Språket och skolämnet svenska som andraspråk : Om elevers språk och skolans språksyn

Sammanfattning: Since the school subject Swedish as a second language was established in the Swedish school system in the mid-1990s, the organization of the subject has varied widely across schools, and the outcomes have been poor. This thesis investigates these problems linguistically. The main objective is to explore the school subject Swedish as a second language in relation to the language of students taking the subject. Another aim of this thesis is to illuminate the complex relation between the Swedish language and the use and conception of Swedish as a second language. A critique of the concept of ‘language’ and of language attitudes in the school context is a recurring theme in the thesis.The thesis contains four papers addressing different aspects of the school subject Swedish as a second language. Paper I examines texts and oral presentations from a group of students born in Sweden, analyzing their language from a normative, mainly grammatical, perspective. Paper II develops a model for analyzing text as activity. In Paper III, the model from paper II is applied to analyze students’ narrative texts written as responses to an assignment, focusing on texts that received failing grades. Papers I and III include comparisons with Swedish as a language and as a school subject. Paper IV, finally, analyzes views of language in policy documents.One critical result of the thesis is the identification of a need for a raised awareness about language in schools and society. In the current situation it is hard to establish a discrete boundary dividing the language of students in the subject Swedish as a second language from the language of students in the subject Swedish, but differences can be observed, which in some sense resonates well with the definition of the subject given by the policy documents. Swedish as a second language in schools can be vaguely defined as Swedish with non-Swedish or foreign markers. The vague definition of the subject and the many linguistic conditions built into the subject entail that Swedish as a second language does not seem well-suited for anyone. Employing a combination of a traditional and an alternative view of language, as proposed in this thesis, may be a fruitful way to accommodate all students.