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CORDIS - Résultats de la recherche de l’UE

In the search of non-authoritative education in Hungary. Metadiscourses, identities and strategies in students’ and teachers’ interactive practices in standard and alternative settings

Final Report Summary - FINDING OWN WORDS (In the search of non-authoritative education in Hungary. Metadiscourses, identities and strategies in students’ and teachers’ interactive practices in standard and alternative settings)

The point of departure of the project was an observation that in Hungary a majority of teachers maintain authoritative practices in classroom interaction. That is, instead of acting as independent agents, students often play the role of a patient, quoting textbook definitions and their teachers’ words. Further, recent Hungarian education policies have further restricted teachers’ opportunities for working autonomously. This norm of dependence is usually reflected in students’, teachers’ and parents’ narratives, too.
To understand the basic problems of Hungarian education, the project was organized around the notion of agency, with a special regard to how agency is co-constructed in interactional practices. Since the material environment of schools influence interaction and vice versa, the project applied a linguistic landscape approach to education. That is, agency and interaction were studied in relation to educational spaces. Analyses found differences between interactional practices and the discursive co-construction of agency in various school types (i.e. mainstream state schools, CLIL schools and alternative pedagogical programs).
Following the approved work plan, Szabó (1) collected new materials for the complex study of language and educational ideologies during a one-month fieldwork in Hungary in 2015; (2) organized the corpus of fieldwork materials; (3) created and continuously maintained a corpus of articles on Hungarian education and (4) analyzed both corpora. In line with the reviewers’ recommendations to his Marie Curie proposal, Szabó collected materials in Finland as well to gain a comparative perspective from which to analyze Hungarian phenomena. In Finland, research activities included fieldwork in four schools in the Jyväskylä region, with a special attention to teachers’ approaches to the management of linguistic diversity in heterogeneous learning groups as well as in second language education.
Contributing to theorization, Szabó defined agency as the semiotically constructed display of the ability to act with initiative and effect. In connection with the material environment of education, ownership and authorship were found to be notions which have a clear impact on educational practices. Among others, according to Szabó’s research participants, customizing educational and recreational spaces in the school contributes to the increase of students’, teachers’ and parents’ agency, ownership, authorship and belonging to the community.
During the project, Szabó developed several fieldwork methods to gain access into the emic perspectives of school community members in Finnish and Hungarian schools. One such method is ‘tourist guide technique’, a co-exploratory walking tour in school buildings. It enabled some one hundred (head) teachers, students and parents to reflect on the pedagogical practices and language ideologies of their school communities. It also stirred discussions about tensions between explicit school policies and the hidden agendas illuminated during the walking tours. For example, even though the written curriculum of a school promoted multilingualism among the diverse student population, most of the students’ languages remained invisible. According to participants, reflecting on such issues enables the (re)-designing of school spaces to enhance among others learning, social inclusion, diversity and the agency of community members.
Disseminating the research results, during the project Szabó published 5 academic papers, 16 popularizing materials, 27 blog posts and 1 video (further academic publications: 2 are in press, 2 under revision, 2 submitted, 6 drafted). Szabó co-organized 10 academic events and presented 39 papers (13 invited) at conferences and seminars, including leading conferences such as Sociolinguistics Symposium 20 and Linguistic Landscape Workshop 7. Szabó has been active as one of the two coordinators of a global research network that focuses on the visual and material dimensions of education and learning, and started to co-edit a special issue for Linguistics and Education on the topic. Further, he has joined several professional associations and research networks.
Szabó has been integrated into the international and Finnish Applied Language Studies community. He has become a core faculty member at the Center for Applied Language Studies at the University of Jyväskylä. Szabó was enrolled in nearly 20 staff courses and took part in hands-on training activities both in Jyväskylä and as part of his research visits. His leadership skills have developed through PhD supervision, organization of scientific events, editorship, peer reviewing and negotiations with stakeholders.
In cooperation with research teams and stakeholders, Szabó has been active in writing research proposals for national and international calls, including H2020 initiatives. Receiving funding for some of the projects, Szabó has started to take part in their implementation since the end of his Marie Curie period. Further, he has strengthened international cooperation among universities via exchange visits, and has popularized Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions as a Marie Curie Ambassador.

Researcher in charge: Prof. Tarja Nikula-Jäntti
Tel.: +358405565877
Marie Curie Fellow: Dr. Tamás Péter Szabó
Tel.: +358408054644
Project blog: