Problem-Based Learning Affecting Features of Speaking Proficiency

Document Type : Research Article


1 Department of English Language Teaching, Faculty of Humanities, Imam Khomeini International University, Qazvin, Iran

2 Department of English Language Teaching, Faculty of Literature and Humanities, University of Sistan and Baluchestan, Zahedan, Iran



The present experimental research was designed to explore the impact of a problem-based learning (PBL) methodology on EFL learners’ speaking proficiency and its features of communicative success, pronunciation, grammatical accuracy, and lexical choice. Ninety preintermediate EFL learners were randomly distributed into 3 distinct groups: an online PBL group, a face-to-face PBL group, and a control group. The 2 experimental groups received instruction based on PBL (one conventional and one online PBL). They were offered speaking lessons according to the model of PBL introduced by Ansarian and Lin (2018) during 10 sessions. The control group was taught using the current conventions without any problem-based activities. Pre and posttests of speaking proficiency were administered at the beginning and at the end of the course. Data underwent analysis through ANCOVA. Findings showed that whereas the 2 forms of PBL significantly and positively affected the EFL learners’ speaking proficiency, pronunciation, and grammatical accuracy, online PBL was significantly more effective than conventional PBL. Results also showed that the online PBL group performed significantly better than both the conventional PBL and the control groups in communicative success and lexical choice, whereas the difference between the latter 2 groups was insignificant. Findings can have pedagogical implications for English language teachers, especially for those who teach speaking skills and wish to implement PBL in language teaching classes, following a model of PBL exclusively for EFL classes.


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