PhD dissertation Elisabeth Lehrner-te Lindert: Literature in Foreign Language Lessons Improves Reading Skills


On October 27, Elisabeth Lehrner-te Lindert (German) will defend her dissertation Fremdsprachliches Lesen mit literarischen Texten at the University Hall. 

An international research study (PISA, Programme for International Student Assessment, 2019) has shown that the reading skills of students in the Netherlands are in a state of decline. What might happen to students' language skills if students are presented with more literature in their lessons? Can literature be incorporated into the curriculum of secondary foreign language education in the lower grades? 

Students' reading skills 

Within the framework of her PhD research project, it was investigated whether students' reading skills and literary competencies might benefit when the standard curriculum was partly replaced by an intensive literature programme. Her research objective was to examine whether students’ reading literacy competencies in lower grades would indeed improve after more exposure to literature. During a two-year period, she asked six schools to take part in her research project, which resulted in a total of six HAVO 3 (lower secondary) classes and six VWO 3 (pre-university) classes. Each school had one experimental group and one control group. The experimental group carried out an intensive literature programme (30 lessons), whereas the control group followed the standard curriculum.

Intensive literature programme

Lehrner-te Lindert found that if one third of the standard curriculum in the German lessons is replaced by an intensive literature programme, then the text comprehension of all the students improves, in both HAVO and VWO classes. Moreover, both low and high achievers can benefit from receiving more lessons that include literature. The progress that the students made in the area of literary competence, however, could not be determined as the effects of the experiment are too weak.

Creative lessons

The research into teaching methods showed that it makes a great deal of sense to use all kinds of literary texts (from songs to children's books) and that creative lessons can encourage students to engage in reading literary texts. In the future, these insights could be used to improve foreign language education and they could also help to attain literary learning goals.

Start date and time
End date and time
University Hall, Domplein 29, Utrecht University & online (link)
PhD candidate
Mrs E.M. Lehrner-te Lindert
Fremdsprachliches Lesen mit literarischen Texten
PhD supervisor(s)
Prof E.W. Van der Knaap
Prof H.C.J. De Graaff