English language teaching and learning at a time of change: Young learners’ perceptions of instructional contexts





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.

Author Biography

Silvia Sperti, Università Roma Tre

Silvia Sperti holds a Ph.D. in English linguistics applied to intercultural communication. She is a researcher, a lecturer in English language and translation studies, and a language mediator. Her research interests and publications focus on the investigation of pragma-linguistic dimensions of intercultural communication, with special attention to ELF (English as a lingua franca) variations in cross-cultural interactions, language mediation, multilingualism, language teaching, and teacher education.


Agustuna, Neng E., Herlina, Rina, & Faridah, Didih (2019). Corrective feedback on pronunciation errors: Teacher’s perception and EFL high school students’ self-reflection. Journal of English Education and Teaching, 3(3), 311–327.

Aitchison, Jean (1997). The language web: The power and problem of words. Cambridge University Press.

Alqahtani, Abdulmuhsen A., & Al-enzi, Eihab K. (2011). EFL teachers' feedback to oral errors in an EFL classroom: Teachers’ perspectives. Arab World English Journal, 2(1), 214–232.

Ancker, William (2000). Errors and corrective feedback: Updated theory and classroom practice. English Teaching Forum, 8(4), 20–25.

Bayyurt, Yasemin, & Dewey, Martin (2020). Locating ELF in ELT. ELT Journal, 74(4), 369–376.

Bayyurt, Yasemin, & Sifakis, Nicos C. (2015). ELF-aware in-service teacher education: A transformative perspective. In Hugo Bowles & Alessia Cogo (Eds.) International perspectives on English as a lingua franca. International perspectives on English language teaching, (pp. 117–135). Palgrave Macmillan.

Benvenuto, Guido, & Lopriore, Lucilla (2000). La valutazione delle competenze in lingua straniera nella scuola elementare. Rapporto di ricerca. [Foreign Language Assessment at Primary Level. Research Report]. Italian Ministry of Education.

Calsiyao, Irene S. (2015). Corrective feedback in classroom oral errors among Kalinga-Apayao State College students. International Journal of Social Science and Humanities Research, 3(1), 394–400.

Cavalheiro, Lili, Guerra, Luis, & Pereira, Ricardo (Eds.) (2021). The handbook to English as a lingua franca practices for inclusive multilingual classrooms. Húmus.

Costa, Francesca, & Pladevall-Ballester, Elisabet (2020). Introduction to the special issue: Learners’ outcomes and effective strategies in early second language learning. [Special Issue]. E-JournALL, EuroAmerican Journal of Applied Linguistics and Languages, 7(1), 1–10.

Couper, Graeme (2019). Teachers’ cognitions of corrective feedback on pronunciation: Their beliefs, perceptions and practices. System, 84, 41–52.

Dewey, Martin, & Patsko, Laura (2018). ELF and teacher education. In Jennifer Jenkins, Will Baker & Martin Dewey (Eds.), The Routledge handbook on English as a lingua franca (pp. 441–455). Routledge.

Ellis, Gail (2014). Young learners': clarifying our terms. ELT Journal, 68 (1), 75–78.

Ellis, Rod (2009). Corrective feedback and teacher development. L2 Journal, 1, 3–18.

Enever, Janet (ed.) (2011). Early language learning in Europe. The British Council.

Enever, Janet, & Moon Jayne (2010). A global revolution? Teaching English at primary school. Paper delivered for British Council Seminars. http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/seminars/a-global-revolution-teaching-english-primaryschool

Galloway, Nicola (2018). “ELF and ELT teaching materials.” In Jennifer Jenkins, Will Baker & Martin Dewey (Eds.), The Routledge handbook on English as a lingua franca (pp. 468–480). Routledge.

Garton, Sue, & Copland, Fiona (Eds.). (2018). The Routledge handbook on English as a lingua franca (1st ed.). Routledge.

Gaynor, Brian (2014). From language policy to pedagogic practice: Elementary school English in Japan. In Sarah Rich (Ed.), International perspectives on teaching English to young learners (pp. 66–84). Palgrave Macmillan.

Graddol, David (2006). English Next. British Council.

Greene, Sheila, & Hogan, Diane, (Eds.), (2005). Researching children’s experience: Methods and methodological issues. SAGE Publications.

Hassan, Ali W., & Arslan, Fadime Y. (2018). A comparative study on Iraqi EFL teachers' and learners' preferences of corrective feedback in oral communication. Bartin Üniversitesi Egitim Fakültesi Dergisi, 7(3), 765–785.

Jenkins, Jennifer, Cogo, Alessia, & Dewey, Martin (2011). Review of developments in research into English as a Lingua Franca. Language Teaching, 44(3), 281–315.

Katayama, Akemi (2007). Learners' perceptions toward oral error correction. In Kim Bradford-Watts (Ed.). JALT2006 conference proceedings (pp. 284 299). JALT.

Kingry, Margaret J., Tiedje, Linda B., & Friedman, Laurie L. (1990). Focus groups: a research technique for nursing. Nursing Research 39(2), 124–125.

Krueger, Richard A. (1994). Focus Groups: a practical guide for applied research (2nd ed.). SAGE Publications.

LLurda, Enric (2004). NNS teachers and English as an International language. International Journal of Applied Linguistics, 14(3), 314–323.

Llurda, Enric (2018). English Language Teachers and ELF. In Jenifer Jenkins, Will Baker & Martin Dewey (Eds.), The Routledge handbook on English as a lingua franca (pp. 518–527). Routledge.

Long, Mike H. (1991). Focus on form: A design feature in language teaching methodology. Foreign Language Research in Crosscultural Perspective, 2(1), 39–52.

Lopriore, Lucilla (2014). Research into early foreign language learning in Italy: Looking back, looking forward. In Julia Horváth, & Péter Medgyes, (Eds.), Studies in honour of Marianne Nikolov (pp.100–118). Lingua Franca Csopot.

Lopriore, Lucilla (2017). Voicing beliefs and dilemmas from WE- and ELF-aware reflective teacher education contexts. Teachers’ personal responses to rapidly changing multilingual contexts. Lingue & Linguaggi, 24(7-8), 73–86.

Lopriore, Lucilla, & Mihaljevic Djigunovic, Jelena (2011). Attitudinal Aspects of Early EFL Learning. In UPRT 2009. Empirical Studies in English Applied Linguistics (pp. 3–13). Lingua Franca Csopot.

Lopriore, Lucilla, & Vettorel, Paola (2015). Promoting awareness of Englishes and ELF in the English language classroom. In Hugo Bowles & Alessia Cogo (Eds.), International perspectives on English as a lingua franca (pp.13–34). Palgrave Macmillan.

Lopriore, Lucilla (2015). Young learners in ELF classrooms. A shift in perspective. In Paola Vettorel (Ed.), New frontiers in teaching and learning English (pp. 159–179). Cambridge Scholars.

Lopriore, Lucilla (2016). Revisiting English. New paradigms. Studi Italiani di Linguistica Teorica e Applicata, 45(1), 93–106.

Lyster, Roy, & Ranta, Leila (1997). Corrective feedback and negotiation of form in communicative classrooms. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 19(1), 37–66.

Lyster, Roy, Saito, Kazuya, & Sato, Masatoshi (2013). Oral corrective feedback in second language classrooms. Language Teaching, 46(1), 1–40.

Mauranen, Anna (2012). Exploring ELF: Academic English shaped by non-native speakers. Cambridge University Press.

Mauranen, Anna (2018). Conceptualising ELF. In Jennifer Jenkins, Will Baker, & Martin Dewey (Eds.), The Routledge handbook on English as a lingua franca (pp. 7–24). Routledge.

Mayall, Berry (2000). Conversations with children: Working with generational issues. In Pia Christensen & Allison James (Eds.), Research with children: Perspectives and practices (pp. 109–125). Routledge.

McElroy, Alastair (1997). Developing the nurse teacher’s role: the use of multiple focus groups to ensure grassroots involvement. Nurse Education Today, 17, 145–149.

Mihaljević Djigunović, Jelena, & Lopriore, Lucilla (2011). The learner: Do individual differences matter? In ELLiE: Early language learning in Europe (pp. 43–60). British Council.

Mihaljević Djigunović, Jelena (2016). Individual learner differences and young learners’ performance on L2 speaking tests. In Marianne Nikolov (Ed.), Assessing young learners of English: Global and local perspectives (pp. 243–261). Springer

Newbold, David (2017). Towards a (painful) paradigm shift? Language teachers and the notion of ‘error,’ Altre Modernità, 4, 118–32.

Nikolov, Marianne & Mihaljevic Djigunovic, Jelena (2011). All shades of every colour: An overview of early teaching and learning of foreign languages. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 31, 95–119.

Nunan, David & Bailey, Kathleen M. (2009). Exploring second language classroom research: A comprehensive guide, Heinle ELT.

Nunan, David (2011). Teaching English to young learners. Anaheim University Press.

Pennycook, Alastair (2006). Global Englishes and transcultural flows. Routledge.

Pinter, Annamaria, & Zandian, Samaneh (2015). ‘I thought it would be tiny little one phrase that we said, in a huge big pile of papers’: Children’s reflections on their involvement in participatory research. Qualitative Research, 15(2), 235–250.

Pinter, Annamaria (2017). Teaching young language learners. Oxford handbooks for language teachers. Oxford University Press.

Pinto, Maria Antonietta, Titone, Renzo, & Trusso, Francesca (1999). Metalinguistic awareness. Theory, development and measurement instruments. Istituti Editoriali e Poligrafici Internazionali.

Sairanen, Heidi, & Kumpulainen, Kristiina (2014). A visual narrative inquiry into children’s sense of agency in preschool and first grade. International Journal of Educational Psychology, 3(2), 141–174.

Saito, Kazuya, & Lyster, Roy (2012). Effects of form‐focused instruction and corrective feedback on L2 pronunciation development of/ɹ/by Japanese learners of English. Language learning, 62(2), 595–633.

Scott, Jacqueline (2000). Children as respondents: The challenge of quantitative methods. In Pia Christensen & Allison James (Eds.), Research with children: Perspectives and practices (2nd ed., pp. 87–108). Routledge.

Seidlhofer, Barbara (2009). Common ground and different realities: World Englishes and English as a lingua franca. World Englishes, 28(2), 236–245.

Seidlhofer, Barbara (2011). Understanding English as a lingua franca. Oxford University Press.

Sheen, Younghee, & Ellis, Rod (2011). Corrective feedback in language teaching. In Eli Hinkle (Ed.), Handbook of research in second language teaching and learning (Vol. 2, pp. 593–610). Routledge.

Sifakis, Nicos C. & Bayyurt, Yasemin (2018). ELF-aware teaching, learning and teacher development. In Jenifer Jenkins, Will Baker, & Martin Dewey (Eds.), The Routledge handbook of English as a lingua franca (pp. 456−467). Routledge.

Sifakis, Nicos C. (2019). ELF Awareness in English language teaching: Principles and processes. Applied Linguistics, 40(2), 288–306.

Ustaci, Hale Y., & Ok, Selami (2014). Preferences of ELT Learners in the Correction of Oral Vocabulary and Pronunciation Errors. Higher Education Studies, 4(2), 29–41.

Widdowson, Henry (1978). Teaching language as communication. Oxford University Press.



How to Cite

Sperti, S. (2022). English language teaching and learning at a time of change: Young learners’ perceptions of instructional contexts. EuroAmerican Journal of Applied Linguistics and Languages, 9(2), 17–39. https://doi.org/10.21283/2376905X.



Research Articles - Regular Issue