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Teacher perspectives on the introduction of linguistics in the languages classroom: Evidence from a co-creation project on French, German and Spanish

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Michelle Sheehan



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


Linguistics is conspicuously absent from language teaching in UK schools. A-level cultural topics cover a range of themes such as cyber-society, cultural heritage, and multiculturalism, but the approach taken to these topics is not informed by linguistics. In previous work (Sheehan et al. 2021), we have argued that this is an unfortunate omission not only because linguistics is appealing to many language students and perceived by them to be useful, but also because the existing cultural topics could be significantly enriched by the inclusion of the critical/analytical study of language itself (Corr et al. 2019). In this paper, we provide concrete examples of how linguistics can be integrated into the existing A-level curriculum for Modern Foreign Languages (MFL) in England and Wales. Reporting on a project in which teachers trialled linguistics materials co-created by us (a group of academics) and experienced languages teachers, we present evidence that linguistics materials are perceived to be both highly novel but nonetheless compatible with the existing A-level curriculum. Data from questionnaires and semi-structured interviews with participating teachers also shows that: (i) these new materials can be taught with little or no prior experience of linguistics; and (ii) adding linguistics materials to the curriculum leads to significant impacts on teacher and pupil attitudes towards language(s). Despite some challenges, which we also discuss, the results highlight again the great potential of linguistics as a component of language teaching and the contribution that it can make to the enrichment of the discipline.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Sheehan M, Havinga A, Kasstan J, Stollhans S, Corr A, Gillman P

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: British Educational Research Journal

Year: 2024

Pages: epub ahead of print

Online publication date: 25/03/2024

Acceptance date: 04/03/2024

Date deposited: 10/03/2024

ISSN (print): 0141-1926

ISSN (electronic): 1469-3518

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd.


DOI: 10.1002/berj.4009


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Funder referenceFunder name
Arts and Humanities Research Council
Faculty of Humanities and Social Science, Newcastle University
University of Bristol