Keynote Åsta Haukås


“I think I am first and foremost me being a teacher.” School teachers’ perceptions of similarities and differences between teaching English and a non-language subject

In language teacher education programmes across the globe, there is a notion that teaching languages is unique and different to the teaching of other subjects. Previous research has suggested several characteristics of language teaching that makes the teaching of the subject different from teaching non-language subjects, such as the combination of skills and content, a stronger emphasis on identity formation, a closer and more personal contact with students and the stress related to supporting the students in overcoming their language anxiety. However, these studies have in common that they have investigated these issues exclusively from the perspective of teachers who only teach one language, English, and who therefore only can report on what they believe are the unique characteristics of their subject.

This study, on the other hand, set out to explore how similar or different teaching English is from teaching other subjects in the eyes of teachers in Austrian and Norwegian secondary schools who teach two or more subjects daily. The main objectives were to understand what lessons can be drawn across subjects and what areas of uniqueness may require special professional development support. The emerging story is of teachers who are working hard to engage learners in all their subjects, aware of the need for each subject to be relevant for learners, seeking to maintain their professional competences in all subjects, but ultimately facing unique societal, governmental and institutional conditions which create specific challenges for each subject.

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