For and Against an Early Start*


  • William R. Lee

    1. (Ph. D., Caroline University, Prague) is editor of English Language Teaching Journal; he is also founder and chairman of the International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language, Hounslow, Middlesex, England.
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  • *

    This is a slightly revised version of an address presented on 28 November 1975 at the FIPLV/AATG/ACTFL Convention in Washington, D. C.


ABSTRACT In considering the problem of when to begin foreign language teaching, we are necessarily involved in questions concerning the content of a basic education. Early introduction of foreign language teaching has often rested on the belief that younger children are especially good language learners, as in some respects they probably are. However, even if they were not, this would not be a valid reason for beginning later. (Detailed criticism is made of the conclusions of Primary French in the Balance.) An early start may be favored because of the effect on the children's minds at the time of learning. Improvements in teaching and the development of a middle school may help to solve some of the problems of transition to the more advanced stages. Experiment with the timetable and with intensive teaching is also desirable, at primary as at other levels.