Profiles

Maria Nilsson

Maria Nilsson

Universitetslektor

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Arbetar vid Institutionen för språkdidaktik
Telefon 08-120 767 84
E-post maria.nilsson@isd.su.se
Besöksadress Universitetsvägen 10 E
Rum 971
Postadress Institutionen för språkdidaktik 106 91 Stockholm

Om mig

Jag är doktor i språkdidaktik sedan okt 2020, då jag disputerade med min avhandling Young learners' perspectives on English classroom interaction: Foreign language anxiety and sense of agency in Swedish primary school.

Jag är legitimerad lärare i svenska, engelska och spanska på grundskolan, i åk 4-9 sedan 1996. Jag har arbetat som universitetsadjunkt mellan 2009 och 2015 och ägnat mig framförallt åt Engelska mot yngre åldrar för åk F-3 och 4-6 i grundlärarprogrammet, samt Lärarlyftet. Utöver det har jag varit engagerad i VFU (verksamhetsförlagt utbildning) som kurslärare, besökande universitetslärare och inom övningsskoleprojektet och handledarutbildning.

Forskningsintressen

I och med min kandidatuppsats Target Language Use in the Primary Classroom - teachers' beliefs and practices, där jag observerade och intervjuade lärare om deras målspråksanvändning, blev jag intresserad av de elever som inte gärna vill tala engelska och hur de påverkas, och själva påverkar, läraren och undervisningen. Jag är intresserad av hur elevers självförtroende, beteende, vilja att kommunicera och tankar kring språkinlärning formas och utvecklas i relation till undervisningskontexten, vilket jag skriver om i min avhandling. Min förhoppning är att bidra till vår kunskap om barn som språkinlärare så att språkundervisning kan utvecklas i en riktning som tar hänsyn till barns mognad och behov.

Dessutom är jag mycket intresserad av lärarutbildningen och hur vi rustar blivande klasslärare att undervisa engelska i kommunikativa klassrum och stötta barns självförtroende och sense of agency i alltmer heterogena grupper.

Ett annat intresseområde är samverkan och koppling mellan lärarutbildning, VFU och forskning.

Publikationer

Nilsson, M. (2020). Young learners' perspective on English classroom interaction: Foreign langauge anxiety and sense of agency in Swedish primary school. [Doctoral dissertation, University of Stockholm]. 

Nilsson, M. (2020). Beliefs and experiences in the English classroom: Perspectives of Swedish primary school learners. Studies in Second Language Learning and Teaching, 10(2), 257–281. http://dx.doi.org/10.14746/ssllt.2020.10.2.3

Nilsson, M. (2019). Foreign language anxiety: The case of young learners of English in Swedish primary classrooms. Apples - Journal of Applied Language Studies, 13(2), 1–21. https://doi.org/10.17011/apples/urn.201902191584

Konferenspresentationer

Learner beliefs and foreign language anxiety - a study in two Swedish primary classrooms, på konferensen Child Foreign Language Learning vid Krakow University i april 2016

Investigating learner beliefs and foreign language anxiety - a study in two Swedish Primary classroom, på the Young Language Learner Symposium vid Oxford University i juli 2016

Foreign language anxiety and target language use in early language education, på the AAAL conference i Oregon, USA i mars 2017

Learner beliefs in the primary foreign language classroom, på the AILA world congress i Rio, juli 2017

Attitude, effort and other resources – agency in the primary foreign language classroom, på the Early Language Learner symposium, ELL, i Reykjavik, Island i juni 2018

Talängslan och målspråksanvändning i engelska på låg- och mellanstadiet, på Lärarnas Forskningskonferens i Stockholm, november 2018

Target language use in primary language classrooms: The perspectives of anxious young learners in Sweden, på the Shanghai Centre for Research in Early Language Education (SCRELE) Conference i Shanghai, Kina i september 2019

 

Publikationer

I urval från Stockholms universitets publikationsdatabas
  • 2013. Maria Nilsson, Una Cunningham, Christine Ericsdotter.

    In spite of a monolingual norm in foreign language teaching during the last decades studies throughout the world show that teachers’ target language use varies significantly. This study sets out to examine to what extent the target language (TL) is used with young language learners and how this use correlates to teachers’ beliefs about foreign language teaching and first language (L1) inclusion. Moreover the paper discusses functions for L1 use and strategies used by teachers to support comprehension in the TL. Lesson observations and qualitative interviews were performed with four Swedish primary school class teachers. Despite the prevailing idea of exclusive TL use three of the four teachers do not subscribe to this approach and find L1 inclusion necessary. An emerging theme is the impact of teachers’ beliefs and how these are shaped by personal experience and/or education. L1 is legitimized in order to support comprehension and prevent pupils’ frustration. To varying degrees the L1 is used, mostly to facilitate learning but also for classroom management. The data suggests that teachers are well aware of their language use although they lack awareness and professional language to describe and be articulate about strategies they employ.

  • 2020. Maria Nilsson. Studies in second language language teaching and learning 10 (2), 257-281

    This study investigates how Swedish learners make sense of and perceive English instruction and the process of foreign language learning in a target language-only primary school classroom. In small group discussions, 26 learners aged 9-10 were audio recorded while discussing questions related to their language learner beliefs and their classroom experiences. Learners expressed a strong consensus about the importance of both the teacher’s extensive target language input and the learners’ oral engagement, in alignment with the beliefs of the teacher. However, the analysis identified three mismatches among high anxiety learners in this context, related to incomprehensible teacher talk, social fear of making mistakes and classroom organization. As their voiced beliefs were at odds with their emotionally guided behavior of refraining from asking questions or volunteering to speak, their sense of agency was reduced. In this context, the target language-only approach appeared to have a negative impact on the emotional, organizational and instructional dimensions of foreign language instruction for many of the young learners. The findings illustrate the interrelated dynamics of beliefs, emotions and classroom context, and contribute to our understanding of learners’ foreign language anxiety and sense of agency in the primary foreign language classroom.

  • 2019. Maria Nilsson. Apples - Journal of Applied Language Studies 13 (2), 1-21

    Although foreign language anxiety is a widely studied construct assumed to develop from negative experiences of language instruction, few researchers have focused on young learners in this regard. This multiple case study investigates levels and triggers of language anxiety in Swedish primary classrooms under rather favorable learning conditions with a supportive, non-competitive atmosphere, and without formal knowledge requirements or grades. A total of 225 learners, aged 8–12, studying English as their first foreign language completed a self-report questionnaire, a modified version of the Foreign Language Classroom Anxiety Scale (Horwitz, Horwitz, & Cope, 1986), eliciting learners’ reactions to oral classroom participation. Foreign language anxiety was found along a continuum among learners. To investigate similarities and differences among students of differing anxiety levels, they were grouped into three categories: low, medium and high anxiety. The high anxiety group included 18.2% of learners, and for most of them, this anxiety was situation-specific and closely related to their own oral performance during English lessons. However, many classroom situations triggered language anxiety in other learners as well. It may therefore be advisable for teachers to reflect on common classroom practices that induce anxiety, rather than viewing language anxiety as a disadvantageous characteristic of individual learners. The results call for in-depth studies of classroom contexts where language anxiety develops. Moreover, the study’s contribution encompass new perspectives on research methodology with respect to young learners and in relation to foreign language anxiety.

  • 2020. Maria Nilsson (et al.).

    This thesis explores young language learners’ experiences of classroom interaction in English instruction, focusing on foreign language anxiety (FLA), sense of agency and learner beliefs, aiming to inform and problematize language pedagogy for young learners. Learners from ten classrooms in years 2–5 participated. Study I focused on levels and triggers of FLA, by means of a learners’ questionnaire about common language classroom practices. Findings revealed that 18% of learners frequently felt anxious during English lessons and that these negative emotions centered on speaking in class. With this study serving as a baseline, the following two studies investigated learners’ beliefs about language learning and teaching, as well as their actual experiences of classroom communication during English lessons, using recorded group discussions among learners with similar levels of FLA. Study II compared learners in one year 3 classroom, with many frequently anxious learners, whereas study III centered on learners with recurrent anxiety across seven classrooms, in years 2–5. 

    Together, the studies illustrate young language learners’ beliefs, and how they perceive and position themselves in relation to English instruction. In general, learners expressed positive attitudes to the English subject and the teaching. Regardless of anxiety levels, learners stressed the importance of extensive English input and for learners to guess and dare to speak. Learners who experienced recurrent FLA were confronted with three dilemmas that reduced their sense of agency. Incomprehensible English input made it difficult for them to follow instructions and understand what they were expected to say or respond to. Furthermore, the fear of social exposure and negative reactions made them prefer to remain silent and refrain from speaking or pose questions. Nevertheless, these learners favored whole class instruction, as they relied heavily on teacher support, and feared falling behind during individual work, although this setting sparked FLA. 

    The findings foreground the interaction of social, cognitive and emotional processes of language learning and the development of learners’ sense of agency in the classroom. The strong consensus and many recurrent themes expressed across classrooms, related to language use, instructions and organization, suggest that the findings may have bearing beyond these ten specific classroom contexts. The perspectives of primary school learners themselves are valuable in the development of age-appropriate language teaching that strives to foster motivation and a sense of agency, while counteracting the development of FLA. The thesis hopes to inspire academic and professional discussion about how to best organize English instruction that benefits all young learners, with varying language proficiencies in the same classroom.

Visa alla publikationer av Maria Nilsson vid Stockholms universitet

Senast uppdaterad: 22 december 2020

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