English language teaching and learning at a time of change: Young learners’ perceptions of instructional contexts
Keywords:English language teaching, English as a lingua franca, Young learners, Focus group, Qualitative data analysis
Over the last twenty-five years, English has been introduced into the primary school curriculum around the world at an ever-earlier age. Several research studies on those directly involved in this policy implementation, i.e., young learners, have been carried out, particularly in Europe. The ENRICH Project—aimed at promoting teacher competences necessary for responding to the challenges raised in today’s multilingual classrooms across Europe—has explored contexts of teaching/learning in five countries where English language teachers teach learners from different linguistic and cultural backgrounds. The project investigated the needs of today’s young and adolescent learners, their awareness and understanding of new forms of communication, and their learning through English. The focus of the present article is data collected by means of focus groups in which over 100 participants, aged 11-13, were asked to think back to their role as learners and users of English, thus triggering personal responses and enhancing reflections on their learning experiences. The analysis of young learners’ statements revealed their positioning in terms of awareness of English language teaching and of the current role of English in multilingual contexts.
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