What does the research say about foreign language learning?
Language is NOT taught; rather it is learned through an informal classroom structure that encourages social interaction (Morison, 1990).
**Almost all language skills for young children must be acquired from the natural language acquisition experience (The Natural Approach) which typically encourages listening and understanding before developing skills in speaking, reading and writing; all specifically for the purpose of communication (Asher, 1982; Krashen & Terrell, 1983; Lipton, 1992).
**A Silent Period generally occurs during the listening and comprehension phase when the language learner rarely speaks. This does not mean that students are not gaining competence in the language. Many studies have concluded that students studying a second language have greater intellectual linguistic competence than they demonstrate in the classroom and that in reality, they think at more complex levels than their usual classroom performance would suggest (Harvard Graduate School, 1991).
**Students should be able to relate all second language lessons to familiar subjects and experiences through personal involvement in classroom activities and topics studied (Kennedy, 1998; Terrell, 1982).
**Children benefit from exposure to foreign languages in the elementary years even if the exposure is limited (Hanley, Herron & Cole, 1995).