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Academic language proficiency development among Swedish high school students

Paper i proceeding
Författare Liss Kerstin Sylvén
Publicerad i GURT2012, Georgetown University Roundtable on Linguistics and Literature 2012, Washington, D.C., USA
Publiceringsår 2012
Publicerad vid Institutionen för pedagogik och specialpedagogik
Språk en
Ämnesord CLIL, academic language, SLA
Ämneskategorier Tvåspråkighet, Engelska språket, Lärande


In a longitudinal study spanning 3 years, a group of researchers are following students (N = 400) enrolled in content and language integrated learning (CLIL) classes (Marsh, 2001), where most subjects are taught through the medium of English and students enrolled in regular classes with English as a separate subject at senior high school level in Sweden. The main aim of the study, which started in the fall term of 2011, is to track students’ progression in academic language (Coxhead, 1998) proficiency in Swedish, which is the L1 of most participating students and the majority language in Sweden, as well as in English which is the first foreign language taught in Swedish schools. The paper aims to describe the design and layout of the study in its entirety. However, great emphasis will also be put on describing certain features on the individual as well as the national level that may have a bearing on students’ language proficiency. Among them are student motivation (Dörnyei, 2005), which is one of the specific aspects looked further into in the study, and the omnipresence of English in Swedish society (Sundqvist, 2009). Factors such as these are deemed important to include in any study of language acquisition in general and the acquisition of English in particular taking into consideration the fact that English is a world language used and encountered by so many more than those for whom it is an L1. In this paper the first preliminary findings from the first round of data collection will also be presented on an overall level as well as broken down into a) CLIL and non-CLIL, and b) gender. Given the fact that it is a longitudinal study in its infancy, the paper will discuss ways in which academic language skills best are tapped as well as problems encountered in the process. Input on the appropriateness of the methods chosen and suggestions on possible fine tuning of our instruments are welcome.

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