Writing in German as a foreign language in Norwegian upper sec-ondary school: An investigation of patterns of language choices for meaning-making

  • Veronika Hamann University of Agder
Keywords: German as a foreign language writing, systemic functional linguistic, meaning-making, lan-guage choices, expository genre/text type.


The main objective of this article is to identify and describe characteristic patterns of language choices in texts written by Norwegian upper secondary school students of German as a foreign language (GFL) (age 16/17, school year 12, 5th year of FL learning). The study maps language choices in a set of 12 learner responses to a writing prompt about interpreting a film title. The aim of the study is to describe these choices in terms of how the learners use ideational meaning-making resources to arrive at meaningful content. The study takes a systemic functional linguistics (SFL) approach and analyses the responses in terms of the following lexicogrammatical and discourse semantic systems of resources: Transitivity, taxonomic and logico-semantic relations. The study finds several strategies and language choices that presented themselves as particularly relevant for meaning-making. For example, the learners reach an interpretation through clauses relating two messages to each other, and one of those two messages is typically structured in a complex way. Overall, the study provides insights into relevant patterns for expository writing in general and such that seem important to the particular context in which the response was situated. The article also points to the sophistication of the learners’ language use and the linguistic demands regarding the task at hand. In line with existing research, the current study also shows how SFL and genre theory can be successfully applied to the analysis of responses by beginner to intermediate GFL learners.