Early Multilingualism in Slovenia

Parents' Opinions about Foreign Language Learning at Preschool Age

Authors

  • Andreja Retelj University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Arts, Slovenia

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.4312/vestnik.13.501-517

Keywords:

early language learning, multilingualism, attitudes, parents

Abstract

In many documents, the European Union has set the promotion and development of multilingualism as a goal and commitment. Although many foreign and domestic studies demonstrate the benefits of early foreign language learning/second language acquisition, and thus the development of early multilingualism, the decision to involve pre-school children in various forms of language learning is solely in the hands of parents. Parents who enrol their children in foreign language activities can choose between different private providers – language schools – as there is no foreign language kindergarten in the compulsory programme. Some kindergartens offer language classes, mostly English, given by external providers, but there is a fee for this offer. Since there is no systematically regulated foreign language teaching in preschool in Slovenia, we were interested in the attitudes of parents whose children go to kindergarten towards early foreign language learning and early multilingualism. The results of the research, which included parents of kindergarten children from all statistical regions of Slovenia, show that multilingualism has positive connotations and that parents perceive multilingualism as an added value that should be developed from childhood, as it allows children to learn about other cultures and other languages during a period that is extremely favourable for learning a foreign language, and does not represent any additional effort. At the same time, the results also clearly show that a large proportion of parents understand multilingualism to mean learning English and not necessarily other languages. However, this tells us that it will be necessary to invest quite a bit of effort in informing parents and the public about the real benefits of speaking more languages.

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Published

27.12.2021

How to Cite

Retelj, A. (2021). Early Multilingualism in Slovenia: Parents’ Opinions about Foreign Language Learning at Preschool Age. Journal for Foreign Languages, 13(1), 501–517. https://doi.org/10.4312/vestnik.13.501-517

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