31 SES 08 B, Language and Literacy Learning via Dialogic Practice
Given the increasing diversity of language profiles in schools (Gogolin, 2002), there is a need to develop inclusive education systems for all students. Despite the efforts that have been made over the last two decades to implement language immersion programs in European classrooms, the existing inequalities have not yet been overcome (Sierens & Van Avermaet, 2015). Data provided by UNESCO (2016) suggests that 40% of the world's students cannot access education in a language they already know or are able to communicate with. In these circumstances, using an unfamiliar language as the language of instruction could end up impairing the development of skills and their degree of success (Ball, 2010; UNESCO, 2016).
Since language knowledge is crucial for accessing both educational content and social and communicative competences (Council of Europe, 2018), it becomes a priority to promote inclusive educational environments for language learning. This is the only possible way for all learners to access the curricular contents and to develop skills.
Interactions at the core of L2 learning
Some studies delving into language learning have identified the central importance of dialogue and interactions for the development of target language learning (Loewen & Sato, 2018; Mackey & Gass, 2015). In this respect, Mercer and colleagues (2019) highlight that promoting dialogues and interactions in the classroom through the dialogic approach of learning sets the difference. This method, founded, among others, on the theory of Vygotsky (1980), supports that learning begins interpersonally and subsequently becomes intrapersonal. Decades of research in this area have identified that dialogic learning has positive effects on both academic learning and social skills development (García-Carrión et al., 2020).
Among other educational actions based on the educational conception of dialogical learning (Flecha, 2000), Dialogic Literary Gatherings (DLG) also promote classroom dialogue. DLGs consist of reading and discussing a universal literary work, previously elaborated by the students at home. Once in the classroom, they share and discuss the ideas and reflections arising from the book through an egalitarian dialogue facilitated by the teacher.
The present study: background and objective
This paper focuses on exploring the impact of DLGs on L2 (Basque) learning, while promoting the inclusion of learners through classroom dialogue. The study has been developed in a varied and complex linguistic context. Concretely, it was a bilingual area in which the predominant language was Spanish. It coexists with Basque, the other co-official and minority language in the Basque Country (Cenoz, 2005). Despite being in a diglossic situation (Urrutia, 2020), Basque is the main language of instruction.
To date, the fact that Basque has been the language of instruction did not guarantee an optimal level of learning among pupils. According to the Basque Government and other official institutions (2016), only 54.4 % of students between 13-14 years old manage to surpass the level of basic communicative competence. Therefore, it is necessary to ensure an inclusive education, which safeguards access to the curricular contents for all students.
Previous research has revealed the benefits of DLGs in promoting language competence. However, their potential impact in bilingual educational settings where a minority language is involved, as in the case of Basque, remains unknown.
This exploratory case study was conducted in a public high school located in a rural area of the Basque Country, northern of Spain. The participants were twelve students, 2 boys and 10 girls, from between 17-18-year-old and their ‘Universal Literature’ teacher. In order to specifically carry out this paper, an analysis of nine class sessions and three interviews has been drawn up. Data collection has been carried out over a period of ten weeks in two subsequent stages. The first step involved the recording of nine observations of DLG sessions. Each session lasted 50 minutes and took place in nine consecutive weeks, one per week. During these sessions, the students read four works of classical world literature: Frankenstein (Mary Shelley), Madame Bovary (Gustave Flaubert), a Poem Anthology (C. P. Cavafy), and A Room of One’s Own (Virginia Woolf). Regarding the second stage, interviews were conducted with three participants. The teacher and two students with different linguistic profiles were interviewed. In order to reflect the point of view of students with different language profiles in the classroom, each student interviewed had a different one. Thus, the L1 of one interviewee was Spanish and the L2 Basque. In the case of the other student, the L1 was Basque and L2 Spanish. The data analysis was undertaken following the Communicative Methodology (Gómez et al., 2019). The aim consisted of identifying the factors that strengthen the learning of Basque and the inclusion of the students, as well as those that constitute a barrier to it. The coding was carried out using Nvivo Plus software.
The data analysis carried out clarifies the positive impact of DLGs on two main key aspects that facilitate Basque language learning and L2 learners' inclusion: (1) spaces for language practice and (2) scaffolding interactions for language learning. 1- DLGs provide spaces for language practice through classroom dialogue. The implementation of the DLGs has enabled students to take 60% of the floor during the sessions. In these spaces, students feel heard and work to overcome their fears when they attempt to communicate in Basque. Besides opening up spaces to communicate and practice Basque, students are able to participate by sharing and discussing openly their thoughts and arguments about the reading or about what their classmates have said. This unique DLGs’ feature allows them to participate in an active and multidirectional form among all participants, thereby enabling them to benefit from genuine conversation opportunities. 2- Fostering peer regulation through scaffolding. Both teacher and students agree that DLGs provide an egalitarian environment that foster opportunities to share scaffolding interactions. Such interactions provide the opportunity to create better productions in L2 and thus improve communicative skills. Peer-to-peer interactions provide different models for improvement, which makes students value and welcome them.
Ball, J. (2010). Enhancing learning of children from diverse language backgrounds: Mother tongue-based bilingual or multilingual education in early childhood and early primary school years. Retrieved from https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000212270 Basque Government, Government of Navarre & Office Public de la Langue Basque (2016). VI. Inkesta Soziolinguistikoa. Euskararen eremu osoa. Retrieved from https://www.irekia.euskadi.eus/uploads/attachments/9954/VI_INK_SOZLGEH_eus.pdf?1499236557 Cenoz, J. (2005). English in bilingual programs in the Basque Country. International Journal of the Sociology of Language, 171, 41-56. doi: 10.1515/ijsl.2005.2005.171.41 Council of Europe (2018). Reference Framework of Competences for Democratic Culture (Vol. 1). Retrieved from https://rm.coe.int/prems-008318-gbr-2508-referenceframework-of-competences-vol-1-8573-co/16807bc66c Flecha, R. (2000). Sharing Words: Theory and practice of dialogic learning. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield. García-Carrión, R., López de Aguileta, G., Padrós, M., & Ramis-Salas, M. (2020). Implications for Social Impact of Dialogic Teaching and Learning. Frontiers in Psychology, 11: 140. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00140 Gogolin, I. (2002). Linguistic and cultural diversity in Europe: A challenge for educational research and practice. European Educational Research Journal, 1(1), 123–138. doi: 10.2304/eerj.2002.1.1.3 Gómez, A., Padrós, M., Ríos, O., Mara, L. -C., & Pukepuke, T. (2019). Reaching social impact through communicative methodology. Researching with rather than on vulnerable populations: The Roma case. Frontiers in Education, 4:9. doi: 10.3389/feduc.2019.00009 Loewen, S., & Sato, M. (2018). Interaction and instructed second language acquisition. Language Teaching, 51(3), 285-329. doi: 10.1017/S0261444818000125 Mackey, A., & Gass, S. M. (2015). Second language research: Methodology and design. New York: Routledge. Mercer, N., Wegerif, R., & Major, L. (2019). The Routledge International Handbook of Research on Dialogic Education. London: Routledge. Sierens, S., & Van Avermaet, P. (2015). Inequality, inequity and language in education: There are no simple recipes!. Paper presented at the 6th Meeting of the Transatlantic Forum on Inclusive Early Years. Retrieved from https://www.europekbf.eu/~/media/Europe/TFIEY/TFIEY-6_InputPaper/Inequality,-Inequity-andLanguage-in-Education.pdf UNESCO (2016). If you don’t understand, how can you learn? Policy Paper 24. Retrieved from https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000243713 Urrutia, A. M. (2020). Jurilinguistics and Minority Languages: General Framework, Methodological Approach and the Case of the Basque Language. International Journal for the Semiotics of Law, 1-18. doi: doi.org/10.1007/s11196-020-09684-y Vygotsky, L. S. (1980). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes. Harvard: Harvard University Press.
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