S. Kanobana, B. Deygers

Ghent University (BELGIUM)
Research at Ghent University has shown that non native speakers of Dutch (the main language of instruction at Ghent University) are less likely to achieve academic success than their L1 peers. Since advanced linguistic skills are key to all aspects of college life, substandard academic language skills can exclude students both socially and academically even though they may have the required talent and intellectual capacity. To help resolve this issue Ghent University launched a language policy unit in 2009. One of the purposes of this project is to eliminate language as a barrier to study success, for both L1 and L2 speakers of Dutch.

This presentation will focus on one area of expertise of the language policy unit, i.e. the language support workshops for students with an L2 background. These workshops have been implemented specifically for non-native speakers and are explicitly task-based. During the presentation we will elaborate on the paths that have been tried and rejected (such as a placement test-based system and a social-constructivist inclusive approach) as well as on those that have been pursued.

Additionally, the presentation will zoom in on the role of students of the Ghent University teacher training program in the L2 workshops.

Participating in the workshops requires a future teacher to adopt a different mindset, since both the pedagogical approach and the students are different to what the interns are used to. In order to establish the effect of a non-conventional internship on the teaching beliefs of future teachers, the language policy unit conducted a number of focus groups in April-July 2011.

During this presentation we will show how and why academic L2 project is conducive to both the linguistic skills of the participants and the teaching beliefs and pedagogic practices of the interns.