Academic journal article International Electronic Journal of Elementary Education

Mother Tongue Tuition in Sweden - Curriculum Analysis and Classroom Experience

Academic journal article International Electronic Journal of Elementary Education

Mother Tongue Tuition in Sweden - Curriculum Analysis and Classroom Experience

Article excerpt

Abstract

The model of Mother Tongue Tuition (MTT) which has developed in Sweden since the 1970's offers speakers of languages other than Swedish the opportunity to request tuition in their mother tongue, from kindergarten through to year 12. It is unique among the major immigrant-receiving countries of the world yet little is known about MTT and its syllabus outside of its Nordic context. This article examines the syllabus for MTT from two perspectives; firstly using the framework of Constructive Alignment, secondly from the perspective of what is hidden. The intended syllabus is revealed as well-aligned, but the hidden curriculum impedes successful enactment in many contexts. Examples from case studies in a larger on-going research project offer an alternate approach to syllabus implementation when the negative effects of the hidden curriculum are challenged. While highly context-specific, this model may represent a step in the right direction for implementation of the syllabus.

Keywords: Mother tongue tuition, Syllabus, Constructive alignment, Hidden curriculum.

Introduction

The Swedish model of Mother Tongue Tuition, (hereafter MTT) whereby students from kindergarten through to year 12 can request tuition in their mother tongue at school, is unique among the major immigrant-receiving countries, yet little is known about it outside of Scandinavia. Teachers of MTT are also often involved in Study Guidance in the Mother Tongue (SGMT), which is available to students who need help in understanding the school subject matter (which is in Swedish) in their mother tongue. While research and evaluations (Skolverket, 2008; Taguma et al,. 2010, Skolinspektionen, 2012) have indicated that changes in the way MTT is organized and implemented in Sweden need to occur if the educational needs of multilingual students in Sweden are to be better met, the syllabus and content of MTT have not been the subject of much academic research (Bunar, 2010, p. 115). This article aims to contribute to that field through critical examination and evaluation of its syllabus for years 7-9 (hereafter MTT 7-9).

This article addresses the questions firstly of how well-designed the syllabus for MTT 7-9 is, secondly how enactment is influenced by factors external to the syllabus itself, and finally how impediments to successful implementation may be challenged. Curriculum documents, the literature on and evaluations of the subject and examples from case studies in a larger, on-going, qualitative study on Mother Tongue Tuition comprise the data.

After this introduction, a brief overview of the history of the MTT will be given, followed by a discussion of the theoretical and analytical frameworks used in this study. The methods, materials and participants involved are introduced and then the results. Finally the results of the evaluation are summarised and implications discussed.

The first research question which explores the design of the intended syllabus for MTT will be addressed through examination and evaluation of the written curricula documents. Firstly, embedded in its macro-context - the curriculum for the Swedish compulsory school, pre-school class and leisure time centre (Lgr11, 2011), the syllabus for MTT 7-9 will be described and evaluated using the framework of constructive alignment (Biggs and Tang, 2011). This framework is an approach to curricula development and evaluation in which clear connections, or consistency, between curricula aims, learning activities and assessment criteria is a central feature. As structured learning objectives are central to the syllabus for MTT 7-9, as well as the starting point for curriculum development in the framework of constructive alignment, evaluation of the syllabus in this framework is appropriate.

The internal consistency of the syllabus for MTT7-9 will be evaluated by exploring whether its learning aims can be traced through both learning and teaching activities and assessment criteria. …

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