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The University of Southampton

LING6044 Teaching Foreign Languages to Younger Learners

Module Overview

This module will address the implementation and adaptation of language teaching methodologies to address the unique challenges inherent in instructed, early foreign language (FL) learning. The novel aspect of the module will lie in its systematic exploration of emerging theoretical issues and their links to developing practice. Theoretically and empirically early classroom FL learning is an emerging field. It has been problematized by both limited evidence and global assumptions which are grounded in existing evidence relating to L1 acquisition in naturalistic settings (e.g. the critical period hypothesis). However, field-specific evidence is accumulating which suggests that early FL learning is a vastly different process and therefore requires reconceptualization. Regardless of theoretical challenges, early FL classroom learning (and more specifically, English language in the primary school) is a global phenomenon. This module which combines the latest empirical evidence with regular opportunities to develop context-specific teaching skills alongside critical analysis and evaluation of existing global language education policies, curricula and resources will complement and extend current ELT postgraduate provision.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • An understanding of the potential for integrated skills instruction and cross-curricular links in younger learner settings and the opportunity to explore related pedagogic skills and materials.
  • An appreciation of the potential of reflective practice in teacher development.
  • Critical evaluation of policy, curricula and resources to support FL teaching and learning with young learners.
  • An understanding of instructed, early FL Learning as a global phenomenon.
  • Critical insights into language teaching methodologies for younger learners and their applicability in diverse contexts.
  • The ability to make links between theory and practice alongside the opportunity to explore and devise in-class practical and practicable language teaching (and assessment) opportunities.
  • Knowledge of the applications of applied linguistics concepts to the teaching of languages to younger learners. For example, the role of the Critical Period Hypothesis and psycholinguistic accounts of language processing as well as emerging conceptualisations of language transfer (especially in L2 literacy) as cross-linguistic influence.


This module will focus on developing real understanding of relevant applied linguistics theories and relating these directly to pedagogy. Topics dealt with will include: • Problematizing the teaching and learning of FLs with younger learners. Does younger really = better? Are there inherent assumptions in younger learner policies and curricula? How realistic are the expectations for progression in younger learner contexts and what are the factors which may impact upon this? • Considering rationales behind younger FL learning and designing culturally appropriate pedagogy including the exploration of technology use in the classroom, exploiting cross-curricula links, FL teaching and learning in mixed ability classes, FL teaching and learning in large classrooms and multimodal learning. • Investigating learner-related issues in younger learner contexts which will include consideration of aptitude in the form of verbal working memory, working memory and first language literacy skills including sub-lexical constructs such as: phonological recoding and phonological awareness. • Exploring ways to develop learner autonomy and integrated skills instruction within the younger learner classroom. This will align with a renewed theoretical debate concerning the introduction of the written word to younger FL learners. • Developing ways to conduct formative, in-class assessment with younger learners to guide the development of programmes (or schemes of work) and planning. Opportunities to conduct both self- and peer-assessment will also be explored.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods will include: • Lectures • Workshops • Interactive group sessions. Learning activities include: • Individual study • Preparing presentations and discussions in small groups • Giving group or individual presentations on classroom issues • Developing and presenting practical classroom materials. Innovative or special features of this module: • Weekly practical tasks which will relate to theoretical issues explored • Practical evaluation of materials designed for younger FL teaching and learning. • Workshop exploring the use of ICT in the FL classroom.

Follow-up work20
Practical classes and workshops12
Completion of assessment task36
Preparation for scheduled sessions40
Wider reading or practice30
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list

Enever J., Moon, J. & Raman, U. (2009). Young Learner English Language Policy and Implementation: International Perspectives. 

Spolsky B. & Moon Y.I. (2012). Primary School English Language Education in Asia. 

Pinter, A (2006). Teaching Young Learners. 

Murphy, V. (2014). Second Language Learning in the Early School Years: Trends and Contexts. 

Brumfit C., Moon J. & Tongue, R. (1991). Teaching English to Children: From Practice to Principle. 

Nikolov, M. (2009). Early Learning of Modern Foreign Languages: Processes and Outcomes. 

Cameron L. (2001). Teaching English to Young Learners. 



MethodPercentage contribution
Classroom focused study  (2500 words) 50%
Essay  (2000 words) 50%


MethodPercentage contribution
Coursework 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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