Analysis of Teaching Material

The interlanguage is a language in itself e.g. between a student’s mother tongue (L1) and  English as a foreign language (L2), it has its own rules which develop over time and vary from person to person depending on their different hypotheses within different areas e.g., contemporary grammatical rules. “I takt med at eleven får be- og afkræftet sine hypoteser og møder nyt sprogligt input, forandrer intersproget sig. På baggrund af de nye sproglige erfaringer og den respons, eleven får på sit sproglige udtryk, daner eleven løbende nye regler. I de fleste tilfælde kommer elevens intersprogsregler i stigende omgang til at ligne de regler, man finder beskrevet i grammatikbogen.” (Laursen & Holm, 2010, p.47).

I have been looking at the European Language Portfolios (LPs) as a tool for linguistic development in EFL education. The European LP is a language-learner’s personal document, that can be used to follow one’s own linguistic development along with cultural experiences within and outside of school (or other institution where the explicit learning takes place). The document exists in many variations, in 76 languages, but mutual for all of them are, that they are built upon the Common European Framework (CEFR; the European work to create a common framework for reference for language which builds the basis for FFM). Gabriele Wolf, a lector at VIA Teacher Education in Aarhus, argues for the usage of LP, as a method to create heteroglossic foreign language education (2014 & 2015). LP can be used to create a translingual space i.e., a transformative linguistic space, where plurilingual language users connect their personal stories, experience, surroundings, opinions and cognitive as well as physical capacities to a joint meaningful preparation and therethrough making it into the lived experience (Wei, 2011, p.1223). LPs are developed to support the individual person’s autonomous learning process, visualisation of plurilingual competence profiles, intercultural awareness, experience, and competences incl. life-long language learning (Wolf, 2015). With language portfolios, teachers can include and accommodate students’ diverse language prerequisites and repertoires in foreign language teaching. Besides the linguistic benefit, the usage of LP can be used to create a greater sense of equality between the majority- and minority students i.e., a tool to reduce prejudices and supporting the bilingual student’s self-esteem, because diversity is seen as a strength and as a positive influence between students – and can be used to create a room of possibility to build intercultural competencies, which is crucial in a globalised society, not to mention a globalised world (Buchard & Fabrin, 2012).

According to the cognitive as well as the socio-cultural view on language acquisition, the student’s joint linguistic prerequisites are used when acquiring/learning a new language (Holmen & Byram, 2015). Meaning that bi- or plurilingual students have greater potentials for being creative, gaining metalinguistic awareness and communicative sensitivity, but a cognitive advantage does not trigger automatically, it is only activated, when students learn languages in an additive learning environment, that build upon the students’ actual assumptions (Baker, 2006). Thus bilingual students ought to have better chances, that students whom only have Danish to ‘pull’ from when learning a foreign language, but statistics show, that the bi-lingual students are doing more poorly when acquiring a new language. Though a Swedish research of the 9th-grade results shows, that the minority students, who have received teaching in their mother tongue, are above average than the other students – and English is the subject in which they do best (Holmen & Byram, 2015).

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In particular, I’ve looked at the Norwegian version, which is the one typically referred to in Denmark, because they have integrated “immigrant-languages”. In the theory of using the students existing linguistic repertoires (mother tongue etc), as a resource for language acquisition, metacommunicative awareness, and interlanguage development, the LP is an ideal tool. The teacher and the learner can use it as an opportunity to explore and identify the learner’s prerequisites within the communicative competence and cultural understanding. Minimum 10% of the students in the Danish schools are bilingual and the majority of those students have either Arabic, Turkish, Kurdish or Somali as their mother tongue. But I found, that Arabic only appears on 4 out of 60+ pages in the Norwegian LP. – Turkish, Kurdish and Somali I have no knowledge of detecting. Therefore, to reach the goal for students and teachers to include more languages when possible, for the students to gain the introspective view of their own learning and language use, thereby reaching metacommunicative awareness (Færch, 1984), the LP has to be adapted to fit the language profiles of the students of the Danish classrooms. We ought to create a Danish LP where every page contains Danish, English as a foreign language AND Arabic, Turkish, Kurdish and Somali for the tool to be relevant in the Danish schools.


Literature:

  • Baker, C. (2006): Foundations of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism. Multilingual Matters. 
  • Buchard & Fabrin (2012): Interkultural Didaktik — Introduktion til teorier og tilgange. Chapter 1: Multikulturalistisk Undervisning. Gyldendals Lærerbibliotek 
  • Europæisk Sprogportfolio. 2016. ECML (European Centre for Modern Languages) Kontaktpunkt Danmark.
  • Færch, C. et al. (1984): Learner Language and Language Learning. Gyldendal
  • Holmen, A. (2011): At tage udgangspunkt i det kendte – om brug af modersmålet ved tilegnelsen af et nyt sprog. Tidsskrift for sprog- og kulturpædagogik: Nr. 51. Sprogforum
  • Holmen, A. & Byram, M. et al. (2015): Sprogfag i forandring. Pædagogik og praksis.
    Samfundslitteratur
  • Laursen & Holm (2010): Dansk som Andetsprog – pædagogiske og didaktiske perspektiver. Dansklærerforeningen
    Wei, L. (2011): Moment analysis and translanguaging space: Discursive construction of identities by multilingual Chinese youth in Britain. Journal of Pragmatics, 43, pp. 1222–1235
  • Wolf, G. (2014): Åbne sider – På opadgelse i elevernes sproglige repertoirer – på vej mod en heteroglossisk fremmedssprogsundevisning? Tidsskrift for sprog- og kulturpædagogik: Nr. 59. Sprogforum
  • Wolf, G. (2015): Den Europæiske Sprogpotfolio i danske klasseværelser – Hvilke muligheder ligger der i integrationen af Den Euroæiske Sprogportfolio i fremmedsprogsundervisningen i en dansk kontekst? VIA University College
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