Language Awareness across Educational Levels in the Context of Plurilingual Education – Recommendations for Curriculum Development in Denmark

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Despite the extensive use of the concept language awareness (LA) since 1984 and several operationalizations within the field, systematic empirical research comparing minority and majority language learners’ LA in the context of plurilingual education across educational levels is still lacking. From 2020 to 2023, the Independent Research Fund Denmark finances the project Plurilingual Education - Minority and Majority Students’ Language Awareness across Educational Levels (PE-LAL) that seeks to fill this gap and contribute to further theorization of the field of knowledge. The PE-LAL project examines how students’ LA can be conceptualized in the context of plurilingual education across educational levels. Furthermore, the project aims at developing plurilingual education in the Danish context.
Based on findings from the PE-LAL project, the paper sets out recommendations for curriculum development across primary and secondary education in Denmark, focusing on the macro, meso, and micro level (Beacco et al., 2010).
The basis for the recommendations will be fourfolded drawing on:
(1) A theoretical and empirical operationalization of LA in the context of plurilingual education developed in the project through an abductive approach (Dubois & Gadde, 2002; Timmermans & Tavory, 2012) in an on-going process synthesizing existing research literature and conceptualizations in the field and empirical findings from the project. The operationalization distinguishes between three different manifestations of LA (practical, metalinguistic, critical) (van Lier, 1998, 2004) that can be directed towards nine language levels in the context of plurilingual education being conceptualized through a continuum containing the three pluralistic approaches to languages (Candelier et al., 2010) adding a transversal dimension focusing on the learner’s language resources including first languages beyond the language(s) of schooling.
(2) Empirical findings from (2.1) a curriculum analysis (Lewy, 1977; Schnack, 1994, 1995) of the language subjects in primary and lower secondary and the preparatory three-month course on ‘General Language Awareness’ (Almen Sprogforståelse) in upper secondary exploring how LA, plurilingual education, and first languages beyond Danish are integrated in and across curricula, and (2.2) an exploratory embedded and replicated multi-case study (George & Bennett, 2004; Robson, 2011; Yin, 2018) consisting of classroom data and group interviews from grade 1, 5, 7, 9, and 11 exploring how LA in the context of plurilingual education in primary and lower secondary education and in Almen Sprogforståelse in upper secondary is manifested, expressed and reflected by minority and majority language students.
(3) Plurilingual teaching materials with affordances for LA developed in the project prior to the data collection through a collaboration between the teachers in each grade and the PE-LAL researchers to combine practice competences and experiences and scientific knowledge, forming the context for the case study reflecting exemplary plurilingual education.
(4) Collective key points from a stakeholder workshop held in the project’s final phase with representatives from various parts of the Danish educational context e.g., the Ministry of Education, the National Centre for Foreign Languages, teacher organizations, teacher educators, publishing houses, school principals, and teachers, where (1), (2), and (3) were presented, in order to strengthen and discuss the relevance and implementability of the project’s curriculum recommendations.
TidsskriftNordic Journal of Language Teaching and Learning
StatusUnder udarbejdelse - 2023

ID: 339412006