LEAD Graduate School & Research Network

LEAD Intersection 4

Language and Learning

Language is central to learning and critical for academic success. On the one hand, lack of exposure to and understanding of complex, academic language hinders language learning and acquisition of knowledge. On the other hand, limited language production capabilities inhibit demonstration of knowledge in communicative situations and in the course of assessments. Thus, language is necessarily central to any education-oriented research and effectively links all of in LEAD's subareas.

LEAD's research on linguistic complexity in education includes analysis of items in tests and surveys and of textbooks. We developed computational methods for analyzing a wide range of linguistic complexity features for German and English and are using these to explore differences between schoolbooks for different age groups or school types. Researchers in this intersection also investigate the impact of linguistic complexity on student responses to survey items in educational large-scale assessments, and it displays the relevance of linguistic complexity for children solving mathematical word problems.

In the second strand, LEAD targets the balance between implicit and explicit instruction of form and of meaning in language learning. Research explores automatic input enrichment and input enhancement in web-based settings while experiments study the role of meaning in acquiring grammar or inductive and deductive strategies in teaching Latin. An intervention study employs scaffolding techniques to build academic language at the transition from primary to secondary school.

Thirdly, a rich strand of LEAD research focuses on language use in context. It integrates foundational research investigating the role of embodiment in language learning as well as drama-grammatical interventions for German second-language learners in primary school. Considering rhetoric as the art of discourse, LEAD research studies the effectiveness of interventions and training programs targeting speech clarity and vividness of presentations in primary and secondary school.