Influence of the context of learning a language on the strategic competence of children

E.M.M. Le Pichon-Vorstman, H.E. de Swart, J.A.S. Vorstman, H.H. van den Bergh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


The present study was set up to evaluate the extent to which the context in which a foreign language is learned can influence the strategic competence of children. To assess this we conducted a series of think aloud protocols with 101 children. We compared children who have learned an additional language in a formal context (abbreviated LLE, i.e. Language Learning Experience) to those who have acquired two languages in a non-formal context and before the age of 4 (i.e. ‘simultaneous bilingual’ children, abbreviated nLLE, i.e. without a Language Learning Experience). The primary outcome measure consisted of the children’s reactions to situations of communication where they could not understand the language. We hypothesized that LLE children would outperform nLLE children in their awareness of and willingness to use communicative strategies. We found that LLE children accessed more strategies and diversified their strategies more often. These findings are in line with our previous findings and indicate that LLE is a highly relevant factor when studying the strategic competence of children.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)447-465
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Bilingualism
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2010


  • bilingual
  • context of learning
  • foreign language course
  • language learning
  • metacognitive awareness
  • multilingual children
  • strategic competence


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