The teaching and learning of Hawaiian in mainstream educational contexts in Hawai‘i: Time for change?
NeSmith, R. K. (2012). The teaching and learning of Hawaiian in mainstream educational contexts in Hawai‘i: Time for change? (Thesis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/6079
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/6079
There are estimated to be fewer than 1,000 native speakers of Hawaiian language (ka ‘ōlelo Hawai‘i) in Hawai‘i. The majority of those who now learn Hawaiian do so in mainstream educational contexts and the majority of teachers of Hawaiian have learned the language as a second language in mainstream educational contexts. It is therefore important to determine what is being taught in these contexts and how it is being taught. At the core of this research project is an exploration of the attitudes and practices of a sample of teachers of Hawaiian in mainstream educational contexts. Following an introduction to the research (Chapter 1) and to the historical background against which the teaching and learning of Hawaiian takes place (Chapter 2), selected literature on language teacher cognition is critically reviewed (Chapter 3). This is followed by a report on a survey of the backgrounds, attitudes and practices of a sample of teachers of Hawaiian (Chapter 4) and a sample of students of Hawaiian (Chapter 5). Also included are analyses of a sample of widely used textbooks (Chapter 6) and a sample of Hawaiian language lessons (Chapter 7). Overall, the research suggests that major changes and developments that have taken place in the teaching and learning of additional languages since the beginning of the 20th century have had little impact on the teaching and learning of Hawaiian in mainstream educational contexts in Hawai‘i. The vast majority of the teachers surveyed had little or no training in language teaching, appeared to have little awareness of literature on language teaching and learning, and had little contact with native speakers. The textbooks analyzed, which were generally unaccompanied by teacher guides or supplementary resources, were found to be largely behaviorist in orientation, their design and methodology reflecting a curious mixture of aspects of both grammar translation and audiolingual approaches. Although most of the teachers surveyed appeared to be committed to including Hawaiian culture in their teaching, the textbooks examined were found to have very little cultural content. The lessons observed, which mainly adhered closely to the content of textbooks, relied heavily on translation and were generally absent of any clearly detectable lesson staging or any effective concept introduction or concept checking strategies. Activities were largely grammatically-focused, repetitive and non-communicative and the students were frequently observed to be confused and/ or off-task. It is concluded that the teaching and learning of Hawaiian in mainstream educational institutions in Hawai‘i is fraught with problems, problems that are evident at every stage in the process, from the lack of effective teacher education, through materials design and development to lesson planning and delivery. It would appear to be time for change. However, the survival of the Hawaiian language is by no means assured and there may be little time left in which to bring about change. For this reason, the thesis ends not only with recommendations for addressing the problems identified in the long-term and medium-term, but also with recommendations for change that could be effected the short-term (Chapter 8).
University of Waikato
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