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Linguistics in Modern Foreign Languages - Sascha Stollhans

The Linguistics in Modern Foreign Languages project


PI: Michelle Sheehan (Newcastle)

Co-Is: Alice Corr (Birmingham), Anna Havinga (Bristol), Jonathan Kasstan (Westminster), Norma Schifano (Birmingham), Sascha Stollhans (Leeds)

This project (2017-) makes the case for the inclusion of linguistics topics in the Key Stage 5 MFL curriculum. Current A-level syllabi make a sharp distinction between language and content (i.e. literature, film, history and culture). Linguistics is notable for its absence. This differs from many university courses in which linguistics is fundamental. Our project engages students with linguistics, deepening their interests in language, including its historical, cultural and social dimensions. We are interested not only in how stimulating and relevant the pupils find these topics, but also in what effect this exposure has on their language attitudes and their confidence levels when speaking/writing another language.
We ran a successful scoping study in 2017-2019 involving over 300 A-level pupils in French, German and Spanish. We are currently running a follow-on study which makes use of materials that we co-created with experienced A-level teachers, and which are designed to be integrated into current A-level syllabi.

Latest publications:

Sheehan, M., Havinga, A., Kasstan, J., Stollhans, S., Corr, A. and Gillman, P. 2024. Teacher perspectives on the introduction of linguistics in the languages classroom: Evidence from a co-creation project on French, German and Spanish. British Educational Research Journal.

Sheehan, M., Corr, A., Having, A., Kasstan, J., Schifano, N. & Stollhans, S. (2023): A manifesto for linguistics in language teaching in the UK context.