Language competences in lower secondary French-as-a-foreign language classrooms


  • Eva Thue Vold University of Oslo



French as a foreign language, linguistic competence , grammar teaching, vocabulary teaching, pronunciation teaching


Current language education policies in Europe place a strong emphasis on skills and the ability to use language to interact with others. The Companion volume to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages even states that in an action-oriented approach to language learning, “competence exists only in action”, thus rejecting the traditional competence/performance dichotomy (Council of Europe 2020, 139). In such an educational context, what is the role of language competences (i.e. grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation) in the language classroom? This article presents a classroom research study of French-as-a-foreign-language teaching in lower secondary schools in Norway. 45 French lessons in six schools were video recorded and analyzed to examine how and to what extent six teachers and their learners worked explicitly with the three components of linguistic competence. The findings show that grammar and vocabulary are explicitly taught in most classrooms, whereas pronunciation is rarely explicitly addressed.


Askland, S. 2018. “Too much grammar will kill you!” Teaching Spanish as a foreign language in Norway: What teachers say about grammar teaching. Nordic Journal of Modern Language Methodology 6 (2): 57-84.

Bardel, C., G. Erickson, and R. Österberg. 2019. Learning, teaching and assessment of second foreign languages in Swedish lower secondary school – Dilemmas and prospects. Apples: Journal of Applied Language Studies 13 (1): 7-26.

Brkan, A., and E. T. Vold. In preparation. Pronunciation instruction in French-as-a-foreign-language lower secondary school classes in Norway.

Council of Europe. 2001. Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, teaching, assessment. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Council of Europe. 2020. Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, teaching, assessment – Companion volume. Strasbourg: Council of Europe Publishing.

Ellis, R. 1994. The study of second language acquisition. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Estaire, S., and J. Zanon. 1994. Planning task-work. A task-based approach. Oxford: Macmillian Heinemann.

Green, A. 2023. Washback in language assessment. In The encyclopedia of applied linguistics, ed. C.A. Chapelle. Wiley.

Heimark, G. E. 2013. Praktisk tilnærming i teori og praksis. Ungdomsskolelæreres forståelse av en praktisk tilnærming i fremmedspråksundervisningen [An action-oriented approach in theory and practice. Lower secondary school teachers’ perception of an action-oriented approach in foreign language teaching]. PhD thesis, University of Oslo.

Littlewood, W. 2004. The task-based approach: Some questions and suggestions. ELT Journal 58(4): 319-326.

Llovet Vilà, X. 2016. Language teacher cognition and practice about a practical approach: The teaching of speaking in the Spanish as a foreign language classroom in Norwegian lower secondary schools. PhD thesis, University of Bergen.

Mangold. 2018. Interact (computer software). Version 18.02.13.

Nation, P. 2007. The Four Strands. International Journal of Innovation in Language Learning and Teaching 1(1): 2-13. DOI: 10.2167/illt039.0

Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training. 2006. Subject curriculum for foreign languages. Oslo: Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training. (accessed August 26, 2022).

Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training. 2020. Subject curriculum for foreign languages. Oslo: Norwegian Directorate for Education and Training. (accessed August 26, 2022).

Prosjektgruppa for NAVF-prosjektet Fransk og tysk som fremmedspråk (NAVF). 1987. Fransk og tysk som fremmedspråk i grunnskolen og den videregående skole. Sluttrapport. Oslo: Novus.

Simensen, A. M. 2007. Teaching a foreign language. Principles and procedures. Bergen: Fagbokforlaget.

Sinclair, J. 2004. Trust the text: Language, corpus and discourse. London: Routledge.

Storch, N., and M. Sato. 2020. Comparing the same task in ESL vs. EFL learning contexts: An activity theory perspective. International Journal of Applied Linguistics 30 (1): 50–69.

Vold, E. T. 2020. Grammatikkundervisning i franskfaget. Viden om literacy 27: 106-114.

Vold, E. T. 2022. Learner spoken output and teacher response in second versus foreign language classrooms. Language Teaching Research 0(0).

Vold, E. T., and A. Brkan. 2020. Classroom discourse in lower secondary French-as-a-foreign-language classes in Norway: Amounts and contexts of first and target language use. System 93.




How to Cite

Vold, Eva Thue. 2023. “Language Competences in Lower Secondary French-As-a-Foreign Language Classrooms”. Bergen Language and Linguistics Studies 13 (1).