Sociolinguistic Awareness in Multilingual Milieus

Lars Anders Kulbrandstad

Hedmark College, Norway


Mother tongue instruction in Norway has a long tradition of teaching awareness about linguistic variation. Both in elementary and secondary school the pupils study geographical and to a lesser extent social varieties of Norwegian. An important rationale for this is to foster tolerance and respect among users of the national language in all its heterogeneity.

During the last three or four decades immigration has changed the linguistic landscape of Norway. An increasing number of the population live in a bilingual situation and speak Norwegian as a second language. As yet this new state of affairs has barely been reflected in the teaching of knowledge about language in Norwegian schools. Thus there is a need for curriculum revision and development.

In my paper I will report on an ongoing research project which aims at contributing to the renewal of the metalinguistic instruction given to pupils in Norway. The central part of the project is a study of sociolinguistic awareness in a selection of minority pupils in lower secondary school and their majority population classmates. Among the questions I address are the following: What kind of consciousness do the minority pupils have of their own linguistic situation? To what extent are they capable of describing it and reflecting upon it? What conceptions and ideas do Norwegian classmates of the minority pupils have about being bilingual? What kind of knowledge and assumptions do they have about the first language of their bilingual fellow pupils, and how do they conceive the varieties of Norwegian spoken by persons who have learnt it as a second language?

The paper will give a more detailed presentation of the project with a focus on the methods of data collection and parts of the theoretical framework in which I intend to discuss my findings (e.g. Flick 1998, Niedzielski & Preseton 2000, Rampton 1995).

Flick, Uwe (ed.) (1998). The Psychology of the Social. Cambrigde: Cambrigde University Press

Niedzielski, N.A. & D. Preston (2000): Folk Linguistics. New York/Berlin: Mouton Dr Gruyter

Rampton, Ben (1995): Crossing: language and ethnicity among adolescents. London: Longman