Action Research on Multiple Intelligences Based Instruction in Pre-school Foreign Language Classes

Arca, Dilek
Foreign language education has always been a controversial issue among the educators in terms of methods and techniques and age to start the foreign language education. There are numerous studies in these methods and techniques and Multiple Intelligences (MI) Theory (MIT) is one of them. For the view of the age factor, the studies suggest that learning a foreign language is easier and more successful at young ages. However, there is little research in Turkey focusing on foreign language education in early childhood. This study is an action research that aims to improve English language classes through MI based instructional design in a pre-school setting in Ankara. Seventeen participants including nine students in five-year-old age group (N=9), seven students in six-year-old age group (N=7) and one English language teacher (N=1) contributed to the study. The school was chosen among ninety private pre-schools which had English classes in Ankara. Five and six year-old student groups in the school were subjected to twelve-week instructional learning environment based on the Multiple Intelligences Theory. The lesson plans had slight differences between the five-year-old and six-year-old student groups because of age factor and maturation of the students in these ages. Data were collected through qualitative methods including classroom observations, semi-structured interviews with the English language teacher and reflective interviews with the teacher and the students after each session. Classroom observations were conducted by the researcher herself and an interrater. The English language teacher was interviewed before and after the implementation period in order to learn the perceptions of teacher about the theory, lesson plans and her perceptions about the whole process. At the end of each lesson, the teacher and two students from each group were interviewed to receive reflections of their experiences about the lesson of the day. All data were triangulated and the results showed that Multiple Intelligences based instruction contributed positively to the foreign language development of pre-school children from both the perspectives of the students and the teacher. Also, the students reacted positively towards English language learning in a Multiple Intelligences based learning environment.