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Taking it to the Next Level: A Research on how to Improve Teaching English as a Foreign Language in Europe
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Theology, Department of Theology.
2014 (English)Independent thesis Advanced level (degree of Master (Two Years)), 20 credits / 30 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

The primary purpose of this study is to determine how teaching English in European schools can become more effective in order to improve the quality of foreign language education and the quantity of students learning it. Currently, only the minority (38%) of European citizens possesses the ability to speak English, while its importance continues to grow. In addition, it is argued that English can be a very useful instrument in the process of European unification. The current crisis laid bare that there is no underlying emotional bond between people from different member state countries and English has the potential to change that.

This research consists of a total of four parts with every part answering a different sub question. In the first part is discussed what the implications of the growing importance of English are on national identities and languages. The second part includes the factors which influence the process of second language acquisition. Subsequently, a case study is conducted which compares the organization of and participation in Dutch, Swedish, Spanish and Bulgarian primary and secondary education and also looks at the teachers and teaching processes. Finally, in the fourth part numbers are presented and analyzed on whether or not EU member state countries are attaining the Barcelona objectives: mother tongue plus two.

The main conclusions of all these parts are that a national identity and a possible European identity are able to co-exist instead of replace the other. Similarly, national languages are very robust and will never dissolve into new intermediate idioms. The difference between the percentages of English speakers within Europe cannot merely be explained by education. There are also important linguistic and societal factors influencing second language acquisition. Only a few countries are attaining the Barcelona objectives so far, but there have been reforms in many states which show that they are making an effort. The case study showed that there is still a lot of room for improvement in all four countries when it comes to teaching foreign languages in primary and secondary education.

The conclusion lists twelve recommendations on how to do this. For example, it is advised to lower the age of compulsory language learning to the age of 5, to exclusively use the language of instruction in the classroom, to expose students to the target language outside of school and to offer more programs and courses taught in English in universities.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. , 108 p.
Keyword [en]
Education, Foreign Language, English, European Identity, Barcelona Objectives
National Category
Educational Sciences
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-230215OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-230215DiVA: diva2:739262
Subject / course
Educational program
Master Programme in Euroculture
Available from: 2014-08-29 Created: 2014-08-20 Last updated: 2014-08-29Bibliographically approved

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