Learning 2.0

Adrienne OUAFO defended her thesis at UL

On July 24, 2015 Adrienne OUAFO successfully defended his thesis at the University of Luxembourg on

“Interacting in Luxembourgish as an additional Language: An analysis of language learning as related to language affordances among multilingual adult learners”

Research on language learning has increasingly recognised that social interaction plays an important role as the semiotic mediator of language learning and development with respect to affordances for the target language (TL). Perceived as relationships between the learner and his/her environment, affordances are the ‘use-able’ and ‘speak-able’ of the TL in the learning environment. The assumption is that active verbal engagement in naturally occurring everyday interaction enable learners to develop knowledge of TL use associated with longer and more complex utterances in the TL. In her PhD research, Adrienne Ouafo investigates how appropriate these assumptions are in the case of multilingual learners of Luxembourgish who have to face challenges related to the specific multilingual context in which their learning occurs. Luxembourg is an officially trilingual country (French, German and Luxembourgish) where other languages, like English, play important roles in daily social life. Focus is laid on adult learners of Luxembourgish who are multilingual speakers of at least two of those three languages. Drawing from four corpuses (questionnaire, interviews, audiorecordings and focus group discussions), her research discusses the zone of proximal development of an additional language in a multilingual context as related to language affordance. Under which conditions might affordances be enacted in multilingual contexts and what forms might it take when learners are multilingual speakers and the target language is an additional language? Results show that in a context where the target language’s functions are limited to “juste les petites conversations wie geet et?” [only mini-dialogues how are you?], metalinguistic awareness is crucial for the occurrence of executive affordance that allows for language learning and development to take place. An awareness of the context on the one side and of the status of the target language on the other side is crucial for the learning and development of Luxembourgish.

The members of the PhD jury were:

Prof. Dr. Peter GILLES – UL FLSHASE (president)

Prof. Dr. Steve WALSH – Newcastle University (UK) (vice-chairman)

Prof. Dr. Charles MAX – UL FLSHASE (main supervisor)

PD Dr. Jacqueline BREUGNOT – Universität Koblenz-Landau (Ger) (member)

Dr. Line PERRIN – Universität des Saarlandes (Ger) (member)

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