This research was aimed at investigating factors which affect English as a Foreign Language (EFL) students’ speaking skills in Jimma teacher Education College. The subjects of the study were second year EFL students and EFL teachers in the college. Among the 200 second year English Language students in the college, the researcher took 50% as the sample of the study using the simple random sampling technique. To take EFL teacher informants, the researcher employed comprehensive sampling since the number of the teachers was not large. The instruments used to gather data for the research were questionnaire, focus group discussion (FGD) and classroom observation. Among the students, 10% was involved in the FGD. In other words, two FGD consisting of ten students each was done with the EFL students. FGD was also conducted with EFL teachers. The researcher conducted one FGD in which 8 English language teachers participated. Classroom observation in which 5 EFL teachers were seen two times while they were teaching speaking skills was also conducted. The total number of observation conducted was 10. It was intended to investigate what the real speaking classroom looked like, how the students performed speaking skill tasks, to observe motivational strategies used by the EFL teachers in the speaking class/lesson, and to observe the type of speaking tasks used by the teachers to teach the skills. In order to analyze the data, the researcher used mixed approach whereby both qualitative and quantitative methods were utilized. The data which were collected by using questionnaire were analyzed quantitatively while those from FGD and the classroom observation were analyzed qualitatively. The results of the study indicated that speaking skill was the skill in which the students faced more problems. It had been found out that the main causes of the students’ speaking problems were lack of exposure and opportunities to use English in and out of school, learners’ poor background, lack of opportunities to practice, lack of confidence and motivation, and fear of speaking in front of their classmates and fear of making mistakes. On the basis of the findings of the study, the researcher had forwarded some recommendations.
Key words: Speaking skills, EFL, EFL teachers, speaking tasks, interaction, impeding factors.
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