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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

In our language classrooms, how can we use our students’ knowledge about languages to facilitate their learning of another language?

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

Deliberately teaching for transfer of language learning, by explicitly linking existing 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 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.