Who learns what? Democracy, Danish and Social Relations in Second Language Education

Bidragets oversatte titel: Hvem lærer hvad? Demokrati, Dansk og sociale relationer i andetsprogsundervisningen

Publikation: Bidrag til bog/antologi/rapportKonferenceartikel i proceedingpeer review


Purpose In Denmark, as in many other countries, second language (DSL) students are seen as particularly at risk because of their often lacking language proficiency and skills. This paper uses the Specialisation dimension of Legitimation Code Theory to demonstrate that more than language learning issues are at stake for these students. In particular it will focus on DSL students’ struggle with a History topic from a multimedia and interdisciplinary set of online materials. This paper examines pedagogic practices within the context of second language education. Analysis of teacher-student interactions shows why DSL students taught within the framework of a ‘mainstream’ fifth grade History unit have a hard time decoding what is expected of them. More specifically, the analysis shows that students have difficulty achieving teachers’ recognition throughout the unit of study, both in terms of what they are expected to do and what they should be learning. As such, this paper challenges the teachers’ perspective on learning, and more broadly the current deeply-rooted progressivist approach in public schools, meant to guarantee educational success for all students. Theoretical framework Applying the LCT notions of epistemic relations (ER) and social relations (SR) and observing their respectively shifting focus (Maton, 2014) reveals an implicit pedagogy operating in the classroom where being the right kind of knower is prioritized over content-learning. The inaccessible pedagogy provides an explanation for why the DSL students struggle with what they are meant to learn, and why the teachers view the students as ‘unable to reflect’ on the content of the unit (Meidell Sigsgaard, 2013). Following Chen et al. (2011), this paper shows how epistemic relations and social relations manifest in the data, providing an example of a translational device, or language of description (Bernstein, 2000). Object of study and method Several transcribed examples of teacher-student talk from video-observations of a fifth grade History class are analysed in this paper. These will be supplemented by examples of tasks set forth by the curriculum material chosen. Focusing on the knowledge students are expected to gain in the unit observed, and on how teachers attempt to make this knowledge accessible, analysis shows some of the challenges students meet. Results and discussion In trying to help students to understand key notions from the unit of study such as evicted, poor house and democracy, teachers rely heavily on social relations rather than epistemic relations to the object of study, suggesting a knower code, where the gaze of the participant is the legitimizing factor. Students seem to focus on increasing the social relations with regards to their personal experiences and concrete examples, SR(personal), while the teacher strengthens the social relations in terms of the more technical information provided by the teaching materials, SR(materials). Additionally, teachers attempt to help the students build vocabulary and learn the content through seemingly haphazard use of content-related terminology. However, as the analysis will show, students’ use of appropriate terminology is not in itself enough to be seen as a legitimate knower in this classroom. Implications and conclusions By presenting and analyzing examples of transcribed data from a fifth grade DSL classroom during a History unit of study, this paper takes up broader issues of social equity in education. LCTs dimension of Specialisation provides a powerful yet simple tool for exposing the workings of the implicit pedagogy observed, and shows what little support students actually receive in developing their understandings of the content knowledge. As such, this analysis is useful in particular for teacher education, both pre- and in service, as well as in developing and modifying curriculum materials, which future research endeavors to explore. References Bernstein, B. (2000). Pedagogy, Symbolic Control, and Identity: Theory, Research, Critique (p. 229). Rowman & Littlefield. Chen, R. T., Maton, K., & Bennett, S. (2011). Absenting Discipline: Constructivist Approaches in Online Learning. In F. Christie & K. Maton (Eds.), Disciplinarity: Functional Linguistic and Sociological Perspectives (pp. 129–150). London: Continuum. Maton, K. (2014). Knowledge and Knowers - Towards a realist sociology of education. Abingdon: Routledge. Meidell Sigsgaard, A.-V. (2013). Who Knows What? The teaching of knowledge and knowers in a fifth grade Danish as a second language classroom. University of Aarhus. Retrieved from http://www.legitimationcodetheory.com/publications.html Undervisningsministeriet. Aftale mellem regeringen (Socialdemokraterne, Radikale Venstre og Socialistisk Folkeparti), Venstre og Dansk Folkeparti om et fagligt løft af folkeskolen (2013). Retrieved from http://www.uvm.dk/~/media/UVM/Filer/Folkeskolereformhjemmeside/2014/Oktober/141010 Endelig aftaletekst 7.6.2013.pdf
Bidragets oversatte titelHvem lærer hvad? Demokrati, Dansk og sociale relationer i andetsprogsundervisningen
TitelBook of abstracts : 1st The International Legitimation Code Theory Colloquium Conference, Cape Town, South Africa - June 17.-19.. 2015
Antal sider2
Publikationsdato18 jun. 2015
StatusUdgivet - 18 jun. 2015
BegivenhedThe Legitimation Code Theory Colloquium 2015 - BREAKWATER LODGE, THE WATERFRONT, CAPE TOWN, Cape Town, Sydafrika
Varighed: 18 jun. 201519 jun. 2015
Konferencens nummer: 1


KonferenceThe Legitimation Code Theory Colloquium 2015
ByCape Town


  • dansk som andetsprog