Nuremberg Recommendations
Basic conditions for early foreign language learning

Nuremberg Recommendations: Basic conditions © © Goethe-Institut Nuremberg Recommendations: Basic conditions © Goethe-Institut

The foreign language learning process in a child must be seen in the context of a complex web of factors that will be considered in some detail in this chapter. People belonging to the child’s direct environment, such as parents and family, nursery education staff and school teachers, exert influence alongside factors and institutions of which the child may be virtually unaware (e.g. head teachers, public authorities, interest groups). 

Education planning ensures that competence profiles and the related learning materials are prescribed at all levels from nursery education upwards. Methodologies used and the role assigned to media may have an important bearing on learning attainment. Various testing and evaluation procedures accompany the entire learning process from the start.

The image of a web or network of determining factors, with the child in the middle, is intended as a metaphor for the complexity of influences operating on the early foreign language learning process. In the centre, always, is the child, developing foreign language competence to the extent of his or her individual potential.

The child-centred language programme

Any foreign language programme tailored to childhood learning must address the child’s developing personality as a whole.

Linguistically qualified pre-primary staff and language

The key role in early foreign language learning is that of early years practitioners and primary education teachers.


Although a certain anxiety still surfaces from time to time among parents, and indeed teachers, to the effect that children may be overstretched by starting too early on the learning of foreign languages, most parents now see early language learning programmes as an opportunity for their children.

Physical environments for learning

Early foreign language learning takes place in nursery schools, primary schools and other educational establishments.


The early start involves calling up all available resources in order to give children the best possible prospects for development in the foreign language learning process. 

Appropriate content

Selection of thematic and linguistic learning content will be oriented towards the children’s interests and current developmental stage in terms of learning psychology.

Methodology and pedagogic principles

During early foreign language learning the child should be approached holistically and with due regard for his or her fundamental needs.


The media are an integral component of the world that children live in, and processing of media impressions is an important part of early childhood accumulation of experience.

Diagnosis, progress recording and evaluation

For practitioners and teachers concerned to keep a responsible eye on childhood learning as it proceeds, it is important to observe and document the learning processes of early foreign language learning and to reflect continuously on all findings.

Further Information