Academic journal article International Education Studies

Simultaneous Learning of Two Foreign Languages, English and French, by Adult Persian-Speaking Learners

Academic journal article International Education Studies

Simultaneous Learning of Two Foreign Languages, English and French, by Adult Persian-Speaking Learners

Article excerpt


In today's world, a good command of more than two foreign languages is a commonplace necessity. However, this is not the case for the majority of language learners in Iran. The foreign languages which could be of any avail to them are neither close to Persian nor have any daily social usage. The present research aims at promoting this linguistic ability by improving the methods of simultaneous teaching of two foreign languages in Iran. Through studying the concept of bilingualism and acquiring a more profound insight into simultaneous teaching, a plan was designed for teaching 20 sessions of English and French to two groups: Group A comprised of beginner learners in both languages and Group B of intermediate learners in English who were beginners in French. Thirty-six participants took part in the project. Twelve were in the simultaneous classes and 24 in the Control Groups, assigned into four groups of six based on language proficiency levels. The following results were reached based on the average grades of the final exam and the placement tests (given both before and after the course). On the whole, Groups A and B obtained higher averages than the Control Groups. The findings of this study suggest that not only simultaneous learning is not an impeding factor but also it reinforces learning of the two languages. We hope that this research will be a first step towards a more extensive study on a national scale for Iranians and especially for children to be multilingual.

Keywords: bilingualism, English as a Foreign Language, French as a Foreign Language, simultaneous learning

1. Introduction

1.1 Introduction to the Problem

A general movement towards multilingualism has recently started throughout the whole world. The concept is not new in itself. What we are looking for, however, is simultaneous learning of two foreign languages for adults. In Europe, some remarkable projects, such as EuRom4 or Galatea, have been conceptualized for teaching simultaneous reading of several languages, all of which originated from Roman languages. Such projects have never been realized in Iran or other Asian countries.

Alongside English, Arabic has been taught in parallel in Iran schools for years. Students receiving their high school diploma, however, do not generally master either. Arabic is alphabetically and lexically near Persian, Iranian learners' mother tongue, but the foreign languages like English, French, German, Spanish, which they wish to learn, are distant from Persian both in alphabet and structure. Therefore, the advantage of a shared root in European projects would be missing in our case. Although this is not a linguistic study, the need that these adults feel to follow extra courses in language institutes has encouraged us to find a way to make their learning more time-saving and fruitful, letting Iranians become acceptable polyglots in the near future. We believe that Iranian learners' language learning capacities are high. By applying new efficient methods and approaches, simultaneous learning, though appearing to be implausible, can be developed successfully if scientifically planned.

To organize our study project, first we reviewed main language learning process features: neuro-linguistics and sociolinguistics studies, particularly in bi/multilingualism, as the closest notion to simultaneous learning and teaching, since simultaneous learning of more than one language is basically dealt with in such studies. Then, based on these, our project was designed mainly inspired by two recent articles by Germain & Netten (2011 & 2012), both dealing with EFL and FLE contributing researches into language skills development in language classes.

1.2 Qualitative vs. Quantitative

This research may be considered either as quantitative or qualitative by some, or perhaps neither by some other. We could not support, neither financially nor technically, a large number of participants, at least thirty according to quantitative study mies and ninety taking into account the control groups. …

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