This project involves mutual international teaching placements, which PHDL have been organising and running with our partners and affiliated schools in the UK (York/Edinburgh) and Austria (Linz/Bad Goisern) since 2007. Basically, it is an immersion programme for primary and secondary students alike and was designed to benefit the trainees’ professional development, not only in terms of their teaching capacity, but also as regards their second language proficiency and cross-cultural awareness.
In order to place the project on a solid academic footing, a questionnaire has been designed to both evaluate the benefits of these mutual teaching placements and see how well immersed the trainees have been in the target culture. The research design seeks to cover a wide spectrum of intercultural, linguistic and didactic issues revolving around 5 selected aspects warranting further research, notably language proficiency, cultural studies, didactics and methodology, school systems and efficiency of organisation. The contents of the questionnaire are based on the relevant literature, state-of-the-art didactics and methodology and recent L1/L2 acquisition theories (Brown and Larson-Hall, 2014. Cook and Singleton, 2014. Legutke et al., 2012. Lightbown and Spada, 2013. Mackey, 2012. Thomas, 2001. Wiesinger, 2016). Strictly speaking, there are two questionnaires – one aimed at UK trainees, the incoming students, and the other targeting Austrian trainees. The respective questionnaires, predominantly based on multiple-choice questions, are available on the PHDL Moodle platform and any student participating in the project is required to take the questionnaire twice – before and after their stint abroad. In the meantime, quite a number of students have joined this research project, actively analysing the data for their own bachelor theses - with their very own scope of research, of course - thus not only benefitting their own academic careers but also contributing to the project as a whole. For example, a very recent and intriguing finding has been that Austrian teachers primarily rely on their coursebooks while UK teachers very often do without them (Schauer, 2017).
A battery of tests has so far been performed based on inferential statistics to ascertain the test design’s reliability and the validity of the data (t-Test, Gaussian distribution, normality test, parameter analyses), which show there is a significant difference between the trainees’ feedback before and after their stints. It can thus be presumed that these placements do, indeed, benefit the participating students considerably (Schöftner, 2017).
Brown, S. and Larson-Hall, J. (2012) Second Language Acquisition Myths. Michigan: Michigan University Press.
Cook, V. and Singleton, D. (2014) Key Topics in Second Language Acquisition. Bristol: MM Textbooks.
Legutke, M. K., Müller-Hartmann A. and Schocker-v. Ditfurth, M. (2012) Teaching English in the Primary School. Stuttgart: Klett.
Lightbown, P.M. and Spada, N. (2013) How Languages are Learned. Oxford: OUP.
Mackey, A. (2012) Input, Interaction and Corrective Feedback in L2 Learning. Oxford: OUP.
Schauer, S. (2017) A Comparative Study of Second Language Approaches in the United Kingdom and in Austria. Unpublished bachelor thesis, Private Pädagogische Hochschule der Diözese Linz, Linz Austria.
Schöftner, T. (2017) Bericht Inferenzstatistik. Unpublished paper im Rahmen des Studientages „PH Forscht 2“ der Privaten Pädagogischen Hochschule der Diözese Linz (PH Linz). Linz, am 25-04-2017.
Thomas, B.J. (2001) Advanced Vocabulary and Idiom. Longman Group Limited.
Wiesinger, M. (2016) The Gift of the Gab – Games and Activities for the EFL Classroom. Ein methodisch-didaktisches Handbuch für Englischlehrer/-innen bzw. Studierende. Im Eigenverlag. ISBN: (978-3-200-04467-8).