The Relationship Between Syntactic Knowledge and Speaking and Writing Proficiency Among Iranian Intermediate EFL Learners

Document Type : Original Article

Authors

English Department, Faculty of Management and Humanities, Chabahar Maritime University (CMU), Chabahar, Iran

Abstract

Today's world requires non-native English speakers and writers to speak and write acceptably and correctly in any communication. Hence, speaking and writing are two crucial skills in teaching and learning English. Different factors affect the proficiency of these productive skills among English learners. This study investigates the relationship between the syntactic knowledge of EFL intermediate students and their proficiency in writing and speaking to find whether the syntactic knowledge of students can affect their productive skills. In order to conduct this research, 50 Intermediate male and female students, between 18 to 25 years old, were selected. Four tests, including one placement test and one syntax test from Oxford University Press for intermediates‒in the form of multiple-choice tests, i.e. one writing test, and one speaking test, were used. The data consisted of four sets of scores. The main aim was to calculate the correlation between syntax, writing and speaking. For the current study, a correlational/descriptive design was selected because the data was quantitative; and based on the scores of students, the researcher decided to discover the relationship between syntax scores and writing and speaking scores. The Pearson correlation and t-test proved that there is not any meaningful relationship between syntax and writing as well as syntax and speaking. Moreover, the results of this study showed that the relationship between syntactic knowledge and writing proficiency is not different from the relationship between syntactic knowledge and speaking proficiency.

Keywords


Article Title [Persian]

ارتباط بین دانش نحوی با تسلط گفتاری و نوشتاری در فراگیران ایرانی زبان انگلیسی در سطح متوسط

Authors [Persian]

  • وحید یزدی
  • امیر محمدیان
گروه زبان انگلیسی، دانشکده مدیریت و علوم انسانی، دانشگاه دریانوردی و علوم دریایی چابهار، چابهار، ایران
Abstract [Persian]

دنیای امروز نیاز به گویندگان و نویسندگانی دارد که در ارتباطات خود، با شیوه‌ای درست و قابل قبول صحبت کنند و بنویسند. بنابراین گفتار و نوشتار دو مهارت کلیدی و مهم در تدریس و یادگیری زبان انگلیسی می‌باشد. پژوهش پیش رو،  وجود رابطه یا عدم رابطه بین دانش نحوی دانش آموزان سطح متوسط ایرانی که زبان انگلیسی، زبان خارجی ‌آن‌ها است را با مهارت گفتاری و نوشتاری آن‌ها مورد بررسی قرار داده است. با وجود این که دانش نحوی یک دانش مهم در یادگیری زبان است، اما روشن نیست که آیا در مهارت‌های تولیدی هم نقش دارد یا خیر؛ و اینکه اگر نقش دارد، در کدام مهارت از اهمیت بیشتری برخوردار است. برای انجام این پژوهش، پژوهشگر از دو موسسه زبان در شهر کاشمر واقع در استان خراسان رضوی استفاده کرد. در این پژوهش، چهار آزمون شامل یک آزمون تعیین سطح، یک آزمون نحو، یک آزمون نوشتار و یک آزمون مورد استفاده قرار گرفت. داده‌های گردآوری شده توسط پژوهشگر شامل چهار دسته نمره، و هدف اصلی، محاسبه همبستگی بین نحو، گفتار و نوشتار و بررسی این مطلب که تاثیر نحو (در صورت وجود رابطه معنادار) بر کدام مهارت تولیدی بیشتراست، بوده است. طراحی این پژوهش به صورت توصیفی و همبسته بود، زیرا داده‌ها کمی بودند و بر اساس نمرات شرکت کنندگان، پژوهشگر رابطه بین نمرات نحو و گفتار و نوشتار را بررسی کرد. همبستگی و اطلاعات دیگر که از نمرات شرکت کنندگان بدست آمده بود، ثابت کرد که رابطه معنادار بین نحو و گفتار، و نحو با نوشتار وجود ندارد.

Keywords [Persian]

  • مهارت‌های تولیدی
  • دانش نحوی
  • تسلط نوشتاری
  • تسلط گفتاری

The Relationship Between Syntactic Knowledge and Speaking and Writing Proficiency Among Iranian Intermediate EFL Learners

[1]Vahid Yazdi

[2]Amir Mohammadian*

Research Paper                                             IJEAP-2202-1837

Received: 2022-02-10                          Accepted: 2022-03-24                      Published: 2022-11-25

Abstract

Today's world requires non-native English speakers and writers to speak and write acceptably and correctly in any communication. Hence, speaking and writing are two crucial skills in teaching and learning English. Different factors affect the proficiency of these productive skills among English learners. This study investigates the relationship between the syntactic knowledge of EFL intermediate students and their proficiency in writing and speaking to find whether the syntactic knowledge of students can affect their productive skills. In order to conduct this research, 50 Intermediate male and female students, between 18 to 25 years old, were selected. Four tests, including one placement test and one syntax test from Oxford University Press for intermediates‒in the form of multiple-choice tests, i.e. one writing test, and one speaking test, were used. The data consisted of four sets of scores. The main aim was to calculate the correlation between syntax, writing and speaking. For the current study, a correlational/descriptive design was selected because the data was quantitative; and based on the scores of students, the researcher decided to discover the relationship between syntax scores and writing and speaking scores. The Pearson correlation and t-test proved that there is not any meaningful relationship between syntax and writing as well as syntax and speaking. Moreover, the results of this study showed that the relationship between syntactic knowledge and writing proficiency is not different from the relationship between syntactic knowledge and speaking proficiency.

Keywords: productive skills, speaking proficiency, syntactic knowledge, writing proficiency

  1. Introduction

When a student intends to start learning a new language, the main four skills, i.e., speaking, writing, reading, and listening are involved. Therefore, a very reasonable way to teach a foreign language for teachers is to prepare students to practice the four skills in different amounts and combinations (Dixon, 2005). Rao (2007) believes that if one concentrates on  just one skill, other skills will be interrupted. Therefore, one should work on the four skills at the same time so that one would get the best results. Language skills are divided into two main groups: receptive skills (listening and reading) and productive skills (writing and speaking). The components of these skills in each group are interrelated. This interrelation along with their mutual effect can cause the development of their real application in the process of practical teaching.

Among the four skills, productive skills are used when one intends to say or write something. The importance of speaking is to the extent that those who know a language are usually referred to as speakers of that language (Mccarthy & O’Keeffe, 2004). The main purpose of all language teaching methods should be to create the ability in learners to use a language effectively and accurately in communication (Davies & Pearse, 1998). When students intend to acquire and learn a new language, they learn it passively; however, later they come to produce monologues, dialogues, and so many other types of spoken stuff which are created by themselves (Jeyagowri, 2018). In order to produce linguistic forms, in comparison with receptive skills, one should put more energy so that one can be as efficient as possible. As a result, when someone begins to learn a foreign language, their subconscious exposure is for both productive and receptive skills.

Hughes (2013) defines speaking as the interpersonal function of language through which meaning is produced and transferred. The important point to consider is that it cannot be claimed that all language learners are able to speak fluently and accurately after many years. It is because they do not have the necessary knowledge for speaking and communication. According to Nunan (1999), in order to speak a language, except the first language, mastery of syntax and enough vocabulary are essential elements. Another aspect is that when speaking in productive skills is discussed, the speaking task is performed by students under various conditions. According to Nation and Newton (2009), performance conditions can influence speaking performance. Nation and Newton (2009) believe that there are four kinds of performance conditions: amount of support, performance standard, time pressure, and planning. Language structure is made by grammatical points which are the building blocks of the message to be conveyed. Before someone starts to speak, the syntactic outline has to be formed  in their mind. Swan (2001) mentioned that if someone knows the way of building and using particular structures, it ensures to communicate ordinary types of meaning successfully. Lack of these structures makes it hard to make comprehensible sentences. In the process of speaking, learners should know not only the way of constructing special points of language which consists of grammar, pronunciation and vocabulary, but also the identity why, when, and how to produce language. Hence, speaking has its own skills, structures, and conventions, which are different from writing (Burns & Joyce, 1997; Carter & McCarthy, 1995; Cohen, 1996; Florez, 1999).

  1. Statement of the Problem

Today, in the period of the global village, there is a particular need for learning English because  it is vastly used in all parts of life in the world. It is a truth that knowing the skills of productivity helps to create a strong base for companies, and they will promote their business in an international dimension. In addition, there is a great request for people having acceptable language skills in English. Thus, there is more request for English around the  world, and most people indicate much interest in learning it. On the other hand, it is compulsory for second or foreign language learners to concentrate firstly on the fundamental skills of the language. Productive skills, including speaking and writing, are a category of these four skills. The importance of learning to speak is to the extent that those who know a language are usually referred to as speakers of that language (McCarthy & O’Keeffe, 2004).

On the other hand, writing is a crucial complex skill, and if students practice it, they can maximize consciousness and awareness of the structure of sentences while they are speaking. There are some factors important  in learning to speak and write, and one of them is syntactic knowledge, which plays a crucial role in both. The probable relationship between syntax and speaking is not necessarily as much as the relationship between syntax and writing. In the process of learning productive skills, it can be seen that some students who are considered good at speaking fluently are not proficient enough in syntactic points. They can easily convey their meaning  to their audience while they do not use syntax flawlessly. On the other hand, when it comes  to writing, disobeying the syntactic rules is usually more revealing. Therefore, the relationship between syntactic knowledge and speaking and writing proficiency of language learners is potentially a field of research in ELT which is going to be investigated in this research. In the next two sections, research questions and will be discussed. Regarding the issue under investigation the following questions will be examined:

Research Question One: Is there any relationship between the syntactic knowledge and speaking proficiency of Iranian intermediate EFL learners?

Research Question Two: Is there any relationship between the syntactic knowledge and writing proficiency of Iranian intermediate EFL learners?

Research Question Three: Is the relationship between syntactic knowledge and writing proficiency different from the relationship between syntactic knowledge and speaking proficiency?

  1. Review of Literature

Language plays an important role in improving students' intelligence and helps students gain success in every subject at school. In the globalization era, English is not only a universal language but also as a tool to communicate in oral and written form to understand and figure out information, mind, feeling, science, technology, and culture. In the English teaching-learning process, there are four skills that should be mastered. They are listening, speaking, reading, and writing.

In the process of teaching language, whenever a teacher wants to build a great basis for teaching, there are certain numbers of items that should be considered. It is notifiable to know that one of the most important parts of this process, among students of all age groups, is to teach productive skills, including speaking and writing. Although there are differences  in lesson planning for speaking and writing, both of them are employed for the primary goal of communication. During people's communication, it can be seen that role of productive skills is always the focus. Of the two productive skills, speaking proficiency should be hard for students to indicate a high amount of fluency and accuracy in the path of being proficient in the English language. It is always suggested to teachers to consider this point that it has many advantages if a teacher allows his students to know this fact that in the process of learning to speak and write, it takes time to be proficient in fluency and accuracy and become more familiar with different aspects of spoken and written language. One of these advantages is that their stress will be lowered and they can improve themselves gradually without any hurry. Hence, it is important to let them know that, for example, when a person is talking with another one, there is not enough time for planning a proper response, but there is the chance of correcting sentences immediately. The next productive skill is writing, which is almost a neglected skill but it is not less significant than speaking. Although the written language is somehow more difficult than speaking, being proficient in writing helps students to be more ready for their future educational projects. In summary, teaching productive skills is significant, since written and spoken communication are fundamental life skills.

  1. Related Studies

Munby (1978) believes that oral proficiency has a nature of involving all components and developing communicative competence at the product level. On the other hand, Baruah  (1985) talks about the relevance of writing components and their difficulty to understand.  He says that these components are very important and crucial. Some of these examples are spelling different words in the correct form, the ability to recall acceptable and suitable words and use them in sentences, the ability to write alphabet letters at an appropriate speed, being able to use correct punctuation marks, the ability to use connectors and signals of sentences such  as definite articles, pronounces and so on, and being proficient and master to organize ideas and beliefs in a logical sequence.

In his research about the teaching of writing, Keith (2001) discovered an important correlation between writing and speaking. He concluded that almost all of the exercises like the information gap in spoken language are able to be a little bit refined by asking the learner to write down sentences instead of stating them. Therefore, he inferred that the process of writing, in comparison with spoken language, is time-consuming; but it was revealed that there are a few differences in this area on the basis of general, functional, and linguistic approaches which students used. In this research, the correlation between speaking and writing in some areas was investigated, but the role of syntax which exists in our study was not inspected.

Cleland and Pickering (2006) strived to discover some mechanisms which are used by students when they want to build certain syntactic examples in  both speaking and writing. For syntactic examples in speaking, they described it as the tendency of the speaker to the repetition of previously used syntactic structures. After they applied three different tests using syntactic priming, they discovered that there is a close similarity between syntactic operations used in both speaking and writing. It is considerable to know that their study results have a similarity to the research of MacArthur et al. (2008), in which there was a significant relationship between the syntax in terms of density and embedding used in speech and writing. In this study, the focus was only on the mechanisms which are used during building syntactic structures, but in our research, the relationship of speaking and writing with the whole syntax is investigated not just mechanisms.

Jong (2008) conducted a series of studies for discovering the best path for promoting fluency of students. The results showed that those students who apparently had better syntactic knowledge, in contrast with their peers, spoke with higher articulation rates and longer fluent runs. Although there are many other factors that have an important influence on this, such a result states that the syntactic  knowledge of students is related, to some extent, to their speaking fluency. The concentration of this study was only on fluency in speaking and its relationship with syntactic knowledge, but both fluency and accuracy are the focus of our research.

A similar study to the current study was conducted by M.A. Mushin (2015) in Indonesia in which the correlation between students' grammar knowledge and their writing ability was calculated. In collecting data, the writer used a test as an instrument in order to calculate the proficiency of students in grammar and writing. In this study, the researcher, for the grammar test, used 25 multiple-choice items and 10 fill-in-the-blank items; and for the writing test, a written test was used. After the data was collected from 23 students, the researcher obtained the correlation between the grammar ability and writing skill of the students, whose number was 0.43. This number showed a moderate meaningful relationship between the grammar ability and writing proficiency of students.

Fathali and Sotoudehnama (2015) examined the influence of guided writing practice on the speaking proficiency of Iranian EFL students. They had a pretest-posttest controlled group whose approach was quasi-experimental. They chose two classes whose level was elementary and whose students had been selected by the instituted based on the placement test results. In order to examine the homogeneity of the students as a pretest of the study, a Key English Test was administered to them. The quantitative analysis of the post-test using an independent t-test showed that both the writing and speaking proficiency of the experimental group had noticeably been enhanced. In addition, when the semester was over, a semi-structured interview examined the experimental group learners' tendencies toward the function of writing practice in increasing their speaking skills. The content analysis of the interview transcripts demonstrated that the learners retained positive attitudes toward the guided writing worksheets at the end of the term, though they did not have an identical attitude at the beginning. This study was just on the effect of guided  writing practice on speaking, but syntax, which is considered in our study, was not taken into consideration.

Another research was done in Indonesia in 2018 by Kusumawardani. The aim was to know the relationship between speaking fluency and grammar competency. For speaking fluency, the researcher, working with 34 participants, asked each one to answer a set of questions in the form on an interview in 5 minutes. Every rating had 25 scores, and the maximum score was 100; which means that students could answer the question correctly and the  minimum score was 25, which means students can answer the questions with limited time. For the grammar test,  the students had 45 minutes to choose the best answers to 20 questions. The result was that there is no correlation between  English grammar competence and speaking fluency. The focus of this study in comparison with our study was just on the relationship between speaking fluency and grammar competency, where writing was not examined, while we included writing in our study, too.

  1. Methodology
    • Participants

To measure if there is a relationship between syntactic knowledge and writing and speaking proficiency, a correlational/descriptive design should be used because the data is quantitative; and on the basis of scores of students, the researcher wants to discover if there is a relationship between syntax scores and writing and speaking scores.

The participants of this study were 50 EFL students selected by two institutes from different levels. They were both male and female selected based on placement test results. These 50 EFL intermediate students who were from two institutes in Kashmar city, Khorasan province, Iran, were grouped into classes by two institutes named Isic and Gooyesh Melal. Participants were selected from two institutes because Covid-19 protocols had created an exceptional condition in classrooms of the institutes in which just a limited number of students could attend the class. Therefore, because of the shortage of students in one institute, the researcher had to administer the tests in two separate institutes among intermediate students. The range of students' age was between 18 to 25. It should be mentioned that there was a combination of all levels in the two institutes among which intermediate students were selected by the placement test. The period that they were studying and learning English was between winter 2021 to spring 2021.

  • Instruments

The instruments used in this study were four tests including a placement test, a syntax test, a writing test, and a speaking test. The first test that was used and administered among participants was a placement test. Since the researcher intended to conduct the study among intermediate students, the placement test was administered with the aim of extracting intermediate students. The placement test was  Oxford Placements Test, which comprises two sections including 40 grammar and vocabulary multiple-choice tests as well as a reading test including a text and 5 multiple-choice questions that should be answered by participants in 45 minutes based on the Oxford criteria.

The second test was a syntax test, again by Oxford University Press, that aimed to measure the syntactic knowledge of students. It contained 40 multiple-choice questions to be answered within 40 minutes according to test instructions by Oxford. The third test was a writing test in which the researcher gave each student a paper to write three paragraphs about the following topic in at least 250 words: «In three paragraphs, explain about three significant ways of learning vocabulary». The time of writing test was 45 minutes (15 minutes for each paragraph).

The fourth test was a speaking test in which students were asked to answer a question in  3 minutes. They should answer this question by talking about it, and simultaneously their voices were recorded by the researcher. The speaking question was: «In three minutes, speak about three important ways of improving speaking skills». It should be mentioned that two determined raters did the process of scoring both writing and speaking. Since the number of raters in the current research was two, there were two sets of scores for both speaking and writing. Thus, it should be measured if there was any consistency between these sets of scores. In order to do this, the reliability of these scores as well as Coronach's alpha measure was calculated. In the next section, the procedure  of administering the four tests will be discussed.

  • Procedure

To administer the placement test, the researcher spread the sheets between the students of these two institutes. This process was done on two separate days; one day in one institute, and another day in the other institute. After the sheets of all students in two institutes were gathered, they were scored by the researcher based on the answer keys of Oxford. Based on Oxford, those students who answered more than 31 questions correctly were placed in an intermediate level and were allowed to take the subsequent test, i.e., the syntax test. In the final results, 50 students were selected randomly and were determined as intermediate based on the placement test.

The syntax test like the placement test was administered on two separate days in those two institutes. Then, the sheets were gathered, and the score of each student was calculated by the researcher based on the answer key. Both speaking and writing tests were administered on two separate days. One day for half of the participants (25 participants) in one institute, another day for the other half of the participants (25 participants) in another institute. The scoring of writing sheets was based on TOEFL iBT (Independent Writing Rubrics). The scoring of sheets was done by the two raters mentioned before. The scoring of speaking sheets by these two raters was based on TOEFL iBT (Independent Speaking Rubrics).

As to the writing test, the researcher, first of all, administered writing tests in the first institute inside the class. The writing sheets were given to participants and they were asked to answer the question written on the paper. The raters decided not to choose a question from Oxford because it was not simple and proper for our culture, so they changed the question. They decided to choose this question so that all participants can find the topic simple, and so that they would have more information about it. Moreover, the topic was related to the English language.

Administering writing and speaking test were done consecutively. At first, a writing test was administered among the participants. All sheets were spread among them, and they were asked to write three paragraphs about the topic in 15 minutes. Any participant who finished the writing test participated in a speaking test, in which students were assigned to speak about the answer to a question in 3 minutes. The voices of participants were recorded by the researcher. Finally, these voices were scored by two raters that rated writing tests too.

  1. Results

Since intermediate students participated in the current study, the aim of the placement test was to select 50 intermediate students from 62 students.

 

 

Table 1: Statistics of Placement Test

Number of students

62

Maximum score

58

Highest score possible

60

Minimum score

39

Lowest acceptable score

39

Gender

Male & Female

Intermediate participants extracted

50

Number of questions

50 Vocabulary and grammar questions, 10 reading questions

As Table 1 shows, in this study, there were 62 students of which 50 were selected by the placement test. The placement test contained 50 vocabulary and grammar questions whose total score was 50 and 5 reading questions whose scores were from 10 based on Oxford criteria. The participants of the placement test were a combination of males and females. After intermediate students were determined, they attended the next three tests including the syntax test, speaking test, and writing test.

  • Syntax test

After the syntax test was administered among 50 intermediate participants, the following  information was obtained (Table 2):

Table 2: Statistics of Syntax Test

N Valid

50

Missing

0

Mean

 

16.0900

Std. Error of Mean

 

.24315

Median

 

16.0000

Mode

 

16.00

Std. Deviation

 

1.71931

Variance

2.956

Skewness

.104

Std. Error of Skewness

.337

Kurtosis

-1.013

Std. Error of Kurtosis

662

Range

6.00

Minimum

13.00

Maximum

19.00

Sum

804.50

These statistics were obtained from 50 scores of syntax tests administered among intermediate students. The syntax test contained 40 multiple choice questions whose sources were from Oxford. The time determined by Oxford to answer the questions was 40 minutes. Based on the Oxford criteria, the score of this exam was calculated from 20.

 

 

  • Speaking Scores

The second variable was speaking proficiency whose statistics of scores have been covered in the following table:

Table 3: Statistics of Speaking Test

N Valid

50

Missing

0

Mean

 

12.1300

Std. Error of Mean

 

.25547

Median

 

12.0000

Mode

 

12.00

Std. Deviation

 

1.80648

Variance

 

3.263

Skewness

 

.286

Std. Error of Skewness

 

.337

Kurtosis

 

-.165

Std. Error of Kurtosis

 

.662

Range

 

8.00

Minimum

 

8.00

Maximum

 

16.00

Sum

 

606.50

In the speaking test, participants were asked to answer a question in 3 minutes, and simultaneously, their voices were recorded. Based on the TOEFL criteria, the scores of participants were calculated from 16.

  • Reliability of Speaking Scores

There were three variables in the present study including syntactic knowledge, writing, and speaking proficiency. Therefore, there were three sets of scores obtained from 50 participants, and each set contained 50 scores. Since the number of raters in the current research is two, there are two sets of scores for both speaking and writing. Thus, it should be measured if there is any consistency between these two sets of scores. In order to do this, the reliability of scores of speaking and writing by means of Cronbach's alpha measure should be calculated. Cronbach's alpha is a measure of internal consistency, that is, how closely related a set of items are as a group. It is considered to be a measure of scale reliability. Technically speaking, Cronbach's alpha is not a statistical test, but it is a coefficient of reliability (or consistency). In Table 4, statistics for the reliability of speaking scores have been shown:

Table 4: Reliability Statistics

Cronbach's alpha

N of items

.813

2

As Table 4 shows, the value for Cronbach's alpha for scores of speaking is 0.813. Based on this table, this value proves that the internal consistency of speaking scores is good and scores are reliable. In addition, there is no excluded score from the total scores and 100% of scores are valid.

  • Writing Test

In the writing test, participants were asked to write three paragraphs about the determining question in 30 minutes (almost 10 minutes for each paragraph). After the data was collected, the following statistics were obtained:

Table 5: Statistics of Writing Test

N

Valid

50

 

Missing

0

Mean

 

3.0200

Std. Error of Mean

 

.17955

Median

 

3.0000

Mode

 

3.00

Std. Deviation

 

1.26958

Variance

 

1.612

Skewness

 

-.039

Std. Error of Skewness

 

.337

Kurtosis

 

-.999

Std. Error of Kurtosis

 

.662

Range

 

4.00

Minimum

 

1.00

Maximum

 

5.00

Sum

 

151.00

 

  • First Research Question

The first hypothesis of the current study was: there is no relationship between syntactic knowledge and speaking proficiency of EFL intermediate students. The statistics about the relationship between the syntactic knowledge of intermediate students and their writing proficiency can be seen in Table 6:

Table 6: Correlation between syntax and speaking scores

 

Syntax

Speaking

Syntax Pearson correlation

1

.139

Sig. (2-tailed)

 

.335

N

50

50

Speaking      Pearson correlation

.139

1

Sig. (2-tailed)

.335

 

N

50

50

In Table 6, the sig value shows whether two variables have a meaningful (positive) relationship or negative relationship. N stands for the total number of scores of participants. In Table 6, the Pearson correlation is .139 and the sig value is .335. When the sig value is higher than   0 and below +0.05, the correlation is meaningful. As Table 6 shows, 0.335 is greater than 0.05, so it is questionable and the correlation exists but it is not high enough. The below table shows the Interpretation of the Pearson correlation.

Table 7: Interpretation Correlation

Correlation Value (r)

Interpretation

0,00 - 0,199

Very weak

0,20 - 0,399

Weak

0,40 – 0,599

Enough

0,60 – 0,799

Strong

0,80 – 0,100

Very strong

 

  • Second Research Question

The second hypothesis of the current study was: there is no relationship between syntactic knowledge and writing proficiency of Iranian intermediate EFL learners. The statistics about the probable relationship between the syntactic knowledge of intermediate students and their writing proficiency can be seen in Table 8:

Table 8: Correlation Between Syntax and Writing Scores

 

Syntax

Writing

Syntax

Pearson correlation

1

.191

 

Sig. (2-tailed)

 

.184

 

N

50

50

Writing        Pearson correlation

.191

1

Sig. (2-tailed)

.184

 

N

50

50

In Table 8, the Pearson correlation is .191 and the sig value is .184. Based on Table 7, 0.184 is interpreted as a very weak correlation, so the correlation between syntactic knowledge and writing proficiency exists but it is not again considerable.

  • Third Research Question

The statistics about the third hypothesis of the current study can be seen in Table 9:

Table 9: Statistics of the Third Hypothesis

 

Speaking

Writing

Syntax Pearson correlation

.139

.191

Sig. (2-tailed)

.335

.184

N

50

50

The third hypothesis of the present study was: the relationship between syntactic knowledge and writing proficiency is not different from the relationship between syntactic knowledge and speaking proficiency. Table 9 shows the comparison between the correlation of the syntactic knowledge of students with their speaking and writing proficiency. The p-value for speaking is .139 and for writing is .191. Moreover, the sig value for speaking is .335 and for writing .184. Based on Table 9, there is a correlation between syntactic knowledge and speaking as well as syntactic knowledge and writing proficiency, but this correlation is significant either.

  1. Discussion

A study by Priyanto (2012) was conducted with the aim of obtaining the correlation between English grammar competence and speaking fluency of eleventh-grade students in sman 1  . The population was all eleventh-grade students in SMAN 1. The results of this study showed that the correlation between grammar competence and speaking fluency of eleventh-grade students in SMAN 1  was 0.44. Based on the correlation of criteria established by Bartz, it was found that the value of the r coefficient that was acquired as the result of correlation analysis between grammar competence and speaking fluency of eleventh students in SMAN 1 can be categorized as moderate and the correlation was significant. In comparison with Priyanto’s study, the present study did not show a meaningful relationship between the syntactic knowledge of students and their speaking proficiency. It should be mentioned that in Priyanto’s study, just fluency was measured while in the present study, overall speaking was measured.

A similar study to the current study was conducted by M.A. Mushin (2015) in Indonesia in which the correlation between students' grammar knowledge and their writing ability was calculated. In collecting data, the researcher used a test as an instrument in order to calculate the proficiency of students in grammar and writing. In this study, the researcher, for the grammar test, used multiple choices which consisted of 25 items and 10 fill-in blanks, and for the writing test, a kind of instrument namely a written test was chosen. After the data was collected from 23 students, the researcher obtained the correlation between the grammar ability and writing skill of the students which this number was 0.43. This value showed a moderate meaningful relationship between the grammar ability and writing proficiency of students. In comparison with M.A. Mushin’s study, the present study did not show a meaningful relationship between the syntactic knowledge of students and their writing proficiency, because the correlation number in the current study was 0,.191 and M.A. Mushin’s study which was 0.43. In fact, M.A. Mushin’s study shows a moderate correlation but the present study indicates a very weak correlation which cannot be considered significant.

  1. Conclusion

This study aimed to measure the existence or non-existence meaningful relationship between the syntactic knowledge of intermediate EFL students and productive skills proficiency. In the current study, three null hypotheses were going to be assessed to see whether they should be accepted or rejected.

In the first hypothesis, it was mentioned that there is no relationship between the syntactic knowledge of Intermediate EFL students and their writing proficiency. To know if this hypothesis should be confirmed or rejected, the Pearson correlation between syntax and writing scores was calculated. The correlation value for these two variables was .191 which showed a relationship between syntax and writing scores but it was not meaningful. In fact, it was revealed that when Intermediate EFL students want to improve and develop their writing proficiency, it is not recommended to focus more on syntactic knowledge. They should consider syntax as an important factor, but based on the results of the current study, it cannot have much influence on their writing skill.

The second hypothesis was: there is no relationship between the syntactic knowledge of Intermediate EFL students and their speaking proficiency. In order to measure if this hypothesis should be accepted or rejected, the Pearson correlation between syntax and speaking scores was 0.139 which showed a relationship between syntax and speaking scores but it was not meaningful. In fact, it was proved that when Intermediate EFL students want to improve and develop their speaking proficiency, it is not recommended to focus more on syntactic knowledge. They should consider syntax as an important factor, but based on the results of the current study, it cannot have much influence on their speaking skill.

The last hypothesis of the present study was: the relationship between syntactic knowledge and writing proficiency is not different from the relationship between syntactic knowledge and speaking proficiency. Based on the correlation number between syntactic knowledge and writing and speaking proficiency, the third hypothesis was accepted. The P value between syntax and speaking was 0.139, while between syntax and writing was 0.191. In fact, it was revealed that the relationship between syntactic knowledge and writing proficiency was not different from the relationship between syntactic knowledge and speaking proficiency. It means that the syntactic knowledge of EFL students had not any significant influence on writing and speaking skill.

  1. Acknowledgement

We would like to express our thanks to all those who helped us in the data collection process.

  1. Declaration of Conflicting Interests

The authors they not have any conflicts of interest to declare.

  1. Funding Details

This research did not receive any funding from any agency.

References

Burns, A., & Joyce, H. (1997). Focus on speaking. Sydney: National Center for English Burrah, K. (1985). Learning to Teach Writing: Does Teacher Education Make a Difference? New York: Teachers College Press.

Davies, P., & Pearse, E. (1998). Success in English Teaching. Oxford University Press.

Dixon, R. (2005). Why put writing last? – Integrating the productive skills   presented in LIA International Conference 2005, Jakarta.

Fathali, S. & Sotoudehnama, E. (2015). The impact of guided writing on speaking. Journal of Teaching Language Skills, 7(1), 1-25.

Hughes, R. (2013). Teaching and researching: Speaking (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge

Jeyagowri, K. (2018). Challenges involved in ELT during transition from higher secondary tertiary level, International Journal of English Language and Literature in     Humanities, 6(4), 31-38.

Jong, J. (2008). The efficacy of various kinds of error feedback for improvement in the accuracy and fluency of L2 student writing. Journal of Second Language Writing, 12(3), 267–296.

Keith, J. (2001). An introduction to foreign language learning and teaching, London:   Pearson Education Limited.

Kusumawardani. S. A. & Mardiyani, E. (2018). The correlation between english grammar competence and speaking fluency. Professional Journal of English Education, 1(6), 724-733.

MacArthur, C. A., Graham, S., & Fitzgerald, J. (2008). Handbook of writing  research. New York, NY: Guilford Press.

McCarthy, M., & O’Keeffe, A. (2004). Research in the teaching of speaking. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 24, 26–43.

McKay, S. (1993). Agendas for second language literacy. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Muh, A. M. (2015). The correlation between studentsgrammar knowledge and writing ability. English Education Departement, Muhammadiyah University of Makassar, Indonesia.

Munby, J. (1978). Communicative language design. Cambridge University Press.

Namaziandost, E., Akram Abdi, S., & Rahimi Esfahani, F. (2018). The effect of writing practice on improving speaking skill among pre-intermediate EFL learners, Theory and Practice in Language Studies,8(12), 1690-1697.

Nation, I. S. P., & Newton, J. (2009). Teaching ESL/EFL listening and speaking. ESL and applied linguistics professional series. Routledge Taylor & Francis Group.

Nunan, D. (1999). Second language teaching and learning. Heinle & Heinle Publishers: Boston, Massachusetts.

Pickering. (2006). Working memory and education: A volume in educational psychology. Elsevier Inc. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-554465-8.X5000-5.

Priyanto, A. L. A. L. (2012). The correlation between English grammar competence and speaking fluency of eleventh grade students in Sman 1 Sidoarjo,    English Education, Language and Art Faculty, Surabaya State University.

Rao, Z. (2007). Training in brainstorming and developing writing skills. ETL Journal,      61(2), 100-106.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

[1] MA in TEFL, vahidyazdiaaa@gmail.com; English Department, Chabahar Maritime University, Chabahar, Iran.

[2]Assistant Professor,amir.mohamadian@cmu.ac.ir; English Department, Chabahar Maritime University, Chabahar, Iran.

Burns, A., & Joyce, H. (1997). Focus on speaking. Sydney: National Center for English Burrah, K. (1985). Learning to Teach Writing: Does Teacher Education Make a Difference? New York: Teachers College Press.
Davies, P., & Pearse, E. (1998). Success in English Teaching. Oxford University Press.
Dixon, R. (2005). Why put writing last? – Integrating the productive skills   presented in LIA International Conference 2005, Jakarta.
Fathali, S. & Sotoudehnama, E. (2015). The impact of guided writing on speaking. Journal of Teaching Language Skills, 7(1), 1-25.
Hughes, R. (2013). Teaching and researching: Speaking (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge
Jeyagowri, K. (2018). Challenges involved in ELT during transition from higher secondary tertiary level, International Journal of English Language and Literature in     Humanities, 6(4), 31-38.
Jong, J. (2008). The efficacy of various kinds of error feedback for improvement in the accuracy and fluency of L2 student writing. Journal of Second Language Writing, 12(3), 267–296.
Keith, J. (2001). An introduction to foreign language learning and teaching, London:   Pearson Education Limited.
Kusumawardani. S. A. & Mardiyani, E. (2018). The correlation between english grammar competence and speaking fluency. Professional Journal of English Education, 1(6), 724-733.
MacArthur, C. A., Graham, S., & Fitzgerald, J. (2008). Handbook of writing  research. New York, NY: Guilford Press.
McCarthy, M., & O’Keeffe, A. (2004). Research in the teaching of speaking. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 24, 26–43.
McKay, S. (1993). Agendas for second language literacy. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Muh, A. M. (2015). The correlation between studentsgrammar knowledge and writing ability. English Education Departement, Muhammadiyah University of Makassar, Indonesia.
Munby, J. (1978). Communicative language design. Cambridge University Press.
Namaziandost, E., Akram Abdi, S., & Rahimi Esfahani, F. (2018). The effect of writing practice on improving speaking skill among pre-intermediate EFL learners, Theory and Practice in Language Studies,8(12), 1690-1697.
Nation, I. S. P., & Newton, J. (2009). Teaching ESL/EFL listening and speaking. ESL and applied linguistics professional series. Routledge Taylor & Francis Group.
Nunan, D. (1999). Second language teaching and learning. Heinle & Heinle Publishers: Boston, Massachusetts.
Pickering. (2006). Working memory and education: A volume in educational psychology. Elsevier Inc. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-554465-8.X5000-5.
Priyanto, A. L. A. L. (2012). The correlation between English grammar competence and speaking fluency of eleventh grade students in Sman 1 Sidoarjo,    English Education, Language and Art Faculty, Surabaya State University.
Rao, Z. (2007). Training in brainstorming and developing writing skills. ETL Journal,      61(2), 100-106.
 
 
 
Volume 11, Issue 3 - Serial Number 11
September 2022
Pages 84-96
  • Receive Date: 10 February 2022
  • Revise Date: 13 February 2022
  • Accept Date: 24 March 2022
  • First Publish Date: 03 December 2022