The Italian Ethnic community lives amongst the locals in the Slovenian Istria area. According to the provisions of Slovenian education legislation their children can implement their right to education in their mother tongue/in their first language. As a result, primary schools, where these children can attend mother tongue classes, in this case Italian classes, among other schools, can also be found in this area. All school subjects are taught in Italian, and pupils have 2-3 Slovene lessons as their second language/language of the environment per week. During our teaching practice in the Slovene primary schools, located in the coastal area, we noticed that the knowledge of pupils when it comes to the Italian language varies a lot, which is why we considered writing a master’s thesis about the level of knowledge as far as Slovene as the second language is concerned amongst pupils’ attending the elementary schools where the teaching language of education is Italian since their first language is Italian.
The purpose of the herewith master’s thesis was to establish which errors 2nd graders, 3rd graders and 4th graders, attending the Italian primary schools, often make while writing and speaking in their second language – Slovene; the type of errors and other related issues their teachers notice the most; how the pupils perceive their communication skills of the Slovene language, and what are the pupils and teachers’ views on the quality implementation of the Slovene lessons. After analysing the research, which was carried out, the qualitative approach (the analysis of written and spoken texts, produced by pupils, the conversation analysis with pupils and interview analysis with the teachers) was primarily used and then at certain points the latter were also strengthened with the help of the quantitative analysis (parts of the analysis of the pupils’ written and spoken texts).
The Theoretical part of the thesis was based on the concept of communication skills. We then tried to first define the first language/mother tongue and then the second language or the language of the environment. Finally, we focused on Slovene and Italian learning methods. In addition, we drew a comparison between the Slovenian and Italian curriculum.
In the Empirical part the findings we had previously gathered after the research, were then used to confirm our prediction that no substantial differences in the area of communication skills as far as the Slovene language is concerned among younger and older pupils would be found. The fact is that we have also found out that some mistakes, made by pupils, in writing and speaking are in fact common in all three classes; that pupils do have a better opinion of their communication skills than their actual knowledge really is; and that the errors made by pupils are perceived by both the pupils themselves and the teachers. We also discovered that the most frequent errors are related to the use of appropriate words, literary words, phrases and collocations. The findings show that the majority of the pupils enjoy Slovene lessons, especially reading and drama. Moreover, the teachers described the way the Slovene lessons are carried out and said that the majority of pupils attend the Slovene reading badge, however, the number of participants usually decreases in higher grades. The results of this thesis are especially useful for teachers of Slovene in the first educational period, namely during the first six grades in the Italian primary schools. Moreover, it can be very useful to take into consideration the most common errors, made by pupils, in the field of writing and speaking as well. In the end teachers thus have the opportunity to focus on them and try to eliminate them as early as possible.