Converging Evidence: Attitudes, Achievements, and Instruction in the Later Years of FLES

Authors

  • Richard Donate,

    1. University of Pittsburgh
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      Richard Donato, (Ph.D., University of Delaware) is Associate Professor of Foreign Language Education at the University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

  • G. Richard Tucker,

    1. Carnegie Mellon University
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      G. Richard Tucker (Ph.D., McGill University) is Professor and Head of Modern Languages at Carnegia Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

  • Jirada Wudthayagorn,

    1. University of Pittsburgh
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      Jirada Wudthayagorn (Ph.D. candidate, University of Pittsburgh) is an instructor of English at Maejo University, Chiang Mai Province, Thailand.

  • Kanae Igarashi

    1. Carnegie Mellon University
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      Kanae Igarashi (Ph.D. candidate, Carnegie Mellon University) is a Japanese instructor at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.


Abstract

Abstract: The purpose of this study was to document and evaluate the sixth year of a typical 75-minute per week FLES (Foreign Language Learning in the Elementary School) program in Japanese as a Foreign Language (JFL). We also sought to contribute generally to the much needed research base on FLES, in particular concerning student achievement and attitudes in the later elementary years. In this article we present results from several data sources to paint a comprehensive picture of the program and of a stable cohort of fourth- and fifth-grade children who have been studying Japanese in elementary school for a six-year period. To this end, we provide the results of attitude surveys of children, teachers, and administrators; data on parental support for their children's learning of Japanese; proficiency ratings on an end-of-year prochievement interview; a comparison of the ratings of the cohort of students over a six-year period; and student self-assessment of their performance in Japanese. Against this backdrop, we turn to classroom instruction and, through systematic observation of classes over a seven-month period, we show how classroom instruction influences the children's later independent performance on measures of proficiency. Finally, we argue that this study of converging sources of evidence provides a sound model of FLES program assessment and leads to a number of implications and recommendations concerning FLES classes. These implications and recommendations may be applicable to other programs and ultimately will lead to critical issues that will have an impact on the future of FLES in the United States.

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