image of Effects of an early start in learning English as a foreign language on reading and listening comprehension in Year
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For years now, all over Europe a debate has been ongoing concerning the effectiveness of an early start in learning a foreign language. This paper presents findings from a representative large-scale assessment study from Germany and seeks to examine the relationship between receptive skills in English as a foreign language (EFL) of students in Year 9 and their EFL learning onset age. We examined the differences in achievement of early starters – i.e., students who started learning English either before Year 3 or in Year 3 – in comparison with late starters defined as students instructed in EFL from Year 4 or 5 using a sample of more than 30,000 students. The results from multilevel regression modelling point to long-term advantages in reading and listening comprehension for students with an early onset of English instruction in primary school compared to students who began later. The paper finishes by discussing the results and suggesting further research in this field.


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