Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts


Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Dr Marion Milton

Second Advisor

Dr Graham Mckay


The purpose of this study was to investigate the influence of a 'Change Agent' in teaching English as a Foreign Language (EFL) in Chinese primary schools, and to determine whether changes were perceivable in the number and type of communicative interactions that occurred in EFL classrooms. The Department of Education of Zhong Shan, People's Republic of China, welcomed this research as the communicative approach to teaching English is sanctioned by the authorities. However, the formality of the actual classroom in primary schools often precludes much use of this method. An Investigation of the influence of a Westerner in the role of 'Change Agent' (teacher trainer), may provide more information on adequate EFL teacher training. As Penner (1995) pointed out, these Change Agents need to be aware of the pedagogical complexities between the traditional/formal and the communicative teaching approach in China and have had experience in EFL leaching. As such, the study was of particular relevance to both the Chinese EFL teachers and the Education Department of Zhong Shan. It was also of benefit to future decisions in EFL teacher training because it explored the situation of primary school settings and the demands on adequate input of methodology which up to now has not yet been investigated in primary settings. Using both qualitative and quantitative research methods, this study investigated the use of the communicative method in two Standard 4 classrooms at different schools, prior to and after an in-service and the work with a Change Agent. The researcher was the Change Agent and acted as both a participant observer and as a teacher model while team teaching with the teachers from the two classes. Interviews, questionnaires and field notes provided the qualitative data, while counts of number and type of communicative interactions before and after intervention provided the quantitative data. Data on type and number increase in communicative interaction after the researcher's intervention ceased, suggested that the two Chinese EFL teachers were able to promote more communicative interaction and initiated more permanent change in their EFL teaching approach. The implication for more and better communicative interaction is that the teachers of both classes planned, designed and implemented relevantly more pair and group work and material provision after the in-service. The Department of Education of the Southern District of Zhong Shan and the teachers of the research classes positively commented on the external contact with a foreign EFL teacher. Thus, direct influence of a Western teacher as Change Agent who promoted communicative interaction directly at the school premises was considered a relevant and new approach.