of data types from numerous sources with the aid of a range of techniques (for instance, interviews, questionnaires, and observation to mention a few). This ensures that the data gathered is accurate and reliable. From the data that will be collected from King Abdulaziz University, the researcher will assess the effectiveness of using the color-coding method in teaching grammar to female Saudi EFL learners. The study will also seek to establish the influence of the color-coding method on the achievement of female EFL learners.
In preparation for data collection at the institution, the researcher will first visit the offices of the president of King Abdulaziz University and the dean of students‘ affairs to have unofficial conversations. The unofficial conversations will assist the researcher in having an extensive understanding of the observable facts supporting the research. For secondary data, the researcher will search for credible journals from sources such as Google and online libraries.
Study Participants Sampling
With the permission of the university management, the researcher will randomly contact 90 participants, who will include senior staff at the faculty of education, EFL lecturers, and female EFL learners, to contribute to the research. All the 84 participating learners will be female of 18 and 19 years of age. Some of the staff and lecturers will be male, and all will be aged between 30 and 50 years. The native language for the learners will be Arabic, and they will have to be students at the university.
Research Methods/ Instruments
The researcher will use different data collection instruments such as questionnaires, interviews, and observations. The most valuable instrument will be the questionnaire since it will seek to directly assess the effectiveness of the color-coding method in teaching grammar. The questionnaire will be versatile and exceptionally capable of collecting a huge amount of data fast in a form that is easy to process. The instruments used in the study will offer the researcher accurate, behavioral, and expressive data regarding the participants, which will form the foundation of the research.
Data Collection Process
Following the selection of participants, the researcher will use semi-structured questions since they will enable the collection of detailed information from the respondents (Appendix 1). The information collected will offer insight into the manner in which the participants will construe the research and understand the effectiveness of using color coding in teaching grammar to female EFL learners at King Abdulaziz University.
Prior to the issuance of the questionnaires to the participants, the researcher will shed light on the significance of the research, the form of questions to anticipate, the confidentiality of the shared data, and the autonomy to participate. The researcher will encourage all the participants to remain in the study to its completion and give them the opportunity to ask questions in case anyone will need an explanation on any issue. The questionnaires will then be issued to the participants. The length of the interview will be about fifty minutes. The researcher will use a tape recorder to improve the accuracy of data and ensure a permanent record for referral when necessary. The data held in the tape recorder will be transcribed immediately after the study.
In the exploration of sources that will provide secondary data on the topic, the researcher will first select the search terms that will enable the easy collection of pertinent resources. Some of the key terms that will be employed encompass “effectiveness of using color coding in teaching grammar,” “color coding and teaching grammar to female Saudi EFL learners,” and “the effectiveness of using color-coding to teach grammar to EFL learners.”
The key terms will then be used in the search for sources in reputable databases that include Google and libraries such as EBSCOhost, Emerald, and ProQuest. Out of the many applicable resources that will be found in the databases, the researcher will use his research discretion to choose the eleven most recent and credible journal articles.
Data Collection Analysis
After the collection of data, the researcher will use NVivo in the qualitative analysis of data. The quantitative analysis of the collected data will be done with the help of SPSS.
The researcher will inform the participants that contributing to the research will be voluntary. In this respect, though it will be more honorable for the respondents to complete the study, it will be out of their free will as they will have the right to pull out any time if they found doing so necessary. The researcher will apply no coercion or inducements in an effort to persuade the respondents to contribute to the study. As a means of sticking to the standards of free disclosure, the researcher will inform the participants about the risks of taking part in the study. The researcher will seek ethical approval prior to the commencement of the study.
Privacy and confidentiality
The researcher will make sure that the data obtained are presented anonymously as a way of safeguarding the privacy of the participants. Apart from informing the respondents not to indicate their names, the researcher will also uphold confidentiality by ensuring that no other person has access to the data held in the tape recorder.
The study carried out will be limited to female Saudi EFL learners in an attempt to understand the effectiveness of using color coding in teaching grammar. This will make it hard to generalize the research to other languages or male learners, whether in Saudi Arabia or in other countries.
Limitations of the Study
Since there is a risk of misapprehension, there will be a need for readers to mull over possible limitations of the study. Irrespective of the endeavors by the researcher to gather data from different participants at King Abdulaziz University, the study will not represent proportionally every learning institution. Additionally, the use of only female learners makes the study biased hence affecting its credibility.
The table below shows the timeline for the completion of the thesis, which will start in December 2018, until May 5, 2019.
Grammar signifies the system of rules that direct the conventional setting and relationship of words in a given sentence; this indicates that it tackles the structure and form of languages. The application of the color-coding method has been established to be valuable since it captures the concentration of learners and assists them in writing correct sentences without difficulty.
Color-coded words act as effective study guides when compared to black and white material because they assist learners in the course of processing new information when it is being taught to them. This study will use both the secondary and primary approaches of data collection and a mixed method of analyzing data. From the data that will be obtained from 90 participants at King Abdulaziz University, the researcher will evaluate the effectiveness of using the color-coding strategy in teaching grammar to female EFL learners in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Appendix 1: Questionnaire
- How effective is the use of color-coding in teaching grammar to female Saudi EFL students?
- What makes the color-coding method to enhance the teaching of grammar to female Saudi EFL learners?
- Why would you consider the use of color-coding better than any other method?
- How does the use of color-coding improve the learning environment?
- What can EFL teachers in KSA do to improve learners’ comprehension of grammar with the help of the color-coding method?
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