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Working towards theory : The accelerated ab initio language learning experience in Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Southampton Julia Kelly.

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Presentation on theme: "Working towards theory : The accelerated ab initio language learning experience in Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Southampton Julia Kelly."— Presentation transcript:

1 Working towards theory : The accelerated ab initio language learning experience in Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Southampton Julia Kelly 5 July 2012

2 2 Overview –Origins of idea –Context: accelerated Spanish and Portuguese at UoS –Initial and long term aims –Methodology –Findings –Next steps

3 Context Accelerated Spanish and Portuguese at the University of Southampton

4 4 Typical progression Progression of Spanish Accelerated Students STAGE 7CEF C2 Final yearSTAGE 6CEF C1/C2 Year AbroadSTAGE 5CEF C1 Year 2 STAGE 4CEF B2/C1 STAGE 3CEF B2 Year 1 STAGE 2CEF B1 STAGE 1CEF A1/A2

5 5 Typical progression Progression of Portuguese Accelerated Students STAGE 7CEF C2 Final yearSTAGE 6CEF C1/C2 Year AbroadSTAGE 5CEF C1 Year 2STAGE 4CEF B2/C1 Year 1 STAGE 3CEF B2 STAGE 2CEF B1 STAGE 1CEF A1/A2

6 Outline of research The original idea

7 7 Starting point – facts Increasing numbers taking ab initio languages courses as part of their degree Students are required to demonstrate prior knowledge/experience –A or B at A level or at least a GCSE in another language –or equivalent

8 8 Assumptions Students will be able to achieve an equivalent of AS/A level in Spanish or Portuguese in a year because –They will be ‘passionate’ about learning new languages –They will be able to use their existing knowledge to succeed in their chosen ab initio language –They will be able to do all this whilst coping with demands of university life

9 Initial and long term aims

10 10 Initial aims To find evidence for the assumption that students can achieve AS/A level in a year because of previous language knowledge To ascertain how students used their existing knowledge/language learning skills To produce a ‘study skills’ resource for new students based on what current students had identified as being successful

11 11 To bridge the theory gap –Address the absence of existent theory covering the process of ab initio accelerated language study at HE level –To ascertain the nature of particular teaching and learning needs of ab initio accelerated language students Long term aim

12 Methodology

13 13 Pilot focus group Invited students from accelerated Portuguese and Spanish courses Video and audio recorded focus groups Prepared questions in advance about –What they had done before they arrived at UoS –Where they saw themselves in relation to course outcomes –What they did to achieve outcomes

14 14 Second phase focus groups Adopted a more guided approach, using a variety of methods to elicit responses –Q and A –Sentence completion –Likert scale –Prompts

15 Research findings

16 16 Research findings Being able to take up a language at university is a strong motivating factor “One of the reasons I came here was because you can pick up a language from scratch without even having done it at GCSE….because I could start a language from scratch, it added a bit more excitement”

17 17 Research findings Students see their accelerated language as an important part of their whole degree “…you don’t really want to finish at like Stage 3 or something in a language because if you’re leaving with fluency in one or two other languages, you don’t want to feel like you can still only have phrasebook Portuguese or Spanish”

18 18 Research findings Students do find their other foreign languages an advantage “Because you’ve learnt languages before, it’s nowhere as hard to pick it up quickly”

19 Research findings There are drawbacks “When I go into my Spanish I’m kind of thinking of French structures and a lot of my Spanish ends up looking like a French sentence would, which is not all the time correct.” 19

20 20 Research findings Students use a range of learning strategies –Often based on what has worked for them in the past –New methods to suit different learning approach

21 21 Research findings Students are very aware that a different approach from GCSE/A level is required “I think I was aware this is much more of a descriptive approach here at university rather than GCSE and A Level was prescriptive. It tells you how you have to do this and this but I think here we’re being encouraged to discover the Portuguese that we want to speak …we’ve been given quite a broad scope”

22 Research findings Students perceive their accelerated courses as being ‘different’ from their other language courses “I think if it wasn’t accelerated as well it’d be easier to let the other languages dominate, because you can say so much more in them” 22

23 23 Research findings Motivation needs to be seen in context of whole degree “I think it’s easier to be motivated though with an accelerated course because I think when you are just doing one stage it can get a bit tedious sometimes…”

24 24 Research findings Students do find the challenge aids their motivation “I think to start with you have to make sure you keep up-to-date, because with an accelerated course you move so fast that you just have to keep on top of everything” “You have to put in a lot of effort and a lot of work but it does really pay off. It’s really rewarding in the end” –In that case, how far can we realistically push them?

25 Next steps…

26 26 Interactive handbook –Available online prior to arrival/taking course –Based on the Focus Group data Mind the gap! –Filling the theory gap

27 Questions?


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