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FINNUT-Forskning og innovasjon i utdanningssektoren

Closing the vocabulary gap in kindergarten: The Second Lanugage Learners Plus (SL+) intervention

Alternative title: SL+

Awarded: NOK 20.0 mill.

Children from minority backgrounds who are learning Norwegian as their second language (L2) often have a limited Norwegian vocabulary compared to their monolingual peers. A limited vocabulary may affect the development of reading and other basic skills that are crucial to their academic development, social functioning and employment. Despite various national investments in kindergarten, the vocabulary gap appears to persists over time. The aim of SL+ is to develop a vocabulary intervention for L2learners to increase the size and quality of their Norwegian vocabulary, gain insights into the children?s L2 learning processes and to strengthen kindergarten teachers? competence in how to effectively support the L2 vocabulary development of second-language learners. In addition to underlying theoretical perspectives, the digital intervention is based on the findings of a systematic review of international research, kindergarten teachers? experiences of stimulating language development in second-language learners, pilot studies and small-scale studies in kindergartens. After the intervention has been tested, revised and completed, a large randomized controlled trial will be conducted with second-language learners to determine both immediate and long term effects of the intervention.

Second language (L2) learners are at risk of poor L2 skills which is likely to be one of the reasons why an overrepresentation of L2 learners are entitled to special needs education services compared to their L1 peers and show higher dropout rates in upper secondary school (SSB, 2017). Despite political intention about early prevention and the fact that the number of L2 learners in Norwegian kindergartens have doubled over the last decade research based language interventions are lacking. This has substantial individual and societal consequences as it may influence learning, social functioning, mental health and occupational opportunities. To meet this challenge there is an urgent need for effective language interventions for young L2 learners, delivered in Norwegian kindergartens. The aim of the proposed project is to develop and examine the effect of the Second Languge Learners Plus intervention (SL+) which will be developed through this project as a 30 week digital vocabulary intervention program for L2 learners in Norwegian kindergarten. The objective of SL+ is to increase L2 vocabulary breadth and depth, and to obtain a transfer effect to other linguistic and social skills. A meta-analysis and an empirical randomised control trial will be used to investigate the learning processes, immediate and long-term effect of vocabulary intervention programs for L2 learners in preschool on vocabulary, general language skills and social communication. 4-5 year old L2 learners in Norwegian kindergartens will be invited to participate in the empirical intervention study, and they will be randomly allocated to either SL+ or business as usual. All children will be assessed with language and social communication measures before and after the intervention and at one year follow-up. In addition, online tracking of manual and dialogue activity during the intervention will be conducted in order to reveal knowledge about which aspects that can explain effects or absence of effects


FINNUT-Forskning og innovasjon i utdanningssektoren