5 September 2016

European project on extensive reading in high-school education German as a Foreign Language

Beeldhouwwerk "Der moderne Buchdruck" op de Bebelplatz in Berlijn. Bron: Wikimedia Commons
Sculpture "Der moderne Buchdruck", Bebelplatz, Berlin Source: Wikimedia Commons

Together with colleagues from the universities of Vienna, Budapest and Palermo, Dr Ewout van der Knaap (German Language and Culture) has been awarded a subsidy of over € 320,000 by the EU programme ERASMUS+ for a Strategic Partnership. Their project ‘Developing Teaching Competencies for Extensive Reading Programs’ (Lehrkompetenzentwicklung für extensiven Leseunterricht, LEELU) aims to raise foreign language reading competencies of high-schools students and to test and improve a model of experience-based, cooperative and encompassing foreign language teacher education.

LEELU’s starting point for pursuing these goals in innovative teacher education are the rather unsatisfactory reading habits and reading competencies of many European high-school students. Using the example of German as a Foreign Language, LEELU will contribute to an increase of foreign language and reading levels of such students as well as promote a practical model for the local and international cooperation of student teachers and experienced teachers in digitally-enhanced networks.

ERASMUS+ is the EU programme for education, training, youth and sport. Doris Abitzsch is a Utrecht-based participant in this project.

Targeted results for the European public:

  1. A concept for an extensive reading programme in grade 10, illustrated for the teaching of German as a Foreign Language and easily transferable to other foreign language and multilingualism-oriented classrooms;
  2. A validated list of book titles for extensive reading programmes in German as a foreign language;
  3. An innovative model for teacher education that has been implemented in three European countries fostering the video-based cooperation of novice and expert teachers from different local schools and different countries in digital networks;
  4. Results of a quantitative and qualitative evaluation of the LEELU model to contribute to the improvement of theories of (foreign) language reading programs and teacher education;
  5. Public conferences to promote the LEELU project results;
  6. A digital network for the video-based cooperation of student teachers and experienced teachers of German as a Foreign Language in Europe and beyond with the potential for transfer to any other subject domain.

Learning in tandems

LEELU focuses on experience-based learning of teachers who locally cooperate in tandems of novices and experts in implementing an extensive reading programme of German as a Foreign Language in grade 10. These tandems videotape their classrooms and cooperatively choose segments for professionally moderated discussions with both local colleagues and – using the digital environment itslearning – international colleagues from two partner countries.

LEELU evaluates this innovative model of teacher education on the basis of longitudinal data on foreign language competencies (tests) as well as on reading motivation and attitudes towards reading (questionnaires) of Dutch, Italian and Hungarian learners. Their teachers’ ratings of the practicability and the efficacy of both the reading program and the teacher education model will be gathered by means of questionnaires and group discussions. On the basis of this empirical data, the concepts for extensive reading and for experience-based, encompassing teacher education will be improved in terms of robustness and practicability in order to be transferable to other European contexts.