By Merete Leonhardt-Lupa, M.A
This portfolio describes how the curriculum in Intermediate Swedish II in the Directed Independent Language Studies (DILS) program at CU provides students with the opportunity to learn Swedish effectively in a student-centered, communicative and proficiency-oriented learning environment, and details a recent change made to reading and listening assignments.
CU students who invest time and resources in learning Swedish, one of the less commonly taught languages, will make significant progress towards proficiency and acquire the communication skills to engage meaningfully and functionally with people in the Scandinavian countries. The portfolio explains how this Swedish course is built on current second language learning principles and has a culture-specific curriculum, communicative language teaching strategies and learning goals based on language proficiency standards. The portfolio details a pre-study on improvements made to vocabulary learning activities in the course.
Intermediate Swedish II (SWED 2020 DILS) teaches intermediate-level Swedish language skills to students in a small-group format. The course is available through the Nordic Program at the Department of Germanic and Slavic Languages and Literatures (GSLL) and is part of the Directed Independent Language Studies program at Andersen Language Technology Center (ALTEC). Students in this course study a smorgasbord of current and historic topics, ranging from Swedish history and current political events, to contemporary fiction and medieval Viking sagas. Students learn practical communication skills that they use to communicate information and ideas on these subjects and others, participate in spoken and written conversations, and interpret spoken and written language. The course also develops the ability to interpret content and experiences from a cross-cultural perspective.
The portfolio describes a preliminary study in SWED 2020 DILS that looked at the effects of pre-class vocabulary assignments on reading and listening performance in this partially flipped course. The preliminary study investigated whether there was a perceptible difference in learning outcomes between structured and unstructured pre-class vocabulary assignments, compared to when no pre-class vocabulary assignment was administered. The study included data on student perceptions of the vocabulary assignments, which were collected in three anonymous, on-line surveys.
New assignments were implemented in three of six study units in the course. The students were given three different pre-class vocabulary assignments, one for each of the three study units. The first assignment instructed students to learn key vocabulary on a web-based, interactive study application. The second assignment instructed students to learn the vocabulary using an interactive, external learning tool that has voice, text and student comment functions. The third assignment involved a contextualized vocabulary list, which did not provide any interactive features.
Student performance was measured in interpretive reading and listening assessments administered post-assignment, after the vocabulary had been practiced in input- and output-based activities in class.
Readers who are not familiar with modern language instruction will find a description on how SWED 2020 DILS is taught in the Implementation section.
Student performed at or above expectations on all reading and listening assessments. There was no measurable difference in performance correlated with any of the three assessments.
The results of the changes made to the curriculum were promising. Students performed well on the assignments, and they were positive to the introduction of these pre-class vocabulary assignments. They liked the structure of the activities and the opportunity for focused vocabulary study. The pre-class assignments successfully freed up time in classroom meetings for more exciting and valuable tasks.
The examination of student work provided suggestions for how study units in future courses can be designed to maximize time for classroom interaction. The opportunity to participate in the MTLV program gave the instructor insights into other teaching disciplines and created a rich learning experience that will be useful in future renditions of SWED 2020 DILS.
Intermediate Swedish I and II DILS at University of Colorado are supported by a grant from the Pro Suecia Foundation. The author would like to thank the Pro Suecia Foundation for their generous contribution to the teaching of Swedish language and culture at the university.