Localized studies in language and sociolinguistic representation

Háskóli Íslands

Kennslufræði erlendra tungumála

Charlotte Eliza Wolff

Sense of belonging and self-efficacy in adult learners of English: Considering the role of the learning experience as an opportunity for English teachers

Alice Demurtas, meistaranemi, HUG HÍ og Charlotte Eliza Wolff, lektor, MVS HÍ

This research project focused on the sense of self-efficacy in adult learners of English and how it is affected by positive and negative learning experiences over time. The presentation provides a detailed exploration of the relationship between positive and negative affect in terms of students’ willingness to practice and engage with the target language. Eight participants, all living in Iceland and with varied language backgrounds from across Europe, completed an online questionnaire encouraging them to focus on their English learning experiences. Their responses were analysed thematically and the results identified how their strong sense of belonging to a community of peers was the primary factor positively influencing both learning experiences and metacognitive beliefs. Findings showed that when teachers encourage students to frequently engage with the target language and explore it without fear, students will in turn acquire stronger self-efficacy beliefs, knowing they have all the tools to make calculated decisions to steer their learning process towards success. Finally, the results also provide a useful set of suggestions and strategies that educators can use to facilitate their students’ learning process and to encourage the development of autonomous learning practices.

 

“Forced to find new paths”: Facilitating the flipped classroom approach in the upper secondary school English classroom

Geir Finnsson, meistaranemi, HUG HÍ

Leiðbeinandi: Charlotte Eliza Wolff, lektor, MVS HÍ

The flipped classroom approach has been shown to be viable for teaching English as a foreign language (EFL) in upper secondary schools. Studies cite a positive effect on student autonomy and overall performance when compared to traditional lecture-based approaches. Nonetheless, there are challenges involved in implementing such an approach, particularly because it relies heavily on information technology (IT). To further explore challenges, a design-based research (DBR) project involving a teacher survey and a flipped classroom intervention was designed to experiment with the flipped classroom approach in an Icelandic upper secondary schools. The intervention took place in an Business English course where students created a podcast-based assignment. The results indicated that students developed autonomy and took more responsibility for their learning process. Results also showed that facilitating the flipped classroom approach can be well-managed when conducted in incremental steps with a knowledgeable teacher. Furthermore, the approach has potential for becoming a time-saver for EFL teachers. Results from the teacher survey showed that EFL teachers are already experienced with IT in their teaching, particularly in response to conditions arising during the COVID-19 pandemic. Findings also showed that the flipped classroom approach offers a sensible and timely intervention for supporting EFL teaching in Icelandic upper secondary schools, as notable obstacles have, for the most part, been overcome by teachers.

 

“In the Shower, actually”: Using podcasts to support communicative competence in upper secondary school English

Daði þór Pálsson, master student, HUG HÍ og Guðný Ósk Laxdal, teacher, Flensborg

Leiðbeinandi: Charlotte Eliza Wolff, lektor, MVS HÍ

Existing research has already shown that Icelandic students tend to be more competent in terms of receptive rather than productive skills in English, and that students often overestimate their English language abilities. Prior research has also shown that Icelandic upper secondary schools may not be providing students with adequate opportunities to practice their oral production skills. A design-based research (DBR) project focusing on the potential of using student-created podcasts to support communicative competence for students in upper secondary English in Iceland was conducted in response to these issues. Teaching materials specifically targeting oral production and communicative competence were developed and tested in an upper secondary English course, and the utility of this educational intervention was thoroughly evaluated. The intervention involved both teacher-created and student-created podcasts. This study highlights key pedagogical theories and strategies used to design the intervention. Results include teacher opinions on the efficacy of the intervention, gathered through semi-structured interviews, and student feedback on the usability, gathered through an online survey. Findings were positive in both instances: teachers and students alike reported high satisfaction and numerous perceived benefits concerning the use of podcasts in the language learning process. Note: teaching materials and additional information on the podcast unit are publicly available to any teachers wishing to implement the unit in their upper secondary classrooms.

 

Cultural Diversity and Racial Representation in English Teaching Materials

María Skúladóttir, meistaranemi, MVS HÍ og Samuel Lefever, dósent, MVS HÍ

Schools in Iceland are becoming increasingly multicultural due to growing immigration in the country. This leads to questions about teaching materials and whether they contain representation of people of color (POC) and other types of diversity. Children are exposed to textbooks from an early age, so what they see in those books influences them, whether they are white or POC. As Iceland is becoming more multicultural, it is important that our students who fall into a minority group feel welcomed and represented in their schools. This presentation discusses findings from a study exploring cultural diversity and racial representation in English teaching materials in Iceland. Four textbooks and twelve videos approved by the Directorate of Education and typically used at lower-secondary level in Icelandic schools were analyzed. The findings showed that diversity was lacking, and white culture was in the forefront of the teaching material. Most of the viewpoints expressed in the materials were from a Western point of view. Representation of POC in the teaching material was considerably less then representation of white people, and the portrayal of POC was very different. People of color were typically portrayed as being non-mainstream, having difficulties, or experiencing prejudice. However, many of the teaching materials showed support for diversity and discussion of prejudice which are beneficial for both minority and mainstream students. Representation of racial and cultural diversity also gives students from the majority group a chance to understand other points of view and learn about systematic discrimination and prejudice.