Co-teaching and the Development of Pupil Identity in the Bilingual Primary Classroom: A case study of a Hong Kong School

Williams, Natasha (2023). Co-teaching and the Development of Pupil Identity in the Bilingual Primary Classroom: A case study of a Hong Kong School. EdD thesis The Open University.



This research study explores pupil experiences of co-teaching within a bilingual international primary school in Hong Kong. The majority of pupils are first language Cantonese speakers, studying in an English and Putonghua bilingual programme. Within Hong Kong, the historical context and political situation following the change of sovereignty, has shaped educational policy and views about valued languages, shaping the practices of the school and therefore pupil experiences of language learning. The school supports pupil language development through a bilingual programme (one teacher, one language), supported by co-teaching (in English and Putonghua). The aims of the study were to understand how co-teaching is understood and enacted by co-teachers to support pupil language learning identities.

Two co-taught classrooms were the focus of the research (one in Year 3 (Y3) and one in Year 5 (Y5)). Research data for this case study were collected through formal classroom observations over a five-month period, pupil interviews (three from each class) and interviews with the two co-teachers of each class. A broad sample of pupil language experiences was collected as part of a questionnaire to all pupils in Y3 and Y5. Questionnaire data served as an opportunity for data triangulation and rich, detailed analysis. Qualitative data analysis consisted of open coding to find emerging themes, these themes then becoming the focus of the discussion.

The findings of the study revealed that enactment of co-teaching is shaped by teacher perceptions of their classroom roles. An identity of a co-teacher, for example, was found to facilitate mutual understanding and respect for shared practices that further supported pupil language development. Co-teaching enactment, perceived teacher language valuations and English language dominance within the classroom were all found to shape pupil language learning identities. The study also found that the co-teaching model, Team Teaching, was effective in teaching and learning because of the opportunities for pupil translanguaging and because it positions the classroom languages with equal status, supporting pupil investment and motivation to learn. Since co-teaching model effectiveness was not the focus of this study, it is recommended as an area of further research.

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