Researching Oral Production Skills of Young Learners
This chapter focuses on the development of young learners’ ability to communicate in a foreign language. An empirical study was carried out to determine whether, after four years of learning English as a compulsory school subject, children are ready to engage in oral interaction in a semicontrolled task and produce answers and questions in English. A convenience sample of ten-year-old children was selected from 180 participants in ELLiE2 in Poland. Six learners from one class of each of seven schools were selected on the basis of teachers’ reports to ensure equal proportions of learners with low, medium and high ability. Schools were chosen to represent different socio-economic milieux. The results of the Year Four oral test (an interactive task) showed that almost all the participating children
could respond to questions but only half were able to ask questions. Considering generally positive attitudes to speaking activities, the results suggest that ten-year-old children are already developing their interactive skills and could benefit from more interaction-focused classroom activities. Further experimental classroom-based studies are necessary to gain better insight into potential oral achievements in this age group. The results are discussed in the context of national curriculum requirements, drawing on the Common European Framework of Reference level descriptors.
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