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    Inspiring language learning in the early years
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Inspiring language learning in the early years
Why it matters and what it looks like for children age 3-12

What it is
Guiding principles
Inspiring practice
Quiz & FAQ
Links and further reading
Guiding principles to inspiring language learning
Children learn language by using language; they continually extend the boundaries of their knowledge and develop new competences by building on prior experiences. Language itself is a key conduit through which this exploration takes place.

  • What is inspiring language learning and teaching in the early years about? 
  • What are its foundations, its values and ideas, based on scientific evidence and practical experiences?

Six principles to guide inspiring language learning in the early years

The ILLEY team identified six principles as the bedrock on which inspiring language learning is based. They help to create a common understanding of what characterises inspiring language learning for young children and frames their early language learning in an educational setting (crèche, kindergarten, preschool, primary school). We hope that these principles will support and guide you in your selection of approaches that are most suited to young learners in your context. They encompass the full spectrum of linguistic diversity from monolingual to multilingual situations, they are equally applicable to and adaptable by all education systems within ECML Member States. 

The six principles put the child at the heart of the learning process. Language learning is an on-going interactive process that starts from what young learners already know. Taking account of their needs and their preferred ways of learning, the principles focus on their learning pathways rather than emphasizing assessment strategies. This approach facilitates the creation of an environment that allows children’s innate capacity for autonomous learning to be activated. In this way, young learners are stimulated to become more actively and meaningfully engaged in the task of using their linguistic repertoires to make sense of their world.