Social constructivist approaches to language learning in multilingual classrooms (2016)

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Sally Humphrey, Honglin Chen and Lucy Macnaught—Australian Catholic University and the University of Wollongong

This study, conducted in two phases, investigated professional learning practices in language education. In the first phase, the researchers conducted a comprehensive literature review and developed preliminary design principles for the professional learning of PYP teachers. The second phase of the study involved applying and testing the principles that emerged from the literature review. During this phase, the researchers examined teachers’ knowledge about language before professional learning, as well as any shifts that occurred as a result of their professional learning experience. A key finding from the literature review was that metalanguage (language about language), informed by systemic functional linguistics, supports students’ confidence in composing texts and facilitates their understanding of language use across curriculum contexts. Based on the case studies, researchers identified the importance of enacting ongoing “elbow to elbow” professional learning (professional learning involving close collaboration between the instructor and the student) within teaching and learning contexts, which are immediately relevant to teachers. Lastly, positive impacts were found in students’ language use after the professional learning intervention, particularly in writing for scientific inquiry.

Research summary (PDF, 108 KB)

Literature review (PDF, 1.41 MB)

Full report (PDF, 3.5 MB)