University of Kristianstad, Sweden
It is with great pleasure that we announce that Sharon has been awarded a Doctorate in Education from the University of Leicester with a study called: The impact of the Storyline approach on the young language learner classroom: a case study in Sweden.
The purpose of the study was to identify in what ways working with Storyline motivated young language learners and how this influenced the development of their English language skills. I studied a class of 11-13 year olds who worked on Storyline, Our Sustainable Street, which was based on the syllabus goals for English, art, natural science and social studies. The children were families moving into a new street in the fictive town of Danbury, near Manchester. With a theme of sustainable development, the story saw the families taking part in a project to live in a more sustainable way. They also had to deal with the problem of anti-social neighbours. The key questions were designed to practise the skills of reading, writing, speaking and listening, to consolidate grammatical knowledge and basic vocabulary areas (family, home and other everyday subjects) as well as to introduce words to do with sustainability. The children had worked with the concepts of carbon footprint, greenhouse gases etc in Swedish before the start of the study. The Storyline came to an end with a street party.
The most popular aspects of Storyline work were found to be group work, art work, variety and for the girls, the chance to write more freely and use their imagination. I found a development in all the language skills, such as a greater willingness to speak English in class, the ability to understand English instruction more quickly and without need for translation into Swedish, longer and more complex written texts, and increased vocabulary. Many children also stated that they felt braver about speaking English in class – an important first step to actually doing so.