Current Policy Issues in Early Foreign Language Learning

  • Janet Enever
Keywords: early language learning, language policy, “soft” policy


The development of policy in relation to language learning at the early primary level of schooling has received only limited attention in the literature on policy studies in general, and within the framework of an emerging education policy space across Europe specifically. This paper offers an introductory discussion of the growth of education policy in Europe,
identifying the extent to which the histories of national language policies are being re-shaped by the rise of numerical data and comparison within a newly-formed European education space. A summary review of key measures of particular relevance to early language learning illustrates the scale of “soft” policy mechanisms now available as tools in an on-going 
process of shaping, adapting and refining policy in response to the continuously shifting language priorities that arise particularly during periods of economic instability. This paper draws on key themes from a transnational, longitudinal study of early language learning in Europe to discuss the extent to which implementation in schools has so far been moulded 
by a plethora of recommendations, reports and indicators formulated in response to the step change in policy development that has occurred since the publication of the Lisbon Strategy (2000). 


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