An approach from a Vygotskian viewpoint to the teaching of poetry in German in the Irish primary school. An Empirical Study.
Hennessy, Peter (2010) An approach from a Vygotskian viewpoint to the teaching of poetry in German in the Irish primary school. An Empirical Study. Masters thesis, National University of Ireland Maynooth.
This study attempts to explore an approach to the appreciation of poetry in a foreign language, in this case German, by children with a limited competency in that language. The study focuses on the child in the context of the present curriculum for Irish primary schools. Based on a socio-cultural constructivist ethos, it examines a step by step mediated approach to the appropriation of poetry in which group interaction and dialogue play an important role. The study contains a review of the history of the introduction of foreign language learning into the primary sector, from the introduction of the Curaclam na Bunscoile (The New Curriculum) of 1971, until the release in November 2009 of the NCCA 2008 report ‘Modern Languages in the Primary school curriculum Feasibilities and Futures’. The study argues against the main premise of the report, the substitution of a language awareness approach in place of language competency. The study is based on the socio-cultural theories of consciousness of Lev Vygotsky and Piotr Gal’perin, with particular reference to Concept Formation, the Genetic Method, Mediation, Internalization, The Zone of Proximal Development and Object-Orientated Activity Theory. The theoretical and practical implications of a constructivist classroom approach are discussed and evaluated. Theoretical assumptions on the teaching of poetry in general are discussed. There is a critical review of current literature on the uses of poetry in foreign language learning, and a clarification of the methodology proposed for the empirical study. Based on a year’s work on the appropriation of poetry with primary students, the empirical study selects six poems on which the children work in a step-by-step, mediated approach, enabling them to achieve aesthetic response and personal appropriation of the poetry. It uses teacher’s notes, children’s work and detailed descriptions of the methods used, to clarify, assess and evaluate qualitatively the work undertaken. It concludes with suggestions for the further application of the methods involved and possible future research areas.
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