Early language learning within a Greek regional context

Giannikas, Christina Nicole (2013) Early language learning within a Greek regional context. Doctoral thesis, London Metropolitan University.


This study focuses on the teaching processes involved in foreign language learning, concentrating on the question of why Greek young learners are not more successful in learning English, despite an early start and high exposure to the foreign language. Central to my study are student-teacher and student-student interactions within English language classrooms, including any linguistic, pedagogical, motivational or cultural aspects that infonn these interactions and student learning. The study aims to extend the understanding of bow to implement interactive methods within the specific region and develop learners' English communicative competence in an examination-oriented education system. The first part of my study provides an exploratory research, which has been pursued in both state schools and frodistiria in a specific Greek region. Research methods included: lesson observations, teacher interviews and transcription analysis. The second part of the research introduces an intervention study dimension, which consisted of monitoring and modification to classroom practice, exploring the perspective of shifting teaching and learning, providing potential of a new Young Language Leaming philosophy within the Greek context. This part of the research was achieved in a frodistirio in classes of students aged 7-11 in order to improve current language learning clas ses and use the data for cross-sectional comparative purposes. Data collection included open-ended field notes, video-recorded lessons and speaking tasks were audio recorded. A group of older learners attending English Proficiency classes for the preparation of Certificate of Proficiency Exams (ePE), aged 14-15 years old, based in the frodistirio, were also interviewed on their past experience of English language learning in state schools and frodistiria. The Director of the frodistirio, observed 10 language lessons during the research period. These observations provide feedback on students' reactions to interactive tasks from an external reviewer. Finally, parents were requested to complete a questionnaire at the end of the academic year, regarding their children's progress and their feelings of the new methods introduced. The thesis reveals the complexities and paradoxes embedded in the learning environment of English for Young Learners (EYL) in South Western Greece. The findings include the identification of an effective interactive methodology that might be applied in the specific regional setting as an outcome of my own teaching and research. The research in question, explores the potential that exists both within the educational structure and in Young Language Learning (YLL) in Greece. It introduces interactive language learning and identifies its role within this context. The research can contribute to the enablement of successful language learners in an environment where children learn to appreciate the foreign language and encounter it as means of communication and not for examination purposes only.

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