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Young learners of English and the educational significance of extramural English activities
Karlstad University, Faculty of Arts and Education, Centre for Research on the Teaching and Learning of Languages and Literature. Karlstad University, Faculty of Arts and Education, Department of Languages.ORCID iD: 0000-0003-0511-4624
2010 (English)Conference paper, (Refereed)
Abstract

This paper presents findings from an ongoing study investigating young Swedish learners extramural (out-of-school) contact with English. In contemporary Sweden, as in many other countries, English abounds; research has shown that extramural contact with English correlates positively with students proficiency in English (Sundqvist 2009, Sylvén 2004). While Sylvén (2004) investigates type and amount of extramural English among upper secondary students and Sundqvist (2009) among 9th graders, little on the same topic is known about young learners. In a nationwide survey, more than half of Swedish 5th-graders indicate that they have learned English as much or more outside of school as in school (Skolverket 2004). Focussing on young learners (N=244; grades 4-6), the aim of the present study is to map their type and amount of extramural English and identify possible correlations with language proficiency, socioeconomic backgrounds, and motivation to study languages, thus partly filling a void in research.



Extramural engagement in English activities is connected with informal learning, defined by Ellis (1994) as a natural, simple and subconscious acquisition of knowledge about the underlying structure in some complex stimulus, e.g. language. The informal acquisition of a new language can be juxtaposed to formal learning, which in comparison is characterized by a more conscious treatment of complex structures typical of the new language. As suggested above, extramural English seems to be a decisive factor for informal learning to take place and it is important to increase knowledge about young learners in this respect, not least in light of the fact that the European Commission recommends language teaching at an early age, for example in order to increase students language awareness and interest for learning at least two languages in addition to their first (Commission of the European Communities 2003).



References

Commission of the European Communities. (2003). Promoting language learning and linguistic diversity: An action plan 2004-2006. Brussels: European Commission.

Ellis, N. (1994). Implicit and explicit language learning An Overview. I N. Ellis (ed.), Implicit and explicit learning of languages (pp. 1-31). London: Academic Press.

Skolverket. (2004). Nationella utvärderingen av grundskolan 2003. Huvudrapport svenska/svenska som andraspråk, engelska, matematik och undersökningen i årskurs 5. Stockholm: Skolverket.

Sundqvist, P. (2009). Extramural English Matters: Out-of-school English and its impact on Swedish ninth graders oral proficiency and vocabulary. Karlstad: Karlstad University Studies.

Sylvén, L. K. (2004). Teaching in English or English teaching? On the effects of content and language integrated learning on Swedish learners incidental vocabulary acquisition. Göteborg: University of Gothenburg.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2010.
Keyword [en]
young learners, second language acquisition, extramural English, informal learning, Educational Work, Subject Didactics, Other research relevant to Teachers Education
National Category
Languages and Literature
Research subject
English
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:kau:diva-10252OAI: oai:DiVA.org:kau-10252DiVA: diva2:493779
Conference
SEDLL XI - Competency-based foreign language teaching and learning
Available from: 2012-02-08 Created: 2012-02-08 Last updated: 2014-09-04Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
  • apa
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