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Researching Literacy in a Foreign Language among Primary School Learners- Forschung zum Schrifterwerb in der Fremdsprache bei Grundschülern


Edited By Bärbel Diehr and Jutta Rymarczyk

Early literacy is tackled from different angles. Researchers from Germany, Spain and Australia focus on learning to read and spell in two languages as well as on models and stages in the acquisition of literacy. Finally first teaching methods are suggested. Early literacy is put on a well founded empirical basis to ensure successful foreign language learning at primary school level.
Früher Schrifterwerb wird aus verschiedenen Winkeln beleuchtet. Wissenschaftler aus Deutschland, Spanien und Australien äußern sich zu zweisprachigem Lesen- und Schreibenlernen sowie zu Modellen und Stufen im Schrifterwerb. Schließlich werden erste Vermittlungsansätze vorgeschlagen. Frühes Lesen und Schreiben wird auf eine solide empirische Basis gesetzt, um erfolgreiches frühes Fremdsprachenlernen zu gewährleisten.


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The idea for this publication arose from the compelling papers presented at our symposium Researching literacy in a foreign language among primary school learners (Die Schriftsprache im Fremdsprachenunterricht der Grundschule) conducted at the 15. World Congress of Applied Linguistics (AILA) in Essen on 25 August 2008. The conviction that literacy among primary foreign language learners is essential was reinforced by certain curriculum decisions, but, impor- tantly, it was also based on direct observation of many primary school English lessons. In 2004, the two federal states of Baden-Wuerttemberg and Rhineland-Pa- latinate decided to introduce English as a foreign language in primary school from grade 1 onwards. What is surprising, however, is that both, the syllabi in Baden-Wuerttemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate strongly suggest that written English should not be used before grade 3. Yet, our observations in numerous classrooms showed that young learners explicitly ask for written forms. If the written language is kept away from the classroom, learners begin to invent their own spelling rules. We realized that research into the early use of written English from grade 1 onwards, was urgently needed, to avoid risking the fossilisation of inaccuracies. To a certain extent, the ministry of education in North Rhine-West- phalia caught up with us, publishing a new syllabus in 2008 requiring teachers to use the written form of English from the second half of grade 1 onwards, but to our knowledge that decision was not accompanied by empirical evidence of L2 literacy learning. So, the need for empirical research, justifying...

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