The perceptions and experiences of immigrant teachers with regard to the literacy requirements of the New Zealand secondary school curriculum

Crossan, Sue
Strauss, Pat
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Master of Arts in Applied Language Studies
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Auckland University of Technology

New Zealand relies on overseas teachers to fill approximately 30% of annual vacancies (Ministry of Education, 2006). 41% of these cohort were teaching in Auckland when this study was conducted (Ministry of Education, 2001, 2003). As only 7% were new to teaching, it is likely that they bring a wealth of teaching experience to New Zealand classrooms. In 2002 New Zealand introduced a new school-leaving qualification, the National Certificate of Educational Achievement (NCEA), which includes a literacy strand in all subjects (Taylor, 2001). This thesis aims to investigate the needs, perceptions and insights of overseas teachers in Auckland regarding the literacy requirements of the New Zealand secondary curriculum. In this qualitative study, interviews were carried out with ten teachers who had been teaching in Auckland between one and six years and who had all previously taught overseas. Interviews were also carried out with two literacy leaders as part of the research. Key challenges that emerged were the incorporation of the NCEA literacy requirements in discipline areas; catering for the needs of students who speak English as a second language; dealing with the challenges of teaching literacy across the curriculum and subject specific language; finding and developing relevant resources and sourcing professional development relating to literacy teaching. Findings revealed there were two categories of teachers – teachers who were very aware of the literacy needs of their students and those who were less aware. Teachers from England and South Africa were very aware of the varied literacy needs of New Zealand students and had received professional development in this area. Other teachers seemed less aware of the literacy demands of their students, the curriculum or their own professional development needs. This study also reveals that recognition and provision for the professional needs of newly arrived teachers from overseas seems to vary. There is very little research on the experiences of immigrant teachers in New Zealand; this study helps to clarify the issues which these teachers face, particularly with regard to the dual challenges of teaching students with ESL and the expectations that all teachers will include literacy in their approach to teaching, which is part of the NCEA curriculum.

Immigrant teachers , Overseas teachers , Secondary teachers , High schools , Literacy , Qualitative interviews
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