ELLiE: a longitudinal transnational study on early language learning


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Lucilla Lopriore
This contribution is aimed at presenting some preliminary results of a study of young EFL learners’ attitude to foreign language learning as well as of their language achievements. Longitudinal investigations have been carried out for four years in 7 European countries as part of a transnational research project.

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  • 2. The study looks at the introduction of early FL learning in seven different European countries, focusing on one region within each country.
  • 5. Our central question is: ......To explore this we are investigating three research strands....Threaded throughout these strands are the transversal themes of .....which we hope also to be able to shed light on by the end of the study.
  • 6. Our aim is not just to take a snapshot view of early language learning, but to follow a cohort of learners through their first few years of developing their skill in language learning. We anticipate that this approach will enable us to comment more fully on the learners’ early experiences than previous studies have been able to do.
  • ELLiE: a longitudinal transnational study on early language learning

    1. 1. ELLiE - A longitudinal study of E arly L anguage L earning i n E urope: some preliminary results Lucilla Lopriore, Roma Tre University, Rome
    2. 2. OUTLINE <ul><li>The Research Team </li></ul><ul><li>Reasons for the study </li></ul><ul><li>The Research Framework </li></ul><ul><li>Methodology </li></ul><ul><li>Research Instruments </li></ul><ul><li>First key findings </li></ul><ul><li>A country example: Italy </li></ul><ul><li>Next steps </li></ul>
    3. 3. <ul><li>England – Dr. Janet Enever - Project Coordinator </li></ul><ul><li>Italy – Dr. Lucilla Lopriore </li></ul><ul><li>Netherlands – Dr. Evelien Krikhaar </li></ul><ul><li>Poland – Dr. Magda lena Szpotowicz </li></ul><ul><li>Spain – Prof. Carmen Muñoz </li></ul><ul><li>Sweden – Dr. Eva Lindgren </li></ul><ul><li>Croatia – Prof. Jelena Mihaljevic Djigunovic </li></ul><ul><li>This research has been supported by a European Commission grant under the </li></ul><ul><li>Lifelong Learning Programme , Project n°. 135632-LLP-2007-UK-KA1SCR. </li></ul><ul><li>An additional British Council grant supported the Croatian team. </li></ul>The ELLiE Research Team 7 European countries
    4. 4. England Italy Netherlands Poland Spain ELLiE study Sweden Croatia A transnational research study
    5. 5. Country selection <ul><li>Northern/Southern Europe </li></ul><ul><li>“ old”/ “new”/candidate Europe </li></ul><ul><li>Larger/smaller European states </li></ul><ul><li>Romance, Germanic, Slavonic language </li></ul><ul><li>Second/foreign language contexts </li></ul>
    6. 6. GLOBAL ISSUE? <ul><li>Beyond Europe – early language learning (ELL) policies across China, India and much of Asia. </li></ul><ul><li>A paradigm shift towards English as a ‘basic skill’? (Graddol 2006) </li></ul>
    7. 7. Early Language Learning in Europe: reasons for an early start <ul><li>&quot; … member states should move towards ensuring that foreign language learning at primary school and kindergarten is effective … &quot; </li></ul><ul><li>(European Commission, 2004: 7) </li></ul>
    8. 8. Early Language Learning in Europe: reasons for an early start <ul><li>“ An early start by itself […] guarantees nothing; it needs to be accompanied minimally by good teaching, by a supportive environment and by continuity from one year to the next…” </li></ul><ul><li>Edelenbos, Johnstone & Kubanek (2006: 147) </li></ul>
    9. 9. Language choice and start age COUNTRY England Italy The Netherlands Poland Spain Sweden Croatia Lang. choice free choice EN EN EN/GER EN (mainly) EN EN (mainly) Start age 7 yrs 6 yrs 6-9 yrs 7 yrs 6 yrs 7-10 yrs 6/7 yrs
    10. 10. <ul><li>Teacher qualification requirements </li></ul>Primary Language Teacher Required Qualification qual T. qual primary T. Qual. FL teacher Qual FL primary T. Preferred national model England  Generalist primary T with some FL fluency Italy  Generalist primary T with min B1 FL fluency The Netherlands  Generalist primary T with FL fluency Poland  Generalist primary T with min B1 FL fluency Spain  Generalist primary T with min B1 FL fluency Sweden  Generalist primary T with FL fluency Croatia  Generalist primary T with additional FL qual
    11. 11. The Research Framework: A multinational longitudinal project <ul><li>A longitudinal and comparative study </li></ul><ul><li>Approx. 1200 children from 6/7 years to 10/11 years </li></ul><ul><li>6/7 schools in each country </li></ul><ul><li>6 focal learners in each class </li></ul><ul><li>250 learner profiles </li></ul><ul><li>45 teacher profiles </li></ul><ul><li>45 school profiles </li></ul><ul><li>Longitudinal: 4 years </li></ul><ul><ul><li>British Council (1 year) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>European Commission (3 years) </li></ul></ul>
    12. 12. Impact of digital media Significance of teacher’s role Policy the processes of policy implementation Key criteria factors contributing most effectively to the success of ELL Broad outcomes the linguistic and non-linguistic outcomes of ELL
    13. 13. Study Aim <ul><li>To investigate the development of young </li></ul><ul><li>foreign language learners , gaining insights </li></ul><ul><li>into the factors that influence both learners’ </li></ul><ul><li>perceptions of language learning and their </li></ul><ul><li>responses in schooled contexts , where a </li></ul><ul><li>quite limited amount of curriculum time is </li></ul><ul><li>available </li></ul>
    14. 14. 6 countries British Council support 7 countries European +BC support 7 countries European + BC support 7 countries European + BC support 2006-7 2007-8 2008-9 2009-10 LONGITUDINAL PERSPECTIVES Year 2 Year 3 Year 1 Scoping study
    15. 15. METHODOLOGY <ul><li>A multimethod approach drawing on: </li></ul><ul><li>- qualitative alongside quantitative data; </li></ul><ul><li>- 3-year data collection. </li></ul><ul><li>The project is collecting data about both whole classes of children and about a selected group of 6 focal learners per class. </li></ul>
    16. 16. METHODOLOGY <ul><li>It investigates a large number of case studies using the same research approach and instruments across seven countries in Europe. </li></ul><ul><li>Evidence is built in this way from which to draw out strands for comparative analyses . </li></ul><ul><li>Analyses involve triangulation of data through different sources & participants. </li></ul>
    17. 18. Learning environment <ul><li>National language policies </li></ul><ul><li>School profiles </li></ul><ul><li>Classroom observation </li></ul><ul><li>Parents’ questionnaires </li></ul><ul><li>Common features (across countries) </li></ul>
    18. 19. Teachers’ roles <ul><li>Teachers’ interviews </li></ul><ul><li>Teachers’ questionnaires </li></ul><ul><li>Classroom observation </li></ul><ul><li>A developing teacher profile </li></ul>
    19. 20. Learners’ attitudes <ul><li>Focal Learners’ interviews </li></ul><ul><li>Learner attitude questionnaires </li></ul><ul><li>Classroom observations </li></ul><ul><li>Parents’ questionnaires </li></ul><ul><li>Teachers’ interviews </li></ul>
    20. 21. LISTENING in ELLiE <ul><li>What can we understand of children’s listening processes in L2? </li></ul><ul><li>What is the level of children’s performance on listening skills after one year and after 2 years? </li></ul><ul><li>What are the contributing factors on level of performance? </li></ul><ul><li>Can these factors explain different levels of performance and cross-country differences? </li></ul><ul><li>Can we relate growth in comprehension with growth in vocabulary production and oral performance? </li></ul>
    21. 22. LISTENING in ELLiE: First 2 yrs conclusions <ul><li>Good results are related to: </li></ul><ul><li>Positive attitude to L2 and learners’ self-perception </li></ul><ul><li>Country specific factors such as age and out-of-school exposure to L2 </li></ul><ul><li>and are probably affected by: </li></ul><ul><li>- % of L2 use in the classroom by teacher when self-confident </li></ul><ul><li>- % of use of multimedia </li></ul><ul><li>- task familiarity </li></ul><ul><li>and probably have an effect on: </li></ul><ul><li>Vocabulary growth </li></ul><ul><li>Oral production </li></ul>
    22. 25. VOCABULARY production in ELLiE - How many FL lexical items can students produce ? - What is the relation between FL school exposure and student s’ FL output? - What is the relation between FL out-of-school exposure and students’ FL output? - What is the role of motivation in students’ FL output?
    23. 26. VOCABULARY production: First 2 yrs. conclusions - In school exposure in terms of both quantity and quality seem important for children’s FL production - Out-of-school exposure to e.g. cartoons and computer games seem to increase children’s FL output - Variation between children that needs further investigation - Time on task an important aspect that has to be better understood
    24. 27. ORAL PRODUCTION in ELLiE <ul><li>What are the characteristics of YL’s oral performance in grade? </li></ul><ul><li>2. To what extent do variables from the wider social context, i.e. country context and socioeconomic background correlate with oral performance? </li></ul><ul><li>3. Can school and teacher variables explain differences in oral production outcomes? </li></ul>
    25. 28. ORAL PRODUCTION in ELLiE: First 2 yrs conclusions <ul><li>Differences in oral production between country contexts are significant at grade 2 already </li></ul><ul><li>Socioeconomic background plays a significant role, but it may be superseded by teaching factors </li></ul><ul><li>Quality of teaching (interaction style, use of materials, quality of L2 input, …) comes out as a determining factor in ss oral production </li></ul><ul><li>Possible limitation from task type </li></ul>
    26. 29. Let’s focus on learners’ perceptions <ul><li>Development of young learners’ </li></ul><ul><li>perceptions of classroom </li></ul><ul><li>activities, of the importance of FL </li></ul><ul><li>learning and of their own learning </li></ul><ul><li>achievement and attitudes. </li></ul><ul><li>Aim </li></ul><ul><li>Investigate Focal Learners’ perception of and attitude to foreign language classroom teaching & learning. </li></ul>
    27. 30. Looking at one country : ITALY <ul><li>English : compulsory from grade 1 to 5 </li></ul><ul><li>Teaching time : </li></ul><ul><li>1st : 1 hr per week = 30’+30’ </li></ul><ul><li>2nd : 2 hrs per week </li></ul><ul><li>3rd, 4th, 5th : 3 hrs per week </li></ul><ul><li>Teachers : </li></ul><ul><li>Primary teachers specialised in </li></ul><ul><li>teaching English as a foreign </li></ul><ul><li>Language. </li></ul><ul><li>L2 exposure : </li></ul><ul><li>Very limited exposure to English outside the classroom. </li></ul>
    28. 31. ITALY: the context <ul><li>Total sample : 169 students, </li></ul><ul><li>8 classes, </li></ul><ul><li>6 schools in central Italy (Latium). </li></ul><ul><li>7 teachers </li></ul><ul><li>Focal learners : 49 students. </li></ul><ul><li>Schools : </li></ul><ul><li>2 in 2 small villages in the countryside northeast of Latium; </li></ul><ul><li>2 in a town northwest of Latium; </li></ul><ul><li>2 in the outskirts of Rome. </li></ul><ul><li>Period : </li></ul><ul><li>1st yr 2006-2007 1st grade (6/7) </li></ul><ul><li>2nd yr 2007-2008 2nd grade (7/8) </li></ul>
    29. 32. FOCAL LEARNERS: composition <ul><li>49 = 6/7 children in each class </li></ul><ul><li>Female: 26 Male: 23 </li></ul><ul><li>Country of origin: </li></ul><ul><li>44 Italy, </li></ul><ul><li>5 other countries (India, Morocco, Colombia, Rumenia, Poland) </li></ul><ul><li>Initial selection criteria </li></ul><ul><li>Class teacher selection based upon children </li></ul><ul><li>achievement levels: </li></ul><ul><li>2 low, 2 average, 2 high </li></ul>
    30. 33. FOCAL LEARNERS: instruments <ul><li>FLs’ perception and attitudes investigated </li></ul><ul><li>both years by: </li></ul><ul><li>Smileys questionnaires (Yr. 1 Yr.2) </li></ul><ul><li>Oral interviews (Yr. 1 Yr.2) </li></ul><ul><li>Classroom observation chart (Yr. 1 Yr.2) </li></ul><ul><li>Teachers’ evaluation of the FL (Yr. 1 Yr.2) </li></ul><ul><li>2007 2008 </li></ul>
    31. 34. SMILEYS Tick one face that describes how you feel 1st year How do you feel about: - speaking English? - singing songs in your English classes? - learning new words in English? - listening to English? - talking to your friends in English when playing a game?   
    32. 35. SMILEYS Tick one face that describes how you feel 2nd year 1. How do you feel about learning English this year? 2. Compared to last year, do you like English more, the same or less this year? 3. Is English easier, the same, or harder for you this year? 4. How do you feel about learning new words in English this year? 5. What’s your favourite activity this year? Songs … Stories … Games … Role play … Worksheet tasks … Other …   
    33. 36. 5. What’s your favourite activity this year? <ul><li>SONGS: 30 combined with games, stories </li></ul><ul><li>GAMES: 29 combined with songs </li></ul><ul><li>STORIES: 27 combined with songs, stories </li></ul><ul><li>WORKSHEET TASK: 15 combined with songs, stories, games, </li></ul><ul><li>ROLE PLAY: 14 combined with stories, songs, games </li></ul><ul><li>OTHER: 11 (reading, writing, colouring,..) </li></ul>
    34. 37. ATTITUDES & MOTIVATION INTERVIEW <ul><li>1. Which is your favourite school subject this year? </li></ul><ul><li>2. What do you like best in English this year? </li></ul><ul><li>What do you dislike most in English this year? </li></ul><ul><li>Do you think that you learn English as fast as other children in class, faster, or slower? </li></ul><ul><li>Is English easier or more difficult for you this year than it was last year? </li></ul><ul><li>Do you like your English classes this year more, the same or less than last year? Why? </li></ul><ul><li>7. Are your English classes different this year than last year? How? </li></ul>
    35. 38. ATTITUDES & MOTIVATION INTERVIEW 8. Are your parents happy with what you are learning in English? 9. Do your parents / brothers / sisters help you with your English? How do they help you? 10. Have you ever met someone who can't speak Italian? Could you say something to him/her in English? Did you understand when they spoke to you in English? How did it feel?
    36. 39. 11. Look at these pictures of English classes. In which of these would you learn English best? Why? 1 2 3 4
    37. 40. Preferences for classroom layout 2 6 10 23 Total 2 2 4 8 Male 4 6 15 Female Mixed Circle Groups Pairs
    38. 41. Reasons for preferences 4. Mixed “ Children are all together and play with the teacher. It’s fun” “ Children enjoy the English lesson, there are many things we can use” 3. Circle “ Children listen to music and sing along” “ In circle you study better” “ It’s good to hear the music” “ I can see all my friends” 2. Groups “ Children can listen to the teacher when she comes to the group” “ Teacher speaks with each child” “ It’s better for me, I can hear the other children and the teacher” “ Children work and can sing together” “ I like it because I can listen to songs” 1. Pairs “ Everybody is sitting quiet, so they can learn” “ I can understand and repeat what the teacher says” “ I can hear what the teacher says” “ The teacher writes on the board and I can see” “ The teacher tells us what to do”
    39. 42. Preliminary Conclusions (Italy) <ul><li>Young learners </li></ul><ul><li>Are generally positive towards English language learning as taught in their classes; </li></ul><ul><li>Regard English as a school subject; </li></ul><ul><li>Are aware of what goes on in the classroom; </li></ul><ul><li>Can distinguish between types of activities; </li></ul><ul><li>Can express preferences both in terms of activities, of classroom setting and of teacher behaviour; </li></ul><ul><li>Have a clear perception of their level and of changes in their progress; </li></ul><ul><li>Are aware of what they need in order to learn better; </li></ul><ul><li>Are eager to word their learning experiences; </li></ul><ul><li>Need constant attention and support from teachers. </li></ul>
    40. 43. Conclusions <ul><li>Teachers </li></ul><ul><li>Can reasonably well predict their students’ progress; </li></ul><ul><li>Their approach to teaching English to young learners matches traditional approaches to teaching FL to Young learners (classroom activities); </li></ul><ul><li>Intervene quite often during lessons to elicit responses from learners who show less attention; </li></ul><ul><li>Do not always pay enough attention to high achievers; </li></ul><ul><li>Their commitment is closely related to the context they teach in (school internal policies). </li></ul><ul><li>Parents </li></ul><ul><li>Are generally very supportive of their children learning English. </li></ul>
    41. 44. www. ellieresearch . eu Lucilla Lopriore [email_address] This research has been supported by a European Commission grant under the Lifelong Learning Programme, Project n°. 135632-LLP-2007-UK-KA1SCR. An additional British Council grant supported the Croatian team. Project final dissemination event: University of Warsaw, Poland 26-29 October 2010
    42. 45. <ul><li>References </li></ul><ul><li>Commission of the European Communities (2007) 554 final Commission Working Document Report on the implementation of the Action Plan &quot;Promoting language learning and linguistic diversity&quot; SEC(2007)1222 </li></ul><ul><li>http: //ec . europa .eu/education/policies/lang/doc/com554_en. pdf </li></ul><ul><li>  Commission of the European Communities (2003). Promoting Language Learning and Linguistic Diversity: An Action Plan 2004-2006 + COM (2003) 449. http: //ec . europa . eu/education/doc/official/keydoc/actlang/act_lang_en . pdf . </li></ul><ul><li>Driscoll, P. & Frost, D. (eds.) (1999) The teaching of modern foreign languages in the primary school. London: Routledge. </li></ul><ul><li>Edelenbos, P, Johnstone, R.,Kubanek, A. (2006) The main pedagogical principles underlying the teaching of languages to very young learners. Languages for the children of Europe. Published Research, Good Practice and Main Principles. Final Report of the EAC 89/04, Lot 1 study. European Commission, Brussels: </li></ul><ul><li>http://europa.eu/languages/en/document/97/7 </li></ul><ul><li>Genesee, F. (1978/9) Scholastic effects of French immersion: an overview after 10 years. Interchange 9, 20-29. </li></ul><ul><li>Graddol, D (2006): English Next. The British Council. </li></ul><ul><li>Grin, F. (2002). Economics in Language Education Policy. Guide for the development of Language Education Policies in Europe. From Linguistic Diversity to Plurilingual Education. Reference Study. Council of Europe, Strasbourg: Language policy Division. </li></ul><ul><li>Johnstone, R. (2008) An early start: What are the key conditions for generalised success? In: Enever, J., Moon, J. & Raman, U. Young Learner English Language Policy and Implementation: International Perspectives. Kent, UK: IATEFL. </li></ul><ul><li>Munoz, C. (Ed.). (2006) Age and the rate of foreign language learning . Clevedon, UK: Multilingual Matters. </li></ul><ul><li>Singleton, D. & Ryan, L. (2004) Language acquisition: the age factor. Clevedon UK: Multilingual Matters. </li></ul><ul><li>Spolsky, B. (2004) Language Policy. UK: Cambridge University Press. </li></ul>