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Paving the way for adolescent L2 learners: Language learning through meaningful activities inside AND outside the school?

By Goedele Vandommele


For second language (L2) learners, proficiency in the language of schooling is a prerequisite for educational success. This is particularly challenging for recently-arrived L2 learners attending special newcomer classes, who lack opportunities for authentic spoken or written communication with native speakers. Well-designed out-of-school programs, with the potential for, for instance, authentic communication, autonomy and collaboration, might serve to increase newcomers' opportunities for practice in the L2. Moreover, outside-school environments might offer additional language learning potential. In this dissertation, we have investigated in five experimental studies if and how inside-school and out-of-school settings may promote newcomers’ L2 writing and speaking skills. To this end, we set up two interventions in which newcomers participated in meaning-activities and multimodal composition. On the one hand, we examined the language development and the learning potential that resulted from participation in the project in a task-based classroom setting, in which teachers assisted the language learners to reach their goals. On the other hand, we examined the language development and the learning potential that resulted from participation in the project in an outside-school leisure time environment. Studies 1, 2 and 3 compared the differential effects of both interventions on L2 development. In particular, the studies examined the impact on newcomers' communicative effectiveness, complexity, accuracy and fluency in speaking and writing in Dutch as an L2. Study 1 (N=83) showed stronger speaking development between pretest and posttest for learners in both intervention groups compared to a control group. In particular, the in-school group outperformed the control group and the outside-school group on several measures (communicative effectiveness, complexity, lexical diversity). The outside-school group outperformed the control group and the in-school group regarding fluency. The second study (N=56) measured L2 speaking development longitudinally on a separate, more informal test by way of latent growth modelling instead of by pre/posttest-design. Study 2 confirmed the first study's findings for more informal speaking development: Again, learners in the in-school setting showed greater development than those in the out-of-school setting, on several measures except for one fluency measure. Study 3 (N=84) showed greater L2 writing development for learners in both intervention groups compared to those in a control group, on multiple measures. However, there were no significant differences in L2 writing development between the intervention groups. Study 4 and 5 assessed the extent to which the inside- and outside-school environments were beneficial for L2 acquisition. Study 4 showed that, the teachers' (N=4) practices were frequently supportive of language learning and fairly consistent in this support. Implementation of a task-based approach was particularly successful for core principles which relate to ‘Focus on Meaning’, ‘Focus on Form’ and ‘Provide Input and Opportunities for Output’. The final study, Study 5, investigated the ways in which L2 acquisition was supported by the outside-school coaches (N=9). The findings showed that, on the whole, the coaches focused on meaning and provided input and opportunities for producing output. However, overall, the coaches rarely supported the supplementary language learning potential of the environment. Moreover, their support was inconsistent over different activities during the intervention. All in all, the findings indicate that the interventions in both settings could promote beginner L2 learners' language acquisition (writing development in particular) but that an inside-school environment may be better suited to promote speaking skills, with the exception of fluency. To promote fluency, an outside-school environment may be more suitable. Most probably, the positive gains in both settings are the result of the fact that both settings provided input and opportunities to produce output in the target language, while working towards a motivating, goal-oriented project. The differences between the settings may be a result of the unique ways in which each setting promotes language learning: the teachers inside schools typically combine a focus on meaning and focus on form, and the coaches in an outside-school environment typically focusing on meaning. Furthermore, the consistent implementation of the teachers and the inconsistent support of the coaches for the language potential of their respective environment, may have played a role in the interventions’ differential effects on speaking development.CONTENTS DANKWOORD III SUMMARY V 1 INTRODUCTION 1 Challenges for adolescent newcomers 3 Language Learning across Different Settings 4 Promoting Inside-School Language Development 6 Promoting Outside-School Language Development 7 Aim and Scope 9 Outlook on the Following Chapters 10 References 12 1 DEVELOPING SPEAKING SKILLS IN INSIDE-SCHOOL AND OUTSIDE -SCHOOL SETTINGS 17 Abstract 17 1.1 Introduction 18 1.2 The Complex Skill of Speaking 18 1.3 Limitations in (Quasi-)Experimental Research on Developing Speaking Proficiency 23 1.4 Research Questions and Hypotheses 24 1.5 Method 25 1.6 Analysis 33 1.7 Results 35 1.8 Discussion 41 1.9 Conclusion 45 1.10 References 46 2 ASSESSING THE DEVELOPMENT OF L2 SPEAKING SKILLS IN INSIDE-SCHOOL AND OUTSIDE-SCHOOL SETTINGS THROUGH GROWTH MODELING 53 Abstract 53 2.1 The Complex Skill of Speaking 54 2.2 Research Question 62 2.3 Method 63 2.4 Analysis 70 2.5 Results 72 2.6 Discussion 76 2.7 Conclusion 80 2.8 References 82 Appendix 2 1: Casual Talk Interview 88 3 DEVELOPING L2 WRITING SKILLS THROUGH MULTIMODAL COMPOSITION, INSIDE OR OUTSIDE OF SCHOOL? 89 Abstract 89 3.1 Introduction 90 3.2 The Complex Skill of L2 Writing 91 3.3 Multimodal Writing 92 3.4 Advantages of Multimodal writing 93 3.5 Multimodal Writing Inside the School 95 3.6 Issues on Multimodal Writing in the Classroom 96 3.7 Research Questions 96 3.8 Method 97 3.9 Analysis 105 3.10 Results 107 3.11 Discussion 113 3.12 Conclusion and Suggestions for Further Research 116 3.13 References 117 Appendix 3 1: Input for the Narrative Task 125 Appendix 3 2: The persuasive task 126 4 TASK-BASED LANGUAGE TEACHING, HOW TASK-BASED IS IT REALLY? 127 Abstract 127 4.1 Introduction 127 4.2 Implementing TBLT 128 4.3 Method 132 4.4 Results 142 4.5 Discussion 153 4.6 Conclusion and Suggestions for Further research 156 4.7 References 158 Appendix 4 1: Overview of the Selected tasks 161 Appendix 4 2: Teacher’s manual provided for ‘Contrasts in Memory’ 162 Appendix 4 3: Preliminary Products that were developed during the task ‘Contrasts in Memory’ 164 Appendix 4 4: Final Products that were developed during the task ‘Contrasts in Memory’ 165 5 SUPPORTING LANGUAGE LEARNING THROUGH A COLLABORATIVE PROJECT IN A SETTING OUTSIDE SCHOOL 167 Abstract 167 5.1 Introduction 168 5.2 Opportunities for Language Learning outside the School 169 5.3 Outside-school Collaborative Projects as Spaces for Language Learning 170 5.4 Reinforcing the Opportunities for Language Learning of Outside-school Collaborative Projects 173 5.5 Method 174 5.6 Results 180 5.7 References 194 6 CONCLUSION 197 6.1 Methodological Challenges 198 6.2 An Overview of the Main Findings 200 6.3 Do Teachers/Coaches Support the Language Learning Opportunities of their Environments? 207 6.4 Inside AND Outside school? 208 6.5 Inside OR Outside School? 214 6.6 Limitations and Suggestions for Further Research 221 6.7 Practical Implications 223 6.8 To Conclude … 225 6.9 References 226nrpages: 229status: publishe

Year: 2016
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Provided by: Lirias
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