Annina Hessel

I am a DPhil student at ReadOxford. In my research, I work with children who are learning one language at home (for example Arabic, Urdu, or Spanish) and English as an additional language (EAL) at school.

Learning another language is a great plus – you learn about your parents' first language and you can use it with all the other speakers of that language. In today's world, being able to speak to and understand different people is becoming more and more important! Sometimes, however, EAL children might find it hard to learn all the aspects of English they need in school as well as their monolingual classmates. Learning two languages at a time takes time and effort, but I believe that schools and parents can support their development successfully- we just have to find out what to teach and how.

In my research, I look at how growing up bilingually makes a difference for how well children learn to read in English. Understanding texts is closely liked to how many words you know, and this is an area where many bilingual children lag behind monolinguals. Therefore, I research a particularly difficult type of vocabulary, namely, metaphors (such as She is the queen-bee and Time flew by). Based on my research, I hope I will be able to suggest teaching methods to help EAL learners overcome potential hurdles in the future.

What I do at the moment builds on different experiences I have had, both from modern foreign language teaching in Germany and France, Applied Linguistics, and now Education. This is also reflected in what I do at the moment: I work both in ReadOxford in the Department of Experimental Psychology and in the REAL group (Research in English as an additional language) in the Department of Education.

You can visit my Department of Education website here

My favourite word

My favourite childhood book

My favourite word is a phrase, and it is in French. When a French speaker says "J'ai un coup de barre" (say: 'Jay un koo de bar'), they mean that all of a sudden, they feel really tired, just as if fatigue hit them like a plank, (which is what the phrase means literally). I think it's a great way to describe how you can suddenly feel like falling asleep from one minute to the next!

I love all the ways that there are in languages to express your ideas in a colourful way – and every language in the world has their own images!

My favourite book is a German book called 'Momo' by Michael Ende. It's a powerful story about a girl who has the great ability to listen to people and the world around her. It is this ability of that she and her friends need more than ever when grey men threaten to change the world they live in. I love Momo's story because it shows the value of small, but important moments in life, true friends, and serenity. A beautiful story!