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Young EFL Learners Dr. Ofra Inbar Beit Berl College &Tel-Aviv University Teacher Education and School Reform and Development Sixth Israeli-German Symposium,

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Presentation on theme: "Young EFL Learners Dr. Ofra Inbar Beit Berl College &Tel-Aviv University Teacher Education and School Reform and Development Sixth Israeli-German Symposium,"— Presentation transcript:

1 Young EFL Learners Dr. Ofra Inbar Beit Berl College &Tel-Aviv University Teacher Education and School Reform and Development Sixth Israeli-German Symposium, October, 2005

2 The content of the talk Language learning at a young age Language learning at a young age The spread of English The spread of English Learning English as a Foreign Language (EFL) at a young age Learning English as a Foreign Language (EFL) at a young age Knowledge-Base for teaching EFL to young learners Knowledge-Base for teaching EFL to young learners Research in-progress: Home Room teachers teaching English in grade One Research in-progress: Home Room teachers teaching English in grade One

3 Should a language be introduced at a young age? Informal (home) environment Informal (home) environment vs. formal school setting vs. formal school setting Home (natural) environment: Caretaker’s fluency and comfort in the language 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) 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 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) 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 Learning Fatigue Early exposure and more teaching hours: not enough to ensure success Early exposure and more teaching hours: not enough to ensure success

5 For Affective factors: less inhibited; greater motivation Affective factors: less inhibited; greater motivation Oral ability, particularly pronunciation enhanced at a young age (Johnstone, 1994; Marinova-Todd et al, 2000) Oral ability, particularly pronunciation enhanced at a young age (Johnstone, 1994; Marinova-Todd et al, 2000) Confidence as a language speaker Confidence as a language speaker Need to know language(s): Multilingualism is a key to success 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? Why?

7 English as a Lingua Franca Emergence of English as a World Language due to British colonialism British colonialism US power US power Advent technology 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) 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. EXPANDING OUTER INNER

9 Currently: Distinction Blurred New Englishes in Outer Circles (Periphery) asserting their rights: New Englishes in Outer Circles (Periphery) asserting their rights: Singlish in Singapore Singlish in Singapore Japanese English Japanese English Indian English Indian English Expanding Circle countries (like Israel and Germany) embracing English as a semi- official language 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 a native speaker? Central or Periphery? Who is the best English teacher: Who is the best English teacher: Native of standard (inner Circle) English or bilingual, non-native English speaker? 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? Criteria for material selection and for assessment: Central? Local? English as a Lingua Franca?

11 Young Learners of English Wide spread Wide spread Language prestige Language prestige Parental pressure: social mobility Parental pressure: social mobility The younger the better regardless of research findings The younger the better regardless of research findings

12 How Young is Young? Home environment: birth Home environment: birthSchool: Foreign language teaching in the US- 12 Foreign language teaching in the US- 12 Europe: varies: often 9-10 (or earlier) Europe: varies: often 9-10 (or earlier) Cambridge Young Learners’ test: 7-12 Cambridge Young Learners’ test: 7-12 Israel and other “expanding countries” Israel and other “expanding countries” The younger the better move to lower age. Currently: grade one The younger the better move to lower age. Currently: grade one Sometimes kindergarten Sometimes kindergarten

13 What Knowledge-Base is required for teaching EFL to young learners Knowledge of the language Knowledge of the language Knowledge about the language Knowledge about the language Knowledge how to teach he language Knowledge how to teach he language Knowledge about teaching young children Knowledge about teaching young children Knowledge about teaching the language to 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 A common phenomenon in some European and Asian countries In Israel: Began 5 years ago in the town of Ra’anana In Israel: Began 5 years ago in the town of Ra’ananaReasons: Rooted in educational philosophical thought Rooted in educational philosophical thought Availability, convenience Availability, convenience Economically viable 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? Goals: exposure, fun, or academic? Listening/speaking or literate skills? Listening/speaking or literate skills? Use of target language (English) vs. local language (Hebrew; German), and for what purpose? Use of target language (English) vs. local language (Hebrew; German), and for what purpose? Integration with in-going topics (taught in the local language) Integration with in-going topics (taught in the local language) Literacy? Literacy? Assessment? Assessment? Coordination with programs for the older learners? Coordination with programs for the older learners?

17 Relevance to Israel The Younger the better: move to introduce English at younger ages The Younger the better: move to introduce English at younger ages One of the flagships of the current Ministry of Education policy One of the flagships of the current Ministry of Education policy Vast spread of first grade English initiatives 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) Teachers’ questionnaires (home room and English) Principals’ questionnaire Principals’ questionnaire Interviews (administrators, program developers) Interviews (administrators, program developers) Sample of 7 schools: Parents’ questionnaire Parents’ questionnaire Classroom observations Classroom observations Teacher interviews Teacher interviews Students’ research tools Students’ research tools

21 Students’ Research Tools Listening comprehension quiz (N=250) Listening comprehension quiz (N=250) Individual oral interaction interviews (N=54) Individual oral interaction interviews (N=54) Attitude questionnaires (N=250) Attitude questionnaires (N=250) Self-Assessment questionnaires (N=250) Self-Assessment questionnaires (N=250)

22 Some initial observations Teaching of English in grade 1 in Israel is extremely common Teaching of English in grade 1 in Israel is extremely common Both teaching models exist (home room and English teachers) Both teaching models exist (home room and English teachers) Programs: different objectives and modes of implementation (one program – home room teachers only) Programs: different objectives and modes of implementation (one program – home room teachers only)

23 Student Research Tools Specific age appropriate and language level considerations Specific age appropriate and language level considerations format (whether individual, group or class) format (whether individual, group or class) choice of item and task types choice of item and task types choice of contexualized, age-relevant stimuli choice of contexualized, age-relevant stimuli

24 Comparative Research Study? Similar phenomena in Germany? Similar phenomena in Germany? Possibilities for joint and comparative research? Possibilities for joint and comparative research? Contact Information: Contact Information:


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