Språkpraktiker i naturkunskap i två mångkulturella gymnasieklassrum. En studie av läroprocesser bland elever med olika förstaspråk
Sammanfattning: The purpose of the thesis is to investigate how language is used in the school subject Natural Science in two multi-cultural upper seconday classrooms. Previous research points to the fact that second language students are not successful in their school work. The reason usually given is the students' inadequate knowledge of their second language. Today's curricular directives of the Swedish school clearly emphasize every teachers responsibility fot the students' linguistic development, but the issue of what is meant by language ability and language development, and what constitutes a successful learning environment is not often addressed. In order to get a closer understanding of how language is used in Natural Science, the relationships between students' language use, when working in pairs and groups, and other language practices in the science classroom, are studied. The curricular directives and the socio-cultural backgrounds of the participants are also considered. The theoretical perspective is inspired by the socio-cultural theory, and learning is taken to mean learning how to use the semiotics of science. The study is based on ethnographically inspired methods of gathering data: observation notes, audio and video recordings of different language practices in the classroom, interviews, language journals, and the students' earlier certificates and language diagnoses. Each student participates in three different conversations. The resulting texts and the patterns of student participation are analyzed mainly with different linguistic tools. The analyses reveal three different patterns of language used, and five different patterns of participation. They differ as to extent of colloquial versus scientifical language used, and the quality of the content. The patterns of participation differ among other things as to the student activity and the ability to move linguistically through different occuring topical fields. The teacher lead conversations differ as to the extent of monological versus dialogical patterns of instruction. When relating the analyses to each other, the results reveal similar patterns of language use and participation in the students' conversations as those emerging in the teacher lead whole class conversations. The results of the study do not indicate any clear connection between students' second language backgrounds, and their langauge use and participation in the classroom. They rather point to the importance of focusing the relationships between the students' language use and the learning environment. Pedagogical implications are discussed in the final part of the thesis.
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