How do foreign language teaching and learning connect? Do we learn a language faster or better because of a certain type or style of teaching? Does a native speaker of one language learn a new language faster or better than a native speaker of another language, regardless of the teaching approach?

Such questions will be addressed during a two-day workshop organized by AUP Professor Rebekah Rast and her European colleagues.  The Workshop, entitled Apport de la recherche en acquisition des langues à la didactique des langues étrangères will be held in French at the Université de Haute-Alsace in Mulhouse June 16-17. At the center of the workshop is an extensive European language acquisition project (VILLA)*, which studies how native speakers of French, English, Dutch, German and Italian begin to learn the Polish language. The project observes students’ learning of Polish during the first fourteen hours of instruction.

The two-day workshop begins on June 16 with several hands-on ateliers where guests will view videotapes of the Polish teacher in action and try out Polish tasks that were performed by participants over the fourteen-hour instruction period.

During the second day, June 17, invited speakers will present their reactions to the project’s methodology and its preliminary results by responding to the following question: « Comment la didactique et les pratiques des classes peuvent bénéficier des résultats de la recherche en acquisition des langues? » (“How can pedagogy and classroom practice benefit from results of language acquisition studies?”). Three types of foreign language specialists will respond to the question: researchers in language pedagogy, language teachers, and researchers in language acquisition.

Even though the VILLA project focuses on the beginning stages of learning Polish, Professor Rast and her colleagues expect animated debates about the relations between foreign language acquisition research and the teaching of languages, not only with respect to Polish at the beginner levels, but with respect to any language at any level.

* The project “Varieties of Initial Learners in Language Acquisition: Controlled classroom input and elementary forms of linguistic organisation” (VILLA) received funding from the Open Research Area in Europe for the Social Sciences (ANR in France, DFG in Germany, and NOW in the Netherlands), as well as PRIN in Italy and the British Council in the UK.