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Research at RCM

The activities at RCM focus on applied research in the area of schools, public administration and society. The projects are conducted on behalf of the federal government and are designed to develop foundational knowledge or provide a basis for decisions. In addition, synthesis reports on the current state of research in selected fields are prepared. RCM projects are often conducted in collaboration with research partners from all language regions in Switzerland.

This web page provides an overview of all RCM research projects, which can be searched using keywords or the names of participating researchers.

Click here for research projects that are not part of RCM.

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Project management
Team

(till 2019)

SWIKO is a multilingual learner corpus describing learner language according to principles of corpus-linguistics. The corpus is an umbrella project developed during the 2016–2019 research period and being further developed in the 2021–2024 period. It incorporates data from other projects at the Research Centre on Multilingualism. SWIKO can currently be accessed via a request to the Institute of Multilingualism.

Project management
Vocabulary is the basis for receptive and productive language use. Influential theories on second language acquisition and learning consider vocabulary and grammar to be complementary, rather than opposing elements of language. Vocabulary is viewed as an integral component of learner grammars that is worth promoting and consolidating in the foreign language classroom. In recent years, digitialisation has seen the development of many learning apps and platforms that provide new opportunities...

Project management
Digital translation tools and dictionaries have become an indispensable part of language use. DeepL, Leo and Co. are used extensively and for various purposes, however, their benefits for foreign language teaching and learning remain contested. Some consider these tools to be of educational value, while others express their doubts on the sustainability of their contribution to language learning.

WETLAND

Further development and applications of the Swiss learner corpus SWIKO
Project management
In line with the strong presence of usage-based approaches to language description and research in language acquisition, research in corpus linguistics has intensified and diversified in recent years. This applies equally to corpus-based and corpus-oriented research into language acquisition as well as to applied pedagogical research. Nevertheless, research gaps and desiderata remain. For instance, in regards to learner corpora, certain bias towards English as the target language, intermediate...

Project management

Supervision
Thomas Studer

Comparatively little research has been conducted on how adult migrants – both those with low literacy skills (non-literates) and those who have competence in a non-Latin alphabet (non-roman alphabet literates) – acquire reading and writing skills, and scholarly findings on the subject are correspondingly sparse. This condition is all the more surprising as specialist discourse on the topic of “literacy levels in adults” has long revealed that traditional differentiations between so-called...

Project management

 

Team

Didactic partnership: Centres de Formation Professionnelle de l'Etat de Fribourg (CD-CFP) 

The aim of the DiCoi project is on the one hand to produce teaching material from recordings of authentic conversations (spoken language corpora) and on the other hand to describe the longitudinal development of interaction skills (over 2 years) from recordings of free interactions. Spoken language corpora can be used as a resource for foreign language teaching with the aim of providing exposure to the authentically produced but contextualised target language.

Evolution of patois in French-speaking Switzerland

Predictions regarding vitality, the linguistic system and language practices
Project management
In 2018, Switzerland recognized Franco-Provençal and Franc-Comtois (spoken in French-speaking Switzerland) as minority languages within the meaning of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. Their varieties are designated under the term patois, up until now they have primarily been the subject of dialectological description.

Project management

Supervision: Prof. Dr. Thomas Studer

When asked about their goals, students learning a foreign language generally say they want to speak the language. Despite the value placed on speaking, however, various studies on the foreign language competence of Swiss school students reveal that many learners have difficulty in meeting the learning outcomes set for spoken language (Peyer et al. 2016, Wiedenkeller/Lenz 2019).

Project management
Team

Scientific partner: Stefano Losa, Daniela Kappler, SUPSI-DFA

This research project performs a retrospective analysis of the challenges posed by Swiss multilingualism during the Covid-19 pandemic. Continuous communication with the population is necessary in times of crisis – indeed, communication is an essential aspect of crisis management, be it to provide information about the current situation, health issues and distancing rules, or to explain work-related rights and obligations, access to emergency financial aid, and even educational matters....

Benefits of multilingualism for Switzerland

Individuals and society at large (APSIS)
Project management
Team

Scientific partnership, regular consultation with: Federal Statistical Office (FSO); Institute for multilingualism (IOM)

Linguistic and cultural diversity is of particular importance to Switzerland and its residents, all the more because it is tightly bound with the long-term political, social and cultural history of the country. It is often referred to as an “asset” or even a “treasure”, with some going so far as to claim that it is essential to the very existence of the country.

Immersion and bilingual education programmes in Switzerland

A critical literature review and bibliographic database
In Switzerland, language immersion and bilingual education programmes have been both promoted and in demand for quite some time. The topic has also been the focus of numerous scholarly studies that, however, are not always known or accessible. In addition, there is a degree of uncertainty about which findings can be compared or generalised. This project aims to collect existing scholarly literature and documentation and to analyse the information according to theme.

Language exchange activities are widely viewed as a means of promoting language and intercultural competence and as a way to motivate students to learn a foreign language. Indeed,  recently, educational policy has strengthened its commitment to advance and intensify language exchange.

Project management

Scientific partner: 
Hansjakob Schneider, PHZH

The potential to learn foreign languages varies from one individual to the next and has been investigated by many researchers as of the early 1950s. Individuals’ ability to learn foreign languages relies on various elements that have been identified and grouped under the term language aptitude (ability to retrieve, identify and memorise sound sequences belonging to foreign languages, ability to identify meaningful common features etc.). Another area of the research focuses on emotional/personality...

Project management

Project supervision

Literacy courses designed for adult migrants have been offered for decades in countries experiencing significant immigration. The recent past has seen an increase in research on the teaching and learning processes that are involved in successful and sustainable literacy development for adult migrants in a non-native language and that therefore should be taken into account in literacy classes; nevertheless, significant research gaps remain. Current practice in literacy development for...

Project management

Direction (ad int.): Center for Teachers’ Language Competences (PHSG, SUPSI, HEP VD, UNIL)

Team

In cooperation with PH FHNW, PH Luzern and PH St Gallen

The aim of this project is the empirically-based development of assessments to test the profession-specific language skills in teachers of French, English and Italian as a foreign language in primary and secondary schools.

Innovative forms of assessment

In-depth study on competence-based assessment of receptive skills
Project management
Team

(associated thesis project)

If the aim is to measure how well learners can actually use a foreign language, then competence-oriented testing with near-authentic tasks is the method of choice. There is, however, a need for renewal in the design of such test tasks, especially because real-world language use often uses electronic channels. Chat, Internet searches and the like are part of everyday life. In addition, computer-based testing has increasingly become the norm in recent years, especially in the field of...

Immersion and content-oriented language teaching

Didactic sequences and insertion into primary school’s curriculum
Project management

Laurent Gajo, UNIGE
 

Team

Gabriela Steffen, Ivana Vuksanović, Audrey Freytag (UNIGE)

This project aims at documenting and discussing the conditions for implementing bilingual teaching at primary school level based on two main issues:

Project management

Dieter Isler (PH Thurgau)

In the project “Multilingual Production by Children and Professionals in Playgroups” (Mehrsprachige Praktiken von Kindern und Fachpersonen in Spielgruppen, MePraS) a typology of multilingual practices will be developed and the conditions for successful production will be specified. Taking a focussed ethnographic or “videographic” approach, the everyday communicative productions in four playgroups with an average to high percentage of multilingual children will be examined. 

Project management
This research overview focuses on differences between individuals when it comes to results in learning foreign languages in school. The aim is to identify and discuss studies about factors responsible for differences in the potential to learn foreign languages from one individual to the next as well as the various tools designed to evaluate them (MLAT, LLAMA, CANAL-FT, FLCAS etc.). The research overview will be structured around the following themes:

What Are the Best Forms and Necessary Conditions to Enable Exchange or Direct Contact for the Largest Number of School Children?

A study of the conditions for successful exchange based on perceptions and experiences for future teachers of foreign languages/cultures in compulsory schools
Project management

Susanne Wokusch, Rosanna Margonis-Pasinetti (HEP Vaud)

Despite the acknowledged benefit of language (and cultural) exchange at all school levels, the promotion of this instrument has had limited impact on exchanges actually conducted. The organisation and preparation of exchange and contact opportunities requires a considerable amount of extra work on the part of teachers; for them to consent to taking on such an effort, strong convictions and high motivation as well as institutional support are required.