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Does repeating a year improve performance? The case of teaching English

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This paper examines whether having school students repeat a year improves their performance, focusing on learning English as a foreign language. It takes students' English examination results from five years from a Chinese-medium school, together with data on their learning styles and learning strategies. Drawing on local cultural and pedagogic factors, the study finds that repeating a year, far from improving scores, homogenizes the results of males and females, and, while finding a small but statistically insignificant rise in the scores of females, is detrimental to the performance of males. Repeating a year either makes no difference or a negative difference to results. It is suggested that repeating a year reproduces, sharpens and potentiates gender differences in learning and performing in English as a foreign language, and that repeating a year is the medium and outcome of gender inequality. Implications are drawn for practice.
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Keywords: Chinese learner; English language; Grade retention; Repeating

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Macau Inter-University Institute, People's Republic of China

Publication date: 01 September 2007

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