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FINNUT-Forskning og innovasjon i utdanningssektoren

MULTIWRITE - Interactions Between First, Second and Third Languages

Alternative title: MULTIWRITE - sammenhenger mellom første-, andre- og tredjespråk

Awarded: NOK 12.0 mill.

Students in Norwegian schools write many texts in their language classes over the school year. How is the writing affected by the fact that they study up to three languages at the same time? How do the students’ language skills develop over time, and to what extent do teachers give feedback that fosters development in and across the language subjects? In the MULTIWRITE project, we want to find answers to these questions by collecting and analyzing all the texts that a sample of 90 students write in Norwegian, English and French/German/Spanish over the course of their first year of upper secondary school. This will yield a collection of around 1600 texts, which will be investigated in detail to find out how the students build up sentences and texts and how knowing several languages affects their writing. The analysis of teacher comments will give us new knowledge about what teachers think constitutes important feedback in and across the language subjects, but it will also show us whether the students actually use feedback when they write new texts. In the final phase of the project, we take the insights gained from the text analysis back to the teachers in upper secondary school. What do the teachers think about our findings, and how can they use them to improve teaching in and across the language subjects? We will work together with teachers from several upper secondary schools to try out different kinds of cross-curricular collaboration. This exploratory part of the project will result in a model showing how cross-curricular collaboration can contribute to better writing instruction in the language subjects.

In many countries, pupils learn three or more languages in school, but despite widespread acknowledgement that languages influence each other, they are normally taught separately and with no collaboration between language teachers. Consequently, there is a need for studies that chart the development of an individual’s languages simultaneously. We also need knowledge about how teachers can collaborate across language subjects to make language teaching more effective. MULTIWRITE will investigate the written production of Norwegian pupils in their first (Norwegian), second (English) and third languages (French/German/Spanish). We will collect the texts that 90 pupils write over the first year of upper secondary school to examine how pupils’ languages interact over time. The text corpus will enable quantitative and qualitative studies of the students’ development in and across languages, the teachers’ feedback practices, and the relation between the two. Results from these studies will be presented to language teachers, with whom we will develop and test a model for writing instruction across the language subjects. We will contribute to the existing knowledge on cross-linguistic influence, by adding a longitudinal dimension and investigating several languages simultaneously. Our project will also add knowledge about the extent to which teachers use the same terminology or focus on similar aspects of text quality. Finally, the way in which our project links investigations into language development and teaching answers the call for more cooperation between the fields of didactics and language acquisition. The findings from MULTIWRITE will be important for teachers, teacher training and educational policy development to ensure effective language teaching. They will enable teachers to give feedback in a way that fosters multilingual awareness and competence and will shed light on the ways in which language teaching should be coordinated across language subjects.

Funding scheme:

FINNUT-Forskning og innovasjon i utdanningssektoren