The Learning needs for Air Cadets and Air Force Student Nurses in the English subject

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1 10 Royal Thai Air Force Medical Gazette Vol. 57 No.3 September - December 2011 The Learning needs for Air Cadets and Air Force Student Nurses in the English subject Wg.Cdr. Watcharaporn Paorohit, RN; Ph.D.**, Gp.Capt. Bajaree Nuanphet, M. Ed.* **Vice Chief of Education, Directorate of Medical Service, *Instructor, Air Force Academy, Bangkok, Thailand Abstract The Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) determined a vision for the year 2019 to be ONE OF THE BEST AIR FORCES IN ASEAN. The Air Force s visions are driven by two strategies; Digital Air Force and Network Centric Operation (NCO). During , the first strategy focused on English competencies and computer utilization. Thus Air Cadets and Air Force Student Nurses were urged to develop their English proficiency in order to accomplish the Air Force vision. The objectives of the study are 1, To examine the level of learning needs in the English subject 2, To investigate reality circumstances of English subject taught in classes 3, To compare the learning needs and reality circumstances in the English subject of the AF Student Nurse and Air Cadets and 4, To study common problems found in English classes of the Air Cadets and Air Force Student Nurses. Research Methodology : Purposive sampling has been carried out among 62 Air Cadets and Air Force Student Nurses. Questionnaires with 5 rating scales were used to collect data. Reliability and of the questionnaires were calculated by Cronbach s Alpha Coefficient, r = Frequency distribution, percentage, arithmetic mean, standard deviation independent t test and paired t- test were employed to analyze data. Research Results : Learning needs to learn English subject of the Air Cadets and Air Force student nurses were at the most need level (x=4.23). Reality circumstance of English subject taught in classes was at a moderate level (x=3.2285). The needs to develop English language were compared between Air Cadets and Air Force Student Nurse and there was no significant difference (t=0.645 p<0.05). The comparison of learning needs to develop English language and reality circumstance in English subject of the Air Cadets and Air Force Student Nurses were significantly different (t=8.237, p<0.01). The comparison of the needs to develop English skills in speaking, listening, reading, writing and reality circumstances were significantly different, t =8.76, 7.17, 7.68 and 7.42 respectively, p<0.01. Suggestions : The Air Force Academy has continuously developed English teaching material and English activities for the Air Cadets. Whereas the Royal Thai Air Force Nursing College is in the development process, thus English teaching material and the English program should be re-designed for self directed learning, English activities should be continuously carried out. A sound labs should be available and an English instructor should be the staff of the RTAF Nursing College. Key words : The Learning needs in English Subject of the Air Force Students. Royal Thai Air Force Medical Gazette, Vol. 57 No.3 September - December 2011 Background of the study The Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) determined vision for the year 2019 to be ONE OF THE BEST AIR FORCES IN ASEAN. The Air Force s vision are driven by two strategies; Digital Air Force and Network Centric Operation (NCO). During , first strategy is focused on English competencies and computer utilization.

2 Vol. 57 No.3 September - December 2011 Royal Thai Air Force Medical Gazette 11 All RTAF organizations set a priority to improve English proficiency at every level for the Air Force personnel in order to meet the minimum criteria of English Comprehension Level (ECL). To accomplish the Air Force vision, the first strategy of enhancing English proficiency for all is one of the most important missions to perform. English is required in some particular circumstances for military activities, such as multinational joint military exercises. Cobra Gold is a military exercise, which usually takes place in Thailand, involving armed forces from the United States, Thailand, and Singapore 1. Thai Boomerang 11 and Red Flag exercises in Alaska shares not only military knowledge and skills, but also experiences in English use, information exchanges, and development of relationships among military personnel. In addition to the importance of English for communication in the military profession, the language is also important and is included in the curriculum as a second language in many educational institutes, especially military academies 2. After graduation, Air Cadets and Air Force Student Nurses (AF Student Nurse) will serve in 10 Air Wings around the country. They have to use English as a part of their job assignment. Their English proficiencies are results of teaching and learning processes in English. English is a compulsory course taught for Air Cadets and AF Student Nurses. Since. English subject is designed based on institution s needs and has been used for many years; therefore, English course syllabus and teaching materials such as textbooks and Computer Assistant Instruction should be updated so as to respond learners needs. According to a previous study relating to the English subject, particularly at the Air Force Academy and the RTAF Nursing College, involved comparisons the needs and reality circumstance and the problems were limited. It s very important to seek for their needs and problems to inspire them to improve their English. The objectives of the study are : 1. To examine the level of English learning needs of the Air Cadets and the AF Student Nurses 2. To investigate reality circumstance of English as it is taught in classes. 3. To compare the learning needs and reality circumstance in English subject of the Air Cadets and AF Student Nurse. 4. To study commons problems found in English. Literature review Wilkins 3 stated that if the learners have chosen freely to learn the language within educational systems this is rarely the case 3. The language is often just one part of a compulsory curriculum. This mean that the majority of a class may have little intrinsic interest in language learning. This investigation on learners needs compare to reality and problems of English language skills and elements will offer insights into what they find essential for them so that they can achieve their learning goals without or with the least problems educationally and professionally. Need is a condition requiring relief,the state of needing something that is absent or unavailable, anything that is necessary but lacking 4. Need is the psychological feature that arouses an organism to action toward a desired goal; the reason for the action; that which gives purpose and direction to behavior 5. Needs Assessment Wilkins 3 stated Needs assessment is a systematic process to acquire an accurate, thorough

3 12 Royal Thai Air Force Medical Gazette picture of the strengths and weaknesses of a school community that can be used in response to the academic needs of all students for improving student achievement and meeting challenging academic standards. Process that collects and examines information about school wide issues and then utilizes that data to determine priority goals, to develop a plan, and to allocate funds and resources. Students, parents, teachers, administrators, and other community members should be included in gathering data 6. Steps in Conducting Needs Assessments: 1. Clarify the purpose of the needs assessment 2. Identify the population 3. Determine how to conduct the needs assessment 4. Design a survey instrument or adopt one that already exists 5. Collect data. 6. Analyze data (see following section) 7. Use the results are very important 7. Learner Needs The needs of a learner represent the gap between what the learner wants to get out of the learning experience and his or her current state of knowledge, skill, and enthusiasm 8. Identifies potential learning needs in four different domains: cognitive, social, affective, and psychomotor. When facilitators establish a new learning environment, it is important that they assess preparedness of participants in all four domains 9. Each learner is unique, and brings to the learning situation his or her own different learning style, knowledge set, pool of past experiences, and motivation. In learner-centered instruction, it is important for instructors to consider the level of knowledge and skill development attained by the learners prior to instruction 10. The best way to get this information is by asking the learners themselves. To determine the readiness of participants for learning, the instructor/facilitator should decide, prior to Vol. 57 No.3 September - December 2011 the first class or workshop, how to collect and use data on learner needs. The process of collecting and playing back these data can raise the level of participant excitement about the learning experience. The instructor can use this knowledge throughout the rest of the educational process to customize instructional strategies to enable learners to reach shared educational objectives. Mountford 6 stated that the most important aspect of language learning that should be realized is learner needs. Many applied linguists provide definitions of learner needs for answering the vague question of what we mean by needs. Students may assess their needs and choose why they wish to learn, what they want to learn, how they should learn a language, and what kind of English they will have to use 11. This choice may be dependent upon the student s beliefs of how language is to be learnt. Robinson 12 also regards learner needs as a personal aim of students related to the requirements of their studies or jobs, and as lacks, specifically the lack of knowledge and ability in English. Learner needs can mean what the userinstitution or society at large regards as necessary or desirable to be learnt from a program of language instruction. Mackay and Mountford described that when needs are clear, learning aims can be defined in terms of these specific purposes to which the language will be put, whether it be reading scientific papers or communicating with technicians on an oilrig 13. They also stated that learner needs should be clear in order to design an effective English course to meet the particular needs of language learners. English language in language learners view is needed as a means of furthering their specialist education or of performing social or working roles such as a scientist, technologist, or technician. English is taught at primary and secondary levels of education

4 Vol. 57 No.3 September - December 2011 Royal Thai Air Force Medical Gazette 13 concerning knowledge of how the syntactic and lexical rules of English operate with a general educational aim in mind, benefiting students as a part of a broad education. However, the upper level has different language learning aims. For example, the aim of students in the tertiary level normally at university which is defined by the requirements of examinations while the purposes of English learning of adults are for pleasure, cultural and social experience, an occupational, vocational, academic or professional requirement, and the advancement of their work. Not only are needs possibly described as objectives, but could also mean what the students themselves would like to gain from the language course, that is, students may have personal aims in addition to (or even in opposition to) the requirements of their studies or jobs. Such personal needs may be (and often are) devalued by being viewed as wants or desires This is similar to Widdowson s definition that learner needs can be defined as on the one hand, what the learner has to do with the language he has learned, on the other hand, what the learner has to do in order to learn 14. Two types of learners needs are presented as well. Firstly, goal-oriented needs can refer to what students have to be able to do at the end of their language course or their job requirement. Secondly, process-oriented needs equate to what learners need to actually do to acquire the language. Therefore, English teachers must understand the learner needs in order to motivate students to learn of what they think is worth learning 15. Research instrument Questionnaires with 5 rating scales were used to collect data which divided into two parts as follows : Part 1 General information Part 2 The needs in learning English subject to develop skill which composed of 1. speaking skills 2. listening skills 3. reading skills 4. writing skills 5. problems found in common Content validity was verified by three experts English instructors at the RTAF Language Center, Air Force Academy and Air Technical Training School. Reliability of the questionnaire was calculated by Cronbach s Alpha Coefficient which was, r= Data Collection The researcher informed the participants about questionnaires and informs consent was signed before collecting data. The questionnaire would not relate the participants by name. If the participant wanted to withdraw from the study, they would be allowed to do so without jeopardizing their English score. Research methodology. A study of the comparison between the learning needs and reality circumstances in English subject of the Air Cadets and AF Student Nurses were investigated. Sampling Procedures Purposive sampling has been done among 62 Air Cadets and AF Student Nurses. All agreed and willing to participate in the study. Data Analysis In the present study, statistical techniques were used to compute, code, and analyze the questionnaires. The statistical and numerical descriptors were frequency distribution, percentage, arithmetic mean, and standard deviation (S.D.). Questionnaire with five rating scales was calculated by paired t-test and independent t test 16.

5 14 Royal Thai Air Force Medical Gazette Research results The results obtained from the questionnaire data in response to the research questions: 1. What are the levels of learning needs in English of the AF student nurses and the Air Cadets? 2. Are the needs and reality circumstance in English subject of the AF student nurse and Air Cadets the same? 3. What are common problems in an English class? The research results are as follows: Table 1. The levels of learning needs to develop English language of the Air Cadets and AF Student Nurses X SD Level Need to develop English Most Reality circumstance Moderate Table 1. shows learning needs to develop English language x=4.2181, SD= are at the most needs level and reality circumstance x=3.2285, SD= at moderate levels. Vol. 57 No.3 September - December 2011 Table 2. Comparison of the learning needs to develop English language skill and reality circumstance in English subject of the Air Cadets and AF Student Nurses taught in classes. X SD t-test Level (n=63) Needs to develop English language <0.01 Reality circumstance Table 2 shows the comparison of the learning needs to develop English language skills and reality circumstance in the English subject of the Air Cadets and AF Student Nurses t= with a significant difference at level 0.01 Table 3. Comparison of the needs to develop English language between Air Cadets and Air Force Student Nurses n X SD t-test P value Air Cadets Air Force Student Nurses >0.05 Table 3 shows the comparison of the needs to develop English language between Air Cadets and AF Student Nurse t=0.645 with no significant difference at 0.05 Table 4. Comparison of the needs to develop skill of speaking, listening, reading English and reality circumstance of the Air Cadets and AF Student Nurse. X SD t-test P value Needs to develop speaking <0.01 Reality circumstance Needs to develop listening <0.01 Reality circumstance Needs to develop reading <0.01 Reality circumstance Needs to develop writing <0.01 Reality circumstance Table 4 shows the comparison of the needs to develop skill of speaking, listening, reading English and reality circumstance of the Air Cadets and AF Student Nurses; t=8.76, t=7.17, t=7.68, t=7.68 respectively with a significant difference at 0.01

6 Vol. 57 No.3 September - December 2011 Royal Thai Air Force Medical Gazette 15 Problems found in English language class were revealed by AF Student Nurses. 1. English Program is not up to date. 2. Lack of incentive to learn English. 3. Computer Assistant Instruction is not adequate for self study. 4. Needed Sound laboratory to improve all skill. 5. English instructor is not a staff of the RTAF Nursing College. 6. English club activities did not encourage students to develop 4 English skills of reading, writing, speaking, and listening. 7. English activities were not continuous. 8. Learning Resource Center for English is not provided for the students. Discussion The levels of learning needs to develop English language of the Air Cadets and AF Student Nurses x=4.2181, s.d= are at the most need level. This finding could determine that the institution should consider how to assist the Air Cadets and the AF Student Nurses improve their English language. Concerning the AF student nurse needs of English language in different contexts, it was found that they needed skills for listening to general conversations, providing a chance for daily life conversations, reading documents related to daily life, writing s, and learning vocabulary related to daily life. In addition, they suggested the RTAF Nursing College should provide English language courses, especially English in daily life. Since their aim of language learning was to successfully use the language in their lives either for academic or professional purposes. Moreover, they needed supportive English activities from the RTAF Nursing College such as studying with English native speakers, joining an English camp, and reading more English books in the library. Reality circumstance of English subject taught in classes are respond to their needs x=3.2285, SD= is at moderate levels. This finding had shown that the institution may not prepare sufficient learning instruments to respond their needs. Thus RTAF Nursing College and Air force Academy should support learning instrument to support their needs. The comparison of learning needs to develop English language and reality circumstance in English subject of the Air Cadets and AF Student Nurse t=8.237 with a significant difference at To design and develop English language courses efficiently and effectively, an investigation of learners needs, problems, and opinions about English language learning is very important 17. The finding of learning needs to develop English language was revealed they needed more support from institutions. Therefore institutions should re-design program. The students also suggested self-access learning in the library and the sound labs. The information resources center should have more English printed materials such as English newspapers, English journals, English magazines, or even English cartoon books. In other words, the students needed to read other interesting English documents including textbooks since they stated that they mostly used reading skills in their study of many subjects. Moreover, English sound labs would be helpful and would provide various kinds of materials such as English games, international movies, and different illustrated conversations 18. However, some of the facilities in the sound labs are needed such as more computers, loud speakers, and headphones. The sound labs should be available for self-access learning either after class in the evening or on the weekend 19.

7 16 Royal Thai Air Force Medical Gazette Suggestions for English subject improvement. 1. English Program is not up to date. These problems are considered to solve by redesigning the program congruence with the context and technology. 2. Lack of incentive to learn English may cause distraction to practice English. Institutions should encourage the students to participate in English activities by providing reward to the winner who performed well in English. 3. Computer Assistant Instruction is not enough for self study. Institution should create CAI for self study after class. 4. Sound lab is not available at the RTAF Nursing College. As results, the students improve slowly in listening skill. RTAF Nursing College should set a priority to build a sound labs for the AF Student Nurse. The Air Force Academy should maintain sound lab in a good condition for English classes. 5. English instructor is not part of staff, the institution should have English instructor on staff. 6. English club activities did not encourage students to develop the four English skills of reading, writing, speaking, and listening. To help improve English skill, English club activities should encou-rage students tocontinually develop their four English skills. 7. English activities were not continuous. The institution should maintain English activities by making a sound plan to launch activities throughout the year. 8. Learning Resource Center for English is not provided for the students. The institution should allocate a abudget for English Learning Resource Center. Vol. 57 No.3 September - December 2011 References 1. Arnold, J. (eds.). (199). Affect in Language Learning. New York: Cambridge University Press. 2. Farlex (2010) definition of need. Available from: 3. Kennedy, C., & Bolitho, R English for Specific Purposes. London: Macmillan. 4. Komuthchai, P. (1996). Personnel Administration of Air Technical Training School, Directorate of Education and Training, the Royal Thai Air Force. Master of Education Thesis in Education Administration, Kasetsart University. 5. Komuthchai, P. (1996). Personnel Administration of Air Technical Training School, Directorate of Education and Training, the Royal Thai Air Force. Master of Education Thesis in Education Administration, Kasetsart University. 6. Mackay, R. (1978). Identifying the Nature of the Learner s Needs. In R. Mackay & A. Mountford (eds.), English for Specific Purposes: A Case Study Approach. London: Longman, Mackay, R. (1978). Identifying the Nature of the Learner s Needs. In R. Mackay & A. Mountford (eds.), English for Specific Purposes: A Case Study Approach. London: Longman, Mackay, R., & Mountford, A. (1978). The Teaching of English for Special Purposes: Theory and Practice. In R. Mackay & A. Mountford (eds.). English for Specific Purposes: A Case Study Approach. London: Longman, Malison, A. (2006). English language needs of Thai students during their participation in the Work and Travel US Program in Master of Arts Thesis in English for Specific Purposes, Kasetsart University.

8 Vol. 57 No.3 September - December 2011 Royal Thai Air Force Medical Gazette Munby, J. (1978). Communicative Syllabus Design. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 11. Nattee. K ( 2010). An Investigation of Needs and Opinions about English language learning of the Air Technical Students at the Air Technical Training School, Directorate of Education and Training, the Royal Thai Air Force. Master of Arts Thesis in English for Careers, Thammasat University. 12. Nunan, D. (1992). Research Methods in Language Learning. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 13. Phaisuwan, C. (2006). A study of the needs and problems of Seagate Planners in using the English language to establish an ESP course. Master of Arts Thesis in Teaching English as a Foreign Language, Thammasat University. 14. Robinson, P. C ESP Today: A Practitioner s Guide. Hertfordshire: Prentice Hall. 15. Rungwaraphong, P (2005). Current needs, problems and wants in English usage of Thai Naval officers. Master of Arts Thesis in English for Careers, Thammasat University. 16. Widdowson, H. G. ( 1983). Learning Purpose and Language Use. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 17. Wilkins, D. A.(1974) Second-language learning and teaching. London: Edward Arnold. 18. Tarone, E., & Yule, G. (1989). Focus on the Language Learner. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 19. Thesaurus (2011) meaning of need. Available from:

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