Implementing critical literacy in a Tongan bilingual classroom
Vea, P. T. (2010). Implementing critical literacy in a Tongan bilingual classroom (Thesis, Master of Education (MEd)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/5021
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/5021
This report describes a research study which trialled a unit of work designed for senior high school levels in a Tongan bilingual classroom. The main purpose of the study was to investigate the appropriateness and possible benefits of using critical literacy as a teaching strategy to teach literature in bilingual classrooms in Tonga. A critical literacy approach is relatively new in Tonga, so the study set out to test if this approach would contribute to making the teaching of English more innovative and student-centred. The methodology used in this study was a mix of qualitative and quantitative methods within an action research paradigm. One action research cycle spanned three months for trialling of the study unit and for collecting data. A class of thirty-four students from one Form Six class participated in this study, along with their English teacher as a participant observer. Eleven teachers of English from the same school also participated in interviews for further data collection. I took the role of teacher-researcher. In addition to teaching the study unit, I conducted interviews with teachers and students for further data-gathering. Qualitative and quantitative analysis of the data indicated that both participating teachers and students identified that a critical literacy approach to teaching of English as a subject was highly appropriate to use in Tongan classrooms. Teachers identified resources to be a detriment to the successful implementation of a critical literacy approach. While this concern is acknowledged as a long-term one, in the short-term, existing available resources can still be of practical use. The study was conducted under a bilingual program that might be viewed by researchers on bilingual education as a subtractive bilingual program. Findings related to students‟ ability in both Tongan and English language signified a very low competence in these two languages. But findings related to bilingual teaching indicated a mismatch between the newly adopted bilingual curriculum in Tonga and Tongan English teachers‟ perceptions of bilingual education. It was shown in this study that this mismatch stemmed from a lack of teacher understanding of bilingual education. A couple of pedagogical issues were recommended in order to clear up this misunderstanding. The report concludes with the researcher‟s recommendations for the explicit inclusion of critical literacy in the Tonga Language curriculum. Parental involvement and teachers training are two issues to address in order to achieve a successful implementation of the newly adopted bilingual curriculum where a paradigm shift in teaching is necessary. Recommendations for further research are also included.
University of Waikato
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