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Language education needs for multilingualism in Fiji primary
Transcript of Language education needs for multilingualism in Fiji primary
Overview of article
Language education in Fiji:
Education in the Pacific is heavily influenced by contact with Europe.
The education system of Fiji has "been retained & not attuned to contemporary Fiji needs" (40).
Changes have been made to materials to make them more contemporary, but not to pedagogy or curriculum.
1. Transitional bilingual education - switch from only vernacular to English after 3 years.
2. Maintenace bilingual education - support all vernaculars through primary school.
3. Submersion education - English right away.
Fiji's education policy is maintenance bilingual education within a transitional framework.
Indo-Fijians believe English is the most useful language for education, employment, immigration, & freedom from the reliance on land.
The languages spoken in Fiji are:
Teachers choose which language to use based on instinct.
A teacher education program for multilingual classrooms should include a "component on the possibilities of language use for learning at school, at home, & in the community" (41).
This would allow teachers to choose the most appropriate language to use in the classroom to obtain their goals.
"The ideal multlingual education system takes into account the languages known in the community & their links to various aspects of community and national life" (41).
Self & teacher assessments of language use & proficiency.
Observation of teachers' use of materials & student engagement.
Questionnaires & information discussions.
8 primary schools on the largest & most populated island
4 multi-racial schools & 4 mono-racial schools.
4 urban schools, & 4 rural schools.
Classes 1, 3, & 6
1 - receives instruction in "mother tongue".
3 - receives instruction in English.
6 - takes the National Intermediate School Examination (English).
2 case study students randomly selected from each class.
1. What are the multilingual proficiencies of the students in the study?
2. What role does each language play in the classroom?
3. What types of activities does the class engage in when studying language & content?
4. What classroom materials are used in language & content classrooms?
5. What attitudes do teachers, head teachers, & students have toward students' known languages?
6. What contribution can a study of the current multilingual use of languages in education make towards informing teacher education programs for primary school teachers?
What are the multilingual proficiencies of the children in the study?
Case study students showed high levels of proficiency in Fiji Hindi (FH) & English.
13 Class 1 students said they understood FH better than English.
When comparing teacher & student reports of aural FH proficiency, teachers believed students understood more FH than students believed they did.
Oral proficiency of FH was higher in Class 3 than Class 6.
Urban students had lower oral FH proficiency than rural students.
Literacy ability was highest in English than any other language.
What role does each language play in the classroom?
"There was little evidence to suggest that classrooms were reflecting the patterns of language use suggested by Fiji's transitional language policy" (49-50).
English was usually the dominant language in all levels in all classroom functions.
The language classrooms (Shudh Hindi & Urdu), had the least amount of English & the greatest amount of these langagues.
However, these were mostly taught in the mother tongue, which led to lower competence in these languages.
What types of activities does the class engage in when studying language and content?
Research suggests that a range of techniques with clear language learning goals & an emphasis on meaning best supports long-term language acquisition in young learners.
Math, English, & SH classrooms preferred traditional activities like drills, imitation, and question-answer.
This may be due to class size, multilevel classes, & multilingual classes.
What materials are used in language and content classrooms?
The English curriculum had a lot of international, authentic, & contextualized materials.
"the materials used in the English classes are wider ranging & more applicable to real life contexts than the materials used in the SH/Urdu classes" (52).
Teachers did not depend on the prescribed textbooks in SH & Urdu classes, mostly because they were outdated.
They spent a lot of time reviewing material & activating prior knowledge in SH & Urdu classes.
What attitudes do head teachers, teachers, & students have towards the children's know languages?
English learning had the most support from teachers & head teachers.
Teachers had little support of Fiji English, even on the playground.
Teachers reported using Fiji English for informal explanations & discussing everyday, personal information.
While everyone agreed that SH, Urdu, & Fiji English should be used more in the classroom, when pitted against English, these languages got less support.
What contributions can a study of the current multilingual use of languages in education make towards informing teacher education programmes for primary school teachers?
Most teachers in this study did not feel comfortable with, or prepared to teach the vernacular.
Some knowledge of their students language, uses, & status should be learned by teachers.
Teachers may have difficulty judging their students' abilities in their mother tongue.
Language assessment techniques should be taught.
A practicum component should be included so they can practice using what they learn.
Teachers relied on traditional activities.
They need to learn a range of teaching methods, activities, & approaches.
They also need to learn approaches for teaching language that focuses more on meaning than form, especially when their students may not be comfortable with the language of instruction or the language being learned.
"We should not only encourage code switching when appropriate, but in some settings it should be incorporated into our teaching. It is interesting that the article about ELT in Korea focused in depth on this issue & it was only briefly mentioned in the article for this week" (Kim).
Besides language status, can you think of any reasons a teacher may not incorporate code switching into their teaching?
One of the reasons teachers claimed they stuck to traditional activities was that they were teaching multilingual classes.
"How can teachers adjust their teaching according to the use of different languages in differing contexts?"
How can we create a classroom environment that is able to accommodate all features of child multilingualism?" (JunFu)
"the research indicates that this education includes bilingualism but has not included the necessary components involved in language learning regarding multilingualism" (Stacey)
How would you differentiate between bilingual education and multilingual education?
Or, which components are missing?
"for young Fijian children entering school for the first time, it is overwhelming to have to overcome language barriers as well as content area barriers. How are the students expected to succeed in school when the materials are inaccessible?" (Reem)
What are some ways this issue can be addressed?
If we were in charge of reinventing a training program for teachers of multilingual classrooms, what would we include? What would be required, and/or recommended? Is there anything we would leave out?
The article "talked a bit about historical reasons [for learning English], which were political or religious, but isn't Fiji a major tourist destination? Even the research article we read on Mexico talked about tourism as a motivator for learning English. Why wouldn't the population of Fiji be learning English for the sake of the tourism industry" (Harold)
What do you think might be the biggest motivators for the teaching of English on Fiji?
"It appears to me that codemeshing may provide a way for multilingual scholars to show their competence in academic norms while also appropriating them for their purposes" (Taylor).
As a teacher, how would you promote codemeshing in the classroom? In what contexts would you prefer codemeshing be used, in which would you not?
"Focusing on meaning will help with the students who are not competent in all their languages. Also, it will help the teachers manage the learning in the classroom and build a closer connection with their students" (Chang).
In what ways does focusing on meaning help teachers manage the classroom and connect with students?