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SLLAT Seminar: Jenefer Philp (LAEL, Lancaster)

Date: 15 October 2014 Time: 4.00 pm to 5.30pm

Venue: County South C89

Engagement - a term in search of a context: Understanding L2 learners' engagement in the classroom

This paper is about the nature of learner engagement in language classrooms, and its potential role in second language learning. It focuses on what we mean by "engagement", how we might go about operationalising it in the context of the language classroom and its possible role in L2 learning.

Teachers observing their students at "work" are very aware of qualitative differences in interest and involvement. One pair may be completely off-task, whispering about the weekend. Another group may be carrying out the motions of doing the task, yet paying little attention to it. A third pair is hunched over paper, scribbling down ideas, asking one another questions, trying to work out the problem. It is clear that some student activity is more effective for learning than others. While engagement is the term frequently employed to talk broadly about learners' interest or participation in a task, in applied linguistics research there appears to be no principled understanding of this term.

We can however benefit greatly from work in educational psychology, where the concept of engagement has been the topic of intensive study over the past decade. This robust research is embodied in a recent handbook of research in student engagement (Christenson, Reschley, & Wiley, 2012), and theoretical review of the construct (Lawson & Lawson, 2013).

Drawing from classroom data in adult and child classrooms I explore the nature of engagement specific to L2 learning. Based on previous research engagement (Christenson et. al, 2012), I begin with engagement as a multidimensional construct comprising behavioural, cognitive and emotional components (Fredricks, Blumenfeld & Paris, 2004), and suggest that for L2 learners, social and linguistic dimensions are also relevant. I conclude the paper with a discussion of engagement and L2 learning.

Event website:


Who can attend: Anyone


Further information

Organising departments and research centres: Linguistics and English Language, Second Language Learning and Teaching Research Group (SLLAT)


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Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Lancaster University
Lancaster LA1 4YD
United Kingdom

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