PhD Thesis

Developing Learning Materials for Palestinian Learners of English in Gaza Strip

PhD Thesis – The University of Manchester – UK – 1993

Nazmi  Abdul-Salam Al-Masri

Abstract                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     The inspiration for this work came from the need to improve the learning of English language in Gaza Strip secondary school. Although Palestinian school students learn English language for six to eight years, language proficiency remains low and the pass mark is often low. This means that the learners can proceed to further learning of the language without being first able to use appropriately and efficiently what they had learned in the previous school year. The hypothesis is that this is largely due to the inefficiency and inappropriacy of the learning materials used at the present in Gaza Strip. In order to improve the level of achievement in English language, this work attempts to devise a framework for developing appropriate learning materials in terms of content and methodology. This framework is based mainly on McEldowney's  linguistic framework and its practical implications for syllabus design. It also intends to provide a practical framework for helping the teachers to use the existing textbook practice and Progress. L. G. Alexander, 1967, more effectively. Towards achieving these aims, this thesis is divided into eight chapters.   

Chapter One outlines the background of the Palestinian education system in general in that of Gaza Strip in particular. Then, it considers the place of English in these two systems, being concerned with the learners' attitude towards English language and their purposes. Finally, it examines the extent of mismatch between the aims of the textbook, and the aims of learning English as stated by the Egyptian Ministry of Education (which is responsible for the syllabus) and the learners' own reasons for learning English. This chapter serves as a foundation for what follows.   

For the purpose of establishing what could be the most suitable learning materials for Gaza Strip, Chapter Two discusses different aspects related to the selection of the language content. Then, it defines the basic principles that should be taken into account when the learning materials are developed. In the light of the discussion in Chapter One and Two, Section One of Chapter three critically evaluates the texts). Section Two generalizes two main types of approaches to syllabus design: Synthetic and analytic. The negative aspects of both are dealt with. However, features of both may turn out to be appropriate. With a view to introducing pedagogical discourse framework for syllabus design , Chapter Four classifies language purposes into instruction, description and narrative and discusses features of each. Further, it considers how these communicative purposes can be used as a central mechanism for controlling syllabus design. It also demonstrates hoe instruction, description and narration can be used a device for the introduction of grammatical items, especially the English verb form as prime markers (among others) of communicative purposes. After exploring important criteria for syllabus design, Chapter Five illustrates how the communicative purposes described in Chapter Four can be used as an overall framework for developing learning materials. It also considers how progression could take place within each communicative purpose. 

Chapter Six proposes a three-stage learning strategy: input, transition and output. It also illustrates several purposeful learning tasks that cover the three types of discourse discussed in Chapter Four and Five. Then, Chapter Seven examines the efficiency of the textbook in question in respect of the exercises (methodology) involved. Further, it highlights the negative aspects of the textbook so that it can be modified where possible. Before the overall conclusion, Chapter Eight which represents the practical outcome of this study provides a feasible framework for adapting and teaching the existing materials in ways best suited to the learners' purposes. It is necessary to point out that this study is ideally a pilot one not based on fieldwork or a questionnaire. The original intention was to design a questionnaire for, but unfortunately, the current political circumstances in Gaza Strip, have made this impossible. Permission cannot be granted, in the present situation, for such a study to be carried out. Nevertheless, it is hoped that after the present study it will be possible to test the study assumptions by follow-up trial materials.