Young Children Learning Languages in a Multilingual Context

Kirsch, Claudine. 2006. Young Children Learning Languages in a Multilingual Context. International Journal of Multilingualism, 3(4), pp. 258-279. ISSN 14790718 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Luxembourg is a trilingual country where residents communicate in Luxembourgish, French and German concurrently. Children therefore study these languages at primary school. In this paper I explore how six eight-year-old Luxembourgish children use and learn German, French and English in formal and informal settings over a period of one year. Their eagerness to learn and use German and English contrasted with their cautious and formal approach to the learning of French. My findings demonstrate that second language learning in a multilingual country is not an 'automatic' or 'natural' process but, rather, children's language behaviour depends on their personal goals, interests, competence, confidence and understanding of what counts as appropriate language use. These factors are influenced by the formal approach to language learning at school.

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Educational Studies


November 2006Published

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Date Deposited:

12 Mar 2009 15:41

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 15:27

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Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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