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. Parents are for the most part aware that the early start has been shown to bring the child clear advantages in learning one or more additional languages faster and with less effort.
In the effort to make early foreign language learning a success, parents represent an irreplaceable cooperation partner for pre-primary education staff and primary teachers. Parents are in a position to support their children’s learning process and to deliver certain prerequisites for a successful outcome. If they themselves maintain a positive attitude to foreign language learning, openly, and above all as perceived by the child, then he or she will cooperate happily and with strong motivation.
Interest shown in the teaching material, and praise and encouragement offered outside the school context, are important factors governing childhood interest in a foreign language. All types of schools should accordingly factor in the parental home in their planning, and make welcome parental support. The closer the rapport between the learning environments of nursery education, primary education and parental home, the more the child will benefit.
- be kept informed about the aims and content of early foreign language learning and also about the underlying principles of the psychology of learning, in language appropriate to the recipient. They should be informed regularly about the development and progress of their child. This is essential if they are to adequately understand, follow and assist the learning process.
- clearly signal their interest in their child’s early foreign language learning by enquiring, encouraging, praising in response to successes, and discussion. Any prompting of the child to demonstrate learning achievements – orally or visually – should be solely to convey genuine interest, never for assessment purposes.
- not attempt to influence their children’s learning process by corrections to their work. Correction of errors should be the prerogative and responsibility of practitioners und teachers, who will introduce corrections only in a precisely targeted approach and with restraint, so as not to undermine the child’s confidence and disrupt the fluency of spoken delivery.
- take up, whenever possible, any opportunities to cooperate (parent evenings, briefing events, school celebrations etc.) and also voluntarily seek cooperation with teaching staff – subject, however, to the obligation on each side to respect the responsibilities and prerogatives of the other.