Game on! Young learners’ incidental language learning of English prior to instruction

Main Article Content

Vanessa De Wilde
June Eyckmans

Abstract

In this paper the incidental language acquisition of 11-year-old Flemish children (n = 30) who have not received any formal English instruction is investigated. The study looks into children’s English proficiency and the learner characteristics that can be associated with it. In order to measure the children’s English proficiency, a receptive vocabulary test and a proficiency test (which measured listening skills, speaking skills, reading skills and writing skills) were used. Information about learner characteristics was gathered through two questionnaires (for children and parents). The results show that a significant proportion of the 11-year-olds can already perform tasks at the A2 level (The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) without having had any formal instruction. The study confirms that children learn English from the input they receive through different media (especially gaming and computer use). Furthermore, the data reveal a strikingly positive attitude towards English and demonstrate that in some situations Flemish children prefer using English over their L1 with their peers.

Downloads

Download data is not yet available.

Article Details

How to Cite
De Wilde, V., & Eyckmans, J. (2017). Game on! Young learners’ incidental language learning of English prior to instruction. Studies in Second Language Learning and Teaching, 7(4), 673-694. https://doi.org/10.14746/ssllt.2017.7.4.6
Section
Articles
Author Biographies

Vanessa De Wilde, Ghent University, Artevelde University College Ghent

vanessa.dewilde@ugent.be

Vanessa De Wilde is a PhD student and teacher trainer of English at Ghent University, Belgium and Head of the English section in the Secondary Education Department at Artevelde University College where she teaches English as a foreign language at various levels of proficiency, is involved in the guidance and coaching of student teachers and works on course development. Her research interests are SLA of young learners and language teaching methodology. She has given various workshops to teachers of foreign languages and has presented the results of her research at conferences.

June Eyckmans, Ghent University

june.eyckmans@ugent.be

June Eyckmans is Associate Professor of Applied Linguistics at the Department of Translation, Interpreting and Communication of Ghent University, Belgium where she teaches courses in applied linguistics, research methodology and EFL. Her research interests center on second language acquisition research, with a special focus on L2 vocabulary learning. She publishes on cognitive linguistic approaches to vocabulary learning and on assessment methodology in national and international journals, and she currently supervises research projects on individual difference variables, vocabulary learning and incidental language acquisition. She is often consulted by national and international organisations for the improvement of language assessment procedures.

References

  1. Cambridge English Language Assessment. (2014). Cambridge English: Young Learners: Flyers. Retrieved from http://www.cambridgeenglish.org/exams/young-learners-english/
  2. Cambridge English Language Assessment. (2017). Cambridge English: Flyers (YLE Flyers): Grade Statistics. Retrieved from http://gradestatistics.cambridgeenglish.org/2015/ylef.html
  3. Dewey, M. (2007). English as a lingua franca and globalization: An interconnected perspective. International Journal of Applied Linguistics, 17(3), 332-354. doi: 10.1111/j.1473-4192.2007.00177.x
  4. Dunn, L., & Dunn, L. (2007). Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (4th ed.). Circle Pines, MN: American Guidance Service.
  5. Edelenbos, P., Johnstone, R., & Kubanek, A. (2006). Languages for the children in Europe: Published research, good practice and main principles. Retrieved from http://ec.europa.eu/dgs/education_culture/repository/languages/policy/language-policy/documents/young_en.pdf
  6. Enever, J. (Ed.). (2011). ELLiE - Early language learning in Europe. London: British Council.
  7. Griffin, J. L. (2004). The presence of written English on the streets of Rome. English Today, 20(2), 3-8. doi: 10.1017/S0266078404002020
  8. Huckin, J., & Coady, J. (1999). Incidental vocabulary acquisition in a second language: A review. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 21(2), 181-193.
  9. Hulstijn, J. H. (2012). Incidental learning in second language acquisition. In C. A. Chapelle (Ed.), The encyclopedia of applied linguistics (pp. 2632-2640). Oxford: Blackwell. doi: 10.1002/9781405198431.wbeal0530
  10. Jensen, S. H. (2016). Gaming as an English language learning resource among young children in Denmark. CALICO Journal, 34(1), 1-19. doi : 10.1558/cj.29519
  11. Kuppens, A. H. (2010). Incidental foreign language acquisition from media exposure. Learning, Media and Technology, 35(1), 65-85. doi: 10.1080/17439880903561876
  12. Lefever, S. (2010, October). English skills of young learners in Iceland: “I started talking English when I was 4 years old. It just bang . . . just fall into me.” Paper presented at the Menntakvika Conference, Reijkjavik, Iceland.
  13. Lindgren, E., & Muñoz, C. (2013). The influence of exposure, parents, and linguistic distance on young European learners’ foreign language comprehension. International Journal of Multilingualism, 10(1), 105-129. doi: 10.1080/14790718.2012.679275
  14. McArthur, T. (2000). Interanto: The global language of signs. English Today, 16(1), 33-43. doi:10.1017/S0266078400011421
  15. Mediaraven, & Linc. (2016). Onderzoeksrapport Apestaartjaren 6.1. Retrieved from https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B0Gf3skoGIynU3NKTm1xczItNkU/view
  16. Onderwijs Vlaanderen. (2016). Eindtermen Moderne Vreemde Taalen – Frans/Engels – A-stroom, eerste graad. Retrieved from http://www.ond.vlaanderen.be/curriculum/secundair-onderwijs/eerste-graad/vakgebonden/a-stroom/moderne-vreemde-talen-frans-engels/eindtermen.htm
  17. Saville-Troike, M. (2012). Introducing second language acquisition (2nd ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/CBO9780511888830
  18. Sylvén, L. K., & Sundqvist, P. (2012). Gaming as extramural English L2 learning and L2 proficiency among young learners. ReCALL, 24(3), 302-321. doi:10. 1017/S095834401200016X