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IMPACT OF EARLY SECOND LANGUAGE LEARNING ON FIRST LANGUAGE A Study of the Confucius Institute in Edmonton In Partnership with Edmonton Public Schools June.

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Presentation on theme: "IMPACT OF EARLY SECOND LANGUAGE LEARNING ON FIRST LANGUAGE A Study of the Confucius Institute in Edmonton In Partnership with Edmonton Public Schools June."— Presentation transcript:

1 IMPACT OF EARLY SECOND LANGUAGE LEARNING ON FIRST LANGUAGE A Study of the Confucius Institute in Edmonton In Partnership with Edmonton Public Schools June 2009

2 Researchers  Study Sponsored by The Confucius Institute in Edmonton  Primary Researcher: Dr. John Macnab:  Research Support Services – Edmonton Public Schools  Editor: Stuart Wachowicz  Chairman: Confucius Institute in Edmonton

3 Purpose of the Study  To examine the reciprocal effect of second language study from an early age on first language  Hypothesis: That students participating in intensive second language training from an early age will have comparable or superior performance in formalized English language studies than students who are in unilingual programs.

4 Rationale for the Study:  To grow demand for second language education in school systems (especially in North America), and in particular to grow enrollment in Chinese language, a number of sincerely held, but possibly erroneous beliefs need to be addressed: L2 should wait until L1 is firmly established Early L2 can damage L1 acquisition L2 students struggling in L1 should be withdrawn from L2 L2 learning is difficult, therefore limit to strong students

5 Rationale for the Study:  Such beliefs contribute to an educational culture in which L2 is not valued as other core subjects.  Hence promotion of the idea that all students should gain a measurable proficiency in L2 is a challenge.  Subsequently promoting Chinese is even more difficult given the idea that Asian languages are harder to learn for western students

6 Basis for the research  Edmonton Public Schools (EPS) has a 30 year history of intensive L2 education, and is the Canadian pioneer in “Bilingual” education. ( students)  EPS has carefully collected years of performance data of students on Alberta government exams at grades 3, 6, 9 and 12.  The data was segregated for students in Immersion and Bilingual programs

7 EPS Language Programs ProgramAge and gradeTime in L2 French Immersion (age 5-17) K % 85% 70% 40% Bilingual (age 5- 17) K % 30-35% 15% Second Language Courses % 12.5%

8 Languages Offered ImmersionBilingualSecond Language French (3400)Chinese (2000) Arabic (1000) German ( 800) Spanish (300) Ukrainian (300) Hebrew (150) ASL (100) French (26 000) Spanish (3 000) Chinese (1 000) German (1 000) Japanese (800) Punjabi (200) ASL (150) Ukrainian (150) Cree (300)

9 Research Design  Local conditions and time issues ruled out a “controlled” experiment Open boundaries Programs of Choice Student mobility  Access was available to many years worth of data of student performance on provincially standardized tests in English and core subjects. These test are written by all students in the province at grades 3, 6, 9 and 12  English tests are of high quality assessing all strands of Language Arts  Given the purpose, the research design was limited to the English results.

10 Research Design  Based on student performance on tests the provinces sets cut scores to determine students who achieve: Below Acceptable Standard Within Acceptable Standard Above Acceptable Standard  Grade 3 English results were used as “pre-test”  Grade 6 and 9 results were used as “post-test” scores for analysis

11 Research Design: Controlling Confounding Variables  Provincial Achievement Tests represent the total population of Alberta students, therefore true population parameters are available (normal population) =Control  Only students remaining in the L2 program from k to 9 were included  Individual student results were converted into Z scores: Z=(X-μ)/σ This permits tracking of growth, based upon what would be expected progress for that student.

12 Research Design:  Data analyzed in two ways: Statistical tests analyzed in an R computing environment (statistical computing and graphics language interface) Graphical representation  Results not broken down by specific language: Some language programs are too small The study considered instruction in L2 in an English environment the common treatment Programs varied slightly in content and approach in different schools, making the total cohort better approximate a random sample than if we focused on smaller groups, yielding greater generalization.

13 Research Design: The Student Sample  Cohort 1: 304 students who began their schooling in September 1997  Cohort 2: 286 students who began their schooling in September 1998  Total sample size 590

14 Cohort Composition Cohort 1Cohort 2Total Chinese Bilingual French Immersion German Bilingual Ukrainian Bilingual Arabic Bilingual 6915 Hebrew Bilingual 033 TOTAL590

15 Rationale for Confucius Institute Sponsorship  The study has raised interest across Canada in the media, and academic and education circles, and will play a key role in the language education debate in Canada  The largest population in the cohort are students learning Chinese  A study that could demonstrate a positive correlation between Chinese language learning and increased proficiency in L1 would be useful in promoting Chinese.  National coverage in the national media would profile the Confucius Institute as making a valuable contribution to language learning in Canada and beyond

16 Results: CourseStandard Provincial Results % Results for Bilingual or Immersion students % Difference from Province ELA 3 Below ELA 3 Acceptable 72 0 ELA 3 Excellence ELA 6 Acceptable ELA 6 Below ELA 6 Excellence ELA 9 Below ELA 9 Acceptable ELA 9 Excellence

17 Change in English Performance

18 Tracking Z Scores  Z > 0 Above Provincial Average  Z = 0 At Provincial Average  Z < 0 Below Provincial Average  Result indicates that even with LESS instruction in English, Immersion and Bilingual students increased in English proficiency relative to the total population.

19 Grade 3 vs 9 Z Score Distribution

20 Observations  In grade 3 the student population is only slightly above the normal distribution for the province. (This after 3 years of being in the intense L2 environment); They still have a broad distribution of results indicating they are not an elite group. Some students are clearly struggling in English at -2 and -3 Standard Deviations below the mean.

21 Observations  By grade 9 this group has clearly advanced significantly beyond the mean.  The top end students in grade 3 have not necessarily advanced, yet they are still in the “excellence” category.  It is the low end student in grade 3, the ones who struggled in English, who have made the most gains

22 Confucius Institute in Edmonton Effect Size This effect size indicates that those students who remained in their bilingual or immersion programs show statistically significantly greater growth in English Language Arts than would have been expected if they had tracked the control (provincial census) group.  In other words their English was better than if they had been in an English only program

23 Confucius Institute in Edmonton  Although these students spend significantly less time in English instruction, their English results have improved at a rate that is statistically faster than English only program students.

24 Confucius Institute in Edmonton Current Conclusion  If we desire the strongest results in English for the individual student, provide, early and sustained, quality second language education.  The effect size indicates this has greater impact than any other researched intervention.  The result will be a student with strong English results, with bilingualism as a by product.  If you want strong English skills provide sustained second language instruction, in particular Mandarin.

25 Contact Information The Confucius Institute in Edmonton Woodcroft Ave. Edmonton, Alberta T5M 3M4 Website: Phone: (780) www.confuciusedmonton.ca

26 IMPACT OF EARLY SECOND LANGUAGE LEARNING ON FIRST LANGUAGE A Study of the Confucius Institute in Edmonton In Partnership with Edmonton Public Schools


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