Project potential


The question of how and why we teach and learn Danish as a school subject is becoming increasingly complex due to developments in communication technology, globalisation and migration. In the MultiL1 project, a group of Nordic researchers – led by principal investigator Nikolaj Elf, associate professor at IKV – will work on preparing a research application that explores this problem in a Nordic and broader international perspective. We will focus on developments in the teaching and learning of so-called multimodal literacy practices, which implies an expanded semiotic approach to the teaching and learning of ‘reading and writing’ within mother tongue education (abbreviated as L1 in international research (L1=Language 1)).

The project’s focus on multimodal literacy practices in L1 is motivated by Elf’s research, which suggests that L1 is no longer simply a matter of teaching language and literature in the verbal sense (Elf, 2007, 2009, 2012, 2014a, 2014b; Elf et. al., 2015). Instead, the subject’s ‘what, why and how?’ is expanding in multimodal ways which question basic paradigmatic assumptions of the content, method and justification of the subject. L1 intervention studies have shown that students’ multimodal literacy practices experienced and developed outside school could become integrated into the subject, and that multimodal literacy practices used as a tool for thinking and learning are emerging both within L1 and across the curriculum. On the other hand, research shows that ‘counter’ literacy movements are also found in L1 due to international trends, including the international PISA consortium testing basic literacy ‘skills’. Further, research suggests that teachers in Nordic countries find it hard to integrate new multimodal literacy practices into the existing curriculum. Consequently, the development of literacy practices in L1 classrooms is increasingly difficult to grasp, and the implications for classroom practices, teacher training, and curriculum development are unclear and contested. Thus, on both research and policy levels there is an urgent need to develop new ‘supernational’ research designs which could inform both Nordic and broader international practice and policy-making. This need is to some extent reflected in current external calls for funding, including the Norwegian FINNUT call (see below and Project description).

This is why Elf will use the MultiL1 project to establish a Nordic research group (RG) of four researchers collaborating with a larger group of researchers with the aim of:

1)      mapping existing Nordic research on literacy in L1; 
2)      conducting pilot studies; 
3)      developing a shared research design for comparative research; and 
4)      preparing a research application ‘template’ that will be adapted for applications sent to relevant 
         external funding sources within the two-year period.

As a point of departure for the MultiL1 project, two interrelated research questions are asked:

What characterises literacy practices in Nordic L1 classrooms, and
what are the implications for future L1 teaching and teacher training in Nordic countries and beyond?

Organisation and funding strategy
The two-year MultiL1 project involves 4 work packages (WPs; also see Project description):


2015 Autumn

2016 Spring

2016 Autumn

2017 Spring

WP 1






WP 2






WP 3






WP 4





Table 1. Time flow of MultiL1

WP 1: A review, to map existing research in the four countries in a review, focusing on secondary school, grades 7–9.
WP 2: Pilot study 1, to conduct a curriculum analysis of steering documents for L1 in grade 8 in the four Nordic countries.
WP 3: Pilot study 2, to conduct a small-scale empirical case study of one Grade 8 class in each of the four Nordic countries.
WP 4: Application generation, to develop an application which works as a template for applications sent to funding agencies in each country.

Elf has been able to use his position and network to bring together the following four leading researchers in a research group (also see Participants ):

• Christina Olin-Scheller, Professor, Karlstad University, Sweden
• Øystein Gilje, Associate professor, University of Oslo, Norway
• Anna Slotte, Associate professor, University of Helsinki, Finland
• Nikolaj Frydensbjerg Elf, Associate professor, University of Southern Denmark; Principal Investigator (PI)

Further, in collaboration with the research group Elf has brought together a larger group of prominent senior and young talented researchers in each country (see Participants ),  which will work as a reference group with all four WPs, organised as a series of national meetings and presentations at Nordic and international conferences over two years.

Regarding the funding strategy, the MultiL1 project will be used to apply for funding at national research councils and other agencies that explicitly call for Nordic/international collaboration between Nordic researchers for the purpose of addressing an international audience. We believe that this funding strategy is both flexible and robust. One funding option we are targeting is FINNUT, the Norwegian Research Council’s long-term programme (2014–2023) for research and innovation in the educational sector, which can only be applied for if international collaboration is integrated into the project design. FINNUT allocates a total of NOK 700 million over a 10-year period. Furthermore, we will address funding agencies that support the development of schooling in national and/or Nordic contexts.

Funding of the MultiL1 project and acknowledgement
The MultiL1 project has been funded by a HUM SEED grant from the Faculty of Humanities, University of Southern Denmark.

Also, the project has been co-funded by the home departments of the four leading researchers and home departments of researchers in national reference groups.
A total of 165.600 DKK has been granted to the project.

Figure 1. Budget

The research group wishes to thank the HUM SEED council and local university departments for granting funding to the project.


Elf, N.F. (2009). Towards semiocy? Exploring a New Rationale for Teaching Modes and Media of Hans Christian Andersen Fairytales in Four Commercial Upper-Secondary "Danish" Classes: A Design-Based Educational Intervention. Odense: Institut for Filosofi, Pædagogik og Religionsstudier.

Elf, N. F. (2007). Literacy and Semiocy: Learning from New Modes and Media of Literary Classics. In W. Martyniuk (Ed.), Towards a Common European Framework of Reference for Languages of School Education? (pp. 155-167). Kraków, Poland: Universitas.

Elf, N. F. (2012). Medieundervisning i modersmålsfaget - på vej mod multimodale perspektiver. In N. F. Elf & P. Kaspersen (Eds.), Den nordiske skolen - fins den? (pp. 92-121). Oslo: Novus.

Elf, N. F. (2014a). Læremidler som social praksis i fag. In E. Krogh & S. E. Holgersen (Eds.), Cursiv. Tema: Sammenlignende fagdidaktik (pp. 97-122). Emdrup: Institut for Uddannelse og Pædagogik (DPU), Aarhus Univsersitet.

Elf, N. F. (2014b). Teknologi, skrivekultur og skriveridentitet. In A. Skaftun, A. J. Aasen & P. H. Uppstad (Eds.), Skriv! Les! 2 (pp. 291-314). Bergen: Fagbokforlaget.

Elf, N. F., Hanghøj, T., Erixon, P.-O., & Skaar, H. (2015). Technology in L1: A Review of Empirical Research Projects in Scandinavia 1992-2014. L1 - Educational Studies in Languages and Literature (Special issue: Nordic research on L1), 1-88.