Date of Graduation

8-2013

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Curriculum and Instruction (PhD)

Degree Level

Graduate

Department

Curriculum and Instruction

Advisor

Felicia Lincoln

Committee Member

Mounir Farah

Second Committee Member

Michael Wavering

Third Committee Member

Freddie Bowles

Keywords

Social sciences; Education; Foreign language; Kindergarten; Kuwaiti teachers; Teacher's attitudes; Teachers' perceptions

Abstract

The teaching of English as a foreign language has a promising outlook in the nation of Kuwait. Recent policy reflects language development theories that see early childhood as an especially good period for the learning of a foreign language. Thus, English is now taught at 30 public kindergartens in Kuwait. However, the program apparently was implemented quickly, with little consideration for how teachers and other stakeholders would respond to it. This paper explores that program in the context of the perceptions and views of teachers affected by it.

A review of the existing curriculum points towards deficiencies, and investigation of the perceptions of teachers clarifies them. For this study, surveys were distributed to kindergarten teachers tasked with teaching English in 30 kindergartens in five different school districts, in Kuwait. 631 surveys were completed, providing information about teachers' perceptions and views towards: 1) learning English at an early age, 2) the current English curriculum, 3) teacher needs for effective instruction, and 4) the challenges teachers face. Total agreement was tabulated for each survey statement. Results were also subjected to one-way analysis of variance tests to identify differences according to school district, training institution, and length of teaching experience.

The results show that teachers generally agree with the idea of introducing children to English at an early age. Their agreement with the actual curriculum used for that purpose is considerably weaker. At the same time, the results indicate that teachers generally recognize that they have needs for teaching English which are not currently being met, and that they face considerable challenges in that role. District, source of training, and years of experience are connected to variation on only a few statements, but these variations help to explain the source of certain teacher perceptions and what can be done by policymakers to improve teacher engagement with kindergarten English education. Improvements to pre-service and in-service training are recommended as the most essential changes that the Kuwaiti Ministry of Education must make in order to continue implementing the current curriculum.