SVIBOR - Project code: 6-03-180


Strossmayerov trg 4, HR - 10000 ZAGREB
tel.: +385 1 459 44 44, fax: +385 1 459 44 69


SVIBOR - Collecting Data on Projects in Croatia

Project code: 6-03-180


Main researcher: PREBEG-VILKE, MIRJANA (38603)

Type of research: applied
Duration from: 01/01/91. to 12/15/95.

Papers on project (total): 65
Institution name: Filozofski fakultet - Humanističke znanosti, Zagreb (130)
Department/Institute: Interdepartmental project of the faculty of Phylosophy (departmants of English, French and Italian)
Address: Salajeva 3
City: 10000 - Zagreb, Croatia
Phone: 385 (0) 41 620-056
Fax: 385 (0) 41 513-834

Summary: After a period of intensive preparations the project started in the autumn of 1991. The autmn and winter of 1991 were hard times for Croatia, but it was exactly then that 350 first graders aged 6-7 started to learn a foreign language as a part of their regular school curriculum. 12 Zagreb primary schools were included in the project. Each ordinary school grade is split into two groups of 12-15 children who have five periods of foreign language weekly, one per day. In the autumn of 1991 English, French and German were introduced. In the year 1992/3 second-graders continued their foreign language course on the same organizational basis and additional schools joined the project. Italian was then also added to the list of languages. At the beginning of the work maturity tests were administered. They measured understanding oral instructions, graphomotoric skills, reasoning and understanding of amounts. Attitudes and motivation of pupils, teachers and parents towards the particular foreign language and its culture have been examined by interviews and questionnaires. A systematic observation of the classes has been carried out since the beginning of the work, and at the end of the school year achievement tests have been administered. Ministry of Education is responsible for the organisational side of the work in schools. They have enlarged the number of schools starting in the first grade to embrace some children of the third generation (starting in 1993) and also some schools in Osijek, Pula, Rijeka and Split. Research team working on the project offers to these schools all the necessary help - programmes, materials, etc, but the children are not submitted to intensive observation techniques, as it is technically impossible.

Keywords: comprehension, early age, morphosyntactic structures, experimental group, control group, success, evaluation, spontaneous concepts, non-spontaneus concepts, communication, contrastive analysis, interlanguage, metalanguage

Research goals: It is expected that research will provide a verification of the results of early language learning at this age obtained both in Croatia and elsewhere combined with new insights into the process of learning. For this reason affective, cognitive and neurological factors are being examined as well as the nature of language input to which the child has been exposed. The hypothesis yet to be proved is that children starting a language at the age of 6-7 can learn it as successfully as those starting at 10 - if certain conditions are met, and that at that earlier age they have the unique advantage of being able to master the phonological system of foreign language with near-native accuracy. If this hypothesis proves correct (the results obtained so far seem to be very promising) it will be a convincing reason for persuading the educational authorities to introduce foreign languages into the school system in the first grade. This would give children ample time to handle the foreign idiom by the time language learning blocks start and when strategies of teaching and learning foreign language need to be altered.


  1. Name of project: Language lerning for European citizenship
    Name of institution: Council of Europe
    City: Strasbourg, Francuska


  1. Name of institution: Pedagogisches Institut des Bundes
    Type of institution: Economical/Production
    City: Beč, Austrija

  2. Name of institution: University of Sterling
    Type of institution: Economical/Production
    City: Sterling, Velika Britanija

  3. Name of institution: CREDIF - ENS FONTANAY
    Type of institution: University/Faculty
    City: Saint Cloud, Francuska

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Last update: 10/12/95