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Teaching English in South Korean primary schools

An, Suhae; (2020) Teaching English in South Korean primary schools. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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In spite of the growth of interest in the English language world-wide the teaching of English as a foreign language in primary/elementary schools is under-researched. In particular, empirical evidence about the nature of primary teaching in many countries in the world is needed. The research reported in this dissertation investigated English language teaching in the context of South Korean primary education, a country where English language teaching is based on the communicative language teaching approach. In order to contribute to knowledge about English language teaching in South Korean primary schools, this research used a mixed methods design framed by sociocultural theory. The data sets were observations of English lessons mainly focusing on reading and writing; a questionnaire survey of pupils, from Year 3 to Year 6; a questionnaire survey of teachers; and interviews with pupils and teachers, all of which were collected in Seoul. The analyses began by exploring practices of teaching, concentrating on classroom interaction, activities, and materials, drawing on the observation data. Then, the analyses of teachers’ explanations of their practices were carried out, followed by the teachers’ and pupils’ perceptions of the benefits and challenges of English teaching and learning in their context. The findings of the study revealed that teachers’ main emphases for their teaching were on pupils’ interest in, and enjoyment of, their English learning, and the pupils’ achievement. They aimed to provide interesting activities and materials in meaningful situations and preferred to use activities integrating oral language skills, including for teaching reading and writing. Encouragement for pupils to collaborate with each other, and the development of positive attitudes towards English learning were enacted by the teachers. The findings also showed that the biggest challenge teachers faced was the wide range of English language attainment of pupils, primarily influenced by the very wide variation in pupils’ experiences of English learning outside of school, including as a result of the use of private tutors. The outcomes of the research point clearly to the need for teachers to take a balanced approach to English language teaching for young learners. Specifically this means keeping a careful balance between emphases on spoken and written English, as well as between pupils’ English language proficiency and their level of cognitive development. Strategies to address the variation in pupils’ English language proficiency, as a result of different levels of prior experience, need to be addressed as part of teaching.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Teaching English in South Korean primary schools
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2020. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
Keywords: English language teaching, Sociocultural theory, ELT for young learners, Communicative language teaching, CLT, primary ELT, EYL, ELT, SCT, English reading and writing, scaffolding, the ZPD, mediation, teachers' difficulties, reading and writing, South Korea, young learners, primary schools, EFL, written language, Second language learning, East Asia, communicative competence
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Learning and Leadership
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10096614
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