Digging deeper
: text analysis as a strategy in the teaching of English literacy to adult, non-urban, Aboriginal students in the Northern Territory

  • Patricia Sutherland Beattie

    Student thesis: Coursework Masters - CDU


    Aboriginal people from non-urban contexts across the Northern Territory of Australia have enrolled in large numbers with institutions offering them the opportunity for further education and qualifications which will lead to jobs in their home communities. Commonly, difficulties with English and English literacy hamper their chances of success. 

    This study focuses on the practice of educators who work with Aboriginal adult students from non-urban communities in the Northern Territory, with particular reference to their perceptions of students' difficulties with literacy in English and the strategies they currently employ to address these difficulties. The data for the study was obtained by means of a questionnaire which included a piece of text for analysis. 

    From the data emerges a picture of students who are highly motivated to learn, yet whose ability to successfully meet the requirements of the courses in which they are enrolled is being inhibited, at least in part, by their difficulties in comprehending English written text. A profile of the educators reveals a group of people concerned with students' low literacy levels, but who are also accountable to their employing institutions and are therefore torn between attending to students' literacy needs and ensuring that students work through the content of the course (usually accredited) within the time frame stipulated. 

    Few educators appear to have developed a comprehensive, systematic approach to the teaching of English/literacy. Their analysis of a particular newspaper article suggests that most educators have difficulty articulating the problems students are likely to encounter with English texts, and have few specific strategies to address them. 

    The implications of these findings for classroom practice and professional development are discussed. Drawing on theories of Systemic Linguistics, Proposition Theory and Critical Literacy, a strategy for discourse analysis is proposed which would incorporate the teaching of English, the teaching of the contemporary culture of English-speaking people in Australia and the teaching of the reading behaviours necessary to make meaning from English texts.

    Note: In original page ii in appendix 1 is blank and has been deleted
    Date of AwardMay 1995
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorBrian Devlin (Supervisor)

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