1 April 2015

Applying Research into Language Didactics in Services Provided to Public-Sector Bodies and In the Training of Language Teachers


Birgit Henriksen’s research into language didactics and language acquisition makes her an expert in foreign-language teaching and a valuable contributor to projects such as the drafting of the new, simplified Common Objectives for English teaching in Danish primary and lower-secondary schools.

Birgit Henriksen

Her input - the result of a close collaboration with practitioners and university colleges - is part of a systematic programme of providing services to the Danish Ministry of Education. The Common Objectives were simplified in the wake of the 2014 reform of the Danish primary and lower-secondary school system. The aim was to set tangible learning objectives that would focus more explicitly on students’ learning outcomes. Birgit Henriksen also co-wrote the national teaching plans for training teachers of English, and by disseminating her knowledge of didactics has made a general contribution to the training of language teachers at various levels of the education system.

Impact and communication

Birgit Henriksen conducts her research in close collaboration with practitioners in primary, lower-secondary and upper-secondary schools. The advice she provides to public-sector bodies, e.g. the Ministry of Education, ensures that there is coherence between objectives, guidelines and practices, based on the latest research in the areas of language and learning.

Her research has a social impact at several levels:

  • As an expert in her field, Birgit Henriksen ensures that general recommendations and specific guidelines - such as the Common Objectives for English in primary and lower secondary school - are based on the latest national and international research.

  • The project to draft the Common Objectives linked research up with experience-based knowledge, in a major collaboration between the experts, experienced lecturers from university colleges, practitioners and academic consultants. Working together in this way guaranteed a robust knowledge base for drawing up competency goals, objectives for different learning phases and teaching guidelines.

  • The process of drawing up the Common Objectives involved academic consultants who gained insight into the academic discussions that form the basis for descriptions of teaching objectives. They were then able to pass on these insights in their day-to-day work in primary and lower-secondary schools as well as in the Ministry.

  • Applying knowledge of foreign language teaching in teacher training in general

Birgit Henriksen also disseminates the research-based knowledge that underpins the new Common Objectives via her teaching on continuing training courses for primary, lower-secondary and upper-secondary school teachers, courses at teacher training colleges, consultancy advice to the Centre for Educational Resources, and through courses run for educational publishers.

Along with other researchers into language didactics, Birgit Henriksen wrote the book Sprogfag i forandring: pædagogik og praksis (Language Teaching in Transition: Educational Theory and Practice) (Publisher Samfundslitteratur, 2009), which is used as a textbook in teacher training colleges. The book is currently being revised to ensure that the chapters correspond with the Common Objectives for the primary and lower-secondary school, which came into effect from academic year 2014/2015. Birgit Henriksen was also co-editor of and contributor to the anthology Fremmedsprog i Gymnasiet. Teori, praksis og udsyn (Foreign Languages in the Upper Secondary School: Theory, practice and vision) (Samfundslitteratur, 2014) and co-author of the book Fagdidaktik i sprogfag (Didactics in language subjects) (Frydenlund, 2015). All of these publications are used in the training of primary and lower-secondary teachers and on continuing training courses for language teachers.

Finally, the University of Copenhagen and Aarhus University run a joint master’s programme in foreign language education. Birgit Henriksen’s studies are part of the curriculum, contributing to research-based teaching.

Further info

In 2014, the Ministry of Education launched a dynamic portal, where the new, simplified Common Objectives are published. The knowledge portal helps teachers plan their classes on the basis of the new learning objectives.