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Multiilingualism and Language Learning in School
Halmstad University, School of Education, Humanities and Social Science.
2015 (English)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

This thesis examines how students, aged 13-15, with a mother tongue other than Swedish,

experience learning English in school. This is important since there is an increasing number of

bilinguals and multilinguals learning English in schools in Sweden and around the world.

Several concepts are presented and discussed that have been argued to pose barriers to

bilingual and multilingual language learning. Semi-structured interviews were undertaken

with ten students, aged between 13 and 15. The empirical material shows that bilingual and

multilingual students usually refer to Swedish, even when their mother-tongue may be a better

reference for learning English. This is because teachers commonly refer to Swedish grammar

rules in attempting to clarify English grammar rules and the textbooks used to support the

learning process are in Swedish. This may pose problems for the learning process, particularly

for students who are not proficient in Swedish. The study also highlights the importance of

diagnosing bilingual students' L1 and L2 on a regular basis to see when the optimum time is

to be exposed to English language learning rather than the current approach of immersing

them in English learning without considering the other language learning processes the

student may be engaged in. The study also found that students commonly perceived their

English to be proficient even though they had poor grades. One possible reason for this is that

they manage well in their day-to-day engagement with computer games, films and social

media while formal English learning, including aspects such as grammar and writing, require

a different type of application. Finally, the thesis describes how important high metalinguistic

awareness is for language learning and it is suggested that additional research focuses on how

this conceptual understanding can be translated in practitioner tools useful for teachers.

Schools need to create an environment that values and supports multilingual students’

language competence and an early national diagnostic test would help to support those


Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
multilingualism, bilingualism, second language, language barriers, metalinguistic
National Category
Languages and Literature
URN: urn:nbn:se:hh:diva-30022OAI: diva2:882520
Subject / course
Available from: 2015-12-15 Created: 2015-12-15 Last updated: 2015-12-15Bibliographically approved

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