Learners’ experiences and perceptions of learning in a large English as a second language class, in a public secondary school in Kenya.

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Education (MEd)

First Supervisor/Advisor

Dr. Ruth Otieno


Institute for Educational Development, East Africa


Large classes are a major concern to teachers, students and all stakeholders of education because they are perceived to undermine the quality of education. This study explores learners’ experiences and perceptions of learning in a large ESL class. The study was conducted in a semi-urban public secondary school with large classes of above sixty students per class. A qualitative case study design was used. Methods of data collection included classroom observations, semi-structured interviews, focus group discussions and document analysis. These were used to gather in depth information on the experiences of learners in a large ESL class. Data was transcribed, coded and thematically analyzed. The study reveals that learners experience challenges and opportunities for learning in large ESL classes. Some of the main challenges include: passive learning, limited interaction between learners and the teacher in the classroom, infrequent feedback and lack of individual attention. However, the study also revealed that large ESL classes provide certain learning opportunities. The learning opportunities are created through the use of the diverse abilities, knowledge, backgrounds and experiences of the many learners in peer teaching, peer marking and group effort. Therefore this study indicates that there are learning opportunities in large classes which can be exploited both by the teacher and students to enhance teaching and learning in these classes. Teachers therefore have the obligation to guide learners to exploit the opportunities for learning available in the large class. The recommendation for the study is that students’ learning experiences should be made interactive and participatory to improve learning in large ESL classes. Teachers should guide learners to exploit the opportunities for learning in the large ESL class.

This document is available in the relevant AKU library