B. Grønn1, A. Christiansen2

1Østfold University College (NORWAY)
2Charlottenlund Videregaaende Skole (Upper Secondary School) (NORWAY)
In this presentation, we look at different artefacts that mediate the learning of Spanish. We focus on students at the age of 17 and 18 in upper secondary education in Norway and how they use material and symbolic tools in order to improve their communicative skills. We ask how the students take advantage of learning opportunities outside the classroom.

In Norway, English as a foreign language is a compulsory subject. Usually, the students choose a third language in year 8 (age 13), and Spanish is the most popular language. Globalization and rapid developments in digital media technology have transformed Norwegian society by making it more diverse and Spanish forms part of this diversity.

In 2015, we conducted a survey comprising 181 students of Spanish in year 13 (age 18). The topic was their opportunities for practicing Spanish outside the classroom in everyday life and when traveling. Further steps involved qualitative in-depth interviews informed by the analysis of the questionnaire. In 2016, we carried out the interviews, where 24 subjects were asked to describe in what situations they communicate in Spanish and their future plans and goals. Our purpose was to identify the meditational means that they use as they pursue their Spanish learning goals and to examine the role Spanish plays in their lives.

In the analysis and discussion we draw on Vygotsky´s educational theory in cultural context and theory in second language acquisition. The subjects report that the digital tools allow them to practice Spanish in their spare time and that they practice Spanish online for amusement (music, tv series, movies, football news, fashion blogs, etc.). To a great extent they give attention to comments in Spanish on the chat in social media, but they seldom contribute with comments themselves. The subjects express willingness to communicate in Spanish in real life situations, in Norway and abroad. They report that practicing Spanish outside the classroom helps them to improve their communicative skills. Almost everyone is convinced that knowing Spanish gives them an advantage when it comes to getting acquainted with new people and when networking.

Our research project can give new insights into how learning of Spanish takes place outside the classroom. We intend to further increase our knowledge about how and to what extent students use the target language, and we are now in the process of designing an additional survey, which we will carry out during the school year 2017/18. By November 2017, we will be able to show some preliminary results of this new project.

[1] Lantolf, J. P. & S. L. Thorne 2006: Sociocultural Theory and the Genesis of Second Language Development. Oxford: Oxford University Press
[2] Swain, M., Kinnear P. & L. Steinman 2010: Sociocultural Theory in Second Language Education: An Introduction through Narratives. Bristol: Multilingual Matters.
[3] Vygotsky, L. 1978: Mind in Society: The Development of Higher Psychological Processes. M. Cole et al. (eds.) Boston: Harvard University Press.
[4] Vygotsky, L. 2012: Thought and Language. A. Kozulin (ed.) Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press