På jakt efter språk : om språkdelen i gymnasieskolans svenskämne

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (monograph)


A common feature of existing research is that the linguistic part of the subject Swedish in upper secondary school appears to be diffuse and seems to lack core and theoretical framework. The purpose of the thesis ’Hunting for language’ is to describe and investigate how the linguistic part of Swedish is handled in upper secondary school. The study was carried out in two classes of college-preparatory programs during the first semester of the students in high school. In addition to observations of lessons, interviews with students from each class, with their Swedish teachers and with their headmasters were conducted. Further, texts produced by students and teachers were collected.
One background for the study consists of different conceptions of the subject Swedish and of how these conceptions are related to changes of school policy. Another important starting point is Bernstein's theory of pedagogy with its concepts of classification, and invisible and visible pedagogies. In these, the dichotomy of implicit and explicit teaching is vital and is contained, for example, in the issue of explicit versus implicit writing instruction.
The study shows that the linguistic part is justified in different ways. An emphasis on benefit in terms of personal growth for one’s own career appears in the textbook and the policy documents, as well in interviews with students and school leaders, which is consistent with the principle of school and education as a private good. The teachers further include an idea of personal growth, but the link to a future career is not as strong. The policy documents and the teachers also show a citizenship perspective. On the whole, the classification of the linguistic part stands out as weak. The idea of implicit learning is prominent, while, at the same time, the students and the teachers believe that teaching should be explicit. It is clear that different ideas about language and language development are intermingled in the subject Swedish without being made visible. Thus, the linguistic part of the subject Swedish appears as an example of an invisible pedagogy.
The observed teaching practice shows a domination of implicit instruction and a presupposed implicit learning. A strong external classification in terms of clarity regarding material selection and opening explanations by the teachers contrasts with a weak internal classification indicated by the absence of a linguistic metalanguage when working with, for instance, genres.
Finally, explicitness and use of metalanguage are emphasized. The subject of Swedish must try to accommodate the wishes of the students concerning language as a tool for their personal projects, while, at the same time, values embedded in the language and in the reality that language constructs are challenged and brought up for discussion.


  • Fredrik Hansson
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Languages and Literature


  • educational linguistics, critical literacy, school subject Swedish, mother tongue subjects, upper secondary school, language development, subject didactics, writing instruction, explicit teaching, invisible pedagogy, metalanguage, grammar instruction, genre pedagogy
Original languageSwedish
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Assistant supervisor
Award date2011 Apr 29
  • Malmö högskola
Print ISBNs978-91-86295-11-0
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Publication categoryResearch

Bibliographic note

Defence details Date: 2011-04-29 Time: 10:15 Place: Malmö högskola, Orkanen, Nordenskiöldsgatan 10, sal D 138 External reviewer(s) Name: Berge, Kjell Lars Title: professor Affiliation: Universitetet i Oslo, Institutt for lingvistiske og nordiske studier ---