Interactions between European citizenship and language learning among adolescent Europeans
Hennebry, M, Interactions between European citizenship and language learning among adolescent Europeans, European Educational Research Journal, 10, (4) pp. 623-641. ISSN 1474-9041 (2011) [Refereed Article]
Recent enlargement of the European Union (EU) has created debate as to the suitability of current structures and policies for effectively engaging citizens and developing social cohesion. Education and specifically modern foreign language (MFL) teaching are argued by the literature to play a key role in equipping young people to interact and communicate effectively in the ever-changing European context and to exercise their rights as European citizens. However, much of the empirical research to date has focused on adult understandings of European citizenship. Furthermore, very few studies consider whether current MFL teaching is addressing issues of European citizenship or offer a comparison of provision between one member state and another. This study presents questionnaire data from four European countries to investigate young people's current understanding and awareness of European citizenship and the perceived contribution of their language learning experience to this awareness. Findings suggest that knowledge about European citizenship is patchy across the four countries. Reports on learning in MFL lessons indicate a mismatch between the role identified for the subject in the development of European citizenship and the situation in the classroom. Data gathered from English pupils suggest that these issues are more acute in England than they are in France, Spain or Ireland.