A language awareness approach to Dutch upper-secondary foreign language education

Ellen van den Broek

poster_presentatie_evdbroek_ala16Changes in modern society call for the development of new skills in education. In modern foreign language education the current standard approach is the communicative language teaching approach. This approach devotes much attention to the development of the four language skills (reading, writing, listening, and speaking), but considerably less to the language learning process, and the analytical and (cross-)linguistic aspects of languages and language learning. Consequently, students do not learn how to think about and reflect on language and the process of their own learning, and teachers do not always possess the appropriate knowledge and tools to transfer language-analytical skills in their teaching practices. These skills, however, will become of great importance for students in order to prepare them to function in today’s globalising and multilingual society. This calls for a new approach to foreign language education. This research project will investigate how a Language Awareness (LA) approach contributes to the development of teachers’ and students’ language-analytical skills and teachers’ classroom practice in Dutch upper secondary foreign language education. Four studies are proposed in which we will analyse the current views on LA, and design, implement and evaluate this LA approach in the context of Dutch upper secondary foreign language education. The findings will lead to recommendations, for secondary school foreign language teachers and pre- and in-service teacher training programmes, on how to effectively integrate this approach into existing (communicative) language teaching methods.