Early predictors of learning a foreign language in pre-school - Polish as a first language, English as a foreign language

Marta Łockiewicz , Zuzanna Sarzała-Przybylska , Małgorzata Lipowska


When a foreign language (FL) acquisition begins in preschool, at which time young learners are particularly linguistically sensitive, it allows for a higher FL competence in future. Moreover, a second language learning depends on a learner’s aptitude. The aim of our study was to assess the early predictors of learning English as a Foreign Language (EFL) in Polish pre-school students who had not yet started formal literacy instruction, and to characterize the level of their oral receptive and active skills in English. 30 children aged between 3 years 5 months and 5 years 10 months who attended two private and one state kindergarten, participated in the study. All were native speakers of Polish, and apart from English classes, communicated in their first language at kindergarten and in their everyday life. Non-verbal intelligence, emerging literacy, phonological awareness in Polish, and knowledge of English were assessed. We found that in Polish pre-school children emerging letter identification from their first language alphabet, phonological awareness in their first language, and non-verbal intelligence were related to the achievements in learning EFL, despite the differences in transparency between the two languages. Moreover, the children’s passive color vocabulary was larger than their active vocabulary, and they were used to repetition tasks. The participants in our study attempted to communicate in English during the assessment, which suggests that even at a pre-school age they were able to differentiate between first language and FL discourse. We also identified some problems possibly stemming from linguistic transfer, like articles omissions. Therefore, teachers should pay more emphasis to the differences between the first and the second language, in terms of: syntax, morphology, phonetics, phonology, and orthography, to prevent later consolidation of early errors. The automatisation of correct linguistic habits in young learners would equip them with skills for their later FL educational success.
Author Marta Łockiewicz (FSS / IPsych / DDPP)
Marta Łockiewicz,,
- Division of Developmental Psychology and Psychopathology
, Zuzanna Sarzała-Przybylska (FSS / IPsych)
Zuzanna Sarzała-Przybylska,,
- Institute of Psychology
, Małgorzata Lipowska (FSS / IPsych / DIPGP)
Małgorzata Lipowska,,
- Division of Intercultural Psychology and Gender Psychology
Journal seriesFrontiers in Psychology, ISSN 1664-1078, (A 35 pkt)
Issue year2018
Publication size in sheets0.5
Article number1813
Keywords in Englishearly predictors, English as a foreign language, pre-school, Polish, oral English skills
ASJC Classification3200 General Psychology
URL https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01813/full
Languageen angielski
LicenseJournal (articles only); published final; Uznanie Autorstwa (CC-BY); with publication
Score (nominal)35
Score sourcejournalList
ScoreMinisterial score = 35.0, 10-03-2020, ArticleFromJournal
Publication indicators WoS Citations = 2; Scopus SNIP (Source Normalised Impact per Paper): 2018 = 1.03; WoS Impact Factor: 2017 = 2.089 (2) - 2017=2.749 (5)
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