Skip to main content
Article thumbnail
Location of Repository

Primary modern foreign languages: an overview of recent research, key issues and challenges for educational policy and practice

By Marilyn J. Hunt, Ann Barnes, Bob Powell, Geoff Lindsay and Daniel Muijs


There has never been a UK-wide policy for primary modern foreign language provision. Scotland, which has for many years managed its educational affairs autonomously, introduced foreign languages into its primary schools over a decade ago. Wales has formulated its own primary and secondary curriculum with due respect for Welsh, tending to give greater priority to its national language than other languages. Northern Ireland, similarly, has had to take account of its indigenous language and has never developed a foreign language programme for young learners. Recent government documents relating to England, however, have outlined an entitlement for all primary-school children in England to learn a language by 2012. In order to achieve this, the DfES has provided additional funding for 19 LEA-led Pathfinder projects to identify sustainable and replicable models. It is appropriate at this point to review the current situation in order to gauge progress and development. This article, written by a research team funded by the DfES to evaluate the Pathfinder projects, outlines the national and international research context, the current national context and the key issues and challenges facing these local education authorities

Topics: LB1501, PB
Publisher: Routledge
Year: 2005
OAI identifier:

Suggested articles


  1. (1996). Integrating a modern language into the infant school curriculum, in:
  2. (1998). Foreign languages in primary and pre-school education: a review of recent research within the European
  3. (1997). Modern Languages at primary school: Reflections on monitoring and evaluation. ECP Report: Socrates programme (Stirling, Scottish CILT).
  4. (1999). A pécsi nyolcadik osztályosok idegen nyelvi tudásának értékelése,
  5. (2000). A longitudinal and comparative study: the attainment of language proficiency,
  6. (1999). Motivating Language Learners
  7. (2002). Early Language Learning: Curricular Models, CILT. Available at (accessed 10.3.04) CILT
  8. (1649). The Great Didactic, translated 1896, doi
  9. (1990). National Curriculum Working Group (The Harris Report),
  10. (1999). National Curriculum for England: Modern Foreign Languages.
  11. (2000). A scheme of work for key stage 2, available at (accessed 10.3.04).
  12. (2002). Green Paper: 14-19: extending opportunities, raising standards (DfES publications), available at (accessed 10.3.04). 26 DfES
  13. (1995). Attitudes of young foreign language learners: a follow-up study, in:
  14. (2000). Lessons learned: Model Early Foreign Language Programs (McHenry, IL, Delta Systems, doi
  15. (1995). Inspiring innovations in language teaching doi
  16. (1983). Psycholinguistics: a second language perspective
  17. (2002). The language apprenticeship in school – need for radical thinking, paper presented at ALL Language World Conference, Building Bridges,
  18. (2002). Between the cracks: the transition from primary to secondary foreign language learning, paper at ALAA Conference,
  19. (1998). Questioning an early start: the transition from primary to secondary foreign language learning,
  20. (1996). Reflections on modern languages in primary education, six UK case studies
  21. (1994). Teaching Modern Languages at Primary School - Approaches and Implications (Edinburgh, Scottish Council for Research
  22. (2001). Languages at primary school as a matter of national and international policy. What can research tell us about the key conditions for success? Paper presented at CUP/BAAL seminar on Young Language Learners,
  23. (2003). Progression, paper presented at CILT ITT conference, Enabling Change, Homerton College,
  24. (2002). Early Foreign Language Learning doi
  25. (1982). Principles and practice in second language acquisition doi
  26. (1998). The Invisible Child
  27. (2003). Inclusive education: A critical perspective. doi
  28. (2003). Meeting the needs of children with speech and communication needs: a critical perspective on inclusion and collaboration. Child Language Teaching and Therapy, doi
  29. (2001). The FLES Advantage: FLES programmes in the Third Millenium,
  30. (1995). Foreign languages in primary schools: Evaluation of the Scottish pilot projects 1993-5. Final report to Scottish Office (Stirling, Scottish CILT).
  31. (1993). Evaluating foreign languages in Scottish primary schools (Stirling, Scottish CILT).
  32. (1997). Monitoring and evaluation of MLPS in Scotland, in: Bori et al
  33. (1999). Foreign Languages in the Upper Secondary School: A study of the causes of decline.
  34. (2000). An analysis of national and international research on the provision of modern foreign languages in primary schools
  35. (2003). Modern foreign languages at primary school : a three-pronged approach?, doi
  36. (1998). Second Language Learning Theories doi
  37. (2001). Teaching Modern Foreign Languages (London, doi
  38. (1999). Classroom connections, in:
  39. (1999). Advisory Centre for Early Language Learning)
  40. (2000). Languages: the next generation: the final report and recommendations of the Nuffield Languages Inquiry (London, The Nuffield Foundation). doi
  41. (2002). A learning ladder for languages: possibilities, risks and benefits (London, The Nuffield Foundation). doi
  42. (2002). Changing schools – an evaluation of the effectiveness of transfer arrangements at age 11. Available at, (accessed 10.2.04).
  43. (2003). Primary modern foreign languages in initial teacher training: a survey. Available at, (accessed 15.3.04).
  44. (2002). Bonjour tristesse. doi
  45. (2001). Analysis and evaluation of the current situation relating to the teaching of Modern Foreign Languages at key stage 2 in England ( QCA). Available at, (accessed 19.2.04).
  46. (2001). QCA project to study the feasibility of introducing the teaching of a modern foreign language into the statutory curriculum at key stage 2 (London). Available at, (accessed 19.2.04). 31 RAFFERTY, E.A.
  47. (1999). Foreign language instruction in the United States: a national survey of elementary and secondary schools (McHenry, doi
  48. (1995). Language learners in the elementary school: investing in the future, in:
  49. (2000). A critical review of the critical period research, doi
  50. (1999). From bad to worse? Pupils’ attitudes to modern foreign languages at ages 14 and 15, doi
  51. (1998). Student motivation, parental attitudes and involvement in the learning of Asian languages in elementary and secondary schools, doi
  52. (1998). Making the link
  53. (1999). Making sense of the French in French Immersion: Concept Development in early F1, doi

To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.