Teaching Foreign Languages to Young Learners

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Introduction In an increasingly globalized world the ability to exchange ideas and communicate in a language other than one’s first language has been considered highly important. The necessity of teaching foreign languages to Young Learners (aged 5-12 years old) has been widely recognized and, as a result, recent years have witnessed an explosion in the number of children learning English as a foreign language as part of their primary education. In fact, in many countries worldwide a tendency to lower the age at which school children begin their foreign language learning has been noticed. As young language learners comprise the most rapidly growing segment of the primary school population, there is an extensive interest in their learning. This entails a growth of concern about their appropriate assessment since assessment has always been regarded as an integral part of the everyday teaching practice (Ioannou-Georgiou & Pavlou, 2003; Linn & Miller, 2005; McKay, 2006). Assessment is included in evaluation which is the umbrella term referring to all the types of activities that require the exercise of judgement. Even though the terms have frequently been used interchangeably in the relative literature, Bachman (1990) argues that their distinctive characteristics render their separate definitions necessary. More particularly, evaluation is a broad concept “primarily about decision making” (Genesee & Upshur, 1996: 4). Although it “is a natural and recurring activity of our daily existence” (Karavas, 2004: 151), when we engage in evaluation in an educational setting, its consequences are serious, powerful and far reaching. Evaluation involves making a wide variety of choices concerning instructional plans, methodological approaches,... ... middle of paper ... ...age Learning: Vol. 3. Assessing Students without Tests. Patras: Hellenic Open University. Underhill, N. (1987) Testing Spoken Language: a handbook of oral testing techniques. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Vatantzi, E. (2005) Washback effect of assessment in the English language classroom of greek primary schools. M.Ed dissertation. Patras: Hellenic Open University. West, R. (2004a) Testing and Assessment in Language Learning: Vol. 1. Principles and Approaches to Language Testing. Patras: Hellenic Open University. West, R. (2004b) Testing and Assessment in Language Learning: Vol. 2. Assesing the Language and Communication Skills. Patras: Hellenic Open University. Υπουργείο Παιδείας Δια Βίου Μάθησης και Θρησκευμάτων. (2010) Το Νέο Σχολείο: Πρώτα ο Μαθητής. Retrieved December 2, 2011 from: http://archive.minedu.gov.gr/docs/neo_sxoleio_brochure_100305.pdf
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