Profiles

Maria Rydell

Maria Rydell

Universitetslektor

Visa sidan på svenska
Works at The Department of Swedish Language and Multilingualism
Telephone 08-16 42 97
Email maria.rydell@su.se
Visiting address Universitetsvägen 10 D, plan 3
Room D 363
Postal address Inst. för svenska och flerspråkighet 106 91 Stockholm

Publications

A selection from Stockholm University publication database
  • 2018. Maria Rydell (et al.).

    The current thesis is concerned with constructions and perceptions of what it means to be ‘a competent language user’ in the context of a language programme in basic Swedish called Swedish for Immigrants (SFI). A particular focus is given to the testing and assessment of oral interaction. The prevailing communicative approach to language teaching and testing makes it relevant to investigations of both language use and reflections on communicative experiences. The thesis is based on three studies. Drawing on insights from linguistic anthropology, multimodal interaction analysis, phenomenology and social theory, the three studies address different sociolinguistic perspectives on language testing and assessment. Whereas Studies I and II investigate paired speaking tests in the final national exam in SFI as a speech event, Study III builds upon focus group discussions with SFI participants with the aim of exploring the participants’ reflections on communicative experiences.

           Drawing on linguistic anthropological performance theory, Study I makes the case that the paired speaking tests can be analysed as staged institutionalized performances that put speaking and ideologies on display. Study I draws on an analysis of sequences in the test data where the participants expressed beliefs on language learning, language use and language competence. One important resource for the test takers to maintain the discussion in front of the examiners was to draw on dominant discourses on language and integration, such as stating the importance of learning Swedish, speaking only Swedish, attempting to find Swedish friends and taking responsibility for one’s learning, making testing practices an important site for the reproduction of such discourse. The orientation to being ‘a competent language user’ was performed by indexing other images of being ‘a good student’ and ‘a good immigrant’.

          Study II takes an interactional practice in the paired speaking tests, word searching sequences, as its starting point. Word searches tap into two aspects of communicative language testing: vocabulary knowledge and the ability to negotiate meaning and solve interactional problems. The test takers drew on different embodied semiotic resources to negotiate participation and meaning or to display an avoidance to participating in the fellow test taker’s word search. Overall, the participants prioritized the progressivity of talk over lexical precision. By avoiding using languages other than Swedish during the test, the test takers sustained and constructed a monolingual orientation to language competence.

         Study III discusses how the SFI participants’ lived experience of language constituted their understanding of what it means to be ‘a competent language user’. Accordingly, the participants’ comments primarily constructed a view of competence as made relevant through and being shaped in social interactions, making language competence a primarily relational construct. Corroborating the relational construction of language competence was the importance given to language assessments, both those made by others and internalized self-assessments. In the focus group discussions, overall, being ‘a competent language user’ was oriented to as a desired, but yet unstable and vulnerable subject position.

          Taken together, the three studies address ideological, embodied, emotional and relational perspectives on language and language competence. By contrast, language testing practices are built upon a view of language competence as an individual and objective ability that can be measured. The main conclusions drawn in the thesis are that testing and assessment practices constitute a social practice where perceptions and constructions of language competence are constructed and regimented metapragmatically as well as interactionally. Furthermore, embodied experiences of language assessment made in institutional and everyday practices make competence a powerful concept influencing L2 users’ self-perception and agency. 

  • 2015. Maria Rydell. Journal of Sociolinguistics 19 (4), 535-558

    Language learning linked to migration is an important issue in many contemporary societies. This article discusses how adult migrants following a L2 Swedish course express beliefs on competence, language learning and language use during a test event. The theoretical framework is based on performance theory and the Bakhtinian notion of addressivity. Drawing on an interactional analysis of 27 video-recorded paired speaking tests (acandidate-candidate discussion) in the final national exam in an L2 Swedish course for adult migrants, the article discusses how the speaking tests could be interpreted as institutionalized staged performance. It is argued here that institutional performance puts ideologies on display. Stance-taking, interactional alignment and an orientation to dominant discourses on monolingualism and integration become important resources for keeping the discussion going in front of the examiners. Finally, the study argues that the view of speaking tests as performance provides a deeper understanding of the complexity of language use in test settings.

  • 2018. Maria Rydell. Linguistics and Education 45, 101-109

    This article investigates the lived experience of language (Busch, 2017) in relation to perceptions of what it means to be ‘a competent language user’. How to define language competence is an ongoing discussion in applied linguistics. However, relatively little attention has been given to the lived experiences of adult migrants with respect to their perceptions of competence. Drawing on an analysis of focus group discussions with adult migrants enrolled in a language program in basic Swedish, this article builds on understandings of communicative competence as a relational construct shaped by intersubjective processes. Corroborating the relational view of competence is the importance given to emotional perspectives on competence and the role played by assessments, both those made by others and internalized self-assessments. Meanwhile, discourses on the language competence of adult migrants often frame successful language learning as an individual responsibility and achievement, obscuring the relational process underlying the perceptions and constructions of communicative competence.

  • 2016. Maria Rydell. Flerspråkighet som resurs, 236-247

    Muntlig färdighet är centralt för människan men samtidigt svår-bedömt för läraren. I det här kapitlet vill författaren lyfta fram att det är viktigt för lärare att ingående studera samtal för att bli bättre på att bedöma dem. För att öka kvaliteten i samtal –och därmed ge mer underlag för bedömning –beskrivs i det här ka-pitlet vikten av att ge alla elever utrymme i samtalen, lyfta lyss-nandetsroll i samtal och visa hur förhandling om mening utgör en viktig del i interaktion. Författaren beskriver också hur dis-kussioner kring muntlig språkanvändning synliggör resurser och strategier för elever samtidigt som det bygger upp deras språkliga medvetenhet kring talat språk.

  • 2018. Maria Rydell.

    Politiska krav på att invandrare ska lära sig svenska bättre och snabbare dyker upp i debatten med jämna mellanrum. För ett par veckor sedan lanserade Socialdemokraterna “språkplikt”. Maria Rydell ställer sig frågande till detta och pekar på komplexiteten i vuxnas språkinlärning. Möjligheten att lära sig ett nytt språk hänger inte bara ihop med en individs “vilja” utan även med de organisatoriska förutsättningarna.

  • 2017. Maria Rydell.

    Syftet med den här delen är att diskutera det talade språkets roll för andraspråksutvecklingen. Fokus ligger på vad som kännetecknar muntlig språkanvändning  och hur talat språk kan synliggöras, stöttas och bedömas i undervisningen, exempelvis genom arbete med dramatisering för att främja språkutveckling och språklig medvetenhet.

  • 2018. Maria Rydell. Pedagogiska Magasinet (21 september)

    Sverige är ett flerspråkigt samhälle. Det är ett faktum som är kännetecknande för både Sveriges historia, samtid och framtid. Vuxna invandrares språkliga kompetens tillmäts i dag ett allt större symboliskt värde. Allt oftare hörs i den politiska debatten krav på språkkompetens, exempelvis i tal om språkplikt och språktest för medborgarskap.

Show all publications by Maria Rydell at Stockholm University

Last updated: November 19, 2018

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