Author: Teresa Tinsley, Therese Comfort
Date of Publication: 2012
An evidence base on language learning within various primary curricula across the world. Part 1 of the report reviews international research and development in early language learning, presenting evidence on the benefits of starting foreign language learning in primary school or earlier. Part 2 focuses on the issues and challenges common to all education systems that need to be addressed if primary language teaching is to be a success.
Key points include:
Research evidence on early language learning
- Although researchers have not been able to reach any firm conclusion concerning the existence of a critical age, they agree that young children learn languages differently from older learners and have some advantages over those who start later.
- Early learners tend to be more intuitive, less anxious and better at acquiring the sounds and rhythms of the new language.
- Starting early allows for more time for language learning overall and a sustained experience with the potential to lead to higher levels of proficiency at the end of secondary school.
- An early start is not a guarantee of success – the amount and quality of teaching are important determinants as well as continuity of learning in secondary school.