On the effectiveness of early foreign language instruction in school contexts

Book Title
Fremdsprachen-Kompetenzen für ein Wachsendes Europa
Daniela Elsner, Lutz Küster & Britta Viebrock
215 - 229
Peter Lang

The present study reviews the results of a number of recent empirical investigations conducted in Spain in order to assess the effectiveness of early foreign language (FL) instruction. The data presented here show that, when testing age is controlled, the students who begin FL instruction earlier seem to be better learners than those who start later, this advantage being also attributable to the amount of instruction variable, as early begnones have received more FL exposure than late starters in these designs. However, when the amount of exposure is held constant, early learners clearly exhibit worse FL outcomes than late learners. Hence, we can conclude that early FL instruction is not associated with better FL acquisition as a consequence of the age variable per se but as a result of a combination of both early age and more exposure.