Plenarfilm: Prof. Kris Van den Branden (youtube)

How would you like your spaghetti? The long and winding roads of second and foreign language learning

Prof. Kris Van den Branden

Catholic University of Leuven

Kris Van den Branden
Kris Van den Branden

Teachers, researchers and policy makers tend to conceive of second and foreign language acquisition in linear terms: in the process of acquiring a new language, learners gradually build up language competence in a linear and predictable fashion. Consecutive stages of language competence can be captured and described in tightly structured frameworks, which then provide the basis for curriculum design, classroom activity and language assessment.

In my presentation I will draw on a number of recent Ph.D studies which were carried out in Flanders to explore whether the above-mentioned claims are warranted. I will explore to which extent the gradual progress individual language learners make corresponds in any way with the above-mentioned linear picture, and discuss a number of variables that impact upon individual processes of language acquisition, among which the learner’s motivation, needs and prior knowledge, the cognitive and emotional support offered by the learning environment, the teacher’s expectations, and the learner’s age and socio-economic background.

In my talk, I will also reflect on the implications of the reported research findings for the practice of second and foreign language education. And while doing all that, I am bound to make a number of references to different types of pasta…