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Constructing the Foundations of Capacity Building An Activity Theory Analysis of the English in Action Baseline Studies Jan Rae and Adrian Kirkwood.

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Presentation on theme: "Constructing the Foundations of Capacity Building An Activity Theory Analysis of the English in Action Baseline Studies Jan Rae and Adrian Kirkwood."— Presentation transcript:

1 Constructing the Foundations of Capacity Building An Activity Theory Analysis of the English in Action Baseline Studies Jan Rae and Adrian Kirkwood

2 The Goal of English in Action (EiA) The goal … is to contribute to the economic growth of Bangladesh by providing English language as a tool for better access to the world economy

3 The Purpose of EiA The purpose is to increase significantly the number of people able to communicate in English, to levels that enable them to participate fully in economic and social activities and opportunities

4 EiA Baseline Studies The baselines captured salient features of the Bangladesh environment in Over 10,000 individual interviews conducted & 400 English lessons observed in detail Formative support for the development of EiA interventions Provide a reliable basis from which to measure the extent of change over time

5 Baseline Basics - Evidence Need to demonstrate the current extent of people’s competence with oral English Important to have a demonstrably clear picture of the communicative English environment Requires reliable detailed evidence drawn from salient features of the environment Fieldwork for data collection – Not national – Dhaka & central Bangladesh – School visits in phases – NGO/GOB/Observations

6 The Communicative Environment - support for sustainable practice Learning to communicate in English Benchmark spoken English ability Determine current classroom practices Establish extent of available teaching materials Detail opportunities for training & development Contextualise motivations & aspirations Comprehend communities of interest & influence Understand the key components of the technology environment

7 BS 1: English Proficiency To investigate the level of competence in the use of spoken English. Almost 5,000 brief individual interviews conducted with school students, teachers and adults living near the schools. Each interviewee’s spoken English evaluated against the criteria of the 12-point Trinity College English Language scale. [See

8 BS 2: Socio-Linguistic Factors Study 2a - examined the motivation for learning English and the interviewees’ experiences of using communicative English – Survey of over 2,900 pupils, teachers and adults in the community Study 2b - assessed the nature of the demand for English language in the job market and in higher education in Bangladesh – Interviews with 200 managers in companies and in post- school education

9 BS 3: Pedagogical Practices Observation study of current classroom practices in Primary & Secondary sectors Over 250 English lessons observed in detail in NGO and Government schools Teaching & learning practices identified

10 BS 4 & 5: Materials & Training BS 4: An audit of existing materials and resources available in Bangladesh to support English language teaching and learning BS 5: An audit of existing training arrangements for teaching English in schools and colleges and of vocationally oriented provision for adults

11 BS 6: Technology Environment Study 6a – desk research to review the current media and technology infrastructure & provision in Bangladesh Study 6b – a survey of individuals’ familiarity with and use of technologies – Almost 2,900 school pupils, teachers and adults in the community interviewed

12 BBC Baseline Study of Adults What are current perceptions towards English language learning and use – What are the barriers to learning English? How connected are Bangladeshis to their wider Diaspora community? What are the current levels of access to English language media outputs? 6,300 respondents nationwide – media users

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14 Baselines Contextualised Activity Theory analysis can help us to explore and conceptually integrate the key considerations and motivations underpinning the various baseline studies This theory explores a range of features in context and explains their contribution to practice

15 Activity System Triangle Tools / Mediating Artefacts Subject RulesDivision of Labour Community Object Outcome

16 Subject BL 2a examined motivations and experiences with communicative English Supporting a differentiated articulation of the aspirations and experiences of individuals in a range of contexts School students, Teachers, Adults, Community members, etc. (over 2,900 individuals)

17 Tools / Mediating Artefacts BL 4, BL 5, BL 6a & 6b demonstrated aspects of the current situation relating to: Materials and resources that can be used by teachers and learners of English Professional development & training opportunities to support teachers’ practices and learners’ skills Mass media and informal contributions

18 Object BL 1 benchmarked the current levels of competence in spoken English To increase the potential to communicate in English ‘English for Today’ (National curriculum) – fairly recent – stresses communicative English – compulsory subject No formal testing of oral / aural skills

19 Rules BL 3 & BL 5 enabled us to explore practices Examining the relationship between the National curriculum for English and what actually happens in lessons Identifying typical approaches in classrooms Determining what opportunities exist for students to communicate within English lessons

20 Community BL 3, BL 5 BL 2b illuminated facets related to the wider context of learning Comprehend the many communities of interest & influence – formal & informal – that impact upon learners Factors and actors within education institutions, communities, families, the world of work, etc.

21 Division of Labour BL 3 and BL 5 explored the impact upon the learning experience of different actors Understanding the differentiated roles within learning processes Who does what? How active or passive are participants? Ownership & control – Curriculum designers, examiners, teachers, learners, etc.

22 ‘Contradictions’ Conflicts or incongruities between different elements within an activity system E.g. Current emphasis in UK higher education upon developing team working skills (Object) but assessment concentrates upon the outputs of individuals (Rules) E.g Innovations in teaching tools not reflected in changed curriculum outputs

23 Possible Contradictions (1) Some teacher’s level of spoken English competence appears to be at a level lower than expected by the higher grade English for Today textbooks Some students seem to have a higher level of competence than both their teacher and the textbook for their grade

24 Possible Contradictions (2) Students can identify which aspects of English language they need to succeed in examinations – Reading and Writing But They also identify the aspects they will need in their future lives – Speaking and Listening

25 Possible Contradictions (3) Assessment requirements and ‘teaching for exams’ – grammar emphasised Oral communicative English NOT assessed, so there are few opportunities for learners to develop their skills in class Predominant pedagogical approach is didactic – gives little opportunity for communicative activity

26 Any Questions?


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