ISfTE 2017

Så er jeg klar til min første konference med eget paper – det bliver her i Århus, og i et stille og roligt format med mindre grupper, hvor vi kan diskutere hinandens oplæg. Indtil videre har jeg indsendt og netop fået godkendt et abstract, så nu må jeg jo hellere komme i gang med det egentlige indhold…


In Danish schools, the teaching of Danish and of foreign languages are traditionally seen as distinct, more or less unrelated subject matters. However, in light of the ever-increasing globalisation and political demand for all students to have high levels of foreign language proficiency, the time has arrived to try out a new approach to language teaching, based on the interconnected ideas that

  1. Students’ existing linguistic resources can be exploited to enhance their language awareness by applying a cross-linguistic approach to language teaching and
  2. Enhanced language awareness can benefit the students in their foreign language learning efforts as well as in their development of a nuanced and varied use of their mother tongue.

To explore the potentials and challenges arising from the application of a cross-linguistic approach to language teaching, I will be conducting an action research project in cooperation with 5th grade teachers and students at a local elementary school. By engaging in a cyclical iterative process consisting of teacher workshops for class planning and collective reflection, alternating with classroom observations focusing on the students’ reactions to and teachers’ implementation of the cross-linguistic approach, I will attempt to identify the core challenges and potentials related to this approach and to determine whether the actual classroom interaction and display of learning reflect an enhanced language awareness or use of cross-linguistic resources by students as well as teachers.

The methodological approach taken and the relation between the theoretically based concepts of language awareness and cross-linguistic language teaching as well as the implementation of these concepts in practice will be the focal points of my paper. Language Awareness is in itself a concept which dates back to the 1980’s (Hawkins 1999, James 1999), but has evolved considerably through its application to multiple areas within linguistic research since then, achieving a growing relevance and application in Danish research (Laursen 2007, Calmar Andersen, Humlum et al. 2014, Laursen 2014) and within the national curriculum. But how can we best define the concept when applying it to the teaching of languages in Danish elementary school, and how does it relate to the cross-linguistic approach to teaching? These matters will be discussed in the conference paper. The project involves several kinds of data (teacher surveys, student and teacher interviews, field notes from observations and classroom video), however, no findings will be presented yet, since my intervention is due to start after the conference itself.

I have chosen an action research approach for my PhD project because I find it essential to involve teachers closely in this process, which is ultimately aimed at developing a new way of teaching Danish and foreign languages in Danish elementary school. I believe this involvement of teachers in the research process will add value both to the concrete teaching methods and materials developed during the project period as well as to my reflections on and analysis of my findings.