Prescriptivism and sociolinguistic competence in German as a Foreign Language at University.

Onderzoeksoutput: Unpublished paper


To Belgian students who study German language and literature at university, German is a
foreign language (GFL). Hence, language errors are often defined in relation to learning
the standard language as the norm. From an academic point of view, a distinction can be
made between a linguistic and a sociolinguistic norm. While the linguistic norm refers to
the language system in terms of grammar rules and the standard lexicon, sociolinguistics
is concerned with language behavior and language varieties in formal and informal
settings. From the latter perspective language errors are defined in terms of inappropriate
language behavior. The question is how a sociolinguistic norm is dealt with by university
students in a GFL-context. In order to investigate this question, 31 bachelor and 14
master students majoring in German from both the Université Libre de Bruxelles and the
Vrije Universiteit Brussel were asked in 2009 to write down their point of view in
narratives. According to Swain et al. (2011: Xi) "narrative inquiry and narrative analysis
have vigorous roles in education generally. Storying the experience of teaching [...], and
of learning has become an accepted method of research". The starting point of their
discussions is the column on popular language use in SPIEGEL ONLINE
( by the language critic and stand-up comedian
Bastian Sick. The results indicate that foreign language students still have a rather
prescriptive view on grammar and language learning. It is suggested that language errors
are no longer solely understood as a function of grammatical accuracy but also from a
sociolinguistic point of view as appropriateness (Lochtman 2012).

Lochtman, K. (2012) Sprachnormen in der Auslandsgermanistik. Muttersprache, 3, 194-202.
Swain, M. /Kinnear, P. /Steinman, L. (2011): Sociocultural Theory in Second LanguageEducation.
Originele taal-2English
StatusUnpublished - 13 jun 2013
EvenementUnknown -
Duur: 13 jun 2013 → …


Periode13/06/13 → …


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