Study of Chinese Language Oral Competence of Primary School Students – Exploring Effectiveness of the Newly Implemented Curriculum

Project Number
OER 11/08 ZSH

Project Duration
April 2009 - September 2010

Status
Completed

Abstract
In 2004, informed by its review of the Chinese language (CL) curriculum and pedagogy in relation to the Singapore changed sociolinguistic landscape, the Chinese Language Curriculum and Pedagogy Review Committee (CLCPRC, 2004) recommended that a modular approach to CL curriculum and pedagogy should be developed to cater for the different needs and CL capabilities of children from different family backgrounds. In response to the recommendation, the Curriculum Planning and Development Division of Ministry of Education (CPDD, MOE) designed a new modular CL curriculum and experimented at Grade 1 and Grade 2 in 25 primary schools in 2005. Centre for Research in Pedagogy and Practice, National Institute of Education (CRPP, NIE) initiated a special focused project in order to find out whether there were pedagogical changes in the classroom implementation. In this focused study which adopted a classroom coding approach, it focused on investigating the similarities and differences in terms of teachers' pedagogical practices between the experimental and conventional classrooms. And it found that there are in general differences between the experiment and conventional classes, and there are more changes in some classes than others (in terms of the types of social organization, types of talk, instructional focus, skill focus, and classroom behaviors of teachers and students). However, some crucial questions, which cannot be answered on the basis of the classroom coding study, are 1) what kinds of classroom instruction and activities are beneficial for developing student CL proficiency; 2) why some experiment classes changed more than others; and 3) whether students' learning motivation and attitudes are changed. Only a study which compares instructional differences between the experiment and conventional classes and relates these differences to student oral proficiency and learning motivation, and teachers' beliefs can provide an answer to the related questions. Therefore, to answer the above research questions, the Chinese Language Education Research Team of CRPP, NIE, designed to undertake the current on-going project (a two year study July 2008 - Dec 2009). This research project was initially developed as a collaborated project jointly funded by CRPP, NIE and CPDD, MOE and CPDD committed an initial funding of S$59,950.00 (to kick start the project in July 2008) and the on-going project needs further funding to continue. In general, this study intends to employ three data collection instruments, namely students' learning motivation and interest survey questionnaire, teachers' focus group discussion and students' oral communication proficiency test. As this is the first evaluative research of its kind on the relationship between learning motivation, teacher beliefs and language proficiency in Chinese language education of Singapore, it is of great significance not only to CL pedagogical practices, students' CL learning, but also to future curriculum evaluation. Furthermore, the findings of this study will also inform curriculum developers how well the new curriculum is received by teachers and students.

Research Themes
English Language & Mother Tongue Languages

Funding Source
NIE

Related Links
NIE Research Brief Series 10-005: A Study of Chinese Language Oral Competence of Primary School Students

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