Physical environments for learning
Early foreign language learning takes place in nursery schools, primary schools and other educational establishments. To meet the criteria for qualified learning programmes, the locations provided must ensure a safe environment for the children in terms of size, furnishings and equipment, must allow the learning processes to be directed in child-appropriate ways, and must be so designed as to exclude any risk of impairment of children’s health as they learn.
Design for each learning group to consist of the smallest possible number of children, accommodated in an age-appropriate physical setting, is the best way to ensure that every child finds sufficient opportunities to speak and can be cared for as appropriate to his or her needs. A stable learning atmosphere in, if possible, the same room for every meeting underpins the continuity of the learning process.
Every institution should have sufficient space to permit the reaching of clear understandings with all relevant practitioners and teaching staff on modalities of child supervision, learning objectives, methodology and teaching content, particularly if the foreign languages programme is to be delivered by an additional specialist teacher.
The classrooms in which children learn should be used on as sustained a basis as possible, so that the children can develop in an environment where they can feel secure.
Specialist teachers responsible for different learning levels should keep each other mutually informed. The following means are recommended:
- Exchange of teaching plans, guidelines, targets, teaching content and topics
- Cross-institutional use of learner portfolios
- Coordination meetings
- Reciprocal inter-institutional study visits and joint CPD events
One major aid to delivering continuity of learning processes between institutions is cross-institutional harmonisation of foreign language programme curricula. Teachers at primary schools must seek precise information from the linguistically qualified early years practitioners regarding the content areas already covered and the actual work done if they are to be able to pick up usefully in their new teaching from the knowledge of foreign languages that the children have already acquired, and to avoid overlap. Specialist teachers at the institution attended first have a corresponding duty to prepare the children for the transition to the next level.
This entails curricular provisions designed to impose a clear progression and continuity on foreign language learning.
- Curricula (time of learning commencement, choice, range and sequence of languages, final target profiles) need to be harmonised in detail. The entire educational process related to early foreign language learning should be underpinned by aunified concept in educational theory .
- University-level training of practitioners and teachers side-by-side during at least part of the course, already under trial in some countries, could contribute to a more coherent educational system .
- Transitions should be the subject of advance cross-institutional planning so as to ensure continuity in the learning process.
- Teaching materials and textbooks for use at more than one level should be developed.
 Cf. also BIG (2009)
 Cf. Wassilios Fthenakis (01/2010)
 Cf. ib.