|Prof. Dr. Yuko Goto Butler (University of Pennsylvania)|
|Putting children in the center of assessment practice|
|As teaching additional languages to young learners (defined as children ages 5-12 in this talk) has become more popular globally, one of the concerns thas has arisen among practitioners is how best to assess their learning processes and outcomes. At the same time, in studies on child development and related topics, there have been discussions on research with children as opposed to research on children. Researchers historically have treated children as objects of study (e.g., giving children tasks or measurements in controlled settings) or as subjects of study (e.g., observing and interpreting children’s behaviors and attitudes from adult perspectives). Such approaches have been challenged by ideas that promote children’s agency and grant them greater autonomy as social actors. In this talk, therefore, I explore the idea of assessment with children and discuss its possibilities with some suggestions, while drawing upon examples from my own work and that of others.
I conceptualize assessment with children broadly, without referring to any particular method. Assessment with children is any approach where (a) children are invited to participate in assessment not merely as passive receivers of assessment but as social agents and (b) children’ views and experiences can directly or indirectly contribute to the improvement of assessment theories, practices, and consequences. Critically, children should benefit from this process by having an opportunity to learn. I acknowledge that, as with research with children, assessment with learners will not always work depending on the type of research, but I believe that embracing methodological diversity when feasible can stimulate and advance our understanding of assessment theories and practice.
|Prof. Dr. Florence Myles (University of Essex)|
|Socio-cognitive development in middle childhood and its impact on attitudes and motivation towards learning a foreign language in primary school|
|It has been widely reported that young learners are enthusiastic about learning foreign languages in primary school (Cable et al., 2010; Martin 2012), but that this enthusiasm usually wanes with age post primary (Chambers, 1999; Hunt et al. 2005). The reasons for this enthusiasm and its subsequent decrease, however, remain relatively little understood, and some studies have actually found an increase in motivation at the onset of secondary schooling (Graham et al., 2016). A range of reasons have been put forward, but it can be difficult to tease apart what is due to the chronological/developmental age of the learners, and what is due to contextual factors such as length of learning the foreign language or the teaching methods used with different age groups (Martin, 2012; Tierney & Gallastegi, 2011).
The study reported here compared beginner primary school children’s attitudes and motivation towards learning French in the classroom at two different ages (5/6 and 7/8-year old), in a setting where other variables, such as the context of learning, teacher and teaching style, as well as background of the children (socio-economic; geopolitical; cultural etc.), have been kept constant. Two intact classes (n=53) took part in focus groups and one-to-one interviews exploring children’s attitudes and motivation during the course of a wider longitudinal project investigating the role of age in early classroom learning.
Results show that changes in attitudes and motivation occur earlier than previously reported, and that there are notable differences between 5/6- and 7/8- year-olds, even when contextual factors are kept constant. Important developmental changes in middle childhood in terms of thoughts and beliefs systems lead to differences in attitudes. Children’s affective relationship to the learning process also evolves, with a shift from enjoyment and rewards being primary drivers of motivation, to the emergence of more instrumental motives. Children exhibit differences in levels of self-regulation, self-efficacy and thought and beliefs frames which had a direct impact on their attitudinal and motivational profiles (Bartram 2010; Del Giudice, 2018; Robson, 2006; Ryan and Deci, 2017).
|Prof. Dr. Heiner Böttger (Catholic University of Eichstaett-Ingolstadt) and Prof. Dr. Norbert Schlüter (University of Leipzig)|
|Current Issues in Primary Foreign Language Teaching|
|In our keynote address, we will elaborate on the latest developments, projects trends and research in early foreign language learning and teaching, dealing with the matter not only from a national but also from an international point of view. In particular, we will focus on primary children's language preconditions and potentials as well as on the application of digital analysis tools to determine the oral language competence of young learners at the end of primary school.
It has been a long winding path from the first FFF conference on Progress in Early Foreign Language Learning in Weingarten 2004 to ATFLY 2022 Online: Prejudices, myths and misunderstandings have paved it, some of which are still alive. The right age to start learning a language, linguistic progress, teacher education, bilingualism, gaps in school transitions from primary to secondary as well as the true cognitive potential of primary pupils, amongst so many more, were much discussed issues with wide ranging consequences in curricula development as well as in teaching methodology.
FFF conferences, together with the BIG-Thinktank, have always been home to extensive fundamental and empirical research and publications on state-of-the-art methodology, and this will continue to be the case for the ATFLY conferences. The latest findings since FFF 2021, including those from current development psychology and early language educational neurosciences will be mainly addressed in this first keynote speech as a driveway/lead-in to the conference's further ground-breaking contributions.
The continuation of the FFF conference series as an internationally oriented ATFLY conference plays an important role for the future development of early foreign language learning in Germany and beyond. It is certainly indispensable in its contribution to the national debate on language teaching and learning at primary level with the help of results from international studies and research.
The current issues in primary foreign language learning not only show how much the field has developed in recent decades, but they also mark and define the beginning of a future evolution in children's foreign language learning. We assume to recognize evolutionary potential and growing requirements in dealing properly with multi- and plurilingualism, while keeping a keen eye on global citizenship rather than just intercultural competences, and last but not least integrating more implicit and digital aspects of methodology.