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M. Demírel

Hacettepe University (TURKEY)
Whereas findings concerning foreign language acquisition and teaching do not recommend a definite age for language acquisition at an early age, they make it clear that children are more advantageous in natural environments in the long term and that it is more beneficial to start learning a foreign language at an early age. Practice in European countries is also in this direction. Since learning a foreign language at an early age makes clear contributions to a child’s whole personality, teaching foreign languages starts in primary education schools in many European countries. Children who start learning a foreign language in elementary school have properties superior to monolingual children. It has been revealed through research that foreign language learning is influential in ego design which has significant effects on the formation of individual’s personality. Therefore, the thought that starting English as a compulsory course in primary education in Turkey is appropriate has been gaining support.

The first curriculum starting the teaching of English at the first stage of primary education was put into practice in the 1997-1998 academic year, and thus foreign language teaching to children was reduced to a younger age. The modifications and innovations introduced to primary education curricula in Turkey by taking integration into the world and the EU standards into consideration were enforced in the first stage of all the elementary schools in the 2005-2006 academic year. Some of the reasons for the modifications are stated as improving quality in education and ensuring a change, the need for developing the individual and national values considering the global values, and our children’s failure in domestic and worldwide evaluations. As a reflection of those innovations in foreign language teaching, “Curriculum for Elementary School English Course” was developed to include the 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th grades.

The fundamental aim of this research is to compare the 1997 and 2006 curricula, both of which were developed for the first stage English course of primary education, on the basis of basic elements and principles of curriculum development. For that purpose, the former and the novel curricula were analysed according to objectives, content, teaching-learning process, and evaluation– which are the basic components of the curriculum- comparatively; and thus the modifications were spotted. Document review, one of the qualitative research methods, was adopted in the research. Document review involves the analysis of written material containing information on the issues of research. In this study, a critical perspective from the aspect of curriculum development was adopted for the development of primary education first stage English course curricula. A close review of field literature showed that studies concerning the 1997 curriculum were available and were mainly based upon teachers’ views. This current research also makes an attempt at evaluating the conclusions of those studies in a holistic and meta-analytic approach. It is hoped that the research will contribute to the field literature and to the prospective studies.