We are excited to be sharing the research conducted in 2020 by Dr. Dorota Pomagalska, ‘Outcomes of a functional grammar-based pedagogy in an intensive English language school’.
This report provides a summary of the evaluation of the whole school implementation of an explicit language-based pedagogy in the Western English Language School (WELS) in Victoria, Australia. The vehicle for the implementation was a tutor trainer course titled How Language Works (HLW) developed and implemented by Lexis Education.
The objective of the evaluation was to assess the effectiveness of such a pedagogy in an intensive English language school by examining patterns in the students’ grades and any changes in learning and teaching practices. Furthermore, the evaluation looked at factors that supported the uptake of the new pedagogy within the whole school.
This report summarises both quantitative and qualitative data, which showed significant improvement in students’ results and many positive changes within the school’s teaching and learning practices.
Improvement in primary school literacy outcomes
Figure 4 below averages out the achievement in literacy outcomes for writing across two terms (6 months) of schooling. This demonstrates that the primary school students are consistently gaining nearly two levels in that time and are fast approaching the end of foundation level (6 years of age).
Improvement in secondary school literacy outcomes
Figure 5 below maps out the average growth for secondary students in Terms 2, 3 and 4 for 2017 and Terms 1 and 2 for 2018. Each term’s results are based on around 50 student samples of work that were analysed and assigned a level.
As measured by this tool, mainstream students would be expected to advance one level per year. The first two columns of Figure 5 indicate that students at WELS were able to show growth just over 1.2 in a single term. Extrapolated over the whole year, this means that, on average, students were improving around 5 levels per year in 2017, and more than 6 levels for the last cohort measured in 2018, as the pedagogy took hold. We can concede that students beginning English tend to make quicker progress through the lower levels, but it is still a remarkable outcome.