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Tracing Trajectories of Young Learners: Ten Years of School English Learning

  • Carmen Muñoz (a1)
Abstract
ABSTRACT

An early start of foreign language (FL) teaching has been encouraged on the basis that the main gains in this period lie in the development of positive attitudes and motivation. But the view that those positive effects will remain unchanged over learners’ language-learning trajectories is at odds with the currently prevailing notion that motivation is a complex and evolutionary process that fluctuates over time. In fact, research has shown that the positive attitudes attested in the first years of primary school wane after a while. But we still know very little about young learners’ motivational development, and longitudinal studies are very scarce. This 10-year longitudinal study looked at the trajectories of a group of young learners of English as a foreign language (EFL) from age 6 to age 16 using a mixed-methods design. It examined their outcomes in relation to their language-learning aptitude and motivation, and it observed the ways in which their levels of motivation rise and fall over time. The triangulation of data from different sources, and principally from yearly individual interviews, provided us with insights to better understand the role played by internal and external factors in those trajectories and some of the challenges for FL teaching to young learners.

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Annual Review of Applied Linguistics
  • ISSN: 0267-1905
  • EISSN: 1471-6356
  • URL: /core/journals/annual-review-of-applied-linguistics
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