Young language learner (YLL) research: An overview of some international and national approaches

  • Ion Drew
  • Angela Hasselgreen


Growing attention is being given to young language learners (YLL), following a global trend to introduce foreign languages at earlier stages of the curriculum. This article provides an overview of some recent international YLL research and follows this up by comparing it to current YLL research in Norway. A YLL research network has recently been established in Norway in order to share and promote research in the field. Eight Norwegian YLL research projects, involving both English and other foreign languages, are presented. The scope of this research in Norway is compared with international research being conducted in the field. Although the Norwegian YLL research is active in certain areas, such as starting age of second foreign languages, teachers’ practices and attitudes, the use of extensive reading, vocabulary and the analysis of written texts, there appear to be gaps in other areas. These include research into the effects of story-telling and drama in the classroom, processes in writing, pupils’ cognitive skills, the use of textbooks and the effect of the curriculum. The establishment of a YLL network is considered as an important step in both consolidating current YLL research in Norway and initiating new research projects.