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BOOK Report

THE YOUNG LANGUAGE LEARNER


1. Foreign Language Learning at Primary Level
• One aspect of globalization is the growing trend for using English as a
world language which has led to the introduction of English language learning by
many children in many countries all over the world.
• A believe that “young children learn language better more easily than ol
der children” lead the government and private school over the world have decided
to introduce English at primary level.
• Globalization of the world has caused people can more easily come into c
ontact with other cultures and languages through travel, communication or new te
chnology.
• Pressure to introduce early English learning has often come from the par
ents who strongly believe that having English as a tool will benefit their child
ren greatly by giving them more opportunities to gain economic, cultural or educ
ational advantages.
English Language Learning as Global Phenomenon
• The impact of global English in East Asia has lead many countries starte
d teaching English at the state primary sector.
• Parents’ wishes have created a rapid growth in private school for Englis
h at primary and secondary level because they are very aware of how competitive
the educational climate is.
• In countries where educational competition is very strong, many young pu
pils are faced with a constant round of tests and examinations for English langu
age.
• Year 2001 was designated as the European Year of Language by the Europea
n Union. Many activities were organized to raise the profile of foreign language
learning.
• Its aims were to celebrate the diversity of languages, to encourage life
long learning and to provide information about the teaching and learning of lang
uage. In a growing number of European countries where English is part of the pub
lic and family environment, especially through cartoon, television, films, pop m
usic, magazines and newspaper, the dominance of English pushes other languages i
nto the background, an imbalance which the European Year of Languages has tried
to correct.
• In a survey conducted in 1989, thirteen countries in the European Union
considered foreign language teaching in primary school to be a national priority
.
Why Teach A Foreign Language at Primary Level?
• Europe in the 1960s experienced the first large-scale wave of foreign la
nguage learning in primary schools and numerous conferences reported a high leve
l of agreement on language teaching including UNESCO conferences in 1962 and 196
6 (Stern, 1969) and the Council of Europe conferences at reading (1967).
• A report by Girard (1974) provided a detailed overview of several Europe
an FLL projects which underlining the need for creating the optimal or best cond
ition for teaching languages.
• The best condition for teaching languages according to Girard’s report r
efers to: having appropriately trained teachers, proper timetabling with suffici
ent timing, appropriate methodology, continuity and liaison with secondary schoo
l, provision of suitable resources and integrated monitoring and evaluation.
• The conferences and reports highlighted the issues for introducing early
foreign language learning including:
1. Advantage can be taken of certain aptitudes children have.
2. There is no theoretical optimum age to start teaching. The starting age
can vary according to country and linguistic situation; although at that time th
e age of nine was often chosen.
3. Early learning of a non-mother tongue language must be integrated into o
ther teaching in the primary school.
4. Whatever else may be achieved, the main concern is to prepare the ground
so that the most can be made of teaching which will be received in secondary sc
hool.
5. The linguistic and pedagogical skills of the teachers are the two most i
mportant factors.
• One reason for starting to learn foreign language several years earlier
(i.e. at age six or nine instead of eleven or twelve) was simply to increase the
total number of years spent learning the language.
• Another reason most commonly put forward was the fact that young childre
n seem to have a great facility for understanding and imitating what they hear t
han secondary school pupils.
English Language Learning Policies at Primary Level
• In the European Union, teaching English to young learners is part of a p
olicy for foreign language learning where it has been suggested that EU citizens
have a personal document called a European Language Portfolio (ELP) which inten
ded to act as a guide to people’s language learning and to show their competence
in different languages and their contacts with other cultures.
• The ELP has four aims:
1. To encourage people to learn more languages and to continue learning thr
oughout their lives.
2. To improve their learning and their ability to assess their own competen
ce.
3. To help movement within Europe by documenting language skills in a clear
and intentionally comparable way.
4. To contribute to a shared cultural understanding within Europe.
• Conditions which need to be met when a policy of teaching English to you
ng learners is introduced are:
1. It should be properly planned, ideally taking into account the experienc
es of other countries which have succeeded. Teachers, teacher educators, curricu
lum designers, material writers and assessment specialists must have clear idea
of intended goals and outcomes; ideally they will have been involved through con
sultation or participation in the process of policy creation.
2. Governments and private institutions must ensure that adequate resources
are provided to ensure optimal conditions so that the ‘younger equals better’ s
logan can be turned into successfully reality. This provision includes appropria
te material resources, appropriate course books and other classroom aids, and ap
propriately trained teacher educators and teacher.
3. An evaluation of the learning outcomes after a set period is essential i
n providing information on the validity of the teaching and the cost effectivene
ss of the national spending involved.
Aims and Objectives
• The general aims of early foreign language learning should appear attrac
tive to parents, teachers and administrators and workable for children while avo
iding being over-ambitious and unrealistic.
• In France, the policy document stated that the aim was not the creation
of bilingual children but more reasonably, ‘to prepare children linguistically,
psychologically and culturally for language learning’ (BOEN 1989).
• Generally speaking, foreign language program’s goal is not only to learn
to use the language but also developing sensitivity to and awareness of foreign
languages and cultures.
• The aims of primary language learning all over the world can generally b
e classified to: psychological preparation, linguistics preparation and cultural
preparation.