WHY? Why should we offer opportunities for second language learning to learners who are already struggling to master their first language?
Personal reflection: All children can learn
Look at the statement above.
What is your reaction?
Do you agree? Disagree? Are you uncertain?
Do you want to begin your response by Well, it depends… ?
Can you answer this question:
Why should we offer opportunities for second language learning to learners who are already struggling to master their first language?
Looking for answers
What are your own thoughts on these matters? You may wish to consider the following points as they relate to learners in general, or as they relate to an individual learner in your own experience:
- What, in your view, is language learning FOR?
- What is the purpose of foreign language learning for learners who are unlikely to reach a high level of communicative competence? (Is your answer different from the previous one?)
- What benefits do we expect these learners to gain from their study?
- Do these benefits always materialise? Why / Why not? What conditions are required for success?
- What are the implications of the above for (a) school policy (b) decision makers (c) class teachers? (d) learners?
If you have not already done so, look at the paper on Some benefits of language learning that asks why we might want to offer the chance to learn a second language to learners who are already struggling to master their first language.
Look at the question from another point of view: WHY NOT?
Some of the ways in which individual learners benefit can’t be predicted, but the benefits are none-the-less real and may make very significant contributions to the lives of those learners.
Read the extract on unpredictable benefits.
- Have you come across any examples of this in your own experience?
- What implications does the phenomenon of ‘unpredictable benefits’ have for decisions that we take regarding whether or not an individual learner should be withdrawn from foreign language learning?
Personal reflection again: All children can learn languages
What do you think now: should all learners be given a chance to be involved in language learning? Have your views changed? Are there any provisos you would like to see put in place?