Academic journal article K@ta

After Three-Year Immersion in the Australian Mainstream Classroom: Towards More Advanced ESL Literacy Learning Development

Academic journal article K@ta

After Three-Year Immersion in the Australian Mainstream Classroom: Towards More Advanced ESL Literacy Learning Development

Article excerpt

Abstract: This article is one of two studies about literacy learning of Aida, an Indonesian young English language learner who was mainstreamed in an Australian primary school in Melbourne. It described the development of her more advanced literacy learning. This article suggests that a learner's literacy learning of ESL in the mainstream classroom can be facilitated if there are a number of contributing factors, especially those related to literacy learning policies, learning environment, and teachers' role.

Key words: literacy learning, English as a second language, mainstream classroom.

This article concerns literacy learning development of a young Indonesian learner of English as a second language (ESL) who was immersed in an Australian classroom along with the native speakers of English. Because instruction, teaching and learning process, and other pedagogical activities in such a classroom are provided in English, the language of the mainstream students, this type of classroom is called mainstream classroom.

Extensive literature has shown that a mainstream classroom with a special feature can be fruitful for second language learners' development of language skills and, more particularly, their literacy learning. For example, Genesee (1994) argues that it is a necessity for the second language learner to learn and use the second language in the mainstream classroom in order that he or she can be involved socially and can succeed academically. Accordingly, in addition to providing the needs of learning for most of the students, the mainstream classroom should also fulfil the language need of the second language learner (Gibbons, 1993; Linning, 2000). According to Gibbons (1993), the mainstream classroom should provide "a comfortable learning environment" and "opportunities for meaningful interaction between peers" (p. 11). Likewise, Tabors and Snow (1994, p. 123) have stated that the mainstream classroom should provide a great deal of opportunities for the second language learner to interact with other students and the teacher. Based on their research, Platt and Troudi (1997) have argued that a warm and friendly environment enables a second language learner to participate successfully in the mainstream classroom. Thus, meaningful interaction and supportive learning environment in the mainstream classroom facilitate the development of second language and academic learning of second language learners.

This article is a sequel of a study which analyzed early literacy learning in English as a second language (ESL) of Aida, an Indonesian young learner of ESL who was enrolled in Grade 2 at Carlton Gardens Primary School which is located at the heart of Melbourne City in Australia (see Cahyono, 2003). In order to provide a general view of Aida's early literacy learning, this article will first present the results of the previous study briefly.


The study reported earlier (see Cahyono, 2003) examined English language learning activities in Aida's mainstream classroom and her early ESL literacy development within a period of 9 months. Aida was nearly 8 years old when she started her Grade 2 education in Australia. Before she went to Australia, she took a private English course twice a week in Malang, her home town in Indonesia. The course was intended to introduce her to the English language and to make her like it, not necessarily to learn it at a more serious level. Thus, before enrolling into the Australian primary school, she understood only little English, but her motivation to learn English was high.

The longitudinal case study used a number of data collection methods: observation, documentary study, and interviews. Observation was conducted in Aida's classroom to see the literacy learning environment. Documents which included portfolios and school reports were examined to get an understanding of day-to-day and periodical literacy learning and its evaluation. …

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