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Doctoral project: Cross-curricular teaching approaches to language: a writing pedagogy that fosters students’ multilingualism

This project focuses on the commonalities between Swedish, English and modern language curricula and syllabi in order to create opportunities for cross-curricular language teacher collaboration. The purpose of the project is to gain a deeper understanding of how teachers teach writing and investigate whether cross-curricular teaching practices can benefit students' writing and multilingualism. The project is implemented in schools in Växjö and Berlin, Germany.

Project information

Doctoral student
Justyna Legutko
Supervisor
Marie Källkvist
Assistant supervisor
Jukka Tyrkkö, Claes Ohlsson, Ewa Bergh Nestlog
Participating organizations
Linnaeus University
Timetable
august 2020–june 2025
Subject
Linguistics (Department of Languages, Faculty of Arts and Humanities) 
Research group
Educational Linguistics

More about the project

Research on writing shows that students can and do transfer various aspects of writing from one language to another, for example they can transfer writing strategies they learn in their mother tongue to foreign languages, or vice versa. The aim of this research project is to explore if teachers can capitalise on that transfer in their teaching practice and facilitate it through collaborating with each other. Currently, each language - be it the mother tongue, minority or foreign language - is taught as a separate subject in schools and language curricula do not foresee cross-linguistic collaboration.

The possibilities and constraints of a cross-curricular teaching approach will be examined through an analysis of (1) current curricular frameworks, and (2) current teaching practices and teacher beliefs. The curricula and syllabi for Swedish, English and Modern Languages will be analysed in search of commonalities in their curricular aims, particularly concerning writing; the analysis will then form the basis of a multilingual teaching approach that will be implemented in a cross-curricular manner, i.e. in all language classrooms of a given class. The project consists of two phases: the orientation phase includes classroom observations and teacher interviews that aim at revealing how teachers of various languages interpret the curricula and syllabi and at finding common ground between them. The intervention phase entails implementing a multilingual teaching approach that will be co-designed by all language teachers and the researcher. Teachers as well as their students will evaluate the project after its implementation.

The study is based on theories that assume the existence of underlying knowledge that all languages have in common and can thus be used by students while writing in each of their languages. Since the project’s aim is to explore how teachers can utilise that common knowledge, the study is also situated within research on teacher beliefs and is interested in factors that influence the choices teachers make in their classroom and in their lesson planning. The study will deepen our understanding of the teaching practice of language teachers and give insights into the possibilities of language teacher collaboration as a means of fostering the multilingual writing development of students. 

The project is part of the Linnaeus Knowledge Environment Education in change.