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Teaching English as a foreign language to primary school students in East Asia: Challenges and future prospects

  • Zhenhui Rao and Ping Yu

With the spread of economic globalization and the accelerating demand for English, governments in East Asian countries have been updating their English-in-education policies so as to enhance the quality of English education in the region (Hu & McKay, 2012). Of all these policies, the introduction of English as a compulsory subject at younger and younger ages is ‘possibly the world's biggest policy development in education’ (Johnstone, 2009: 33). It is widely believed that those who start learning English at an earlier age can utilize their ‘critical period’ to learn English more efficiently (Nunan, 2003; Y. Hu, 2007). However, the expansion of teaching English to young learners has not been unanimously supported and there is no conclusive evidence for the benefits of early exposure to a new language (Copland, Garton & Burns, 2014). Some researchers point out ‘the advantages of postponing formal teaching in specific contexts’ (Hyltenstam & Abrahamsson, 2001: 163).

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English Today
  • ISSN: 0266-0784
  • EISSN: 1474-0567
  • URL: /core/journals/english-today
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