Foreign language reforms in Swiss primary schools

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In German-speaking Central Switzerland, French used to be the only foreign language (FL) taught in primary schools (from grade five onwards). Some cantons have now implemented a program including English as the first FL (L2) to be learnt at school (from grade three onwards), followed by French as the second FL (L3) (from grade five onwards). To examine the impact of this school reform, children of both programs were compared with respect to their French competencies (N = 893). After one year of French instruction, students with previous English (L2) instruction exhibited higher skills in French (L3) listening and reading than students without previous English (L2) instruction. One year later, however, the initial advantage of the more experienced learners had disappeared. The results argue for a more coordinated instruction of the different FLs taught at school that takes the existing experiences of the students into account.


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