ENGLISH FOR YOUNG LEARNERS (EYL) TEACHERS' BELIEFS

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  • Proceeding of the Global Summit on Education GSE 2014 (E- ISBN 978-967-11768-5-6) 4-5 March 2014, Kuala Lumpur, MALAYSIA. Organized by WorldConferences.net 320

    ENGLISH FOR YOUNG LEARNERS (EYL) TEACHERS BELIEFS AND INTENDED CLASSROOM PRACTICES WITH REGARD TO ADDITIONAL TIME

    ALLOCATION GIVEN TO TEACHING ENGLISH: A CASE STUDY

    Reshma Rajasaigran SK Bandar Sri Damansara 3

    Hamzah Md. Omar & Lee Kean Wah

    School of Education & Social Development Universiti Malaysia Sabah

    keanwah@gmail.com

    ABSTRACT

    This case study investigates EYL Teachers beliefs and intended classroom practices with regard to the additional time allocation given to teaching English Language. This investigation was based on three research questions: (a) What core beliefs do English Language teachers hold in regard to the teaching of young learners for an increased time period? (b) What are the intended classroom practices carried out by English Language teachers during the implementation of the increased time allocation? and (c) How has the increased time allocation affected the teachers classroom practice and beliefs? The methodology used in this study was a multiple case study method whereby the data was collected through interviews and document analyses. The data was analysed based on the Miles and Hubermans (1994) data analysis procedure which includes three basic stages: (a) data reduction, ( b) data display and (c) conclusion drawing and verification. The findings of this study revealed that the teachers beliefs and intended practice were consistent with regard to the five aspects of teaching and learning, which were thematically summarized into 3 main categories: (1) Teacher (a) classroom activities, (b) classroom assessment (c) lesson objectives; (2) Student (a) language exposure; (3) Materials (a) attractive materials. The findings suggested that the phenomenon of additional time allocation is of great advantage to the teachers in being able to put their beliefs into practice. The insights from this study point towards the need for TEYL teachers and practitioners to create a community of practice amongst themselves to continually support and learn from one another in coping with the additional time allocation.

    Field of Research: teachers beliefs , teachers practice, teaching context, young learners

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    1. Introduction

    Changes in terms of educational policies occur from time to time in order to upgrade the quality of education in the country. As such, teachers, being the agent of change in the schools are mostly affected by these alterations since they will have to be well equipped and mentally ready to carry out the changes in school. As a result of the reversal of ETeMS, the Primary School Standard Curriculum (KSSR) has been implemented in the year 2011 beginning in the Year 1 classroom in all primary schools. The implementation of this new curriculum sees many changes, including the addition of teaching and learning time from 240 to 300 minutes per week. As a result, EYL teachers were challenged to teach for an additional time period. As such, there has been considerable speculation about how these teachers would be able to cope with these sudden changes and ensure that their teaching continues to be successful ( Chapman & Kulasagaran ,2010: 2).

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  • Proceeding of the Global Summit on Education GSE 2014 (E- ISBN 978-967-11768-5-6) 4-5 March 2014, Kuala Lumpur, MALAYSIA. Organized by WorldConferences.net 321

    2. Teacher Beliefs and Teacher Practice

    Belief is referred as individual personal knowledge, which are constructed from experience acquired through cultural transmission and serves as implicit theories to guide thoughts and actions (Pajares, 1992). In a more specific view, the term teacher belief was defined by Kagan (1992:65; Farrell & Tan, 2007: 383) as unconsciously held assumptions about students, classrooms, and the academic material to be taught. On the other hand, the term classroom practice or better known as instructional practice refers to what actually happens in the classrooms. (Farrell & Tan, 2007 : 384). The debate regarding teacher beliefs and practice has been discussed and argued in a great number of studies. Several studies have strongly suggested that the relationship of teacher beliefs and classroom practice go hand in hand with equal consistency (Savaski Acikalin, 2009 ; Bingimlas & Hanrahan, 2010: 417). For an instance, research has found that teachers beliefs about mathematics, teaching and learning are consistent with classroom practice (Thompson, 1985; Karaagac & Threlfall,2004 :137). In another study on science teachers, Levitt (2002) concluded that although gaps still exist between the teacher beliefs and the principles of reform, the implication of teacher beliefs is that the teachers are moving in a direction consistent with science education reform. (Savaski Acikalin, 2009:3).Teachers personal theories are formulated and reformulated as they go through the stages of teacher development. Their personal theories become the basis for their personal knowledge about teaching and therefore, as posited by many researchers, they have strong influence on teachers planning, instructional decisions and classroom practices. (Lortie, 1975; Olson, 1981; Clark & Peterson, 1985; Bandura, 1986; Clandinin, 1986; Corder, 1988; Tobin, 1990; fullan, 1991; Freeman, 1991; Pajares 1992; Johnson, 1992; Cuban, 1993; Golombek, 1998; Roberts, 1998; Andrew; 2001; Siti Rohani, 2007: 2). 3. Teacher Beliefs and Teaching Context

    Although there have been much work done to link teacher beliefs to teacher practice, there is still little we know about how teachers belief is related to their environment. Context plays a very important role in the relationship of teacher beliefs and practice. Ajzen (2002) found that some of the elements that cause a mismatch between beliefs and practices are human behaviours, time, resources and course content.(Mansour, 2007 : 32) Research has shown that teacher cognitions and practices interact and that contextual factors determine the extent to which teachers are able to implement instructions congruent with their cognitions (Woods 1996: 21).According to Mansour,(2007 : 32) teachers belief and practice cannot be examined out of context but are always situated in a physical setting in which constraints, opportunities or external influences may derive from sources of various level, including the curriculum. In the same vein, Ernest (1988 in Bingimlas & Hanrahan,2010: 420 ) viewed context as playing an important role in how beliefs are put into practice. He found the two key factors for a mismatch between beliefs and practices: a) the powerful influence of the social context and most importantly, b) the institutionalized curriculum, which includes the curricular scheme. This certainly shows that context is an extremely important aspect in shaping teachers belief and putting it into action. Since most studies indicated that educational belief in general and teachers beliefs in particular are not context free (Pajares, 1992: 315), it is of utmost importance to include contextual factors which have helped to mould beliefs. Therefore, researchers must study the context specific features in belief in terms of connection of beliefs with other belief systems and contextual issues (Pajares, 1992: 316). Time allocation affects the lesson, teacher and most importantly the students. The flow and content of the lesson might be affected if teachers do not make a good decision in terms of time management for each and

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  • Proceeding of the Global Summit on Education GSE 2014 (E- ISBN 978-967-11768-5-6) 4-5 March 2014, Kuala Lumpur, MALAYSIA. Organized by WorldConferences.net 322

    every stage of their lesson. As such, this study would explore the context specific feature of teachers belief in terms of increased time allocation. 4. Conceptual Framework

    Based on the objectives of the study, this conceptual framework was developed (Figure 1). It portrays the emerging conceptual framework used for studying the influence of Primary school English Teachers intended practice and beliefs during the increased teaching time.

    Figure 1: Conceptual Framework The influence of Primary school English Teachers Intended Practice, Belief and Phenomena.

    Bandura's Reciprocal Determinism holds that cognition/ person, behaviour and environment determine each other and vice versa. In other words, it means that the environment influences the behaviour of an individual, and in return, the behaviour of the individual also influences the environment. As such, it means that not only the environment influences the person, but the person also influences the environment. Besides that, the environments and the human behaviour also influence the person in terms of cognitive, affective and biological events. This simply means that the world and a persons behaviour mutually cause each other.

    This concept is well represented by the three variables which support the framework of this study: belief, practice and phenomena. This is illustrated in Figure 1.The conceptual framework above illustrates the three main variables in this study and how it is interconnected to each other .The environment is related to the phenomena of this study, i.e. increased teaching time, the person is linked to the practice carried out by primary school English teachers in their Year 1 Kurikulum Standard Sekolah Rendah (KSSR) classrooms and the final element, behaviour is related to the t