Title: We need more time to learn languages well. Should we start teaching them at an earlier age?
Time/Date: 16:30-18:00, Friday, July 19, 2013
Venue: Room 305, Building 16, Waseda University (Waseda Campus)
Language: The talk will be given in English.
Access & Campus Map: http://www.waseda.jp/eng/campus/map.html
Contact Info: Tetsuo Harada
Faculty of Education and Integrated Arts and Sciences
For a native speaker of Japanese, it takes about 2250 hours of input to learn to speak English to an intermediate level. The average college undergraduate may have spent 1700 hours learning English in the Japanese educational system (including hours of homework). There's a gap between how much time is needed to become reasonably fluent in a language and how much time Japanese learners of English have spent learning English. One common misperception is that younger learners are always faster and better at learning languages, which may be one reason behind the government's proposal to lower the age at which English is taught in Japanese elementary schools to third grade, and make English a mandatory subject. I will discuss research from a number of areas: research which shows that younger is better for learning a language but only in the context of massive amounts of input; studies which have been done on language learning in school contexts which have generally not found any advantage to any early start; and language learning programs in countries such as Korea, which do have earlier Elementary English programs that seem to be fairly successful.
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