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Stephan Breidbach

July 2015

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Dr. Stephan Breidbach is Professor of English Language Education at Humboldt-Universität, Berlin, Germany. His research interests are in addition to the bilingual subject: teaching foreign language in teacher training, Critical Language Awareness, language policy and learning identities.

Stephan Breidbach is the founder and managing editor of the Schriftenreihe Mehrsprachigkeit in Schule und Unterricht at publisher Peter Lang Verlag.

Research and work areas: The conceptual and empirical relationship between education theory and foreign language teaching Reconstruction of educational processes in foreign language teaching Language at school and language policy Historical, social and political framework of foreign language teaching Didactics of bilingual teaching. He also is co-coordinator of the project LANGSCAPE.

What is your background in the field of regional and minority languages/education/ multilingualism?

As a trained secondary school teacher for English, Civics, and History, I am aware of how important issues of linguistic and cultural identity were in history and still are in contemporary politics. During my PhD research at the University of Bremen on Content and Language Integrated Learning, I joined a cross-linguistic group of scholars set to promote multilingual education in schools and as a policy aim for society at large. The Bremen group still exists and has developed into a larger network called LANGSCAPE. Today, we bring together linguists, psychologists, and language teacher educators from many European countries. Since 2013, I have been honoured to be a co-coordinator of LANGSCAPE.

What do you think is the major challenge in your field of work?

One challenge is to make foreign language education truly multilingual in the sense of promoting learning languages in general. Foreign language teaching is traditionally monocultural in content and often monolingual in practice. I think a change in the mind-set of language teachers is necessary regarding their linguistic and professional identities. Another challenge in foreign language teaching is to cater for plurilingual learners. Particularly in urban schools, their numbers are significant, and traditional foreign language teaching still conceptualises learners as monolingual speakers of the dominant language within a society. Besides, the situation is not much different in foreign language teaching research. Finally, regarding CLIL, researchers have started to embrace the idea that language operates as a cognitive tool for learning. Hence, CLIL has much to offer for literacy education and should be seen as more than just teaching a foreign language through the content of other subjects.

What is one of the hottest new projects / items you are working on?

I am currently involved in a EU-supported project called playingCLIL that aims to bring methods from drama pedagogy to CLIL classrooms. We use interactive group games to scaffold language skills, conceptual learning of content from non-linguistic subjects, and students’ interactive and collaborative skills. The feedback we receive from teachers and students alike is very positive and we hope that through these more holistic and interactive methods, learners of all ages and across the educational contexts will find CLIL more accessible. As a consequence, more learners might have access to CLIL with lower risks of failing. As a follow-up study, we are planning to investigate teacher and learner investment (a term borrowed from Norton) into CLIL on the basis of the playingCLIL methodology.

Are there any important references such as articles, links, etc. you would like to mention?

A book I co-edited with Britta Viebrock on critical views of European CLIL. I find this perspective important as CLIL is often heralded as a cure-all in language education:

Do you have any questions on these topics?