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Elementary School Foreign Language Teaching: Lessons Learned Over Three Decades (1980–2010)



The purpose of this research was to investigate the major successes and challenges of elementary school language teaching from 1980 to 2010 through the voices of some of the individuals who were instrumental in the development of the field. The author conducted interviews with 16 leaders in the field of early language education to elicit their views on such topics as program models, instructional approaches, proficiency assessment, and advocacy. Ten lessons learned are presented in the form of recommendations for the expansion of proficiency-based language programs in elementary schools. These recommendations will help the field learn from past successes and failures, develop the highest possible levels of language proficiency, and build on the methodologies (e.g., immersion and content-based instruction) that have been demonstrated to be best practices.