Teaching and learning foreign languages at school under the sign of multilingualism

Teaching and learning languages, assessing and evaluating language skills
Project management:

Scientific partner: PH Zug

03.2016 to 02.2019
In progress

This project aimed to gain empirical knowledge about how learners deal with multilingual teaching approaches in the foreign language classroom and to acquire a better understanding of the potential and the functioning of different types of multilingual teaching activities.

In the first project phase, the current curricula and the foreign language textbooks in use in German-speaking Switzerland in 2016 were analysed as to gain insight into which aspects of multilingual teaching approaches were present in the teaching materials. The following prototypical activities were identified in the teaching materials: 1) language comparisons, 2) intercultural comparisons, 3) reflection on language(s) and culture(s), 4) use of and reflection on strategies, 5) language identification and 6) intercomprehension. In particular, the analysis showed that language comparisons on a word level and intercultural comparisons are relatively frequent but that the overall integration of multilingual teaching approaches varies depending on the textbook.

In the second project phase, the project team created multilingual teaching activities (of the six types of prototypical activities mentioned above) that were inspired by and based on activities in current foreign language teaching materials. The goal was not to create activities that were as well-made as possible but rather to create activities that were as close as possible to the activities in the textbooks in terms of learning objectives, instructions, etc. The activities were compiled in thematically coherent dossiers, which were then used by 5th/6th grade (HarmoS 7/8) and 8th grade (HarmoS 10) teachers during two double lessons. Pupils worked on the thematic dossiers in groups of three, and two groups in each class were filmed. In total, 10 primary and 9 secondary school classes participated. Teachers and pupils also assessed the activities by means of a short questionnaire and an interview. In a further step, the resulting videos were transcribed and analysed using content analysis.

In the final project phase, experts assessed how learners deal with multilingual teaching activities and gave their views on the potential and the relevance of these activities. For this purpose, filmed prototypical task processing sequences of the primary school level were discussed by focus groups: two focus groups with French and English lecturers of universities of teacher education and two focus groups with experienced teachers.