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young learner

young learner

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  • 1. SHATHAN AL-RUMHI. Young Learners
  • 2. The content of the talk
    • Language learning at a young age
    • The spread of English
    • Learning English as a Foreign Language (EFL) at a young age
    • Knowledge-Base for teaching EFL to young learners
    • Research in-progress: Home Room teachers teaching English in grade One
  • 3. Should a language be introduced at a young age?
    • Informal (home) environment
    • vs. formal school setting
    • Home (natural) environment:
    • Caretaker’s fluency and comfort in the language
    • Recognition of the advantages of bilingualism – contribution to complex cognitive skills (Baker,1998; Bialystock, 2002; Hornberger, 2003)
  • 4. Formal Schooling: 2 schools of thought
    • Against
    • Interference with L1
    • Research shows efficient learning takes place at older ages- ability to utilize and transfer skills from L1 (Cenzos, 2005; Mclaughlin, 1992 Singleton, 2001)
    • Learning Fatigue
    • Early exposure and more teaching hours: not enough to ensure success
  • 5. For
    • Affective factors: less inhibited; greater motivation
    • Oral ability, particularly pronunciation enhanced at a young age (Johnstone, 1994; Marinova-Todd et al, 2000)
    • Confidence as a language speaker
    • Need to know language(s): Multilingualism is a key to success
  • 6. But: Beliefs regarding language learning at school
    • Depend on: Purpose, setting, frequency, teacher, resources, language
    • Discussion: Somewhat Passé
    • Especially with regard to English
    • Why?
  • 7. English as a Lingua Franca
    • Emergence of English as a World Language due to
    • British colonialism
    • US power
    • Advent technology
    • About a billion people engaged in studying English as a Second (ESL) or Foreign (EFL) Language: Only about 300,000 million L1 English speakers (British Council, 2004; Crystal, 2000)
  • 8. The Spread of English: 3 Circles (Kachru, 1982)
    • Inner: Britain, USA, Canada, Australia, etc.
    • Outer: Nigeria, Singapore, India (New Englishes)
    • Expanding : Israel, Netherlands, Germany, etc.
  • 9. Currently: Distinction Blurred
    • New Englishes in Outer Circles (Periphery) asserting their rights:
    • Singlish in Singapore
    • Japanese English
    • Indian English
    • Expanding Circle countries (like Israel and Germany) embracing English as a semi-official language
  • 10. Native and Non-Native English speakers
    • Who is a native speaker? Central or Periphery?
    • Who is the best English teacher:
    • Native of standard (inner Circle) English or bilingual, non-native English speaker?
    • Criteria for material selection and for assessment: Central? Local? English as a Lingua Franca?
  • 11. Young Learners of English
    • Wide spread
    • Language prestige
    • Parental pressure: social mobility
    • The younger the better regardless of research findings
  • 12. How Young is Young?
    • Home environment: birth
    • School:
    • Foreign language teaching in the US- 12
    • Europe: varies: often 9-10 (or earlier)
    • Cambridge Young Learners’ test: 7-12
    • Israel and other “expanding countries”
    • The younger the better move to lower age. Currently: grade one
    • Sometimes kindergarten
  • 13. What Knowledge-Base is required for teaching EFL to young learners
    • Knowledge of the language
    • Knowledge about the language
    • Knowledge how to teach he language
    • Knowledge about teaching young children
    • Knowledge about teaching the language to young children
  • 14. Home Room Teachers Teaching English
    • A common phenomenon in some European and Asian countries
    • In Israel: Began 5 years ago in the town of Ra’anana
    • Reasons:
    • Rooted in educational philosophical thought
    • Availability, convenience
    • Economically viable
  • 15. Knowledge on how to teach English to young learners Till recently: Lack of training in EFL teacher education programs (Program component in Beit Berl since 2001) Who has the advantage
  • 16. Programs for teaching EFL to young learners: Pertinent issues
    • Goals: exposure, fun, or academic?
    • Listening/speaking or literate skills?
    • Use of target language (English) vs. local language (Hebrew; German), and for what purpose?
    • Integration with in-going topics (taught in the local language)
    • Literacy?
    • Assessment?
    • Coordination with programs for the older learners?
  • 17. Relevance to Israel
    • The Younger the better: move to introduce English at younger ages
    • One of the flagships of the current Ministry of Education policy
    • Vast spread of first grade English initiatives
  • 18. In-Progress Research: Home Room teachers teaching English in Grade One Headed by Prof. Elana Shohamy, Tel-Aviv University Initiated and Funded by the Israeli Ministry of Education
  • 19. Pertinent Issues Programs (3 programs are being examined) Teacher’s Knowledge-Base (English teachers vs. home room teachers) Attitudes of the public (high level administrators, principals, parents) Students: achievements, attitudes, self-assessment
  • 20. Research Tools
    • Large Sample
    • Teachers’ questionnaires (home room and English)
    • Principals’ questionnaire
    • Interviews (administrators, program developers)
    • Sample of 7 schools:
    • Parents’ questionnaire
    • Classroom observations
    • Teacher interviews
    • Students’ research tools
  • 21. Students’ Research Tools
    • Listening comprehension quiz (N=250)
    • Individual oral interaction interviews (N=54)
    • Attitude questionnaires (N=250)
    • Self-Assessment questionnaires (N=250)
  • 22. Some initial observations
    • Teaching of English in grade 1 in Israel is extremely common
    • Both teaching models exist (home room and English teachers)
    • Programs: different objectives and modes of implementation (one program – home room teachers only)
  • 23. Student Research Tools
    • Specific age appropriate and language level considerations
    • format (whether individual, group or class)
    • choice of item and task types
    • choice of contexualized, age-relevant stimuli
  • 24. Comparative Research Study?
    • Similar phenomena in Germany?
    • Possibilities for joint and comparative research?