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Strengthening a (socio)constructivist approach in Slovenian border regions Primary Neighbouring Language (NL) teaching and learning through a co-constructed extension and evaluation of the CoBlaLT model

ARIS Code: J6-3132

Project duration: 1. 10. 2021–30. 9. 2024

Project leaderIrina Moira Cavaion, PhD

Participating institute at ZRS KoperInstitute for Linguistic Studies

The research Strengthening a (socio)constructivist approach in Slovenian border regions Primary Neighbouring Language (NL) teaching and learning through a co-constructed extension and evaluation of the CoBlaLT model is a study in the field Applied Linguistics and Educational Linguistics, which aims to, strengthen socio-constructivist NL / FL teaching and learning in Slovenian primary schools along the border and possibly in Slovenian FL primary education in order to make teaching on FL more authentic, oriented towards critical thinking, cognitively based, affectively oriented and socially engaged. The research is based on two scientific observations:

  • The first concerns the role that social constructivism plays in current FL teaching and learning. Social constructivism has slowly made its way into academic discourses on foreign language teaching, to which much literature now attests. Nevertheless, there is no significant evidence of the extent to which it has so far found its way into foreign language practise in primary and lower secondary classrooms across Europe, and specifically in Slovenian primary schools along national borders.
  • The second observation comes from the results of our doctoral dissertation (Cavaion, 2015) and postdoctoral research (ARRS Z6-8257, 2017-2019), regarding the model we developed for teaching and learning the neighbour language in border regions – the CoBLaLT model – which is socio-constructivist oriented and inspired by a humanistic approach, but it still lacks scientific validation of its effectiveness in terms of Language Awareness development, Integrativeness (Gardner, 1984), Interactional Competence development, inclusivity of migrant children and of innovative tools for the evaluation of its activities.

Therefore, in the present study, the above-mentioned aspects, which have been under-examined in previous research, are adopted as the aim of the research, adopting as a theoretical framework the socio-constructivist approach to teaching FL.

The research will last three years and will be a qualitative-participatory research and partly a qualitative analysis research involving primary school institutions settled along the Italian-Slovenian and Croatian-Slovenian borders and the below listed research centres, reapplying the CoBLaLT model striving together for the co-construction of assessment tools, interdisciplinary learning paths and for the scientific evaluation of the model.

Three research institutions – the lead partner Science and Research Centre of Koper; the University of Nova Gorica; the Institute for Ethnic Studies of Ljubljana – will be involved, with expertise in three different Slovenian border areas – the coastal region Italian-Slovenian of the municipalities of Koper, Izola, Piran, Trieste and Muggia; the border region Nova Gorica; the border along the town of Rjeka.

Seven researchers will participate, both senjor and junior, all with expertise in language teaching and intercultural issues beyond literary, geopolitical and historical topics. The relevance of the research will affect the scientific fields of Applied Linguistics and Educational Linguistics, plurilingual education and intercultural studies, and language policy studies. In particular, in the field of Applied Linguistics and Educational Linguistics, the research will constitute an important scientific study of the incorporation of socio-constructivist principles and practises in FL and NL teaching and learning. Finally, the research will make an important contribution in the field of language policy, providing teachers and school communities with a greater political awareness and helping to make language teaching a real matter of democratic participation and social co-construction, able to respond to the real needs of society in the border regions.