One does not simply teach english in primary

Is the Austrian foreign language teaching good enough to cope with others?

I was thinking of starting a blog in english since quite a long time. It just never felt right to me before to do so. Additionally I was afraid that my english is not appropriate enough, or that this sort of write-up won’t fit into my business plan. Did I establish a business plan for that blog? Well, I did. And actually it’s provided to be written in german. However, the time is right to give it a shot. Please be restrained and don’t kill my vibe just because of emerging grammar issues in this one. English is not my native tongue!

The reason why I decided to write in english this time, is that I wanna talk about teaching a foreign language at primary level in Austria. For example: English.


The foreign language

Teaching a certain foreign language in year 1 of elementary school, was first set in 2003/2004. That’s pretty late. Moreover, there is no fixed curriculum on the timetable for a foreign language in key stage one, which means, that the teachers (or officials) have to decide when, and how often they are going to teach english (it’s supposed to be half an hour per week).

Even the location of an austrian school plays a role. It’s relevant to the language which is going to be taught in a particular institution. Our schools can choose from 8 offered languages like English, French, Italian, Croatian, Slovakian, Czech, Slovenian or Hungarian (neighbour countries). The final decision maker is not going to be the principal. Teachers and parents will usually make a decision by voting.


Do we need improvements?

Because of the fact that there is no fixed foreign language lesson for key stage 1 on the timetable, it’s up to the teachers, when they hold the english lesson.

Like mentioned above: English will only be taught half an hour per week in key stage 1. Okay, folks always say: Don’t deny them kids their childhood. True. But this amount of english is ridiculously low.

As you can see, I’m not that satisfied  with the foreign language curriculum. Neither I’m good with the fact that pupils aren’t exposed to written words at all (in year 1 and year 2). The Ministry of education only allow english course books, if they incluce no written language. That means teachers are focusing on listening and speaking topics only. That’s poor, because kids witness  written enlish in many parts of their lives. For example: in advertisements, brands, television, computer games and so on.



Languages and children: Making the match
Curtain, H. A., & Dahlberg, C. A. (2010). Languages and children: Making the match : new languages for young learners, grades K-8 (6th ed.). Boston: Pearson.


The study of second language acquisition
Ellis, R. (2003). The study of second language acquisition (10th impression). Oxford: Oxford University Press

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