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Title: 'Is younger better?' : a critical examination of the beliefs about learning a foreign language at primary school
Author: Poole, Beate
ISNI:       0000 0004 2750 7119
Awarding Body: Institute of Education, University of London
Current Institution: University College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 1999
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This thesis is concerned with the learning of a foreign language in British primary school classrooms. Chapter One presents the historical background to early foreign language learning in Britain and describes the situation in primary schools in the I 990s. Chapter Two investigates the origins of the belief that younger is better, examines the literature on the age factor in second language development and in doing so, inevitably draws on a wide range of studies from a variety of contexts. Chapter Three reviews the learning outcomes from the Scottish National Pilot and compares these with outcomes from the Pilot Scheme, the first large-scale early foreign language learning project. Chapter Four deals with a range of substrates required in learning a foreign language efficiently and ultimately successfully within the artificial constraints of the classroom. Chapters Five and Six report the findings from case studies carried out in two primary schools in England and analyse and discuss data collected in these schools through lesson observations, interviews and questionnaires. It is argued that the belief that 'younger is better' for learning a foreign language in the classroom is not supported by a detailed examination of the literature on age in second language development. Learning outcomes from early foreign language learning projects both past and present do not provide convincing evidence that 'younger is better' for learning a foreign language in the classroom either. Data from the two case studies further indicate that 'younger' might not necessarily be 'better' for all children in all circumstances. The combined evidence thus suggests that the commonly held belief that younger is better' for the learning of a foreign language remains questionable.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Education & training