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Exploring Picturebooks as a Teaching Tool in Initial Primary English Teacher Education in the Netherlands

Gruenbaum, Tatia; (2021) Exploring Picturebooks as a Teaching Tool in Initial Primary English Teacher Education in the Netherlands. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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This thesis investigates the use of English picturebooks as a teaching tool in initial (pre-service) primary teacher education in the Netherlands. Taking the English language teaching (ELT) and English proficiency weaknesses of primary teachers in the Netherlands as a starting point, this PhD study explores the contribution a picturebook-based course can make to English teacher education at the primary level. The participants in the study were second-year student teachers at Avans University of Applied Sciences (NL), and the investigation spanned a period of ten months (August 2017 to May 2018). Central to the investigation was a 13-week learning-to-teach picturebook-based course, situated within the framework of socio-constructivism. The project employed a multiple case study design and used multiple data collection tools. These included the draw-and-write technique with follow-up interviews, lesson observations with follow-up reflective interviews and an online CEFR proficiency assessment. The use of these tools offered a holistic, emic account of the development of focal cases. The analysis involved the definition of a structure to ensure the three strands of data (drawings, written commentaries and interviews) were analysed holistically and qualitatively. The discussion of the results drew on the interpretivist framework. This is one of the few studies to employ the draw-and-write technique in applied linguistics and one of the few studies in primary English language teacher education to establish the contribution of a taught course. As such, the study offers essential empirical insights into the complexity of educating generalist primary teachers to teach English at primary level. The findings suggest that the course design, anchored in the literature and in socio-constructivism, contributed to the development of conceptual and practical ELT skills. Focal cases began to see the teaching of English as a holistic endeavour – as a series of connected lesson stages and activities which seek connections to the young learner and their environment. Moreover, participants showed awareness of the changing role of the teacher during an English language lesson for primary-aged learners. The draw-and-write technique stimulated reflection on the personal experiences, likes, dislikes and views of the participants. These, combined with the intervention course and practice gained during their observed lesson, shaped their ELT plans, ambitions and visions for a successful primary English lesson. Interestingly, the findings reveal that the level of language proficiency of a focal case does not offer an indication of a focal case’s confidence in primary English language teaching and that low proficiency does not necessarily represent a hindrance. The findings of this multiple case study confirm the intertwinement of ELT skills and English language proficiency when teaching primary English. Hence, this thesis argues for the reassessment and reform of a primary teacher education, which separates learning English as a Foreign Language (EFL) and Primary English Language Teaching (PELT). Instead, it proposes an integrated approach to educating generalist primary English language teachers in the Netherlands, with a focus on educating foreign language teachers and not foreign language learners. Over a short period of time, the picturebook as a learning-to-teach tool embedded in a 13-week picturebook-based course, has shown itself to be a powerful and inclusive resource. Student teachers expressed confidence in their ability to teach primary English, regardless of their English language proficiency and PELT experience. As a result, this thesis recommends that picturebooks play a key role in reforming initial primary English language teacher education in the Netherlands.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Exploring Picturebooks as a Teaching Tool in Initial Primary English Teacher Education in the Netherlands
Event: UCL
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2021. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/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.
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 - Culture, Communication and Media
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10134248
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