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Foreign languages in upper secondary schools: Innovation, didactics and digital media

Objectives and content of the project
The goal of this networking and development project is to make languages more attractive for young people and to increase general interest in languages, thereby ensuring that more young people acquire thorough, broad and varied language competences in upper secondary schools with a view to increasing language competences in general.

The focus is placed on:

  • Innovation as an educational tool
    How can unconventional, creative forms of teaching be used in the teaching of foreign languages, and what effect does this have on both learning and motivation? How does the use of innovative forms of teaching affect the balance between communicative competence and correct language use?
    Can cooperation with institutions outside upper secondary schools be incorporated, for instance bridge-building with higher education.
  • Didactics and foreign languages
    How should foreign-language teaching be organised to support and increase the motivation of pupils as much as possible?
    Which learning perspectives can be used as the basis of a new form of foreign-language didactics, and what will the consequences be in terms of the weight attached to the goals of foreign-language teaching?
    Does a form of didactics which places greater focus on the scope of this area rather than on narrower knowledge of languages increase the motivation of pupils - and if so, what are the consequences?
  • Digital media and foreign languages
    How can foreign-language teaching exploit the potential of the digital media, and what are the consequences of increasing the use of digital media in terms of the learning and motivation of pupils? Several types of digital media are employed, including mobile units, tablets and cell phones.

Organisation of the project
The project incorporates and alternates between a practical part and a theoretically based part. Each upper secondary school is represented by one teacher per language, and Aarhus University is represented by two researchers.

All the participants attend a theory and planning seminar at which concrete, innovative teaching processes using new didactics and/or digital media will be planned.

The practitioners/teachers then test ideas either independently or in collaboration at their schools, and the practitioners and researchers all evaluate and draw conclusions at subsequent seminars. The interchange between working with theory and practice is a focal point of the project.

Evaluation
Evaluation involves the researchers associated with the project evaluating the concrete projects/processes in question, incorporating the evaluations of the pupils and teachers. The results will be used in Aarhus University’s supplementary education programmes for language teachers at upper secondary schools.

So what is involved here is bridge-building between the university and upper secondary schools of all types which also differ significantly in terms of geography and size.

Subjects taking part
English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Latin, Greek and general language comprehension.

Timetable

  • February 2012: Introductory seminar
  • March-April 2012: Practical phase 1, testing of teaching processes
  • Early May 2012: Joint seminar 1
  • August-October 2012: Practical phase 2, testing of teaching processes
  • November 2012: Joint seminar 2
  • November 2012-January 2013: Practical phase 3, final testing of teaching processes
  • February 2013: Final seminar with evaluation, planning a conference
  • March 2013: Half-day conference involving presenting results and forming language didactics networks

Consortium
A consortium consisting of the following institutions will cooperate in this project:

  • Odder Gymnasium
  • Tønder Gymnasium and HF
  • Gribskov Gymnasium
  • Gefion Gymnasium
  • Aarhus University

The project is part of a trial and development project under the Danish Ministry of Children and Education.