Malaysian literacy practices in English : 'big books', CD-ROMs and the year 1 English hour
In the context of an increasing awareness of improving the standards of English in\ud Malaysia, this study explores Year 1 literacy practices in English and offers\ud important insights into the three major innovations introduced in 2002: the\ud English Hour, Big Books and CD-ROMs. The findings are examined in the context\ud of the Ministry's desire to promote active engagement and high quality interaction.\ud Two studies were conducted using a naturalistic approach. In 2003,50\ud questionnaires were distributed to primary school teachers: 5 classes and 9\ud teachers in 2 primary and 3 pre-schools were observed teaching English, Bahasa\ud Malaysia and Arabic/Jawi. These teachers were also interviewed. In 2004,2\ud trainers and 10 teachers were interviewed, 48 lessons of English, Mathematics and\ud Science in English by the 10 teachers were observed, but the study focuses on the\ud literacy practices in 26 lessons by 4 English teachers in four schools. Interviews\ud and role plays with 28 children from these four classes in 7 groups of 4 inform the\ud accounts and discussion of reading and writing events and practices.\ud The 2004 study suggests that the Ministry of Education's directives to English\ud classes to integrate the use of the English Hour, Big Books and CD-ROMs have\ud only been partially implemented in the classroom. The Ministry's hopes to provide\ud more active engagement and to increase students' interests and motivation through\ud the Big Books and the CD-ROMs were achieved, but the expectations of high\ud quality interaction were not realised. Methods need to be developed to\ud accommodate teachers' beliefs about the value of drilling, repetition and choral\ud reading with the Ministry's desire to extend these interaction patterns and\ud practices.\ud The present study contributes to existing research on the implementation of the\ud English Hour, Big Books and CD-ROMs in Year 1 English classrooms, specifically\ud from the perspective of Year 1 English classes in non-English speaking contexts. It\ud also provides greater understanding of issues to be addressed in future teacher\ud education developments.
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