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Examining Challenges and Complexities in the Chilean Young Learners Classroom: A Case of Teaching English as a Foreign Language

Inostroza Araos, María Jesús (2015) Examining Challenges and Complexities in the Chilean Young Learners Classroom: A Case of Teaching English as a Foreign Language. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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Abstract

The last few decades has seen a definite increase in the number of countries that have incorporated English as a Foreign Language (EFL) into their Primary Education compulsory curriculum. Improving language learner competences through an early start can be affected by a disregard of the teaching-learning context. In fact, publications on strategies for teaching children scarcely mention the impact of this factor on the learning process in school. This research project addressed this issue by identifying the challenges that Chilean early primary school teachers face, and investigated the contextual factors that can facilitate or hinder the teaching-learning process. Data were collected from EFL teachers working in this sector through an online questionnaire, semi-structured interviews, classroom observation, and group interviews with children aged 9. This research project followed a mixed methods approach, featuring quantitative and qualitative methods from two concurrent studies: a survey study and an intervention project. The findings of this research reveal the main challenges in these classrooms were related to monitoring learning. Additionally, this study shows that contextual features, such as limited time for planning, lack of parental involvement and a mismatch between policy and school reality, affected the teaching-learning process. The findings also show that teachers in Chile used age-appropriate activities for teaching children; however, they felt that their teaching context impaired their use. Similarly, group work was only occasionally used in Chilean EFL classrooms, partially due to well-known drawbacks and the time constraints involved. Children in these classrooms showed their preference for activities that involved movement and gave them an active role, as well as those which provide collaborative and cooperative classroom opportunities. These findings highlight the complex dynamic interactions in the young language learners’ classroom. In order to further understand the examined context, the tenets of Complexity Theory were incorporated. These findings also draw attention to the evaluation of the expected results and implementation process, considering the local classroom context and the complex interactions of the different components within the classroom as a crucial element to this process.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: The images from video stills have been removed from the online version of this thesis.
Keywords: EFL, Young Learners, Complexity Theory, Chile, Primary Education, Challenges
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Arts and Humanities (Sheffield) > School of English (Sheffield)
The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Arts and Humanities (Sheffield)
Depositing User: Dr. MJ Inostroza Araos
Date Deposited: 15 Jan 2016 16:53
Last Modified: 01 Dec 2016 01:18
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/11397

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