Almost everyone has experience learning a foreign language—from school, through a course, or going abroad--with varying degrees of success, but almost never with as little effort as learning one’s first language. What are the challenges of learning a foreign language? How can teachers best facilitate this learning process? And what does that mean for the design of a teacher training programme? Those are questions the Foreign Language Education Research Group (Lectoraat MVT) is examining.
Pedagogy is the art of teaching. It offers insight into the ways in which students, young or old, make the knowledge and skills of their subject area their own and how a teacher can best support and organise this. Subject-specific pedagogical research is being conducted on how foreign language acquisition learning develops and how teachers can: effectively facilitate this process, offer guidance and structure, and evaluate which instructional materials to use.
Mastery of foreign language plays an important role in internationally-oriented societies and in the intercultural and communicative development of students. The Foreign Language Education Research Group focuses in particular on the subject-specific pedagogies of English, German, French and Spanish. The group aims to make a contribution to a sustainable and tangible improvement in foreign language teaching practice through development of and in coordination with the subject-specific pedagogical curricula within the foreign language teacher education programmes. By taking inventory of and further developing the curriculum within the teacher education programme at the University of Applied Sciences Utrecht (Institute Archimedes) a link will be made:
- among the foreign language teacher education programmes;
- between the subject-specific pedagogical component and the language skills, content, research and profession components;
- between the teacher education programme and the internship schools; and
- with the teacher education programme at Utrecht University and other applied science institutions and universities.
Subject-specific pedagogy forms an essential part of the teacher education programme: it builds the bridge between content knowledge, knowledge of subject-specific learning processes, knowledge of school subject curriculum and the capabilities of a teacher in practice. In many cases, however, it appears that the connection between the subject-pedagogical component of the teacher education curriculum and internship school practice remains limited. Through design, evaluation and effect research, this research group contributes to an improvement of this connection, and thereby to the quality and the future of language education in all sectors. In 2017-2018, the research group is working on the development, implementation, validation and evaluation of an observation instrument for foreign language pedagogy, focused on the link between the principles of the teacher education programme and actual teaching practice.