Thumbnail Image

Supporting English language learning by bridging from childrens' first languages in Papua New Guinea: An analysis of Grade 3 teachers' conceptions and practices

This is a descriptive study that was conducted with selected Grade 3 teachers in the East New Britain Province of Papua New Guinea. Grade 3 teachers implement bridging in bilingual education using the children's local vernacular language and/or Tok Pisin to help the learning of English. Three main reasons underpin this study. First, the study aimed to identify the participants' conceptions and beliefs about bridging. Second, the study wanted to document and analyse the bridging strategies and practices that teachers were employing to support the children's English learning, and third, the study was interested in identifying effective strategies and practices that could be recommended for all teachers in Papua New Guinea involved in bridging between the languages children know and English. A qualitative approach was used with focus group interviews, classroom observations, and a post-observation interview. The data generated from these methods captured teachers reporting what they do, what they think about bridging, and what they think are factors affecting implementation of effective bridging. The data also showed what teachers actually did in their classrooms, and how they explained what they did. When teachers talked about their conceptions of bridging and how they implemented bridging, the model of bilingual education that seemed to be guiding the participants' idea of bridging is the Transitional Bilingual model, where the L1 is replaced by the L2 over a period of time. When teachers talked about how they implemented bridging, they represented it mainly as a process of translation from one language to another. Teachers also talked about the use of both Tok Pisin and the vernacular in terms of scaffolding learning of new words. When asked what they thought about bridging, it seemed that many did not see a value in continued support of the L1 in that bridging was to get the children to learn English as soon as possible. They did not express very positive attitudes about the use of the vernacular or Tok Pisin. Teachers identified issues to do with language complexity and diversity as being the most important in terms of affecting implementation of effective bridging. Teachers also identified lack of resources and a lack of clear guidelines from the Department of Education as issues. When observed, teachers made no use of the vernacular. Students in their classrooms spent a great deal of the time listening to teacher monologue, or involved in teacher-led questioning sequences that focused on getting students to produce language forms, particularly vocabulary. Of the discourse strategies observed, direct translation and metalinguistic comparison were common. Teachers also provided elaborated metalinguistic explanations, and at times they codeswitched extensively in these explanations. The research has pointed to the fact that, while teachers use some effective strategies, they would be better supported by having research-informed professional development and resources in the area of bilingual education and bilingual instructional strategies. There is a need for all, including teachers, schools, the Provincial Educational Authorites and the Department of Education to work together to get the best language and educational outcomes for children in PNG.
Type of thesis
August, M. (2010). Supporting English language learning by bridging from childrens’ first languages in Papua New Guinea: An analysis of Grade 3 teachers’ conceptions and practices (Thesis, Master of Education (MEd)). The University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/4278
The University of Waikato
All items in Research Commons are provided for private study and research purposes and are protected by copyright with all rights reserved unless otherwise indicated.