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Writing in the Primary English Classroom: A Design-Based Research Study

by Anne Schrader (Leipzig University, Germany)



In Germany, written skills continue to play a minor role in Primary EFL classrooms despite empirical evidence showing that teaching literacy to young learners supports their L2 learning progress, including vocabulary and pronunciation skills (e.g., Duscha, 2008). At the same time, there is a dearth of research into teaching methods with which literacy can be effectively imparted without neglecting the development of oral skills and without overtaxing the young learners. While this challenge is gradually being met for reading (e.g., Frisch, 2013; Beinke, 2020; Reckermann, 2018), it has hardly been addressed with regard to writing. Moreover, practitioners are gradually becoming aware of the necessity to include reading and writing to a greater extent;however, vis-à-vis the lack of literacy teaching methods they mostly have to resort to the trial-and-error-principle. This is particularly problematic with regard to the transition from primary to secondary school (e.g. Brunsmeier, 2019) as heterogeneity amongst the learners becomes especially visible in their literary competence. The purpose of this study is to narrow this gap by means of design-based research (DBR) into the systematic development and evaluation of didactic formats for teaching literacy and writing skills to young ELF learners in 3rd grade. More specifically, the study investigates possible challenges during the implementation of these formats and their subsequent revision (RQ 1), and the effects of the literacy-enriched intervention on the learners’ overall L2 skills (RQ 2). In line with DBR principles, the study features a cyclic structure of Development – Teaching Cycle I – Evaluation/Revision – Teaching Cycle II – Final Evaluation. Rooted in a phonics-informed approach, the intervention spans three units of ten lessons each and addresses written skills at the word, sentence and text levels. Data for RQ 1 consists of video-recordings of the intervention, learners’ writing products, and teacher interviews. Data for RQ 2 is collected in a quasi-experimental design that contrasts the intervention group with a control group and assesses L2 proficiency for all four skills via adapted Cambridge English Young Learners pre- and posttests. At the conference, quantitative and qualitative findings from both cycles will be presented.






Beinke, Alicia (2020). Anbahnen von Schrift im Englischunterricht der Grundschule. Phonics als Ansatz für den Schriftspracherwerb in der Fremdsprache Englisch. Bremen: University of Bremen.


Duscha, Michael (2008). “Schrifteinsatz im Englischunterricht“. In: Christiani, Reinhold / Cwik, Gabriele. Englisch unterrichten in Klasse 1 und 2.. Berlin: Cornelsen Scriptor. 68-77.


Frisch, Stefanie (2013). Lesen im Englischunterricht der Grundschule. Eine Vergleichsstudie zur Wirksamkeit zweier Lehrverfahren. Tübingen: Narr.


Brunsmeier, Sonja (2019). “Der Übergang von Klasse 4 nach 5 aus der Sicht von Lehrkräften“. In Kolb, Annika / Legutke, Michael K. (eds.). Englisch ab Klasse 1 – Grundlage für kontinuierliches Fremdsprachenlernen. Giessener Beiträge für Fremdsprachendidaktik. Tübingen: Narr Verlag.


Reckermann, Julia (2018). Reading authentic English picture books in the primary school EFL classroom. Berlin: Peter Lang.