Kindergarten Teachers’ Beliefs About the Goals of Very Early FL Instruction and Their Classroom Practices: Is There a Link?
The current state of the research (e.g. Edelenbos, Johnstone, & Kubanek 2006) as well as the official guidelines of European language education policy (cf. European Commission, 2011) indicate that the goals of an early start are different than achieving near-native like competence in a foreign language (FL). Rather, it is aimed at arousing young learners’ interests in other languages, promoting curiosity and openness towards other people and cultures, and thereby laying ground for future plurilingual development. The necessity to implement these directions is even more urgent in monolingual countries where contact with speakers of other languages is limited. From this perspective, it seems that the language teachers of very young learners are expected to be agents of the official policy. Yet, since pre-school FL education in Poland is, for the time being, beyond the supervision of the Ministry of Education, the teaching objectives and beliefs about early FL learning are largely intuitive and often based on individual experience. The paper presents the results of a survey conducted among 90 FL teachers working both in private and public kindergartens. Its purpose was to scrutinize the beliefs of teachers of very young learners about the goals of ‘an early start’ in a foreign language and gain insight into how they are aiming to achieve them, that is their classroom practices. Of critical importance will be to discern the difference between the goals of native-likeness and/or achieving linguistic multi-competence.
KeywordsForeign Language Language Policy Young Learner Early Teaching Teacher Belief
The study is a part of the project financed by the National Science Center DEC-2011/01/D/HS2/04115 titled: An early start in a FL—realization of plurilingual policy or expression of parental educational aspirations.
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