The project investigated children's linguistic development in bilingual preschools in Germany, Sweden and Belgium where the children meet native speakers of the target languages. The results showed that the children reach a high competence in the foreign language, related to how language is used in interaction. Also, the input in the target language has no negative effect on the mother tongue.
Gisela Håkansson, Linguistics and Phonetics
Anna Flyman Mattsson, Scandinavian Languages
Status: Completed (2008–2010)
Department: Centre for Languages and Literature
The project ELIAS (Early Language and Intercultural Acquisition Studies) includes ten bilingual preschools in Germany, Belgium, England, and Sweden, one monolingual preschool in England, and eight universities. Based on earlier research that shows that immersion teaching is a superior method for developing language competence and that children's natural learning strategies have a positive effect on language acquisition, the aim with the project was to investigate children's linguistic development in bilingual preschools where the children meet teachers who are native speakers in the target languages. The results include the following insights into language acquisition and intercultural competence:
1.Already at preschool level, children learn and use different strategies for intercultural competence in a successful way.
2.The children reach a high competence in the foreign language (English) where comprehension precedes production. The level of competence depends on the amount of contact with the language and how the teachers use the language in interaction with the children. Children with a migrant background learn the foreign language faster than monolingual children.
3.The mother tongue is not affected by the intense input in the foreign language. The children's mother tongue develop instead in accordance with their age. In line with other studies, the results showed that both the children's languages benefit from an increased language awareness.
Content manager: Anna Flyman Mattsson
Page content last modified 16 Apr 2012