Advertisement

Teaching Young Language Learners

  • Marianne NikolovEmail author
  • Jelena Mihaljević Djigunović
Reference work entry
Part of the Springer International Handbooks of Education book series (SIHE)

Abstract

The chapter focuses on the main trends and issues in teaching English as an additional language to young learners, a growing field of interest to both practicing teachers and researchers. By young language learners, we mean that learners fall within the age range between 6 and 14, although we are aware of a growing number of programs for younger children. Lowering the start of English learning to the pre-primary age (below 6 years) is an emerging field of study; however, this age group is beyond the scope of this chapter.

The-younger-the-better position, which still prevails in most contexts world over, is reconsidered by taking into account findings of studies on classroom practices and evidence of achieved learner outcomes. Based on a critical overview of cross-sectional and longitudinal studies on teaching English to young learners in different contexts, this chapter discusses what pedagogical principles current practices rely on and how they are implemented. The first part considers how young learners develop in English: what kind of processes is involved and what teachers should know about them. The second part focuses on factors internal and external to learners resulting in differences in English language development: how individual differences, parents, teachers, and extracurricular exposure to English impact learning and achievements over time. The third part discusses language policy, curricula, and transition, whereas the fourth one presents age-appropriate tasks and assessment approaches conducive to young learners’ successful learning of English. The chapter draws on evidence from classroom-based studies and proposes topics for further research.

Keywords

Young learners English as an additional language Instructed early language learning Individual learner differences Task types Language exposure Feedback and assessment for learning Teacher competence 

References

  1. Agustín Llach MP (2009) The role of Spanish L1 in the vocabulary use of content and non-content EFL learners. In: Ruiz de Zarobe Y, Jiménez Catalán RM (eds) Content and language integrated learning: evidence from research in Europe. Multilingual Matters, Bristol, pp 112–129CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ahlquist S, Lugossy R (2015) Stories and storyline. Candlin & Mynard Publishing, Hong KongGoogle Scholar
  3. Alexiou T (2009) Young learners’ cognitive skills and their role in foreign language vocabulary learning. In: Nikolov M (ed) Early learning of modern foreign languages: processes and outcomes. Multilingual Matters, Bristol, pp 46–61CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Butler Y (2015a) English language education among young learners in East Asia: a review of current research. Lang Teach 48(3):303–342CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Butler Y (2015b) The use of computer games as foreign language learning tasks for digital natives. System 54:91–102CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Butler Y (2016) Self-assessment of and for young learners’ foreign language learning. In: Nikolov M (ed) Assessing young learners of English: global and local perspectives. Springer, New York, pp 291–316CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Butler Y, Le VN (2018) A longitudinal investigation of parental social-economic status (SES) and young students’ learning of English as a foreign language. System 73:4–15.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.system.2017.07.005CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Cameron L (2001) Teaching languages to young learners. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UKCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Chambers G (2012) Transition in modern languages from primary to secondary school: the challenge of change. Lang Learn J 3:242–226Google Scholar
  10. Chesterton P, Steigler-Peters S, Moran W, Piccioli MT (2004) Developing sustainable language learning pathways: an Australian initiative. Lang Cult Curric 17:48–57CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Cook VJ (2012) Multi-competence. In: Chapelle C (ed) The encyclopedia of applied linguistics. Wiley-Blackwell, New York, pp 3768–3774Google Scholar
  12. Courtney L (2017) Transition in modern foreign languages: a longitudinal study of motivation for language learning and second language proficiency. Oxf Rev Educ 43:462–481CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Csapó B, Nikolov M (2009) The cognitive contribution to the development of proficiency in a foreign language. Learn Individ Differ 19:203–218CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Cummins J (2000) Language, power and pedagogy: bilingual children in the crossfire. Multilingual Matters, ClevedonCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Curtain H (2000) Time as a factor in early start programmes. In: Moon J, Nikolov M (eds) Research into teaching English to young learners. University Press Pécs, Pécs, pp 87–120Google Scholar
  16. Curtain H, Dahlberg CA (2010) Languages and children – making the match: new languages for young learners, 4th edn. Pearson Allyn & Bacon, Needham HeightsGoogle Scholar
  17. Dalton-Puffer C (2007) Outcomes and processes in content and language integrated learning (CLIL): current research from Europe. In: Delanoy W, Volkmann L (eds) Future perspectives for English language teaching. Carl Winter, Heidelberg, pp 139–157Google Scholar
  18. De Wilde V, Eyckmans J (2017) Game on! Young learners’ incidental language learning prior to instruction. Stud Second Lang Learn Teach 7:673–694CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Dobson A, Pérez Murillo MD, Johnstone R (2010) Bilingual education project Spain – evaluation report. British Council, LondonGoogle Scholar
  20. Dweck C (2006) Mindset: the new psychology of success. Ballantine Books, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  21. Fenyvesi K (2018) Individual differences in early learning of English in Danish schools: a mixed – methods study. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. University of Southern DenmarkGoogle Scholar
  22. Genesee F (2010) Dual language development in preschool children. In: Garcia E, Frede E (eds) Young English language learners: current research and emerging directions for practice and policy. Teachers College Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  23. Gheitasi P (2017) Say it fast, fluent and flawless: formulaicity in the oral language production of young foreign language learners. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. Umeå University, Faculty of Arts, Department of Language StudiesGoogle Scholar
  24. Henry A (2013) Digital games and ELT: bridging the authenticity gap. In: Ushioda E (ed) International perspectives on motivation: language learning and professional challenges. Palgrave Macmillan, Houndmills, pp 133–155CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Huang B, Chang YHS, Niu L, Zhi M (2018) Examining the effects of socio – economic status and language input on adolescent English learners’ speech production outcomes. System 73:27–36.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.system.2017.07.004CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Hung Y, Lewis Samuelson B, Chen S (2016) Relationship between peer- and self-assessment and teacher assessment of young EFL learners’ oral presentations. In: Nikolov M (ed) Assessing young learners of English: global and local perspectives. Springer, New York, pp 317–338CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Inbar-Laurie O, Shohamy E (2009) Assessing young language learners: what is the construct? In: Nikolov M (ed) The age factor and early language learning. Mouton de Gruyter, Berlin/New York, pp 83–98Google Scholar
  28. Jaekel N, Schurig M, Florian M, Ritter M (2017) From early starter to late finishers? A longitudinal study of early foreign language learning in school. Lang Learn 67(3):631–664.  https://doi.org/10.1111/lang.12242CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Jensen SH (2017) Gaming as a language learning resource among young children in Denmark. Calico Journal, 34:1–19Google Scholar
  30. Johnstone R (2009) An early start: what are the key condition for generalized success? In: Enever J, Moon J, Raman U (eds) Young learner English language policy and implementation: international perspectives. Garnet Education Publishing Ltd, Reading, pp 31–42Google Scholar
  31. Kirsch C, Bes Izuel A (2017) Emergent multilinguals learning languages with the iPad app iTEO: a study in primary schools in Luxembourg. Lang Learn J.  https://doi.org/10.1080/09571736.2016.1258721
  32. Kiss C, Nikolov M (2005) Developing, piloting, and validating an instrument to measure young learners’ aptitude. Lang Learn 55:99–150CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Krashen S (1985) The input hypothesis: issues and implications. Longman, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  34. Kuchah K (2018) Early English medium instruction in Francophone Cameroon: the injustice of equal opportunity. System 73:37–47.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.system.2017.10.001CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Kuloheri F-V (2016) Indiscipline in young EFL learner classes. Palgrave Macmillan, LondonCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Larson-Hall J (2008) Weighing the benefits of studying a foreign language at a younger starting age in a minimal input situation. Second Lang Res 24:35–63CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Li W (2018) Translanguaging as a practical theory of language. Appl Linguis 39(1):9–30.  https://doi.org/10.1093/applin/amx039CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Lindgren E, Muñoz C (2013) The influence of exposure, parents, and linguistic distance on young European learners’ foreign language comprehension. Int J Multiling 10:1–25CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Liu H, Chen T (2013) Foreign language anxiety in young learners: how it relates to multiple intelligences, learner attitudes, and perceived competence. J Lang Teach Res 5:932–938Google Scholar
  40. Lugossy R (2012) Retelling the story: constructing teachers’ knowledge through narratives. In: Allström M, Pinter A (eds) English for young learners – forum 2012. Uppsala Universitet, Uppsala, pp 71–81Google Scholar
  41. McKay P (2006) Assessing young language learners. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UKGoogle Scholar
  42. Mihaljević Djigunović J (2002) Language learning strategies and young learners. In: Voss B, Stahlheber E (eds) Fremdsprachen auf dem Prüfstand. Innovation – Qualität – Evaluation. Pädagogische Zeitschriftenverlang, Berlin, pp 121–127Google Scholar
  43. Mihaljević Djigunović J (2009) Individual differences in early language programmes. In: Nikolov M (ed) The age factor and early language learning. Mouton de Gruyter, Berlin, pp 199–226Google Scholar
  44. Mihaljević Djigunović J (2012) Early EFL learning in context – evidence from a country case study. The British Council, LondonGoogle Scholar
  45. Mihaljević Djigunović J (2015) Individual differences among young EFL learners: age- or proficiency-related? A look from the affective learner factors perspective. In: Mihaljević Djigunović J, Medved Krajnović M (eds) Early learning and teaching of English. New dynamics of primary English. Multilingual Matters, Bristol, pp 10–36CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Mihaljević Djigunović J, Lopriore L (2011) The learner: do individual differences matter? In: Enever J (ed) ELLiE: early language learning in Europe. The British Council, London, pp 29–45Google Scholar
  47. Mihaljević Djigunović J, Nikolov M (submitted) Motivation of young learners of foreign languagesGoogle Scholar
  48. Milton J, Alexiou T (2006) Language – aptitude development in young learners. In: Abello-Contesse C, Chacón-Belgrán R, López-Jiménez MD, Torreblanca-López MM (eds) The age factor in L2 acquisition and teaching. Peter Lang, Bern, pp 177–192Google Scholar
  49. Muñoz C (ed) (2006) Age and the rate of foreign language learning. Multilingual Matters, ClevedonGoogle Scholar
  50. Murphy VA (2014) Second language learning in the early school years: trends and contexts. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  51. Nagy K (2009) What primary school pupils think about learning English as a foreign language. In: Nikolov M (ed) Early learning of modern foreign languages: processes and outcomes. Multilingual Matters, Bristol, pp 229–242CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Nikolov M (1999) “Why do you learn English?” “Because the teacher is short.” A study of Hungarian children’s foreign language learning motivation. Lang Teach Res 3:33–56CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Nikolov M (2001) A study of unsuccessful language learners. In: Dörnyei Z, Schmidt R (eds) Motivation and second language acquisition. The University of Hawaii, Second Language Teaching and Curriculum Center, Honolulu, pp 149–170Google Scholar
  54. Nikolov M (2002) Issues in English language education. Peter Lang AG, BernGoogle Scholar
  55. Nikolov M (2008) “Azáltalánosiskola, azmódszertan!” Alsó tagozatos angol órák empirikus vizsgálata [“Primary school means methodology!” An empirical study of lower-primary EFL classes]. Mod Nyelvoktatás 10:3–19Google Scholar
  56. Nikolov M (2016a) Trends, issues, and challenges in assessing young language learners. In: Nikolov M (ed) Assessing young learners of English: global and local perspectives. Springer, New York, pp 1–18CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Nikolov M (2016b) A framework for young EFL learners’ diagnostic assessment: ‘Can do statements’ and task types. In: Nikolov M (ed) Assessing young learners of English: global and local perspectives. Springer, New York, pp 65–92CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Nikolov M (2017) Students’ and teachers’ feedback on diagnostic tests for young EFL learners: implications for classrooms. In: García Mayo MP (ed) Learning foreign languages in primary school: research insights. Multilingual Matters, Bristol, pp 249–266CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Nikolov M, Mihaljević Djigunović J (2006) Recent research on age, second language acquisition, and early foreign language learning. Annu Rev Appl Linguist 26:234–260CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Nikolov M, Mihaljević Djigunović J (2011) All shades of every color: an overview of early teaching and learning of foreign languages. Annu Rev Appl Linguist 31:95–119CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Paradis M (2009) Declarative and procedural determinants of second languages. John Benjamins, AmsterdamCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Pfenninger SE, Singleton D (2016) Affect trumps age: a person-in-context relational view of age and motivation in SLA. Second Lang Res 32:311–345.  https://doi.org/10.1177/0267658315624476CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Pinter A (2017) Teaching young language learners, 2nd edn. Oxford University Press, OxfordGoogle Scholar
  64. Pinter A, Zandian S (2014) ‘I don’t ever want to leave this room’: benefits of researching ‘with’ children. ELT J 68:64–74.  https://doi.org/10.1093/elt/cct057CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Pladevall-Ballester E (2018) A longitudinal study of primary school EFL learning motivation in CLIL and non-CLIL settings. Lang Teach Res 22.  https://doi.org/10.1177/1362168818765877
  66. Pladevall-Ballester E, Vraciu A (2017) Exploring early EFL: L1 use in oral narratives by CLIL and non-CLIL primary school learners. In: Garcia MP (ed) Learning foreign languages in primary school: research insights. Multilingual Matters, Bristol, pp 124–148CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  67. Sayer P (2018) Does English open doors? Social class and English teaching in public primary schools in Mexico. System 73:58–70.  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.system.2017.11.006CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  68. Sylvén LK, Sundqvist P (2012) Gaming as extramural English L2 learning and L2 proficiency among young learners. ReCALL 24:302–321CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Tragant Mestre E, Lundberg G (2011) The teacher’s role: what is its significance in early language learning? In: Enever J (ed) Early language learning in Europe. The British Council, London, pp 81–100Google Scholar
  70. Vilke M, Vrhovac Y (eds) (1995) Children and foreign languages II. University of Zagreb, ZagrebGoogle Scholar
  71. Vygotsky LS (1978) Mind in society. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
  72. Wilden E, Porsch R (2016) Learning EFL from year 1 or year 3? A comparative study on children’s EFL listening and reading comprehension at the end of primary education. In: Nikolov M (ed) Assessing young learners of English: global and local perspectives. Springer, New York, pp 191–212CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marianne Nikolov
    • 1
    Email author
  • Jelena Mihaljević Djigunović
    • 2
  1. 1.University of PécsPécsHungary
  2. 2.University of ZagrebZagrebCroatia

Personalised recommendations