An examination of Investigating the role of bilingual teaching assistant in Hong Kong (Gao and Shum, 2010) and Communicative based curriculum innovations between theory and practice: implications for EFL curriculum development and student cognitive and affective change (Saad Shawer, 2010).

Authors Avatar by anthonyburke (student)

For the purposes of this TMA I have chosen the articles ‘Investigating the role of bilingual teaching assistant in Hong Kong’ (Gao and Shum, 2010) and ‘Communicative-based curriculum innovations between theory and practice: implications for EFL curriculum development and student cognitive and affective change’ (Saad Shawer, 2010).

My deeper understanding of the terminology through engaging with the E891 course materials has allowed me to gain greater understanding of the articles.

Understanding terminology such as Ontology (E891-SG,Pt2-2.2), which relates to theories about existence or being. Epistemology (E891-SG,Pt2-2.2), which looks at the consideration of what we know and how we know it and Paradigm which discusses ‘ positions on the best ways to think about and study the social world’ (Thomas 2009, p.77 cited E891- SG Pt2-2.2),   has enabled me view the article in a wider sense.

In the article by Shawer the link between his Paradigm position and his epistemology is identifiable as being the TA’s interaction with the students and how this is demonstrated through his choice of methodology..

Understanding the different Paradigm positions has allowed me to identify the evolution of the ontological and epistemological positions in the article by Gao and Shum. I now understand the Ontology to be the research problem, so in this article the inequality facing the south Asian learners, and the epistemology being how the researcher knows about the problem being ‘The recent government initiatives in Hong Kong focusing on raising the participation of students from south Asian backgrounds in mainstream schools’( Gao and Shum, 2010, p.445)

The author’s view of learners stems from their ontological and epistemological positions. (E891-SG,Pt2-2.2),

In the article by Shawer I believe that he is taking a view of learning that fits in with the Social Constructivism theory. This is evident in his article as he discusses in detail the work of Lev Vygotsky and how students are socially constructing there own learning. Shawer states that ‘this study is particularly based on the Zone of proximal development’ (Shawer, 2010, p.335) this is a theory that was developed by Vygotsky which discusses the ability of a learners education to be enhanced by that of a more able other, which in this case would be the teacher participating in the CLT programme. Shawer focuses on the ability of humans to be active constructors of their own knowledge and not passive receivers ( E891-SSG,Pt2-2.5)

Shawer demonstrates a negative view of formalised teaching and appears to prefer teaching of language forms in context, (Shawer, 2010.p.344).

Shawer discusses his epistemological position( Shawer 2010,p.336) and clearly identifies the interaction with respondents being key to his study. This relates to the view of an ‘agentive’ mind (E891-SG,Pt2-2.5) and can be clearly identified on page 348, where Shawer discuses the impact of the CLT programme on students confidence levels. This further supports that he is working within a social constructivism theory

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Gao and Shum appear to be working with a Social cultural theory and view of learners.

When looking at the sociocultural theory a researcher would discuss learning in settings within a wider context that takes into account the social institution where learning occurs and how this is shaped by, and in turn shapes, practice as it emerges between people in ongoing activity (E891-SG, Pt2-2.5)

Gao and Shum’s study relies on language being the connection between the south Asian learners prior knowledge which is engaged through discussion with the bilingual Teaching assistants. (Gao and Shum, 2010.p.446) The learners already ...

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