In the more than 25 years of researching on English from an applied linguistic perspective I have looked into language policy concerns, stakeholder views and perceptions, as well as classroom discourse, and all of this with regard to English (and other languages) in different types of education. My main interest for the last years has been on English-medium education in business and technically oriented education at the upper secondary and tertiary levels, combining the presently striving research areas of ELF (English used as a lingua franca) and CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning) or ICLHE (Integrating Content and Language in Higher Education).
This project, which combines researchers from Austria, Britain, Italy, Finland, Germany and Spain ??, is concerned with the possibilities and challenges of offering CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning) education to all learners, irrespective of their socioeconomic status, educational background, or achievement level. By focussing on inclusive CLIL settings catering for all of their diverse learners, the first aim is to gain empirical information on teacher training needs, core difficulties that need to be addressed and good practices that can be learned from. On the basis of such research-based insights, project based teaching activities will then be designed to cater to diversity in CLIL, which will, finally, feed into teacher training modules. Overall, the project pursues the overarching intention to contribute to making CLIL accessible to all learners.
Officially starting on May 1st, 2018, this research platform investigates the mediatised lifeworlds of young people from the vantage point of true interdisciplinary research, combining eleven researchers based at four different faculties of the University of Vienna. We focus on the narratives that young people use to construct identities, form social connections, and appropriate knowledge and skills. Additionally, we have a strong mission to support young researchers' projects.
This educational linguistics project (2015-2016) deals with CLIL in HTLs (= Höhere Technische Lehranstalten, i.e. upper secondary colleges leading to university-entrance qualifications combined with professional training in a range of technical, industrial or craft specialisations) and aims to offer an evaluation of the implementations of the new curricular requirements for English-medium teaching, which specify that at least 72 CLIL lessons must take place for all HTL students in each of the last three school years. The first and smaller part of the project will develop themes and questions on CLIL teaching and learning that will later be used for a a quality assessment survey involving HTL management, teachers and students across Austria (part of a different project). In view of the fact that educational innovations can best be analysed ‘at the coal-face’, the main part of the project focuses on “CLIL in action”. Therefore, CLIL lessons will form the basis for investigating the ways in which the curricular CLIL requirements are put into practice across subjects, teachers and schools. More precisely, CLIL lessons will be audio and video recorded in various technical subjects and sites. In addition, the participants’ emic perspectives will be elicited in (reflective) interviews. Guided by research interests such as students’ and teachers’ (trans)languaging of classroom practices, students’ subject-specific language use, and the didactic and discursive steps taken by teachers in support of content and language development, the data base will be analysed and interpreted as regards successful CLIL practices for Austrian HTLs.
INTER-L-ICA (The Internationalization of Higher Education in Bilingual Degrees, funded by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness), is a 3-year project that aims to investigate English-medium undergraduate economics studies at the Complutense University of Madrid from an interdisciplinary point of view (economics and applied linguistics). As an international member I am part of the sub-project that investigates spoken interaction in business courses taught through English. More particularly, our aims are the following:
(1) to identify the discursive characteristics and rhetorical conventions of various sub-disciplinary courses;
(2) to exchange knowledge between content teachers and researchers so as to raise explicit awareness among stakeholders regarding these disciplinary features, and;
(3) to aid content teachers in the design of materials and exams incorporating these disciplinary features
Given the increasing popularity of CLIL also at the upper secondary level, this project aims to provide insights into the potential of CLIL provision for disciplinary language learning. In a qualitative case study in a Viennese business vocational college (BHS) with an explicit CLIL policy, the research focus is on classroom discourse in the English-medium subject of European economics as co-constructed by grade 12 learners of diverse socio-cultural backgrounds. By combining a multimodal analysis of video-recorded group work sessions and student presentations with a qualitative content analysis of teaching materials and participant interviews, this project will result in an integrated analysis of the learners’ discursive practices and (disciplinary language) learning trajectories.
In collaboration with colleagues from Finland, Spain and the UK, my research aim within this project is to provide conceptual and theoretical grounding to a presently thriving area of applied linguistic research at the nexus of internationalisation in higher education and second/foreign language learning and use: the ‘Englishization’ of higher educational institutions and its implications for teaching and learning. ICLHE (Integrating Content and Language in Higher Education) practices are thriving in many countries world-wide, such as in Austria, where practically all universities have recently introduced English-medium programmes or expressed their intention to do so (for more information on my research interests within this project see my “Future research plans”).
The ConCLIL project focuses on second or foreign language-mediated education across all educational levels. Based on their previously undertaken classroom discourse-based CLIL studies, the international project members use their research stays at the Centre for Applied Language Studies, University of Jyväskylä to “work [in subgroups] towards a conceptual framework of CLIL by research-based problematization of its central notions language and content and especially that of their integration” (http://conclil.jyu.fi/).
This project was the first detailed nationwide study into CLIL practices at Austrian Colleges of Technology (HTLs). Its status quo report and analysis provided the ministry with recommendations, which resulted in the curriculum being amended so as to include the requirement of some CLIL teaching and learning for all students.
In my role as scientific advisor I could bring into the project my previous experience in undertaking sociolinguistically and ethnographically informed fieldwork and in analysing quantitative and qualitative data in a mixed methods approach.
The past seven years of organizing and coordinating this AILA Research Network have provided sufficient evidence for its relevance: While CLIL practices are highly contextualized and thus require situated investigative attention, there is an urgent need for exchange amongst researchers, teacher educators and teachers. By running the CLIL ReN, we have given numerous researchers an international platform for entering into exchange and co-operation, and will continue to do so in the coming years (see http://clil-ren.org/).
In this longitudinal applied linguistic study, I applied a triangulated ethnographic and discourse-pragmatic methodology in order to analyse the classroom interactive practices evolving in an international group of students. By also drawing on corpus analysis and qualitative content analysis the investigation yielded a “thick” description of the discursive developments and interactional patterns in English dynamically functioning as a lingua franca in an international classroom.
Motivated by curriculum development in the teacher education programme, I have been part of a team that has worked on an applied linguistic approach to ESP teacher education. By drawing on corpus analysis, genre analysis and language teaching pedagogy, we have developed a model of mediated corpus based genre analysis, which, in repeated application in teacher education, has proven itself as enlightening, supportive conceptual and methodological basis for ESP teachers pre- and in-service education. Given the dynamic nature of teacher education and the ongoing developments in corpus and genre analysis, this project cannot be considered finalised. Most recently, we have extended it in the direction of teaching materials development; our next steps will take us to enlarging it into the directions of the new media as well as of CLIL teacher education.
As primary international member of this project, I added my sociolinguistic and applied linguistic expertise to this primarily phonetic research project, which resulted in a mixed-methods spin-off study, undertaken with Marlene Verhoef, Nord-West University, focussing on the interplay of teacher language perceptions and assessment practices in relation to written and spoken English texts, produced by multilingual pupils at lower secondary level.
At the time of increased criticism regarding pronunciation training, motivated in part by the changing role of English in the late 20thc., we conducted a quantitative investigation into the attitudinal and motivational patterns amongst English major students at our department. By combining our different areas of expertise – pronunciation teaching / learning and language attitude research – we undertook one of the first such studies that combined native and non-native accents on an equal footing. Fitting to the applied linguistic nature of the project, I concluded the project by undertaking a follow-up study into the correlational effects on motivational patterns and student achievement.
Inspired by the then on-going socio-political paradigm shift in South Africa, this project investigated the complex socio-political roles of English in education. By joining internationally established quantitative with locally established qualitative research methods, I conducted an extended language attitude study amongst upper secondary learners of all ethnic groups in the Eastern Cape, which provided valuable insights into the complex sociolinguistic situation of the country as well as of a theoretical kind regards the construct of language attitudes