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Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/24883

Title: A Case Study on Multi-level Language Ability Groupings in an ESL Secondary School Classroom: Are We Making the Right Choices?
Authors: Soto Gordon, Stephanie
Advisor: Gagne, Antoinette
Department: Curriculum, Teaching and Learning
Keywords: English language learner
multi-level language ability
motivation
participation
self-regulation
imagination
alignment
secondary school
Issue Date: 1-Sep-2010
Abstract: This research examines a multi-level language ability ESL secondary school classroom in relation to Lave and Wenger’s (1991) community of practice and Dörnyei and Ottó’s (1998) L2 motivation conceptual frameworks. Both qualitative and quantitative methodologies were employed. Case study data were collected through monthly interviews, semi-monthly observations, and monthly written journals over 3 months in Toronto from 6 participants (5 students and 1 teacher). Also, students who had been in Canada 5 years or less, and ESL teachers were invited to complete an on-line questionnaire. Results indicate that the multi-level classroom positively and negatively impacts participation and motivation. Participants define the most striking factor to impact participation and motivation as themselves; this links the two conceptual frameworks because “self-regulation” in the Actional Phase (Dörnyei & Ottó, 1998) can be better understood by legitimate peripheral participation or the ability to “imagine” and “align” oneself (Lave & Wenger, 1991). In this multi-level classroom, self-regulation is when students actively imagine possible selves who are aligned with their family or peer goals, or when faced with disengagement, students envision new roles for themselves in the classroom to overcome barriers and realign themselves with shared family or peer goals. In these cases, alignment drives imagination; however, students also use imagination to create alignment. When lower level learners see advanced students as possible selves, they feel hope for their future. Similarly, advanced learners recall their past selves when seeing their lower level peers and feel empathy for them. This interaction cements student alignment and sets a context conducive to cooperative learning which enhances students’ abilities to remain aligned with their families. Overall, this research highlights the interplay of imagination and alignment which impacts student identity. Moreover, it reveals that one aspect of the Post-actional Phase in Dörnyei and Ottó’s (1998) model, “self-concept beliefs,” can be enhanced by the notion of identity in Lave and Wenger’s (1991) framework. Finally, these findings could serve to change policy and improve programming and serve as an archive for future research.
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/1807/24883
Appears in Collections:Doctoral
Department of Curriculum, Teaching and Learning - Doctoral theses

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