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Higher seminar: Learning language from using it outside of class

Wednesday 24 February 2021 14.00 – 15.45


Presenter: Andreas Bengtsson, Stockholm University, Department of Asian, Middle Eastern and Turkish Studies.

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Meeting ID: 681 6232 8510
Passcode: 621084
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Learning language from using it outside of class: Differences depending on proficiency level

Language learners often say they became good at a language by engaging in extramural Ln (for language), that is doing target language activities, such as watching TV, listening to music, or playing games, outside of the classroom (Sundqvist, 2019). Even though several studies have shown that there are relationships between out-of-class language usage and target language proficiency, these relationships are not always the same, even when the studies investigate the same type of activity. For instance, gaming often correlates positively with different measures of language proficiency (see e.g. Sundqvist & Sylvén, 2016), but it seems like it can also correlate negatively (Muñoz, 2020). One possible explanation is that the relationship between out-of-class language usage and proficiency could be dynamic, that is, learners with different proficiency levels might  benefit from engaging in different types of extramural Ln.

This talk will present results from an investigation of adult learners of Japanese, studying at university in Sweden. Out-of-class language use and three measures of Japanese language proficiency (self-evaluations, a cloze test, and grades) were gathered from learners from five different proficiency levels, ranging from beginner to advanced level learners, and analysed in order to find relationships between them. The preliminary results suggest that the relationship between engagement in extramural Ln and language proficiency are different depending on the proficiency level of the language learner, and that these interactions change over time as language learners become more proficient. Because of this, language learners might benefit from engaging in different types of extramural Ln depending on how proficient they are, and this talk aims at providing language teachers with concrete information on how they can guide their students in this regard.

Muñoz, C. (2020). Boys like games and girls like movies: Age and gender differences in out-of-school contact with English. Spanish Journal of Applied Linguistics, 33(1), 171–201.
Sundqvist, P. (2019). Commercial-off-the-shelf games in the digital wild and L2 learner vocabulary. Language Learning & Technology, 23(1), 87–113.
Sundqvist, P., & Sylvén, L. K. (2016). Extramural English in teaching and learning: From theory and research to practice. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.