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Title: Language practices in science education : problems and possible solutions
Authors: Mifsud, Jordan
Keywords: Science -- Study and teaching -- Malta
Code switching (Linguistics) -- Malta
Education, Bilingual -- Malta
Issue Date: 2012
Abstract: The consultation documents of the National Curriculum Framework proposed a revamp of the language policy in science education, which presently state that English should be used as the language of instruction. In this context, a study investigating the language practices in science education in Malta was set up, in order to elicit problems and possible solutions. Past studies on language issues in science education in Malta have revealed that there is an English language barrier in science education. In this study, thirty-two integrated science lessons by different teachers in state schools were observed to find out which language and what kind of codeswitching students are being exposed to. Results showed that for almost three-quarters of the sampled time, students were being exposed mostly to Maltese sentences interspersed with technical words in English. In general, relatively frequent usage of English was observed mostly in high-achieving classes. However, a high frequency of English was used by students, irrespective of achievement, in those classes where there was high usage of English by their teachers. Four teachers (two teaching high-achieving classes and the others teaching low-achieving classes) used English three times more frequently than average. One of these high-achieving classes and one of these low-achieving classes were studied in greater depth. While conducting lessons mostly in English, the teachers used dosed and pedagogically motivated codeswitching when necessary. From the students' point of view, methodologies that encouraged class participation and language support through codeswitching were fundamental for learning science in English. Since their teachers justified and used English consistently, students got used to the language and most of them appreciated the value of its usage in science and did not wish to revert to Maltese.
Description: B.ED.(HONS)
Appears in Collections:Dissertations - FacEdu - 2012

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