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Transfer of Language Learning

‘‘Skills developed in learning one language are transferable to the learning of others. Students are able to ‘catch up’, likely by transferring critical skills, including literacy skills, from French to English and vice versa.’’ -Dagenais, 2008

How can we use our students’ knowledge of languages to facilitate their language learning in our classrooms?

As teaching professionals, we recognize the importance of prior knowledge when tackling any new learning. In the context of the English Language Arts (ELA) and French Second Language (FSL) classrooms, acknowledging students’ prior language knowledge  plays an important role in planning for instruction and in the students’ learning processes.

Deliberately teaching for transfer of language learning, by explicitly linking understanding and ongoing learning from one language class to the other, develops cognitive and metacognitive strategies and skills that support students’ language competencies in both languages. Language learning transfer also promotes positive attitudes towards both languages, and expands the students’ view of the world.  

In this section of the Literacy Today website,  you will find practical suggestions for fostering transfer of language learning between ELA and FSL classrooms, as well as theoretical explanations regarding transfer of language learning.