There are several implications that can be drawn from this study. First,students’ early L1 skills appear to play a role in individual differences for L2 learning even several years after students have mastered their L1. In recent years, L2 educators have proposed several hypotheses to account for students’ L2 learning differences (e.g., high anxiety, low motivation, poor use of language learning strategies). However, the results of this study suggest that a large part of the differences on L2 proﬁciency measures displayed by L2 learners is likely to be explained by their L1 skills. L2 educators should consider the role that L1 plays in learning a L2.
Fifth, because both L2 aptitude and subsequent L2 proﬁciency appear to be strongly related to early L1 skills, it is important for all educators to know that early L1 language development prior to entering school is important for later L2 learning several years after students have mastered their L1. Likewise, all L1 and L2 educators should understand that mastery of L1 literacy skills in the primary school years is important for students attempting to learn a L2 several years after learning to read their L1.
What you bilingual elementary teachers do in the early grades to help your students master their first language truly does pay off in the later grades! I am currently working on a training for several school districts about best practices for promoting this type of transfer. I will be sharing what I learn here in coming months. Like my logo? :)