Toorenaar, A., & Rijlaarsdam, G. (2011). Instructional theory of Language Lessons.
L1-Educational Studies in Language and Literature, 11,
pp. 57-89. http://dx.doi.org/10.17239/L1ESLL-2011.01.04
Since the Lisbon Summit in 2000, reducing school dropout rates has a high priority in Europe, especially in pre-vocational tracks in secondary education. One policy issue is improving the match between pre-vocational secondary and senior secondary vocational education and allows a stronger focus on practical work in vocational education. Therefore, more and more schools for secondary pre-vocational education in the Netherlands set out a specific language education policy relating the language arts curriculum to the vocational curriculum. One assumes that students will be more motivated for language lessons when they are engaged in rich contexts, in meaningful language activities which they experience as relevant, since it serves a clear communicative purpose.
To guide this process of curriculum integration we set out an instructional theory for language education in the setting of pre-vocational education. In this paper we present four course design parameters that constitute our interpretation of a community of learners for secondary pre- vocational L1-learning: 1) language learning as a meaningful activity; 2) language learning as a reflective activity; 3) language learning as a shared activity and 4) language learning as a focus on transferable learning outcomes. To check explore the practicality and theoretical value, we set up a design experiment as a collaborative enterprise of teachers and researchers, in which these parameters guided the joint enterprise. We confronted the theoretical framework with the analysis of a single case study, the design experiment, to elaborate and validate this set of four design parameters. Therefore, we operated at three curriculum representations: the (1) intended; (2) implemented; and (3) perceived curriculum. Discriminating these three representations served as data to review and revise the designed lessons as we ran them in two classes, as well as to adjust and refine the conceptual framework. The results show that the designers incorporated all four parameters and that all four contributed to the design somehow. Furthermore, we are better informed what kind of learning activities the four parameters can and can not generate, and how the four parameters interact in means-end relations.