), there are many benefits of cooperative learning, and it should have its place in the classroom for several reasons. Humans are social beings that learn extremely well through interaction. While using methods of cooperative learning, students will develop a sense of community and commitment. This method of learning also supports positive peer teaching and learning which is beneficial as well.
Cooperative learning can also be focused on from the perspective of motivation: Motivational perspectives on cooperative learning focus primarily on the reward or goal structures under which students operate (Slavin, 1995). From this perspective, cooperative incentive structures create a situation in which the only way group members can attain their own personal goals is if the group is successful. Therefore, to meet their personal goals, group members must both help their group-mates to do whatever helps the group to succeed and, perhaps even more importantly, to encourage their group-mates to exert maximum efforts. In other words, rewarding groups based on group performance (or the sum of individual performances) creates an interpersonal reward structure, in which group members will give or withhold social reinforces (e.g., praise, encouragement) in response to group-mates’ task-related efforts (Slavin,1983).
Cooperative learning can create a situational perspective for the second language learners named “the social cohesion perspective” (Cohen, 1994), which is an emphasis on teambuilding activities in preparation for cooperative learning and processing or group self-evaluation during and after group activities.
It is generally asserted that cooperative learning is a highly appropriate option for all students because it emphasizes active interaction among individuals of diverse abilities and background (Yule, 1996) and demonstrates more positive student outcomes in academic achievement, social behavior and effective development.
One of instructional techniques language teachers can use to increase learner’s achievement of speech acts is competitive learning, and according to Johnson, Johnson, and Stanne (2000), competitive learning is that kind of learning in which the students have got to work against each other for the purpose on achieving a good grade. So one student should achieve the goal and another one is bound to fail. Thus the competitive learning can be interpersonal of inter-group. Competitive learning is of great value if the students want to view the material they have learned.
Competitive learning exists when one student goal is achieved but all other students fail to reach that goal (Johnson & Johnson, 1991). Competitive learning can be interpersonal (between individuals), or intergroup (between groups), where a group setting is appropriate. This strategy has been described as the most appropriate when students need to review learned materials (Griffiths & Podirsky, 2002). However, there have been many criticisms of this type of learning, including promoting high anxiety levels, self-doubt, selfishness, and aggression. It may also promote cheating and interfere with learners’ capacity to problem-solveing (Johnson & Johnson, 1991). Competitive interaction strategy could be used in the studies where students work in subgroups. This way Members of each subgroup work strictly on his/her own, strive to be the best in the subgroup for price or reward.
Literature evidence concerning the relative effectiveness of and practical preferences of pundits among these teaching techniques have been varied and mixed. In a study carried out by Dowell (1975, cited in Pneuman, 2009) on the effectiveness of a competitive and cooperative on the comprehension of a cognitive task, he stated that the students in the cooperative learning environment performed better than they did in a competitive environment. Alebiosu (1998) was of the view that students exposed to cooperative learning strategies performed significantly better in all the skills than their counterparts exposed to competitive or individualistic learning strategies. Johnson and Johnson (1991) contended that achievement outcomes were actually more accepted in competitive settings for high self-concept children than in the cooperative settings. Esan (1999, as cited in Pneuman, 2009) was of the view that individualistic setting showed a positive attitude towards mathematics than both cooperative and competitive setting. Okebukola and Ogunniyi (1984) presented that the cooperative arrangement was better for promoting achievement while the competitive arrangement was better for practical skills. Ojo and Egbon (2005) were of the view that the cooperative learning environment was found to be more conducive to learning than the competitive setting. Okediji, Anene, and Afolabi (2006) found that cooperative learning strategy groups performed significantly better than their non-cooperative counterparts, but found no significant difference in performance between competitive and noncompetitive learning strategy groups. There was also no significant interaction effect of cooperation and competition.
1.2. Statement of the Problem
According to Hudson, Detmer, and Brown (1995), speech act categories are cultural concepts, and they vary from one society to another. For instance, there is considerable variation in address form use, across languages, across national boundaries, across social groups within the same country from one individual to the next, and even in the behavior of the same person. Therefore, it is not enough for foreign language learners only to know the language, but it is important for them to be able to communicate correctly and effectively, foreign language learners need to understand what the purpose of speech act is and how to achieve the purpose through linguistic forms. In this respect, still it seems that most English learners have difficulty in comprehension and recognition of speech acts.
Even at the advance level, normally learners are familiar with only a formal style which is widely used in academic contexts; they also seem to feel that they are incomplete in interpreting the native speaker’s intentions and that their own pragmatic intentions may not be fully appreciated, this pragmatic failure can especially be traced in the areas of speech acts. Facilitating the development of pragmatic competence with respect to a particular speech act or function necessarily entail both description of the use of speech acts and approach for developing pragmatic competence. Language learners must be exposed to language samples which appropriately observe social, cultural and discoursal conventions. Speakers who do not use pragmatically appropriate language run the risk of appearing uncooperative at least, or more seriously rude or insulting.
Another concept which should be focused on is the role of learners’ awareness in developing second language pragmatic competence in general, and second language speech act knowledge in particular: Based on Kasper (1997), through awareness-raising activities, students acquire sociopragmatic and pragmalinguistic information; for instance, what function complimenting has in mainstream American culture, what appropriate topics for complimenting are, and by what linguistic formulae compliments are given and received. Students can observe particular pragmatic features in various sources of oral or written ‘data’, ranging from native speaker ‘classroom guests’ (Bardovi-Harlig, et al., 1999) to videos of authentic interaction, feature films (Rose, 2000), and other fictional and non-fictional written and audiovisual sources.
Consequently, the researcher chose cooperative and competitive language learning as two areas of research, theory and practice in education which may be two ways by which the speech acts could be achieved by language learners. In this study these two instructions and their effects on achievement of the speech act were compared to see which one is more effective.
1.3 Statement of Research Ques
The present study was intended to explore the comparative effect of cooperative and competitive learning on EFL learners’ achievement of speech acts; therefore the following research question was raised:
RQ: Is there any significant difference between the effect of cooperative and competitive learning on EFL learners’ achievement of speech acts?
1.4 Statement of the Research Hypothesis
Based on the research question raised above, the following null hypothesis was formulated:
H0: There is no significant difference between the effect of cooperative and competitive learning on EFL learners’ achievement of speech acts.
1.5 Definition of the Key Terms
Speech act: “Speech acts refer to each of the stretches of language that are carrying the force of requesting, greeting, and instructing and so on, seen as performing a particular act. When we say that a particular bit of speech or writing is for example, an apology, we are concentrating on what that piece of language is doing, or how the listener or reader is supposed to react; such entities are called speech acts” (Wolfson, 1989, p.9).
In the present study achievement of speech acts was operationally defined as the scores of the participants on a teacher-made discourse completion test (DCT).
Cooperative learning: cooperative learning is “an approach to teaching and learning in which classrooms are organized so that students work together in small cooperative teams” (Richards & Schmidt, 2002, p.124).
Competitive learning: “competitive learning exists when one student’s goal is achieved and all other students fail to reach that goal; it can be interpersonal (between individuals) where each individual is important or intergroup (between groups) where group setting is appropriate” (Johnson & Johnson, 1991, P.182)
1.6 Significance of the Study
The present research was an attempt to investigate the effect of two procedures (cooperative and competitive learning) on EFL learners’ achievement of speech acts. The findings of this study would probably help EFL teachers adopt a suitable strategy or procedure which would lead to better achievement of learners in regards with speech acts.
The researcher also expected to come up with some of the following implications for language teaching:
Improving EFL learner’s language proficiency, improving the students’ ability to communicate, and familiarizing the EFL learners with formal speech acts used in different situation in order to enable them to effectively communicate with native speakers.
1.7 Limitations and Delimitations
Due to the nature of the research, especially in the field of education, the present study encountered a number of limitations which could pose inevitable restrictions on the interpretation and generalization of its findings. The following are the limitations of the present study:
1. The rules and restrictions which existed in some language institutes did not allow the researcher – herself being a female– to have male learners in her class as well as female learners. Hence the results of this research cannot be necessarily generalized to male EFL learners.
2. , The students who took part in the study were between 12-18 years old so the results of this research cannot be generalized to other age groups.
On the other hand, some delimitations were imposed by the researcher to narrow down the scope of the study which are as follows:
1. The researcher deliberately selected intermediate level learners as the participants of this research because elementary learners were not much familiar with the speech acts and did not have much ability to communicate, while advanced learners were perhaps already proficient enough not to be hugely impacted by the teaching variables discussed in this study.
2. Since only two speech acts, namely apology and greeting