Dewi Mulia

Dewi Mulia

Deakin University

Thesis: Re-conceptualizing scaffolding concept of teaching English as a foreign language through action research

Research supervisor: Prof. Alex Kostogriz

This study was designed as an action research project to explore the role of play in teaching English as a foreign language (EFL) learning in early childhood settings in Indonesia. In particular, the project focused on the interactions between teachers and children – that was, on how the teachers ’scaffold’, guided or assisted children in developing their EFL in the classroom. By exploring the interactions between teachers and children, this research revealed how the teachers mediate the learning of EFL by engaging children in dramatic play in Indonesian early childhood setting. Through the teachers’ involvement in action research and collaborative work with a researcher, it was expected that the practitioners was able to reflect critically their teaching and learning practices. It was anticipated that reflection in and on practice enhance the teachers’ understanding and use of play to support children’s language learning and cognitive in pre-school settings in Indonesia. In this regard, the outcomes of the study may relate directly to a range of education professionals who wish to better understand how they might provide young children with an active exposure to EFL through dramatic play. In particular, this research informed early childhood educators, policy makers and parents.

The aims of the projects are:

  1. to explore the role of dramatic play in developing English as a foreign language (hereafter EFL) learning in early childhood education settings in Indonesia;
  2. to observe, discuss and explore in collaboration with practitioners the role of play design, textual-semiotic materials and language use during dramatic play in order to promote children’s EFL development;
  3. to discuss the problems found by teachers during EFL learning through play, develop an action plan and implement it to address these problems in order to enhance children’s language learning;
  4. to propose a framework for enhancing EFL development in early childhood through strategic teaching and learning.

In order to achieve the aims of the project, action research was applied. The process involved the designing of play activities, implementing them, observing the children’s engagement and reflecting on the teachers’ work and children’s learning. Ten pre-school children of five to six years of age were observed for four weeks and their interactions in play were videotaped. In particular, the focus was on the interactions between children and teachers – i.e., on how the two teachers in the classroom ’scaffold’ (i.e. guide/assist) children in EFL development. The pedagogical ‘scaffolding’ events was video recorded and analyzed in collaboration with practitioners to identify the patterns of interaction between teachers and children and their effectiveness. The observations included the interaction between children and teachers that offered a clearer sense of the language learning process that occurs during dramatic play. The researcher and the teachers, the commented on the use of mediational tools and resources to explore a better variety of learners’ experiences (Kozulin, 2003). For example, teachers provided preschool children with a dress up box, pretend food, cash register and a shopping cart to create a store. Teachers helped children to get started by talking about some of the activities that people do in a store and then fully support and watched they continue the story. During dramatic play, teachers used both English and Bahasa Indonesia. The effectiveness of the language learning environment was determined on how well children understand English words, how they appropriate multiple signs and symbols and used English expressions in dramatic play.