The implementation of the Japanese language program at Macquarie primary school : an evaluation

  • Angela Mawbey

    Student thesis: Master's Thesis


    The need for an increase in the learning of foreign languages in primary schools in Australia was noted by the Senate Standing Committee on Education and the Arts (Report on a National Language Policy, 1984, Recommendation 78, p230). The introduction of the Japanese language program at Macquarie Primary School, ACT, in 1984 was a response to this need, combined with the expressed wish of the local community. Within this program it was decided that an unpublished curriculum developed and used in the ACT by a native speaker of Japanese, would be trialled. The purpose of this study, within a Master of Education degree, was to evaluate Book 1 of this curriculum, and the process by which it was implemented at the school, during the first year of operation of the program. The framework around which the evaluation was organised was Sanders and Cunningham’s (1973) Structure for Formative Evaluation in Product Development. The evaluation sought to answer five questions which focussed on the validity, appropriateness and consistency of the broad goals of the program, and the extent of achievement of those goals by the students; the effect of the implementation of the program on school organisation; unexpected outcomes of the program; and revisions and modifications which were necessary to the program as the curriculum was trialled. A number of data gathering techniques was used to obtain the information required to answer these questions. The results of this study suggest that the curriculum being trialled was based on an eclectic approach to the teaching of a foreign language (Prator, 1980; Bell, 1981), selecting from various theories and methodologies, components deemed appropriate for primary age students in their first year of Japanese. The study also provided evidence that, after one year’s participation in the Japanese program all children were, to an extent, achieving both broad goals of the program. There was some evidence however, that achievement of the goals was mediated by several learner characteristics, the most influential of these falling into the broad category of ‘attitude’. It was discovered also, that the introduction of such a program into an already crowded school curriculum affected aspects of organisation within the school, and that all the outcomes of the program were not necessarily planned, or expected. Finally, certain changes, both organisational and to the curriculum, were made and implemented during the ‘formative interim evaluation’ stage. The conclusions of this thesis are offered at two levels: conclusions concerning the evaluation process itself, and those arising from the teaching of Japanese to primary age students.
    Date of Award1987
    Original languageEnglish

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