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Early language learning

There is a growing trend across Europe to begin language learning in early primary or even in kindergarten. Teaching languages to young children requires combining the general skills needed for this age group and specific language teaching approaches. The language aspects must be associated with children’s cognitive and emotional development as well as their early experiences of learning together in social groups.

European Commission resources


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Early language learning

Bringing very young children into contact with foreign languages may result in faster language learning, improved mother tongue skills and better performance in other areas. That is why EU education ministers support the teaching of at least two foreign languages from a very early age.

Available in 24 languages.

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Key Data on Early Childhood Education and Care in Europe – 2014 Edition

This report, published jointly with Eurostat provides 61 indicators as well as a comparative analysis on Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) throughout 32 European countries (37 education systems). The study demonstrates the challenges facing European countries when it comes to providing quality ECEC services for the 32 million children in Europe in the age range to use ECEC services.

Available in English.

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Other resources


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Multilingual classroom (An Seomra Ilteangach) - European Language Label award winner 2013

European Language Label award winner 2013 An Seomra Ilteangach, at Griffeen Valley Educate Together NS has immersed children in a multilingual classroom where they are learning English, Spanish, German and French all through the medium of the Irish language. The European Language Label is an annual award given to projects where participants have found creative ways to improve the quality of language teaching, motivate students, and make the best of available resources. The European Language Label is coordinated by the European Commission and managed in Ireland by Léargas.

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Early Language Learning in Europe (ELLiE)

ELLiE is a transnational, longitudinal study of the introduction of second/foreign language learning in primary school classrooms in seven European countries. The study has been set up in response to the rapid expansion of provision for early languages learning that has recently occurred in Europe and many other parts of the world. Our study aims to clarify what can realistically be achieved in European classrooms where relatively limited amounts of curriculum time are allocated to second/foreign language learning.

Available in English.

Download the project report

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