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 +45 35 32 86 39  Anne Holmen Linguistic diversity among students in higher education: challenging naturalized learning paths?

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Presentation on theme: " +45 35 32 86 39  Anne Holmen Linguistic diversity among students in higher education: challenging naturalized learning paths?"— Presentation transcript:

1   Anne Holmen Linguistic diversity among students in higher education: challenging naturalized learning paths?

2   Background Centre for Internationalization and Parallel Language Use at University of Copenhagen providing courses in academic Danish and English for staff members and students tailor-made, developed for smaller groups or individuals, based on language needs Autumn 2011: five pilot projects focusing on students´ language needs funded by the university. One project on Danish at Pharmaceutical Faculty and at Dept. of Cross- cultural and Regional Studies (Humanities).

3   Background Danish medium instruction (DMI) at Univ. of Copenhagen: Subject-specific lectures, classroom teaching, lab exercises, supervision, notes, slides etc. in Danish (text books often in English) Most BA programmes, approximately 50 % of MA programmes, faculty and subject specific Language courses in Danish L2: Language classes for students who are learning Danish as L2, including students with a good general command of Danish, but less confident when using Danish for academic purposes

4   Academic Danish L2 recommended By OECD (2004): Not all [Danish] universities have clear language policies. The examiners consider that all universities should develop such policies and that these should include the provision of Danish language courses for foreign students By Universities Denmark (2003): Universities must offer subject related language learning (e.g. of terminology) building on the level achieved at ”Studieprøven” [language admission test](my translation) Also recommended by Universities Denmark (2001)

5   Danish L2 for social or academic purposes? DMA Research (2005): Kortlægning af universiteternes danskkurser for udenlandske studerende [survey on university courses in Danish for foreign students] 9 out of 12 universities run courses in Danish L2 Organized for exchange students, but with some openings for full degree students No focus on students with minority background Primarily a social purpose (shopping, living, sports, media etc.) Only 2 universities offer courses with an academic content

6   Terminology on student background ” Danish students” = Students with Danish L1 and a Danish entrance exam ”Minority/bilingual students” = Students with Danish L2 and a Danish entrance exam ”Nordic students” = Students with Danish L2, a Scandinavian L1 and a Nordic entrance exam ”Full degree international/foreign students” = Students with Danish L1 or L2 and a non-Nordic, non-Danish entrance exam ”Exchange students”

7   Pilot project on Danish L2 (”Education at its Best”, Univ. of Copenhagen 2011) Pharmaceutical Faculty: Language support during a specific writing assignment The course supported by teaching and counseling staff Subject-specific [lægemiddelformulering = describing medicaments] The course was advertised during a lecture and 30 ”minority” students registered immediately afterwards 18 were given the course, 16 of these participated actively and evaluated the course positively, mainly because they felt that language sensitive approach to the subject specific content improved their learning of this

8   Pilot project on Danish L2 Dept. Of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies: Language support related to individual writing assignments The course supported by teaching and counseling staff Not subject-specific, but general humanities based The course was advertised as an extra opportunity in a news letter and students made their own registration Fairly weak attendance (8 out of 15), positive evaluation, mixed group (”minority” and ”full degree foreign students”)

9   Interviews following up on pilot project Students are hesitant/unwilling to volunteer for interviews In general or in this specific case? (cf. A different picture after academic English courses, Univesitetsavisen 2012) Students showing up for interviews are full degree international students, not students with minority background Uncertain about ”Danish” norms for academic writing Difficult to get into study groups Noone to consult about language issues No language feedback on exam papers Unwilling to receive special treatment

10   Anne Leth Pedersen (2006: 52, my transl.) What is the main difference between you as bi-cultural and a mono-cultural Dane in the university environment? There is no real difference! Aren´t you linguistically handicapped? Oh yeah, there is a huge difference. I meant that there is no social difference. [I have] a different past than the other students. You feel hampered because you don´t have the same schooling. You have to learn to be patient. You have to excuse that you sometimes postpone exams. Sometimes you feel that you are left to your own devices.

11   Anne Leth Pedersen (2006: 53, my transl.) What does it mean to be kept back in your study by your language? It means that you do not get everything out of a lecture. Language used for lectures differs from the language spoken in the street. But it also means that you have problems getting a study group. And that complicates everything. If you are busy with tasks/problems, you dare not go to the blackboard. The problem is how to communicate. Bilingual students are more passive. And then you feel tempted to stay at home and become less dedicated.

12   Anne Leth Pedersen (2006: 54, my transl.) I have been impeded in my studies in a way which meant that I had to work harder. Originally I said no to that question [about feeling kept back because of my Danish] because you cannot tell from the outside. It either means having to make a greater effort or getting a poorer result. If you work hard, you will get along. If you don´t, you will not make it. You cannot do like the Danes and manage with a little bluff. My boyfriend can talk his way out of everything. He studies for a week, and then he plays a little up to the teachers and does well because of his language confidence

13   Audur Hauksdottir: Survey among Icelandic students at Danish universities (in press) The most serious language problems (N= 136 and N= 158) Understand spoken Danish*44,8%38,0% To speak Danish35,3%45,6% Danish pronunciation27,2%32,3% Vocabulary16,2%17,1% Writing in Danish11,8% 8,9% Grammar 3,7% 7,0% * Understanding spoken Danish in lectures easier than in dialogues

14   Report from Universities Denmark 2001 Based on interviews with foreign students and student advisers Language problems leading to learning problems More difficult to follow lectures as well as classroom teaching Marginalized in group work Hesitant to ask questions and take part in dialogue Lack of social prestige connected to ”broken Danish” Avoiding the stigma of special treatment: No contact to student advisers about language issues Choosing English instead of Danish Language issues are tabooed and silenced

15   Natural development of academic Danish? Natural approaches in the classroom claim to allow individual learning processes to take place, but evaluate the productions against selected fixed norms. In shifting the focus from product to process, they naturalize the ”target language” and locate the process internally in the individual. By ”biologizing” language development, they place responsibility for what is perceived as ”success/failure” firmly within the student (Bourne 1988) (cf. Daryai-Hansen 2010, Holmen 2011)

16   Hiba El-Mohbi (2002): ”I will only appear stupid ” As bilingual students we have a hard time in class, especially in Danish. E.g. when the teacher talks about a ”wellknown” Danish writer as common knowledge … Many are afraid to ask. They think: ”I will only appear stupid. I have just started getting along with the other students and the teacher and a stupid question will ruin that”

17   El-Mohbi Disscussions in class and in groups can really scare off bilingual students like us. In classes where the students´ level of expressing themselves is high, most bilingual students remain completely silent under discussions … I think that the teacher should interfere. But how? I find it very important that the teacher pays attention to language differences, that the teacher supports the students instead of only making negative comments.

18   Learning a full language or getting a voice? In spite of strong and widespread beliefs to the contrary, people never learn ”a language”. They always learn specific and specialized bits of language, sufficient to grant them voice – ”the capacity to make themselves understood by others” … People´s repertoires, consequently, can be seen as organized (’ordered’) complex of semiotic traces of power: the semiotic resources they gathered in the course of their life are things they needed in order to be seen by others as a ”normal”, understandable social being (Blommaert & Velghe, in press)

19   References Blommaert, J. & F. Velghe (in press), Learning a supervernacular. Textspeak in a South African township. In Creese & Blackledge (eds.), Heteroglossia as practice and pedagogy. New York Springer Bourne, J. (1988), ”Natural acquisition” and ”a masked pedagogy”. Applied Linguistics 9, 1, Danish Universities [Rektorkollegiet] (2001), Integration af fremmedsprogede studerende på de lange videregående uddannelser Danish Universities (2003), Sprogpolitik på de danske universiteter. Rapport med anbefalinger Daryai-Hansen, P. (2010), Begegnungen mit fremden Sprachen. Sprachliche Hierarchien im sprachenpolitischen Diskurs im Dänemark und Deutschland der Gegenwart. Ph.d.-afhandling, Roskilde Universitet DMA Research (2005), Kortlægning af universiteternes danskkurser for udenlandske studerende El-Mohbi, Hiba (2002), ”Jeg virker nok bare dum”. Dansknoter 1, Dansklærerforeningen

20   Hauksdottir, Audur (in press), Dansk som nøglen til uddannelse (arbejdstitel). Københavnerstudier i tosprogethed Holmen, Anne (2011), Den gode gartner og ukrudtet. Om minoritetselever i grundskolens danskfag. In Haas et al. Ret til dansk. Uddannelse, sprog og kulturarv , Aarhus Universitetsforlag OECD (2004), Review of National Policies of Education. University Education in Denmark. Examiners´ Report Pedersen, Anne Leth (2006), Studieeffektivitet og sproglige kompetencer. Aarhus Universitet. Rådgivnings- og støttecentret ”Education at its Best” 2011 http/uddannelsessatsning.ku.dk/educationatitsbest/ Universitetsavisen, april 2012, 14-15: ”Ernæring på engelsk er en stor mundfuld”.


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