The Early Bird gets the Word Joy and enthusiasm for early foreign language learning in the learning landscape of the Contextual Pedagogical approach to Learning

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Merja Meriläinen Maarika Piispanen


Success in an increasingly globalized world sets requirements for versatile communication skills and understanding about other cultures. One of the keys to success is versatile language skills, on which the European Commission spoke out as early as in 1995, recommending that every European citizen should learn two foreign languages in addition to their mother tongue. Now, more than twenty years later, the launch of early A1 language teaching that is to begin in the first grade in Finland, in January 2020, is a significant step towards this goal.

Studies show that early foreign language learning needs to be carefully carried out in order to achieve positive effects and the effects that have been set for it in the national language program and curriculum. The age when language teaching is started is, however, just one of many variables that are seen to be relevant to the development of foreign language skills in the framework of early foreign language teaching and learning. As early foreign language teaching is a very recent area of teaching in Finland, the policy - makers and teachers play a significant role in creating new kind of learning environments, operating culture and pedagogy for foreign language learning. This article discusses early foreign language learning landscape in the context of early foreign language learning theory, initial education pedagogy and operation culture, as well as functional foreign language learning. The cornerstone of this review is the Contextual Pedagogical approach to Learning, which creates a bridge between the theory and practice of early foreign language learning, creating an inspiring and stimulating basis for later language learning.

Keywords: early foreign language learning, functional language learning, learning environments, Contextual –Pedagogical approach to Learning


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MERILÄINEN, Merja; PIISPANEN, Maarika. The Early Bird gets the Word. International Electronic Journal of Elementary Education, [S.l.], v. 12, n. 1, p. 11-17, oct. 2019. ISSN 1307-9298. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 19 sep. 2020.


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