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A Review Of Early Language Learning In Europe

1438 words - 6 pages

Initially, strong political and social debates of early foreign language learning led to the establishment of ELLiE, in order to observe and identify various factors that affect competence in foreign language learning (FLL). Although, numerous FLL studies on "a single class, school, or wider selection of schools" are available, long-term, integrated researches with multiple and cross-border aspects are limited (ELLiE, p. 11). As a result, the creation of ElliE became a reality, to increase knowledge and provide a broader view of implementation processes. The main objective of the ElliE project was also to illustrate vital factors that effectively contribute to the success of early language learning programs in various educational systems within the European Union. Not to mention the importance of initiating collaborative learning between countries by collecting and sharing beneficial evidence essential in validating early start programs in FLL.
This collaborative and innovative research transpired during a three-year term, involving seven countries, 1,400 learners, their schools, families and teachers. An important aspect of the ELLiE study was its perspicacious element. By taking in account not only socioeconomic factors of the learners, but also collecting substantial amount of case studies from rural and urban schools, as well as teachers' qualifications, the ELLiE research gives an astute insight into the FLL environment ongoing in Europe. Additionally, the research group collected information from collaborating schools 2-3 times a year by interviewing principals, teachers, and learners. Moreover, lessons were observed, various class questionnaires answered and tasks administered. Unfortunately, parents of target learners responded poorly to questionnaires, making their contribution insubstantial. Nevertheless, the results from the seven countries' children, schools, teachers, and families were published with the intention of giving evidence, increasing knowledge, and collaborating solutions as well as obstacles.
To begin with, most FLL policies of the target countries accessed in ELLiE's research were compulsory and proposed in each country's National Curriculum, but inadequate CEFR levels for early FLL contradict policy intensions. A vast majority of the countries expect FLL to start at age 5-7, while others propose a start age at 10-11. Overall, the average lesson duration exemplified in guidance curriculums suggest two 45-minute lessons per week. Oddly enough, although various countries allow FLL to begin at the age of five, CEFR level descriptors for early primary FLL seem to be inadequate. Because FLL policies illustrate Common European Framework of Reference for Language (CEFR), the lack of learning outcomes for early primary years is puzzling. The CEFR levels are based upon lower secondary age group and upwards. In order for cohesive, cross-phase learning for early primary students to take place, CEFR should illustrate "more...

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