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Attitudes to Foreign Language Learning in New Zealand Schools

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dc.contributor.author Shearn, Sandra
dc.date.accessioned 2008-08-05T02:20:57Z
dc.date.accessioned 2022-10-26T23:57:10Z
dc.date.available 2008-08-05T02:20:57Z
dc.date.available 2022-10-26T23:57:10Z
dc.date.copyright 2003
dc.date.issued 2003
dc.identifier.uri https://ir.wgtn.ac.nz/handle/123456789/25240
dc.description.abstract This thesis examines attitudes towards the learning of languages other than English and Maori among New Zealand school students in years 8 and 9, parents of year 9 students, and a wide range of teachers. The research examined the extent to which participants subscribed to certain commonly held views about second language learning, for example: that it is too hard for most students, that it serves no purpose for future employment, that languages are 'girls' subjects', and so on. The investigation adopted a theoretical framework derived chiefly from the social psychological literature concerning language learning attitudes and motivation. Students were surveyed by means of questionnaires over two successive years in the same part of the country, so that it was possible to discover if the intentions of the year 8 students to study a foreign language when they started secondary school were carried out. Parents and teachers were interviewed to discover their experience of foreign language learning and their thoughts about its place in New Zealand schools and in their children's education. The findings are set against detailed information about each of the seven schools involved, the place of languages in the official curriculum framework and the Ministry of Education's efforts to promote language learning. For comparison, information is also presented on the recent history and current status of foreign language learning in the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Australia. It was found that attitudes towards foreign language learning, of both adults and children, were mostly positive. Although many teachers were pessimistic about the views of their colleagues and students' parents, the majority of all the adults believed that language learning was desirable and possible for all or most students for a range of reasons. The majority also supported an earlier start to language learning, most favouring year 7. The findings suggest that the main reason that the proportion of students starting a foreign language in year 9 remains around 50%, and that retention rates in subsequent years continue to drop, is that languages are optional for most secondary students. This research found that choosing to study a language often meant sacrificing other subjects which students would like to have tried, and thus depended on strong intrinsic motivation, Although no participants claimed that language learning was more suitable for girls, it was found that the majority of students who opted for, and continued, language learning were girls, that boys tended to prefer practical subjects, and that, in the case of one secondary school, the minority of boys who were permitted to start a foreign language were discouraged from continuing by the general organisation and ethos of the school. Ultimately, the research indicated that attitudes towards foreign language learning in schools involved a complex web of factors. External factors often outweighed even the most positive attitudes among students, parents and teachers when option subjects were chosen. The low level of language learning in New Zealand, contrasted with the importance it has in comparable countries, was shown to result not so much from negative attitudes but rather from barriers within the education system as a whole and individual school cultures. en_NZ
dc.language en_NZ
dc.language.iso en_NZ
dc.publisher Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington en_NZ
dc.title Attitudes to Foreign Language Learning in New Zealand Schools en_NZ
dc.type Text en_NZ
vuwschema.type.vuw Awarded Doctoral Thesis en_NZ
thesis.degree.discipline Linguistics en_NZ
thesis.degree.grantor Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington en_NZ
thesis.degree.level Doctoral en_NZ
thesis.degree.name Doctor of Philosophy en_NZ

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