The overall purpose of the present project is to gain new insights into how immigrants with a non-academic background develop their communicative abilities in their Norwegian second language (L2). The current knowledge base on adult L2 learning is restricted to the study of well-educated learners. There is a lack of knowledge on how learners with a non-academic background learn additional languages as adults. Hence, the ALAN project will expand empirical basis for research in the field. As good command of the majority language is regarded as critical for reducing inequalities in terms of access to education, employment, societal acceptance and social contact, analysing non-academic samples is crucial. Furthermore, this is particularly important considering that learners with a non-academic background represents the largest population of participants in the official language training program.
This project will investigate the early language development of a hitherto understudied group of adult language learners – immigrants with a non-academic background. As the research on how adults learn new languages has been carried out on university students or learners with at least an intermediate or a high level of compulsory education (e.g., Andringa & Godfroid, 2019; Ortega, 2019; Young-Scholten, 2013) and as educational attainment has not been controlled for in previous studies (Van de Craats et al., 2006), there is a gap in empirical research. This project will contribute to bridging the current gap, with its explicit aim to investigate the language development of immigrants with a non-academic background (i.e., ten years of schooling or less). This is particularly important because European and Norwegian statistics reveal that host-country language command is positively correlated with educational background (EU-OECD, 2016; Ministry of Education and Research, 2019; OECD, 2019) and because immigrants who have arrived in Europe over the past 10 years are less likely to be educated beyond the secondary level (EU-OECD, 2016).
To gain insights into how this group of learners achieves communicative abilities in an additional language, we will employ an integrated approach and mixed methods to track the learners’ grammatical, lexical and pragmatic development during the first year of formal tuition in Norwegian. The learners will be recruited from learning centres located in two different dialect areas (Western Norwegian and Eastern Norwegian) for the possibility to account for the effects of the target-language variation that characterises the Norwegian speech community.
The collected oral data will be made available to students, teachers and researchers by the compilation of a new searchable online corpus, Munnleg andrespråkskorpus (MASK), accessible through the Norwegian part of the CLARIN European Research Infrastructure Consortium (ERIC).