07 SES 03 C JS, Multilingual, Multicultural and Multimodal Curriculum Innovation
Joint Paper Session NW 03 and NW 07
Similar to many countries in Europe, Taiwan is a culturally diverse society. It has five ethnic groups, including Hoklo Han Chinese, Hakka Han Chinese, Mainland Chinese, Indigenous people, and New Immigrants. Among them, Indigenous people and New Immigrants are often considered as minority groups. The mismatch of cultures and languages between minority and majority groups seems to impede the learning of minority students and put them at risk for academic failure (Gee, 2004). The issue of academic disadvantage for children from culturally diverse families is local and global. Research on intercultural curricula and teaching strategies are needed to address this issue. In this study, therefore, we developed a curriculum that integrated indigenous culture into the learning of phonics for indigenous kindergarteners because they are often left behind in academic achievement. The purposes of the study were to examine how the teachers implemented the curriculum and how children improved their phonological processing skills. The findings of this study could provide insight into culturally integrated curriculum design and teaching practices that can be implemented to schools in Europe where students are from diverse families.
Researchers have devoted themselves to help minority children have equal access to educational resources. Past studies emphasized the assimilation approach, namely helping minority students to learn only mainstream culture and language in school would help their adaption in school and the society (Banks, 2016; Fung & Liang, 2008). More and more researchers of multicultural education stressed the importance of developing intercultural curricula. For example, Ladson-Billings (1995) stressed the adoption of culturally relevant pedagogy and argued that schools should develop a curriculum that integrates minority students’ cultures. By doing so, these students improve their cultural competence and academic achievement. They can also develop the ability to think critically about the inequality and injustice toward them. Gay (2010) emphasized the implementation of culturally responsive teaching. He encouraged teachers to recognize the value of cultures of minority students, to make connections between students’ experiences at home and school as well as their real life and abstract academic content, and to teach students to appreciate the diverse cultures that students bring to the class.
Many studies have developed bicultural curricula to support indigenous students to learn both indigenous and mainstream cultures. For example, Watahomigie and McCarty (1994) examined a bicultural and bilingual curriculum that incorporated Navajo knowledge, values, and experiences to help children learn both tribal language and English. Averill et al. (2009) used Maori craft, games, songs, stories, and knowledge about the natural environment to teach mathematics. Although past studies have provided us with examples of bicultural curricula, very few studies examined how teachers use various strategies to effectively implement the bicultural curricula.
This study focuses on the improvement of kindergartener’s cultural competence and phonological processing skills. The phonological skills, including phonological awareness and phonological decoding (Ho & Bryant, 1997; Huang & Hanley, 1997; Siok & Fletcher, 2001), are closely related to children’s reading ability. The phonological awareness of Mandarin Chinese (the formal language used in Taiwan) involves the detection of syllable, onset, rime, and tone of spoken words. The phonological decoding refers to the learning of phonetic symbols (Zuyin) and blending sounds.
The curriculum developed in this study contains 24 lessons and each lesson lasts 50 minutes. A lesson starts with a Zuyin song. Then teachers teach four to five phonetic symbols and discuss with children the target terms for phonetic symbols related to indegious culture. Next, teachers lead children to play two to three games for children to practice the phonetic symbles. Last, children sing a song to wrap up the class.
A mix-method quasi-experimental design was adopted to examine children’s improvement of phonological processing skills. A cross-case analysis was used to investigate the teachers’ teaching strategies when they discussed the target cultural terms with children and carried out the learning activities. Participants Six kindergartens participated in this study. All kindergartens are located in areas where indigenous people are the majority. Four kindergartens (66 children, 34 boys, 32 girls) used the curriculum and were in the experimental group, while two kindergartens (32 children, 19 boys, 13 girls) were the control group. The average age was 5 years and 8 months for the experimental group and 5 years and 9 months for the control group. Four teachers implemented the curriculum. Teng was a 42-year-old male, Han teacher. He had been teaching indigenous children for 13 years. Falog was a 34-year-old indigenous female teacher who had been teaching indigenous children for 11 years. Wen was a 28-year-old female, Han teacher. She had six years teaching experiences and four of the six years taught in the current kindergarten. Muni was a 27-year-old indigenous female teacher and had been teaching indigenous children for three years. Data collection Instruments for children’s phonological processing skills included phonological awareness tests (PA-Syllable, PA-Rime) and phonological decoding tests (Zuyin-Recognize, Zuyin-Read). The qualitative data sources of teaching strategies were meeting notes, classroom observations, teaching reflections, and research journals. Data analysis Paired sample t-tests were used to examine the differences between pre- and post-tests for each kindergarten. Independent sample t-tests were used to examine the differences in gain scores between the experimental and control groups. To analyze teachers’ teaching strategies for the bicultural program, qualitative data analysis techniques were applied.
In terms of the phonological decoding tests, the children in the four kindergartens improved after taking the program. In terms of the phonological awareness tests, Falog’s class improved in both PA-Syllable and PA-Rime tests, and Muni’s class improved in PA-Syllable test. Comparing with the control group, the experimental group had significantly higher gain scores in both phonological decoding tests. However, the experimental group had significantly lower gain scores in PA-Rime test. Regarding the teaching strategies used in the curriculum, there are four approaches to the discussion of the cultural terms. First, teachers took mainstream perspectives to discuss the target terms with children in two situations: (a) the target terms are not related to indigenous culture and (b) the target terms are related to indigenous culture. Second, the teachers used bicultural perspectives to discuss the target terms and carry out the activities. Three strategies were adopted: (a) the teachers used mainstream concepts to explain indigenous concepts, (b) the teachers discussed the indigenous concepts by adding the mainstream values, and (c) the teachers found common values shared by indigenous and mainstream cultures. Third, the teachers used indigenous perspectives to transmit indigenous cultures. Seven strategies were used: (a) changing the mainstream perspectives to indigenous perspectives, (b) providing the traditional and contemporary contexts of a cultural practice, (c) connecting a cultural practice to children’s life experiences, (d) providing children with opportunities to manipulate traditional objects, (e) telling children indigenous stories, (f) reading the supplemental materials in verbatim, and (g) considering the interpretation of some indigenous concepts which are hard to explain by mainstream culture. Fourth, regarding the use of indigenous languages, all teachers used indigenous languages to name objects but could not have further conversation in indigenous languages with children.
Averill, R., Anderson, D., Easton, H., Maro, P. T., Smith, D., & Hynds, A. (2009). Culturally responsive teaching of mathematics: Three models from linked studies. Journal for Research in Mathematics Education, 40(2), 157-186. Banks, J. A. (2016). Cultural diversity and education: Foundations, curriculum, and teaching (6th ed.). New York: Routledge. Fung, H., & Liang, C.-H. (2008). 越南媽媽，台灣囡仔：臺越跨國婚姻家庭幼兒社會化之初探 [Vietnamese mothers, Taiwanese children: Socializing practices with young children in Sino-Vietnamese cross-border marriage families in Taipei, Taiwan]. Taiwan Journal of Anthropology, 6(2), 47-88. Gay, G. (2010). Culturally responsive teaching: Theory. research, and practice (2nd Ed.). New York: Teachers College Press. Gee, J. P. (2004). Situated language and learning: A critique of traditional schooling. New York: Routledge. Ho, C. S.-H., & Bryant, P. (1997). Phonological skills are important in leaming to read Chinese. Developmental Psychology, 33(6), 946-951. Huang, H. S., & Hanley, J. R. (1997). A longitudinal study of phonological awareness, visual skills, and Chinese reading acquisition among first-graders in Taiwan. lnternational Journal of Behavioral Development, 20(2), 249-268. Ladson-Billings, G. (1995). Toward a theory of culturally relevant pedagogy American Educational Research Journal, 32(3), 465-491. Siok, W. T., & Fletcher, P. (2001). The role of phonological awareness and visual-orthographic skills in Chinese reading acquisition. Developmental Psychology, 37(6), 886-899. Watahomigie, L. J., & McCarty, T. L. (1994). Bilingual/bicultural education at Peach Springs: A Hualapai way of schooling. Peabody Journal of Education, 69(2), 26-42.
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