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Learning the languages of trade and industry: A Swedish study.

Paper i proceeding
Författare Ingrid Henning Loeb
Lotta Olvegård
Publicerad i 2016 National Conference on VET Teaching & VET Teacher Education, ACDEVEG, Sydney, 8 - 9 December 2016
Publiceringsår 2016
Publicerad vid Institutionen för pedagogik, kommunikation och lärande
Institutionen för svenska språket
Språk en
Ämneskategorier Utbildningsvetenskap


The role of language in learning and the interrelationship between content and language has been pointed out by different international researchers (e.g. Gibbons 2006) for some years. Also, the OECD has advocated language and content learning through systematic support in all school subjects. Yet, there is very little research on language and content learning in vocational education and training (VET). In Sweden, the context for this paper, it is also an underrepresented topic in VET teacher education. By educational policy makers, VET is often regarded as a suitable ‘practical’ alternative for students who do not meet the eligibility requirements for higher education preparatory programs or for newly arrived young immigrants. However, as e.g. as shown by Stephen Billett in Australia (e.g. Billett 2011) or Karin Sandwall in Sweden (Sandwall 2013), vocational language is intrinsic, the role of vocational educators is crucial for positive learning results, and the students’ opportunities of guidance and language interaction of greatest importance for the development of vocational knowledge and skills. During recent times, Sweden has had a growing number of immigrant youth attending different forms of VET in Swedish upper secondary education. Thus, Swedish VET teachers face significant challenges and the need to enhance collegial professional competencies is important in order to improve the learning possibilities for this group of pupils. The import of investigating how vocational learning processes are accomplished and enacted must thus be emphasized. This paper presentation reports from a pilot research project with field studies on how vocational learning is enabled and constrained for second language learners in Swedish upper secondary education. The conceptual framework for the pilot study has drawn upon two complementary theories: 1) the theory of practice architectures (Kemmis & Smith 2008) for an overarching framework of understanding the (material-economic, discursive and socio-political) conditions for the educational practices, and 2) systemic functional linguistics (Rothery 1996), in order to analyze the spoken interactions of teachers and students and the use of texts. Different techniques for field work have been used, including audio recordings of VET teachers’ instructions and their dialogues with students. Significant forms of scaffolding for the second language learners in VET were identified, and will be presented and analyzed as emerging findings, but also constraining arrangements and practices. The pilot project has developed into two research applications for larger studies. A specific purpose to present a study on Swedish VET practices at a conference in Australia is to seek feedback on the emerging findings, and to develop knowledge on the research (or research gaps) of similar VET practices in Australia.

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