Bilingual advantages in early foreign language learning: Effects of the minority and the majority language

Hopp, Holger ; Vogelbacher, Markus ; Kieseier, Teresa ; Thoma, Dieter

Document Type: Article
Year of publication: 2019
The title of a journal, publication series: Learning and Instruction
Volume: 61
Page range: 99-110
Place of publication: Amsterdam [u.a.]
Publishing house: Elsevier Science
ISSN: 0959-4752 , 1873-3263
Publication language: English
Institution: School of Humanities > Anglistik I - Anglistische Linguistik (Tracy 1995-2019)
Subject: 400 Language, linguistics
Keywords (English): Bilingualism , Foreign language learning , Proficiency , Achievement
Abstract: This longitudinal study tests effects of minority and majority-language proficiency in the early foreign language learning of English in German primary schools. In a study with monolingual German and bilingual students who speak a minority language at home (N = 200), we find that the bilingual group scores lower than the monolingual group overall, yet bilingual students outperform monolingual German students in vocabulary and grammar in early foreign language learning, once socio-economic factors are controlled for. Vocabulary in the minority language acts as a significant predictor for early achievement in the foreign language for bilingual students. However, positive effects of bilingualism abate from grades 3 to 4, and proficiency in the majority language emerges as a significant predictor of English vocabulary. This change suggests that bilingual advantages wither unless they are explicitly fostered by teachers and educators.

Social SustainabilitySDG 4: Quality EducationSDG 10: Reduced Inequalities

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