Research into the teaching of English as a foreign language in early childhood education and care

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

6 Citations (Scopus)


This chapter begins with an introduction to the terms and referents that define this particular field of young learners. It comprises a definition of early childhood education and care, a brief description of its emergence around the world and the issues involved when considering the care and education of children from birth to formal school starting age. This historical perspective takes into account foreign language learning and its significance within this distinct area of the education system. The issues considered include the difference between care and education, the purpose of discerning between babies and toddlers and pre-primary children, the relevance of recognizing the educational attributes of these two age groups, and the importance of taking a holistic approach to support cognitive, physical, social and emotional development through the foreign language.

Research into teaching a foreign language in early childhood education and care is embryonic, nevertheless discussion highlights the emerging issues which include national policies, or lack of them, with reference to country case studies, the role of parents as major stakeholders, the training and education of the professional responsible for these programmes, the different models, approaches and practices encountered in the literature and the relevance of an integrated approach which acknowledges age-appropriate pedagogies. Particular relevance is given to the concept of play and its role in language learning, issues of collaboration when a language specialist is responsible for the programme and the question of transition from pre-primary to primary education, with recommendations for a greater understanding of these issues.

The chapter closes with considerations for future research suggesting a more robust strategy that recognizes the importance of context and the long-term implications of an early start, which focuses not on language but development through language, even if a foreign language.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRoutledge Handbook of Teaching English to Young Learners
EditorsSue Garton , Fiona Copland
Place of PublicationLondon
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9781315623672
ISBN (Print)9781138643772
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Publication series

NameRoutledge Handbooks in Applied Linguistics


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