New influences on the learning environment of children

Children today live in a highly networked environment. Global processes and new communications technologies are changing the ways in which people, including children, use language. In many parts of the world, the everyday environment even of very small children is permeated by media and also to an increasing extent multicultural and multilingual in character. The cultural and linguistic diversity of the world we live in is experienced by children not only during education from nursery level upwards, but also at an earlier stage, in the context of the family and immediate neighbours.

Children today tend to perceive multilingualism as the norm, and realise that learning languages is useful.

To facilitate mutual understanding, and to help conserve linguistic and cultural diversity in Europe, the European Union is calling for all its citizens to have knowledge of other languages. in addition to their mother tongue. This call is to be implemented by making it possible for all receiving education in the European Union to learn two or more modern foreign languages. before reaching the minimum school-leaving age. Accordingly, most European Union countries now make foreign language learning a compulsory part of the primary school (Grundschule) syllabus.

Recommendations

Early modern language learning should always be mindful that, whatever the special regional and local circumstances influencing learning programmes, children will react and learn in a way reflecting their personal environment and their individual development.
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