I think Professor Hall is accurate with his description of the situation of non-immersion countries, like Japan where I currently live and teach. The policy on primary school English education here seems to be going in the right direction, yet what needs be done is to provide adequate support for teachers and schools in order to make a successful transition.
In terms of the debate though, I think primary ELT does not do any harm. Teachers even here in Japan notice a difference in the attitudes students have for English which did not exist years ago. The change is a change of affect, in that they feel more ready for English in middle school now due to their exposure in primary school. This makes a big difference in my opinion.
Ahead of the ELT Journal debate at IATEFL 2014 in Harrogate, Graham Hall, editor of ELT Journal, presents an introduction to the motion of the debate.
The ongoing expansion of English language teaching for Primary age learners and teenagers has been a notable feature of ELT in recent years. In many countries, English is now compulsory in primary as well as secondary education, whilst English for Pre-school learners is also increasingly common. Some estimates suggest that up to 80 per cent of English language teaching globally is directed, in diverse contexts, at students in Primary or Secondary schools. As the exact cut-off point between Primary and Secondary education varies around the world, let’s assume for this blog that we’re referring to teaching children of pre- and/or post-11 years old).
As both parents and educational authorities seek to increase younger learners’ English language skills, we can’t assume that an earlier start…
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