Effects of Foreign Language Learning in Elementary School on Students’ Future Educational and Career Choices


Amy W. Narea

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership

First Advisor

Margaret M. Harrigan

Second Advisor

Layla Suleiman

Third Advisor

Liliana B. Zecker


The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between learning a foreign language in elementary school and students' future educational and career choices. Adult alumni of two urban public magnet schools were surveyed about Foreign Language in Elementary School (FLES) experiences, about high school and college foreign language experiences, and about their employment experience. The data from the alumni of a foreign language magnet school (FLES) were analyzed with respect to the relationship between the amount and types of elementary foreign language learning experiences and subsequent academic and occupational choices, as well as in comparison to respondents from a demographically and geographically proximate magnet school (non-FLES) where the focus was on math and science, and a foreign language was not available. The same survey, with forced-choice and open-ended questions was administered to both FLES and non-FLES groups. Six FLES participants were also interviewed to reflect upon their own foreign language education and to consider its relevance to their school, work, travel, and life experiences. Common themes that emerged were the appreciation of different cultures and the acknowledgement of intagible benefits that accrued to foreign language learners. The analysis of the results revealed a small statistical difference with regard more advanced foreign language study and greater career impact for FLES participants than for non-FLES respondents. The FLES participants' interviews illustrated the positive effect that elementary foreign language learning has had on their citizenship in a multilingual, multicultural, global society.


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