Date of Award


Document Type



Edith Cowan University

Degree Name

Master of Arts


Faculty of Arts

First Supervisor

Dr Graham McKay

Second Supervisor

David Prescott


This study aimed at determining factors which might have impact on the learning of English as a second language macroskills (reading, writing, listening, and speaking) by Tongan secondary learners. The study was correlational in design and it worked from a synthetic perspective in that it looked at the way in which many aspects of language are interrelated to make the whole language system. The study looked at learning English language macroskills from a multiple interdisciplinary perspective taking into consideration linguistic, psycholinguistic, sociolinguistic factors and classroom and bilingual education perspectives. The framework for language use required the learner to know the grammar (linguistic competence) of English and also to have the knowledge of how to use it appropriately in a variety of contexts. The subjects of the study were 100 Form 5 ESL Secondary students and 24 Form 5 ESL Secondary teachers. The three main instruments used were a test and a questionnaire for the students and a questionnaire for the teachers. Students' performance in the four English language macroskills were correlated with their perception of factors hypothesised to be associated with their learning of those English language macroskills at school (bivariate correlations). Standard multiple regressions were also performed (with only a few of the investigated factors selected as independent variables) to determine how much of the variance in the students' performance can be accounted for by the selected variables. Seven factors were shown to have significant correlations with the students' learning of English macroskills at secondary school. They were: the age of the students; their perceived ability in English; frequency of use of English with non-Tongan speakers; use of English to read for enjoyment; use of English for communication at home; integrative motivation; and career aspirations. The multiple regressions showed that 40% to 50% of the variances in reading, writing and listening could be accounted for by the same seven factors. All for speaking, 48.5% of the variance could be accounted for by five of these factors: age; perceived ability in English; frequency of use of English with non-Tongan speakers; use of English to read for enjoyment; and career aspirations. The findings of the study were accounted for in the light of appropriate and relevant linguistic theories.