From curriculum reform to classroom practice: intentions, perceptions, and actual implementation in English secondary schools in Libya

Omar, Tarig Abdulatif Saleh (2019) From curriculum reform to classroom practice: intentions, perceptions, and actual implementation in English secondary schools in Libya. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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In the last decade, curriculum developers have stressed the important role that teachers play in translating educational reforms into classroom practice. In Libya, the English language curriculum reform of 2000, which reflects a learner-centred philosophy of language teaching and learning, was intended to enable learners to communicate effectively in English. To achieve this goal, the reformers called for a learner-centred approach to learning through the use of Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) and Cooperative Learning (CL), as both are believed to maximise the learners’ exposure to meaningful learning experiences in a democratic and cooperative environment. However, despite its popularity in the field of English language teaching (ELT), there were many issues stemming from the teachers’ implementation of CLT.
Working as an English language teacher in a Libyan university raised my awareness of the difficulties associated with recruiting students for the department of English and linguistics. This complex situation sparked my interest in undertaking a research study to investigate the reasons behind this observed lack of English competence among Libyan secondary school graduates. Therefore, using Cultural Historical Activity Theory as a theoretical framework, this research study investigated English language teachers’ implementation of the present curriculum, which was introduced two decades ago. This research particularly aims to investigate the extent to which the perceptions of Libyan English language teachers in relation to language teaching and learning in general and in relation to CLT in particular are congruent with the pedagogical changes advocated by Libyan curriculum makers.
To investigate this phenomenon, a qualitative research design was employed as a mode of inquiry. An in-depth examination was conducted with ten secondary-school Libyan English language teachers, who were sampled purposively, in one city in eastern Libya. Complementary data collected through vignettes, initial and follow-up semi-structured interviews, and classroom observations were analysed and synthesised to promote the credibility and trustworthiness of the findings. These data, which were analysed thematically, yielded the themes and sub-themes which constitute the results of this research study.
Using Cultural Historical Activity Theory (CHAT) as a lens helped to elucidate the very complex issues that secondary-school English language learning and teaching in Libya has been facing in the last 18 years or so. This research contributed by offering the following findings: (a) although teachers in this study reported positive views about CLT in general and learner-centred teaching in particular, inconsistencies between what teachers reported and their practice were also identified. Their practice, influenced by their experiences as language learners at their university, by their school culture, and by their professional context, seemingly remained teacher-centred; (b) this observed inconsistency has a huge impact not only on their overall practice (e.g. CL was almost non-existent in their practice and very few attempts were made to conduct pair or group work activities), but, more importantly, on the quality of Libyan students’ English language experiences; (c) these findings are interconnected with the teaching preparation and professional support that secondary-school Libyan English language teachers were offered at their university; (d) the findings also suggested that the Libyan school culture, in general, tended to be incompatible with the current English curriculum principles and intentions; and (e) English language teachers were isolated as they were the only Libyan teachers required to implement the English language curriculum reform. A different approach to learning was employed in other curricular areas, especially Arabic language learning, where teachers were not subject to these curricular reforms or expected to utilise a new pedagogical approach. Overall, these research findings offer a more comprehensive overview of this nationwide problem in order to elucidate the issues, encourage a joined-up approach to tackling them, and make recommendations to different stakeholders in order to seek potential ways forward, with a view to resolving the situation.
Important points for consideration are presented that are likely to improve the implementation of the present English language curriculum, the most important of which are the need to (a) adjust the university English curriculum as well as the teaching approach to be in harmony with the professional context and culture of Libyan schools; (b) establish more coordination and communication between teacher training programmes, schools, and curriculum designers; and (c) conduct further research to extend the findings and contributions of this research.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Subjects: L Education > L Education (General)
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Education
Supervisor's Name: Elliot, Dr. Dely and Mcculloch, Dr. Margaret
Date of Award: 2019
Depositing User: Tarig Tarig Omar
Unique ID: glathesis:2019-78972
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 28 Jan 2020 08:38
Last Modified: 03 Aug 2022 10:42
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.78972

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