Exploring the development and cross-linguistic transfer of writing strategies between foreign language and first language classrooms

28th May 2019 : 13:00 - 14:00

Category: Seminar

Research Group: Applied Linguistics

Speaker: Dr Karen Forbes, University of Cambridge

Location: Department of Education, Seminar Rooms G/H

Convener: Hamish Chalmers

Seminar Abstract

In an increasingly multilingual world, empirical knowledge about the reciprocal influence between the mother tongue (L1) and a learner’s acquisition of foreign languages (FL) is crucial yet remains surprisingly scarce.

While there is a growing body of evidence to suggest that the effective use of language learning strategies can be of great benefit to learners, the vast majority of this research has taken place within a single context of either L1 or FL education and has had a tendency to neglect the potential interactions between the two. In addition, it is almost taken for granted in the literature that any reference to transfer between these two contexts implies the one-way transfer of pre-existing skills and strategies from the L1 to the FL. In this talk, however, I will focus on the reverse, with a view to exploring the potential contribution of foreign language teaching to the development of writing skills more generally. I will draw on quantitative and qualitative findings from a cross-curricular, classroom-based intervention study conducted in a secondary school in England to provide insights into how adolescent learners develop and transfer writing strategies within and between foreign language (German and French) and first language (English) contexts.


In 2019, the University of Oxford’s Department of Education celebrates the 100th year since the passing of a statute creating what was known in 1919 as the University Department for the Training of Teachers. To celebrate our centenary a year-long series of activities will be delivered to address some of the department’s top initiatives for 2019, answer some of the big questions facing education today and to reveal the advancements the department has made to the study of and research in the field of education. Join us as we mark our 100th year and discover more about our anniversary here.

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