Becoming a bilingual school : perspectives of L2FLS teachers & principals

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This thesis explores the experiences of teachers who are new to bilingual education in the NSW government, primary school settings and their adaptation to bilingual teaching and learning. The core group of eleven teachers are Language 2 First Language Speakers (L2FLS) with less than four years’ work experience in public bilingual schools. All the teachers completed their schooling overseas. The study also involved five Principals, four bilingual schools and seven other L2 school staff participants. In addition to investigating how L2FLS teachers experience adapting to their new roles, the research examines the process of becoming a bilingual school from the perspective of the Principals, and L2 support staff. A contrast is made between three schools that are using a partial-immersion content and language integrated learning (CLIL) approach, and a fourth school which is using a Principal-devised bilingual program. The study is longitudinal as it captures two specific snapshots of teachers’ and Principals’ views, 2012 and 2013, spaced a year apart, via individual interviews. A dual qualitative methodological approach of developmental phenomenography and narrative inquiry is employed for the data analysis. The L2FLS teacher’s views are presented via phenomenographic analyses, and the multiplicity of voices provided by the Principals’ and other L2 teachers’ perspectives are reflected via narrative inquiry. The main foci of discussion in the thesis are the similarities and variations between the conclusions of the two data sources. The study adds discussion to the theory of the ‘nature of awareness’ conceived by Marton and Booth (1997) and theories relating to teacher agency and change such as the Language Teacher Conceptual Change framework developed by Kubanyiova 2012. The research findings highlight the need for improved utilisation and CLIL training of L2FLS and bilingual class teachers for better student L2 outcomes. Other recommendations are the provision of State K-6 bilingual curricula; minimum 7.5 hours per week of L2; ongoing, regular professional development in bilingual pedagogy for bilingual school staff; mentoring of new L2FLS and provision of L2 competent supervisors at each school; and bilingual leadership training. State or Regional jurisdictions also need to provide thorough preparation of school staff transitioning to become bilingual schools. The research concludes by proposing the establishment of a state registry of NSW teachers’ L2 skills; and basic pre-service teacher training in L2 pedagogy. The L2FLS recommendation is for an amendment to the Department of Education (DoE) policy which is discriminatory by requiring L1 accreditation from teachers who have completed L1 university degrees, and that bilingual schools should be staffed with bilingual teachers.
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