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Title: "Shots of Justice" English medium instruction in Sri Lankan secondary schools : from policy to practice
Author: Medawattegedera, Vivimarie Vanderpoorten
ISNI:       0000 0004 2719 7667
Awarding Body: University of Ulster
Current Institution: Ulster University
Date of Award: 2011
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Throughout modern history, language has been a contentious issue in Sri Lanka, implicated - sometimes explicitly and always implicitly - in the many violent uprisings and bloody ethnic conflict that has characterized the country for the past three decades. Official language policies, education policies as well as language-in-education policies have been instrumental in creating and exacerbating the conflicts which exist between and within the two major communities, and between the class divide during both colonial and postcolonial times. After independence, successive governments made attempts to address the issue of language and its divisive role in an attempt to rectify inequality and provide a more democratic social system, often with questionable success. The context of this study is the most recent of such attempts to address the issue of language and equality with regard to educational opportunity; the ''New Educational Reforms and New Initiatives in Education" which deal with the re-introduction of English medium instruction (EMI) in state owned schools at junior secondary level (Grade 6) in 2001, for selected subjects, including Science, Social Studies and Mathematics; a reform implemented despite the acute shortage of teachers proficient in English, as well as adequately trained to teach in the English medium. It uses ethnographic case study methodology to investigate classroom practice in these EMI science classes in four schools in the Western and North western Provinces. The theoretical assumptions underlying the study are participatory frameworks of Second Language Acquisition, (SLA) including neo- Vygotskyan sociocultural theories of SLA and language socialization. Data sources include classroom observation field notes, transcripts of audio-recorded lessons and in-depth interviews with teachers. Though viewed from a particular perspective of language learning, the data analysis focused on patterns emerging from the data, relating to how participants put into practice, EMI policy in the classroom. The results show considerable discrepancy between policy and practice, a variation of policy implementation across school types and that the use of mother tongue is a strategy to overcome challenges of EMI where proficiency is an issue for both student as well as teachers. Codeswitching (CS) and Mixed Code used in the classroom are also reflective of the widely used language outside the classroom. The study concludes that there is a need for acknowledgement of classroom realities, including cultural context and resources when implementing policy aims, extensive teacher training both initial and in-service, and argues for the acceptance of CS as a more pragmatic approach to encouraging the learning of both content and language.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available