Follow-up project: MEG-SKoRe II - Multilingualism as a linguistic and cognitive resource in English language acquisition in primary school

Introduction

The MEG-SKoRe I study found that individual factors such as L1 vocabulary size and a high degree of language awareness correlate positively with achievement in foreign language learning. Against this background, MEG-SKoRe II aims to investigate (a) how these positive aspects of multilingualism can be used in English language teaching in primary school and (b) whether employing multilingual teaching materials and methods leads to improvement in English skills, higher student participation and more peer-to-peer interaction between multilingual and German monolingual students. Based on the widely used textbook, Playway (Becker, Gerngross, & Puchta, 2013), we will develop learning materials and method in which metalinguistic awareness will be targeted and promoted. For instance, we will compare and contrast the students’ heritage languages (including German) with English or conduct exercises to improve students’ phonological awareness. The learning materials and methods will be put into practice in an intervention study and will be assessed using the research tools from MEG-SKoRe I.

What is investigated?

In a teaching intervention study, 4th grade students will be taught in experimental and control groups for six months. In the experimental group, the English lessons will explicitly refer to the students’ heritage languages and employ metalinguistic awareness tasks; in the control group, there will be regular English lessons without reference to the students’ multilingual backgrounds. The participants’ English skills as well as their L1 and L2 skills will be assessed at three intervals: before and after the teaching intervention and then again at the end of the school year. Furthermore, we will collect data on students’ metalinguistic awareness and cognitive-social control factors. Additionally, we will examine specific grammatical phenomena before and after two units in order to measure the short-term impacts of the teaching intervention. Next to these linguistic skills, we will observe student participation in class and collect data on the students’ views on multilingual English language teaching.

Expected outcomes
Implications for educational practice

Using objective performance measures, this project explores the potential of multilingual foreign language teaching. It thus contributes to the development of multilingual foreign language teaching by providing teaching handbooks, methods and materials for the English language classroom. Additionally, we will develop and host workshops for teachers that show how the material can be implemented in English lessons in primary school. The content of these workshops will be based on the project results. These workshops will enable teachers to integrate multilingual tasks in their English lessons. The materials and methods used in the intervention will be made available for teacher workshops, and they will be hosted on the project website www.megskore.de and on www.playway.de. This way, teachers who are interested in the materials will also be able to access them for free.