Curriculum policy and curriculum models

Teaching foreign languages has been compulsory since September 2014. How are schools managing?

Research page – Literacy

Literacy and wider academic achievement

Foreign language literacy has potential to support classroom language learning.

The role of age in language learning

What is the nature of the interaction between the age of the language learner and the context in which the language is taught?

Pedagogy and teacher expertise 

Two key elements of primary language provision are pedagogy and teacher expertise. What are the aims of teaching foreign languages in the primary school?

Linguistic development and expectations


What kind of linguistic progression can be achieved through the limited instruction most primary school pupils receive in a foreign language?

Multilingualism and additional language learning


What kind of educational interventions might help children with English as an additional language?

Cultural competence and intercultural understanding


What does intercultural understanding mean for people under specific conditions and contexts?


Transition from primary to secondary school


What MFL issues present themselves when children transfer form primary to secondary school?

Content and Language Integrated Learning


What is CLIL, and is CLIL feasible in the primary school classroom?

One-page summaries of research

Check out the one page summaries of research on each of the seven themes presented here by clicking on the links and find out the research behind the learning. Not sure which theme to choose? Browse our alphabetical list below.
Please note: the list is arranged alphabetically by first author; the titles are the titles of the summaries (not the original papers).

Bailey, E. & Marsden, E. (2017). Primary teachers’ attitudes towards using children’s home languages.

Barton, A., Bragg, J. & Serratrice, L. (2009). Evaluating a language awareness programme at primary school.

Bennett, S. N. (1975); Buckby, M. (1976); Gamble, C. J., & Smalley, A. (1975); Kunkle, J.F. (1977). Primary French in the Balance – a critique of the Nuffield pilot

Bouffard, L. A. & Sarkar, M. (2008). Helping young children to develop awareness of the language they are learning.

Burstall, C., Jamieson, M., Cohen, S., & Hargreaves, M. (1974). Primary French in the Balance – the ‘Nuffield’ report. 

Cable, C., Driscoll, P., Mitchell, R., Sing, S., Cremin, T., Earl, J., Eyres, I., Holmes, B., Martin, C. and Heins, B. (2010). Languages and language learning at Key Stage 2 – a longitudinal study.

Chambers, G. N. (2016). How children view their language learning just before and after moving to secondary school.

Costley, T., Gkonou C., Myles F., Roehr-Brackin, K. & Tellier, A. (2018). Multilingual and monolingual children: differences, and perceptions of language learning.

Courtney, L. (2017). Transition, and children’s motivation for language learning.

Courtney, C. and Graham, S. (2019). Assessing young language learners: Motivation and sense of progress across the age, gender and proficiency range.

Creese, A. & Blackledge, A. (2010). Children using multiple languages together in the classroom: a method for learning and teaching.

Deckner, S.E. (2019). Evidence for a motivational dip inforeign language learning during Year 7.

Demie, F. (2018). English language proficiency and attainment of EAL children in England.

Driscoll P., Earl, J. & Cable, C. (2013)..The role and nature of the cultural dimension in primary modern languages.

Enever,  J. (Ed., 2011) Early Language Learning in Europe.

Fielding, R., & Harbon, L. (2020). Dispelling the monolingual myth: exploring literacy outcomes in Australian bilingual programmes.

Finch, K., Theakston, A., & Serratrice, L. (2018). Teaching modern foreign languages in multilingual classrooms: teachers’ experiences.

Graham, S., Courtney, L., Marinis, T. and Tonkyn, A. (2017). How do teacher factors and the way teachers teach impact on children’s FL knowledge?

Graham, S., Courtney, L, Tonkyn, A., & Marinis, T. (2016). Language learning motivation at the transition from primary to secondary school.

Hopp, H. (2011). How internal and external factors influence the development of children’s second language.

Huang, B. H. (2016). A synthesis of empirical research on the linguistic outcomes of early foreign language instruction.

Hunt, M., A. Barnes, B. Powell & C. Martin. (2008). The challenges for MFL during transition from primary to secondary school.

Jaekel, N., Schurig, M., Florian, M. and Ritter, M. (2017). A long-term study of early foreign language learning in school.

Kasprowicz, R.E., Marsden, E., & Sephton, N. (2019). Does it matter how often we practise grammar?

Kasprowicz, R.E. & Marsden, E. (2017). Teaching grammar through different types of input activities.

Kirsch, C. (2018). Young children capitalising on their entire language repertoire for language learning at school.

Kirsch, C. (2016). Using storytelling to teach vocabulary in language lessons.

Lanvers, U. (2017). What motivates language learning in primary school and beyond.

Lichtman, K. (2016). Young children can learn language explicitly if they are taught explicitly

Macrory, G. (2019) New Orthographies in the Primary Languages Classroom: a Challenge for Teacher Education.

Macrory, G., Chrétien, L. & Ortega-Martin, J. (2012). Technologically enhanced learning in primary schools.

Martin, C. (2019). Pupils highly motivated and enjoy language learning opportunities in Pathfinder programme. 

Mihaljević Djigunović (2012). Researching attitudes and motivation of young foreign language learners.

Mihaljević Djigunović (2009). Why are young learners’ individual differences important?

Mihaljevíc Djigunović, J. (2009). Impact of learning context on motivation for primary languages (English)

Mitchell, R., & Myles F. (2019). Learning French in the UK setting: Policy, classroom engagement and attainable learning outcomes.

Muijs, D., Barnes, A., Hunt, M., Powell, B., Arweck, E., Lindsay, G. & Martin, C. (2005). Evaluation of Key Stage 2 language learning Pathfinder projects.

Muñoz, C.(2014). Exploring young learners’ foreign language learning awareness.

Murphy, V., Macaro, E., Alba, S., & Cipolla, C. (2015). How learning a second language influences young children’s literacy in their first language.

Myles, F, & Mitchell, R (2012). Learning French from ages 5, 7 & 11.

Myles, F., Hooper, J. and Mitchell, R. (1998). How early learning of fixed expressions contributes to long term FL grammar development and creative language use​.

Nicholas, H., & Lightbown, P. (2008). Defining early child second language acquisition.

Nikolov, M. (2016). Trends in the assessment of young English language learners.

Otwinowska, A. and Foryś, M. (2017). They learn the CLIL way, but do they like it? Affectivity and cognition in upper-primary CLIL classes.

Pfenninger, S. E. & Singleton, D. (2019). Making the most of an early start to L2 instruction.

Porter, A. (2019). Formative assessment in primary FL classrooms: Documenting learning outcomes and informing future practice.

Porter, A. (2017). Verbal working memory and foreign language learning in English primary schools: Implications for teaching and learning.

Porter, A. (2016). Using gesture to help young children learn and remember vocabulary.

Porter, A. (2014). The effects of phonics instruction on primary school learners’ French reading aloud.

Roehr-Brackin, K. & Tellier, A. (2019) The importance of explicit learning in the primary foreign language classroom.

Roehr-Brackin. K. & Tellier, A. (2018). Esperanto as a tool in classroom foreign language learning in England.

Tellier A. & Roehr-Brackin, K. (2017). Raising children’s metalinguistic awareness to enhance classroom second language learning.

Waddington, J. (2019). Developing primary school students’ foreign language self-concept.

Wade, P. & Marshall, H. (2009). A longitudinal survey of the implementation of primary languages from 2006-2008.

Walter, C. (2008). Linking knowledge of L2 sounds and L2 reading comprehension.

Reports on recent conferences attended by RiPL members. If you have attended an event or conference of interest to our RiPL Network, by all means send us a short report. It’s helpful to everyone to know just what is going on in the field of primary language learning. Click here to view.

Collections of research studies

Collections of research studies – published books and journals

Collections of research studies on primary language education, thematically arranged.
  • IRIS is a repository of data collection materials which aims to improve the openness and replicability of research, thereby increasing opportunities for research. IRIS now holds over 3,200 materials and has had over 18,700 downloads from students, teachers and researchers.

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