Why did I start this blog?
I feel particularly lucky to have met so many passionate teachers and linguists in my career as a language teacher and a student of German and Linguistics. The effervescence in both fields has always taunted me and tempted me. As a student of Linguistics I was very keen to pursue a PhD in Second Language Acquisition, however, after doing my dissertation on the effects of feedback, I realised that I had much more to learn with regards to teaching languages. This reinforced my desire to teach children.
During my PGDE I realised that teaching MFL to children is a completely different ball game from my experience in ESOL to adults. The stark contrast between these two similar -yet opposing fields is really outstanding. Added to this culture shock I also had my linguist cap on, thus making me evaluate the teaching rationale observed at University, at school and of course my own.
If any of you out there have done CELTA and a PGDE/PGCE, you will most likely agree that despite the fact that both courses are designed to teach you to teach languages, they could not be more different from each other. Trying to incorporate the best of both courses together with my experience in Second Language Acquisition and linguistics has been like trying to apply restorative practise with pupils that aren’t simply ready to embark in an honest conversation. On the one hand, Linguistics has invaluable insights to the teaching and learning of ESOL, L1 and L2 Language Acquisition as well as Bilingualism. On the other, however, I have really struggled to find SLA articles that relate to the learning of MFL in a school setting. In fact, whilst writing my dissertation, I found enough authors that resonated with my own assumptions of the current situation between SLA and MFL.
For instance, Dörnyei (2009:19) argues that “linguists have traditionally had little to say about how languages are learnt” and that interdisciplinary work within the domain of psychology is necessary in order “to find a substantial body of research relevant on the acquisition and development of L2 competence”. Furthermore, Achard (2004:167) brings forward contrasting opinions in the design and implementation of SLA techniques; as he claims that linguists often regret that their expertise is overlooked in the design of methods and classroom activities. On the other hand, language teachers complain that the linguists’ expertise is:
“ […]simply of little help with practical classroom related matters because they do not find in current linguistic theories the elements which would help them in their daily activities by providing strong theoretical guidelines on which to base a teaching methodology” Archard (2004:167).
After years of reading similar opinions, I am determined to contribute to the development of an interdisciplinary approach that is driven by the pedagogy of MFL. I am confident that, this is the way in which the results of relevant research can be best implemented and evaluated.
I believe that this mammoth task can be broken down into micro-research that we can all take part in, perhaps eventually, some of us will want to either investigate it more formally or perhaps find linguists interested in collaborating with us. I am certainly interested in pursuing a PhD in this field, however, I feel that I have a long way before I can find an specific topic that I would like to research in depth.Read More →