SMILE - Studies on Multilingualism in Language Education

Project Goals

News: ZDF live interview on second language acquisition in bilingual preschools

Fremdsprache in Kindergarten und Schule erlernen

The interdisciplinary longitudinal SMILE project investigates the role of internal and external factors in the acquisition of a second language (L2) by young monolingual and multilingual learners in different primary school settings. A particular interest is on the linguistic input provided in the classrooms. The psycholinguistic focus of the study is combined with an applied focus, which aims at identifying successful educational practice for L2 acquisition in heterogeneous classrooms.

Primary school programs in the project include regular foreign language classes starting in first grade or third grade, and bilingual classrooms. The latter comprise non-intensive CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning) programs with a small amount of bilingual units, as well as intensive immersion classroom, where 50%-75% of the curriculum are taught in the L2.

Variables the project focusses on include receptive lexical and grammatical L2 knowledge, individual cognitive skills such as working memory, phonological awareness and nonverbal intelligence, the learners' home language background, their socioeconomic background, the L2 contact duration and intensity of the L2 input, as well as the quality of the language input and the scaffolding techniques used by the L2 teachers (Couve et al. forthc., Kersten et al. 2010, Kersten 2014, Kersten & Rohde 2015, Maier et al. forthc., Rohde 2010, Steinlen et al. 2010, Weitz et al. 2010, Weitz 2015).

The data pool is collected in different L2 English school programs in Lower Saxony, Germany. Data elicitation is carried out at the end of the third and the fourth grade. Assessment instruments include standardised and non-standardised tests on receptive lexical and grammatical L1 and L2 knowledge and cognitive skills, parent questionnaires on the home and language background of the learners, an observation scheme for classroom L2 input as well as videography of classroom interaction. An additional case study will be carried out with two groups of learners with Turkish and Russian language background.

The project is funded by the Volkswagen Foundation's funding initiative Niedersächsisches Vorab, Lower Saxony, Germany.

Project Members

Head of Project
Prof. Dr. Kristin Kersten (English Department, Hildesheim University)

Project Partners
Prof. Dr. Werner Greve (Psychology Department)
Christoph Schüle (Department of Applied Educational Science)

Project Coordination
Marie Adler (English Department, Hildesheim University)
Katharina Ponto (English Department, Hildesheim University)

Project members
Cirsten Carlson (English Department, Hildesheim University)
Sebastian Hemme (English Department, Hildesheim University)
Joanna Hirst-Plein (English Department, Hildesheim University)

Former project members
Katharina Hagenfeld (English Department, Hildesheim University)

 

See also:
Certificate for Bilingual Teaching and Learning
Fachtagung Bilinguales Lehren und Lernen: Vertiefende Perspektiven II (20. Juni 2015)

Publications and Conference Papers

Adler, M., Trebits, A., Kersten, K. (2018). The role of cognitive variables, socioeconomic background and parenting style in the L2 acquisition of young learners. Paper at EUROSLA 2018, University of Münster.

Bruhn, A.-C-, Kersten, K. (2018). Operationalizing teacher input: Empirical evidence on the effect of input on the L2 acquisition of young learners. Paper at EUROSLA 2018, University of Münster.

 

Adler, M., Trebits, A., Kersten, K. (in prep.). "Cognitive variables and socioeconomic status in early second language acquisition."

Bruhn, A.-C., Böhnke, J., Ponto, K., Kersten, K. (in prep.) "Operationalizing foreign language teaching strategies in primary school classrooms."

Kersten, K., Greve, W. (accepted). "Investigating influencing factors of cognitive-linguistic development in SLA: Challenges for empirical research." To appear in T. Piske, A.K. Steinlen (eds.), Cognition and Second Language Acquisition. Tübingen: Narr. (peer reviewed)

Kersten, K., Greve, W., Ponto, K., Hagenfeld, K., Hemme, S., Schilder, L., Werkmeister, N. (forthc.) "Cognitive and other influencing factors in early second language acquisition." To appear in T. Piske, A.K. Steinlen (eds.), Cognition and Second Language Acquisition. Tübingen: Narr. (peer reviewed)

Ponto, K., Hemme, S., Kersten, K. (in prep.) "The development of receptive L2 lexical knowledge in primary school."

 

Adler, M., Trebits, A., Ponto, K., Kersten, K., Greve, W. (2017). "Cognitive variables and socioeconomic status in early second language acquisition." Bi-/Multilingualität - Sprachliches und literarisches Lehren und Lernen. 2. Kooperatives Symposium Universität Hildesheim – Freie Universität Bozen (Hildesheim University, 12.-13. Mai 2017)

Böhnke, J., Bruhn, A.-C. (2017). The Use of Scaffolding Techniques in Primary EFL Classrooms. Unpublished MA-Thesis. Hildesheim University.

Bruhn, A.-C. (2015). Developing an Observation Scheme – The Application and Operationalization of Selected Categories. Unpublished BA-Thesis. Hildesheim University.

Carlson, C. (2016). "Elementary school English teachers‘ language performance and SLA." Language in Focus Conference (University of Instanbul)

Carlson, C. (2017). "L2 English teachers’ language performance: Complexity, accuracy, fluency." Language in Focus Conference (Cyprus)

Carlson, C. (2017).  "L2 English teachers’ language performance: Complexity, accuracy, fluency, and second language acquisition." 11th International Symposium of Bilingualism (University of Limerick, Ireland)

Conradi, L. (2017). Parent-Child Interactions in Language Acquisition. Unpublished BA-Thesis. Hildesheim University.

Couve de Murville, S., Kersten, K., Maier, E., Ponto, K., Weitz, M. (2016). "Rezeptiver L2 Wortschatz in der Grundschule." In A.K. Steinlen, T. Piske (eds.), Wortschatzlernen in bilingualen Schulen und Kindertagesstätten. Frankfurt a.M.: Peter Lang, 85-121. (peer reviewed)

Hemme, S. (2015). "A comparison of primary school students in Germany learning English as a second language with students learning English as third language." EUROSLA (Aix-en-Provence)

Kersten, K. (2016). "Variables influencing the acquisition of a second and third language - Evidence from the SMILE project." Workshop zum kindlichem L2/L3-Erwerb im (Grund-)Schulkontext (Universität Braunschweig, 28.10.2016)

Kersten, K. (2017). "Factors affecting bilingual learning and teaching." Bilingual Primary Education Conference (University of Nijmegen)

Kersten, K., Greve, W. (2015). "Eine neue Sprache lernen - interdisziplinäre Perspektiven." 1. Kooperatives Symposium Freie Universität Bozen - Universität Hildesheim (University of Brixen, 15.-16. Juli 2015)

Kersten, K., Rohde, A. (2015). "Immersion teaching in English with young learners." In J. Bland (ed.), Teaching English Language to Young Learners:Critical Issues in Language Teaching with 3-12 Year Olds. London: Bloomsbury, 71-89. (peer reviewed)

Maier, E., Neubauer, L., Ponto, K., Couve de Murville, S., Kersten, K. (2016). "Assessing linguistic levels of L2 English in primary programs." In J.-U. Keßler, A. Lenzing, M. Liebner (eds), Developing, Modelling and Assessing Second Languages. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 163-192. (peer reviewed)

Ponto, K., Hemme, S., Kersten, K., Greve, W. (2015). "Variables of Multilingualism - Die Qualität fremdsprachlichen Inputs in der Grundschule." Deutsche Gesellschaft für Fremdsprachenforschung (Universität Paderborn)

Schilder, L. (2015). The Relation Between Social Background and the Receptive L2 Skills of Fourth-Graders. Unpublished MA-Thesis. Hildesheim University.

Werkmeister, N. (2015). The Relation Between Cognitive Variables and Receptive Second Language Skills. Unpublished MA-Thesis. Hildesheim University. (Förderpreis der Universitätsgesellschaft der Stiftung Universität Hildesheim)

Von Bronsart, K. (2017). The Role of Socioeconomic Background in Language Acquisition. Unpublished BA-Thesis. Hildesheim University.

PhD Projects

Adler, M. (in prep.). Kognitive Variablen im frühen Fremdsprachenerwerb. Universität Hildesheim.

Carlson, C. (in prep.). Elementary School English Teachers' Language Performance and Second Language Acquisition. Hildesheim University.

Hemme, S. (in prep.). Untersuchung zur sprachlichen Entwicklung der Zweit- und Tertiärsprache bei Grundschulkindern mit anderen Herkunftssprachen als Deutsch. Universität Hildesheim.

Hirst-Plein, J. (in prep.). Cognitive Variables as a Predictor for L2 Phonological Recoding in Young Learners. Hildesheim University.

Ponto, K. (in prep.). Merkmale kommunikationsförderlichen Fremdsprachenunterrichts in der Grundschule. Universität Hildesheim.

Cooperations
Associaction for early multilingualism in nurseries and schools (FMKS)

Classes Integrating Evidence from the SMILE Project
1. Psycholinguistics: Cognitive Effects of Bilingualism
2. Didactics: Bilingual Teaching and Learning in Primary School
3. Second Language Acquisition

References

Couve de Murville, S., Kersten, K., Maier, E., Schwirz, K., Weitz, M. (2016). "Rezeptives Vokabelverständnis immersiver Grundschüler." In T. Piske, A. Steinlen (eds.), Bilinguales Lernen in Kindergarten und Schule: Erkenntnisse zur Entwicklung des L1- und L2-Wortschatzes bei Lernern in bilingualen Einrichtungen. Frankfurt a.M. u.a.: Peter Lang.

Kersten, K., Rohde, A. (2015). "Immersion teaching in English with young learners." In J. Bland (ed.), Teaching English Language to Young Learners: Critical Issues in Language Teaching with 3-12 Year Olds. London: Bloomsbury, 71-89. (peer reviewed)

Kersten, K. (2014). "Bilingual pre-primary schools: language acquisition, intercultural encounters and environmental learning." In S. Mourão, M. Lourenço (eds.), Early Years Second Language Education: International Perspectives on Theories and Practice. London: Routledge, 29-45.

Kersten, K., Rohde, A., Schelletter, C., Steinlen, A.K. (eds., 2010). Bilingual Preschools. Vol. I: Learning and Development. Vol II: Best Practices. Trier: WVT. (Final Report pdf)

Ponto, K., Maier, E., Neubauer, L., Couve de Murville, S., Kersten, K. (forthcoming). "Assessing linguistic levels of L2 English in primary programs." In J.-U. Keßler, M. Liebner (eds.), Developing and Assessing Second Language Grammars Across Languages. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Rohde, A. (2010). "Receptive L2 lexical knowledge in bilingual preschool children." In K. Kersten, A. Rohde, C. Schelletter, A.K. Steinlen, Anja (eds.): Bilingual Preschools. Vol. I: Learning and Development. Trier: WVT, 45-68.

Steinlen, A.K., Neils, K., Piske, T., Trumpp, C. (2010): "SETK 3-5: A Developmental Language Test on German for 3-to-5-Year-Old Children." In K. Kersten, A. Rohde, C. Schelletter, A.K. Steinlen, Anja (eds.): Bilingual Preschools. Vol. I: Learning and Development. Trier: WVT, 119-135.

Weitz, M., Pahl, S., Flyman Mattsson, A., Buyl, A. & Kalbe, E. (2010). "The Input Quality Observation Scheme (IQOS): The Nature of L2 Input and its Influence on L2 Development in Bilingual Preschools." In K. Kersten, A. Rohde, C. Schelletter, A.K. Steinlen, Anja (eds.): Bilingual Preschools. Vol. I: Learning and Development. Trier: WVT, 5-44.

Weitz, M. (2015). Die Rolle des L2-Inputs in bilingualen Kindergärten. Inquiries in Language Learning. Frankfurt a.M.: Peter Lang.