Multi-level language teaching in a New Zealand secondary school : a practitioner research study

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Passmore, Anne
Author ORCID Profiles (clickable)
Master of Applied Practice
Unitec Institute of Technology
Mane, Jo
Reinders, Hayo
Masters Thesis
Ngā Upoko Tukutuku (Māori subject headings)
New Zealand
secondary schools
foreign language teaching
language teaching
multi-level classes
mixed-level ability students
student centred learning
language teachers
Passmore, A. (2019) Multi-level language teaching in a New Zealand secondary school: A practitioner research study. (Unpublished document submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Applied Practice). Unitec Institute of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand. Retrieved from
RESEARCH QUESTIONS: 1. What are the challenges and advantages associated with teaching and learning in multilevel language classes? 2. How can learner-centred practices contribute to improved teaching and learning in my multilevel language class? 3. What recommendations can be shared for improvements in multilevel language learning in languages classes ABSTRACT: Effective teaching of multilevel language classes is considered problematic and stressful by many language teachers. However, studies investigating ways to improve the learning experience in a multilevel language class in New Zealand secondary schools are few and far between. This study explored a shift from teacher-led practice to a learner-centred approach, in an attempt to make the learning experience more positive for both teacher and student. The study involved a qualitative approach using practitioner research, notably action research self-study. The data gathering methods included a reflective journal, questionnaires and lesson observations. Regular entries into a reflective journal were made to record observations, reactions to, and reflections on, what was happening in the classroom. The participants were surveyed before the change of practice was introduced and again afterwards to ascertain their opinions on the effectiveness of the different approaches. Colleagues in the role of critical friends observed lessons pre and post-change of practice to provide rich and live feedback. The key findings of the study revealed a need for changes in role for teachers and students in a learner-centred environment. Students in this study preferred learning in a learner-centred environment which resulted in improved confidence and self-regulation skills. Teacher workload was perceived to be heavy in both teacher-led and learner-centred approaches, although lessons in the latter were less frenetic due to careful curriculum design. The recommendations of the study suggest that the challenges teachers experience when faced with multilevel language classes could be overcome by a new approach to teaching. However, this would necessitate new roles and attitudes for both teacher and students. For change to occur, it is imperative that there be more support and professional development opportunities available for language teachers. Furthermore, moving towards a learner-centred approach would require additional time to plan an effective programme.
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