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English language education among young learners in East Asia: A review of current research (2004–2014)

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  18 June 2015

Yuko Goto Butler*
University of Pennsylvania,


The teaching of foreign languages to young learners is growing in popularity around the world. Research in this field, particularly of English as a second/foreign language education in East Asia, is a relatively new area of empirical inquiry, and it has the potential to make significant contributions to child second-language acquisition (Child-SLA) theory building, research methodologies, and policies in East Asia and beyond. This article reviews relevant peer-reviewed literature on English education among young learners in East Asia (China, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan). I begin by reviewing policy literature to illustrate the social and policy contexts of early English education, identifying major policy-related concerns. Next, I review empirical studies of English learning and teaching, organizing them by their relevance to the previously identified policy concerns. The article concludes with suggestions for future research.

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Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2015 

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