There are six students on this course, two male, four female. Five of the students have followed the whole program in the department which included a language course in the first and second year and a year or a half year (varying between 3 to 8 months) spent in the Netherlands as part of the Year Abroad. The sixth student was a mature student, Chris, who was in his sixties and who followed an MA course at the department. All students have had experience of foreign language learning at an advanced level (i.e. at A-level or comparable) before they started this degree course. All students except one (Emma) started the degree course without any prior knowledge of Dutch. Students followed a variety of degree options which were either BA Dutch or a combination of Dutch with another modern foreign language.
All students are white, three are mature students (Chris, Emma, and Eve), the other three either started their degree straight from school or after a gap year. All students were British, but students had a variety of background experiences. In addition, there were two exchange students from the Netherlands, Marijke, and Yasmin, who I had invited to take part in one of the classes which I use for data collection. I will describe the individual students below.
Emma was a mature student in her late twenties. She had lived and worked for a number of years in the Netherlands before she came to study at our department. She was the only student in the group who when she started her degree already had a high competence in Dutch. She was taking the BA Dutch program.
Claire had studied in France for a couple of years doing a Baccalaureate, but had lived in Britain prior to that. She did not speak any Dutch when she started her study. She was taking the BA Dutch and French program.
Andy had taken A-levels at a British school. He did not speak any Dutch before starting his study. Like Claire, he was taking the BA Dutch and French program. Sarah Sarah had taken A-levels at a British school. She also started Dutch completely from scratch. She was studying BA Dutch and German.
Eve was in her mid-twenties which classified her as a mature student. She had lived for a brief period in Amsterdam working in a bar. She had a smattering of Dutch when she started her BA Dutch program.
Chris was a mature student in his sixties. He had worked his whole life. He was taking an MA course at the Dutch department. He had learned Dutch many years ago and wanted to catch up on his language skills. His Dutch competence was particularly grammar-based and his writing style tended to be very formal.
Marijke was an exchange student from the Netherlands. She was studying literature at the University of Groningen. She also undertook some work practice while she was at the department. In this capacity, she did vocabulary work with students in a literature class.
Yasmin was an exchange student from the Netherlands. She was studying at the University of Amsterdam and was of Turkish descent.
In Chapter 5, I use classroom data mainly, but not exclusively, relating to Claire, Emma, Sarah and Marijke, because their responses tended to provide the richest segments of data. In Chapter 6, in providing a general overview of my findings, I also discuss some interview data relating to Claire and Sarah. I decided to focus on these two students because of their contrasting approaches to the cultuurtekst pedagogy. One of the students, Claire, could be said to be a ‘model student’, as she engaged well with this pedagogy. Claire has also, together with Emma and Marijke, contributed more than the other students to the classroom discussions. I selected Sarah for this study, because the data relating to her are significant: she resisted my pedagogy throughout the course and she was very open and frank about this.