Project Code: KPF18CHF04 （項目代碼：KPF18CHF04）
Project Title: Realizing children’s potential in language development: input and intervention 「發揮兒童在語言發展中的潛力：輸入和干預」
Funding source: Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship Development Fund (SIE Fund), HKSAR Government 社會創新及創業發展基金 (社創基金)
From 2018 to 2020, Childhood Bilingualism Research Centre (CBRC) and University of Cambridge – Chinese University of Hong Kong Joint Laboratory for Bilingualism carried out a project titled “Realizing children’s potential in language development: input and intervention”.
Why is language learning in early childhood so important?
Learning one or more languages in early childhood fosters children’s development in various ways:
Socioeconomic Status and Childhood Language Development
We have found that children from low SES families receive less language input than those from high SES families. Such children from low SES families are vulnerable to language delay due to impoverished input.
Language intervention: helping children from low socioeconomic status families
This project aims to address a societal problem among underprivileged children and promote equal opportunity for language learning in Cantonese and English. Three objectives have been established:
We are grateful that students from four kindergartens participated in different stages of the project. We received enthusiastic responses from many students and parents who volunteered to participate in this study. Students from two kindergartens Po Leung Kuk Ng Tor Tai Kindergarten and Po Leung Kuk Mrs. Chao King Lin Kindergarten were invited to join the intervention program.
Researchers administered tests to students, including vocabulary and grammar in both Cantonese and English as well as tests of memory and intelligence. The tests were conducted in a one-on-one question and answer format.
An intervention program, “Learning English through Stories” was developed by CBRC. Over a 10 week period, students watched short story videos in English and participated in follow-up discussions under the guidance of their parents to increase their exposure to high-quality English input, and to improve their English vocabulary, listening and speaking ability.
After the 10 week intervention program, the research team returned to the school to conduct a post-test to assess children’s English proficiency. The story vocabulary test was developed by the KPF project team to assess children’s expressive vocabulary. The vocabulary was selected from the English story videos watched by the children.
After analyzing the data, the researchers visited both kindergartens to explain the findings to the principals and teachers, and made suggestions to improve the language curriculum.
兩次到校測試結果顯示，有參與「聼故事學英語」課程計劃的學童 (實驗組)在故事詞彙測試中，比沒有參與「聼故事學英語」課程計劃的學童 (控制組)有較為顯著的進步 (p = .069)。
The results of the pre-test and post-test show that students who participated in the “Learn English through Stories” intervention program (i.e., experimental group) demonstrated greater improvement (p=.069) in the story vocabulary test compared to those who did not participate in the course (i.e. control group).
A lot of parents filled out the language environment questionnaire after the “Learn English through Stories” intervention program ended. The results of the questionnaire showed that most parents noted that their children’s attitude towards English had changed positively after they participated in the program. For instance, the children show more interests in reading and listening to English stories, watching English TV shows, playing with English apps, etc.
Children in the sensitive period of language development are good at learning language provided that they have access to rich input.
Our research shows that ten weeks of “input intervention” in the form of English story videos, with the addition of a few interactive elements, can bring positive effects on children’s English learning. Children’s interest and attitude towards learning English have been greatly improved, which is also reflected in their test scores.
It is important for parents and teachers to create an input-rich environment for children to enjoy high-quality language input. High-quality language input that is rich and diverse in vocabulary and expressions can attract children’s attention. Equally important is to ensure the input providers’ pronunciation and grammar is accurate and native-like.
The intervention program that provides high quality online materials is an effective and low-cost way to supplement and boost children’s language input as children might not have access to the sufficient high quality input at home or school.
In this KPF project, we also developed an interactive English learning Mobile App to provide children with a fun and effective way to acquire English vocabulary.
Content of the App
There are a total of five units in the App, providing children with English vocabulary about animals, shapes, food, clothing and seasons through cartoon animation and interactive games. Each unit consists of three tasks.
Task 1: Click on pictures and listen to words and sentences
Task 1 requires children to tap on the interactive pictures on the main page to find the target new words.
Task 2: Vocabulary list
On the vocabulary list, children can listen to the target words repeatedly, facilitating their vocabulary acquisition.
Task 3: Vocabulary quiz
In the end of each unit, children will need to take a vocabulary quiz. The quiz consists of ten questions, requiring children to choose the corresponding picture after listening to the pronunciation of the target word.
As part of the project, we offered parents and children a free trial on the interactive English learning app. Thus, we received positive feedbacks from a lot of parents. We are very grateful to all the parents and children for their active participation in this project and their valuable comments.
KPF項目「發揮兒童在語言發展中的潛力：輸入和干預」（項目代碼：KPF18CHF04）得到了社會創新及創業發展基金 (社創基金) 的支持。
The KPF project ” Realizing children’s potential in language development: input and intervention” (Project Code: KPF18CHF04) was supported by Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship Development Fund (SIE Fund).
We would like to thank the principals and teachers of four kindergartens especially those at Po Leung Kuk Ng Tor Tai Kindergarten and Po Leung Kuk Mrs. Chao King Lin Kindergarten who supported our KPF project. In particular, we are most grateful to the children and parents who participated in the assessment and intervention program and gave us valuable feedback.