Sandra Costa, Anabela Gomes, Teresa Pessoa



Using Scratch to Teach and Learn English as a Foreign Language in Elementary School

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Scratch, English, Programming Languages, Learning Satisfaction, Linguistic Acquisitions, Computational Thinking


English as a second language is introduced in the present school year (2015/2016) as a compulsory subject in the third grade of the Portuguese primary education. At the same time the elementary schools were also invited to enroll, at a small scale, in a preliminary project regarding the Introduction of Programming Languages. In Externato de S. Domingos, a primary private school in Fátima (Portugal), both efforts are being combined by the way of Scratch, a visual programming language, to teach and learn English on the third grade. This paper reports the approach followed and the first lessons taught and learnt from the practical experience acquired and on some preliminary conclusions of an ongoing study whose goal is to perceive if the students’ satisfaction and receptivity, as well as their performance concerning linguistic acquisitions within the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, can effectively be improved by exploring such innovative approach and assess to what extent computational thinking and programming can be used as partners in teaching and learning a foreign language. For that purpose, two groups of students attending two Portuguese primary schools were studied and compared throughout the school year 2016/2017. While one of the groups had access to computer programming lessons and to the development of Scratch programming projects, this being the Test group, the control group had no access to programming, nor to the introduction of computational thinking in any other subject area, attending the so-called “traditional English classes”, where the only resources were the teacher, the schoolbook and its assets. To assess both group academic and linguistic development, several written and oral tests were implemented, completed by the other skills demanded by the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, regarding the students’ abilities in spoken production and interaction, and listening comprehension and reading. Even though it is extremely difficult to get to a definite conclusion because more results and data should be considered and demanded, the students’ tests scores of the test group show that programming might have had some influence in their academic and linguistic development.

Cite this paper

Sandra Costa, Anabela Gomes, Teresa Pessoa. (2016) Using Scratch to Teach and Learn English as a Foreign Language in Elementary School. International Journal of Education and Learning Systems, 1, 207-213