What difficulties do children learning English in addition to another language experience with English Oral Language? A systematic review.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Within majority English-speaking settings, children learning English as an additional language on average do not perform as well academically as their monolingual, English-speaking peers. The current systematic review(preregistration: https://archive.org/details/osf-registrations-zgmha-v1) identifies the evidence for the elements of English oral language where these children experience difficulty. Methods: We focused on research that measured an English oral language outcome for children learning English as an additional language between the ages of 3 and 7 years, and their age-matched, monolingual English-speaking peers. We searched PsycINFO, Web of Science, British Education Index and Linguistics and Language Behaviour Abstracts, for studies published between 2015-2024, written in English. Of 2125 records identified, 20 were eligible for inclusion, with a low-to-moderate risk of bias based on the Mixed Methods Assessment Tool. We grouped studies by the element of oral language they focussed on. Findings: Overall, our target group performed significantly worse in some areas of English oral language compared to their monolingual peers; specifically, in tests of English receptive and expressive vocabulary, syntactic knowledge, listening comprehension, embedding, collocational knowledge, and areas of narrative skill and phonological production. However, these children were comparable with their peers in other areas of narrative skill, lexical and pragmatic understanding, elements of morphological production, and areas of phonological production and processing. Interpretation: Overall, while the picture is mixed, highlighting the need for further study of oral English in children for whom it is not a first language, this review strengthens existing arguments for vocabulary and syntax acquisition as appropriate targets for intervention.
Original languageEnglish
JournalLanguage Learning Journal
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 10 Jun 2024

Keywords

  • English as an additional language
  • English Language Learners
  • Oral language
  • Vocabulary
  • Language skills

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