Innovation in Language Learning

Edition 16

Accepted Abstracts

The Swedish Language Leap

Daniel Rosén, Swedish National Agency for Education (Sweden)

Lisa Källermark Haya, Swedish National Agency for Education (Sweden)


In the First European Survey on Language Competences of 2012, where 53 000 15-year-olds from 14 European countries answered questions of the importance of studying languages, Sweden’s youth were in the top, saying that it is of vital importance to do so. They were also in the top, saying that this other language should be English. Answering the question if other languages than English were important, they scored among the lowest. They were also the only ones who said that “lack of motivation” was the reason why they did continue studying other languages. This focuses a debate that has been present among language teachers for a very long time: first, the fact that the languages that they teach compete with English on uneven terms, and secondly, that their subject is not obligatory to learn, since students may choose to study extra Swedish or English instead. Together with the lack of importance that their students place on the subject, and with the extreme and growing lack of language teachers, the Swedish state recognized a need for a nation-wide support program for language teachers. This program needed to be founded both on research concerning language didactics and bottom-up experience-based methodology. The aim? To develop classroom practices through teachers’ own learning.
During the last five years, the number of research studies of Swedish classrooms of French, German and Spanish have increased. This research, together with the research evaluations of the professional programs for boosting the teaching of literacy and mathematics in Sweden, and the consultations with researchers, teachers, unions and other school authorities, boiled down to the planning and launching of the Language Leap. The material is developed by language-didactics researchers from Swedish universities and is reviewed by language teachers. It is organised in modules (articles, film clips and audio files), containing eight chapters, which each teacher first reflects on individually, then with colleagues with whom they plan for a classroom activity based on the research, which they later analyse together. We will publish four modules: Oral production and interaction, Written production and interaction, Interculturality, Receptive skills. The target group is teachers of French, German and Spanish in Sweden. The teachers are organised in collegial groups, so that they can discuss the material and the outcomes of the classroom activities that emerge from the discussions. Since the material deals with language didactics in general, teachers of different languages can be in the same group. The collegial groups require a moderator, and in collaboration with different universities, the National Agency for Education offers training courses for teachers who wish to become moderators.

Keywords: Language teachers, research, experience, professional development.

[1] Jones, Neil & Gille, Erna & Kortes, Joke & Ashton, Karen. (2012). First European Survey on Language Competences: Final Report.

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