The focus of this PhD is on didactic practices in Dutch as a second language (DSL) courses for low educated learners who are functionally low literate (LESLLA). At present, there is a dearth of research on which teacher practices can contribute to effective instructed second language acquisition among LESLLA learners. One hypothesis that lies at the basis for this research project posits that the individual teacher is an important factor in what language gains are made, and that the relative impact of more effective and less effective teachers may weigh more or less in slow or in fast tracks. Although we are mainly interested in slow trajectories, in this PhD we will sample more broadly in order to get a picture of the whole DSL field and so that meaningful comparisons can be made. As such, the general goal of the PhD can be described as gauging the variation and effectiveness of didactic practices in different NT2 trajectories. The study pursues two major research objectives.
RO1: Observing variation in reported didactic practices and proposing an explanatory model
The first study is quantitative in nature, with a large-scale data collection in the A1 and A2 levels of Flemish DSL education. Using surveys to collect data on reported practice, beliefs and demographic variables, this research objective focuses on whether there are differences between the reported didactic practices of DSL teachers and whether certain variables may predict certain reported practices.
RO2: Mapping linguistic input in different DSL track types, and linking differential input to language gains
Research objective 1 offers an indirect picture of what happens in the DSL classroom. Study 2 relies on direct observation to determine the nature of language input provided by the instructor in three different DSL tracks. The hypothesis is the language input in slow, standard and fast tracks is substantially different and that differences in the richness of input and interaction may have an impact on the second language acquisition processes of learners.