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Multilingual and monolingual children in the primary-level language classroom: individual differences and perceptions of foreign language learning

Costley, Tracey and Gkonou, Christina and Myles, Florence and Roehr-Brackin, Karen and Tellier, Angela (2018) 'Multilingual and monolingual children in the primary-level language classroom: individual differences and perceptions of foreign language learning.' The Language Learning Journal.

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Abstract

Existing research suggests that being multilingual may convey advantages for additional language learning. However, little research to date has examined the role of multiple languages in primary-school classroom settings and in foreign language learning in particular. We investigated the learning of French by children with English as an additional language (EAL) aged 8–9 in England. The EAL children and their monolingual peers were tested on their achievement in French, their metalinguistic awareness and associative memory. Their attitudes to languages and language learning were assessed. Two French classes were observed and teachers interviewed in order to document their approach to teaching French to a mixed-language class and their perceptions of the multilingual nature of the classroom. Our findings suggest that the EAL children’s multilingualism is not drawn upon as a potentially facilitative tool. English appears to be the only medium and the primary aim of instruction, with other languages assigned a subordinate role. The EAL children performed similarly to their monolingual peers on all measures, with level of English correlated with most measures. We argue that while an egalitarian treatment of all children is clearly desirable, it would be equally desirable to utilise the presence of other languages as a resource.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Modern foreign languages; primary school; English as an additional language; multilingualism; instructed language learning
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education > LB1501 Primary Education
P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Language and Linguistics, Department of
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 20 Aug 2018 12:03
Last Modified: 13 Jun 2019 16:15
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/22076

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