Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL)

Within the TEFL section there is strong interest in an approach to teaching English as a foreign language which is based on empirical research involving analysis of learner language and learner behaviour from a linguistic and psycholinguistic perspective. There are ongoing research projects in the following areas:

  • The impact of portfolio work on the listening comprehension development among primary school learners of English (P. Leeck)
  • The use of picture dictionaries in the primary school English classroom (T. Freudenau)
  • The assessment of the spoken communication proficiency of intermediate-level classroom learners of English (F. Pieper)
  • Social interaction processes during bilingual physical education lessons (N. Devos)
  • The promotion of learner autonomy among secondary school learners of English (D. Schmitt-Egner).

Piri Leeck's work is concerned with investigating the impact of portfolio work on the developing listening comprehension of very young learners of English at primary school, measured both by performance criteria as well as by self-assessment criteria.
Tanja Freudenau's work investigates using picture dictionaries in the primary school classroom to develop autonomous learning and to support memory processes.

Frank Pieper's work concerns the assessment of spoken communication among intermediate-level learners in the EFL classroom by means of various criteria and aims to show that there exist practicable and reliable alternatives to written tests.

Nathan Devos's project focuses on Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) and explores a number of language learning processes which occur in the instructional setting of bilingual physical education (PE). By analysing social interactional processes in particular, it seeks to uncover how learners may exploit sociocultural and environmental factors in order to learn a second language while being instructed in a CLIL context.

Diana Quest, née Schmitt-Egner, is interested in language learning in the upper forms of secondary schools. Her research is concerned with the issue of to what extent it is possible to promote learner autonomy by designing appropriate tasks in the English classroom at "Sekundarstufe II" level. The focus is on the implementation of activities which can lead learners to become more autonomous within the controlled environment of the classroom.

Pat Skorge's research over the past two decades has centred on the effective use of static visuals in learning and teaching languages: she has found that pictures in instructional materials are frequently regarded as purely decorative by learners and teachers alike, and this means that their rich potential for supporting language learning goes untapped. Whether explicit guidance for picture use affords more effective learning with visuals is a question awaiting further research. She has also recently completed a study of peer feedback in tertiary-level L2 writing.

A unifying theme in much of the above empirical research is that of learner autonomy and there is also work in progress on the development of the idea of learner autonomy in classroom second language acquisition (P. Lennon).