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ERIC Number: ED527465
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2008
Pages: 282
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1240-8413-8
In the Midst of ELT Curricular Reform: An Activity Theory Analysis of Teachers' and Students' Experiences in South Korea
Kim, Eun-Ju
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, The Pennsylvania State University
This study examines the extent to which the communicative language teaching (CLT)-based English curriculum reform in South Korea is being experienced at the local level after a decade long effort of Ministry of Education. The study specifically focuses on the extent to which teachers understand the curriculum and implement it in their own classrooms. The study also explores students' perceptions of their teachers' classroom instruction under the current reform. Activity Theory (Leont'ev, 1978, 1981), more specifically, Engestrom's human activity system model (1987, 1993, 1994, 1999a) is used as the theoretical framework for this study in order to capture the dynamic relationship between the institutional, social, and individual factors. With the premise that every human activity system is fundamentally unstable causing various contradictions (Engestrom, 1987, 1993, 1999a), the study identifies contradictions that emerge as participants engaged in English teaching and learning and the way they resolved the contradictions that existed. The participants were two middle school English teachers and seven students. Data were collected through semi-structured interviews, classroom observations, and stimulated recall interviews in addition to relevant documents. Data analyses were conducted primarily through a grounded content analysis following ethnographic traditions (Bogdan & Biklin, 1998; Creswell, 1998; Erickson, 1973) and through content analysis for document data. Engestrom's human activity system model was also applied to the data to capture current activity systems and their inherent contradictions. The overarching contradiction identified in the study is grounded in the growing sensitivity of the need for the curricular reform while at the same time the observed institutional inertia that maintains the status quo of the South Korean English education system. Most salient was the influence of the exam-oriented institutional and social atmosphere described by all participants as defining English learning as what would be on the school exams. Coupled with the participants' beliefs about language learning and teaching and their "apprenticeship of observation" (Lortie, 2002) based on of their prior schooling experiences, the government's CLT-based curriculum had little impact on the observed activity systems. Based on the findings, the study presents implications as well as suggestions for South Korean policy makers, English teacher educators, and English teachers. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: South Korea