TEPS - Teaching English in Primary Schools

In the German context, foreign language education is a relatively new school subject at primary level. Since the school year 2004/05 learning English as a Foreign Language (EFL) has been a compulsory primary school subject in most of the 16 German federal states. In all federal states children learn a foreign language at least from year 3 onwards; in four states (i.e. North Rhine-Westphalia, Brandenburg, Hamburg & Rhineland-Palatinate) the age of onset is earlier, in the second half of year 1 (effective: May 2019). There is insufficient evidence regarding an early or late start in primary EFL education and its effects on learners’ target language proficiency. Furthermore, there is little empirical knowledge about other factors in early EFL education, such as teaching quality or teacher characteristics. The TEPS study is addressing these research gaps by exploring the conditions and outcomes of primary EFL education in two different federal states with different ages of onset, North Rhine-Westphalia and Lower Saxony.

The TEPS study is a cross-sectional study in two federal states testing the receptive EFL proficiency of primary learners’ with different ages of onset at the end of year 4. Furthermore, both learners and primary EFL teachers were surveyed regarding further variables. For the main study in data was collected among 770 primary learners and 844 primary EFL teachers in summer 2017 (pilot study: summer 2016).

Duration: Jan. 2015 – Dec. 2017
Principal investigators: Prof. Dr. Eva Wilden & Prof. Dr. Raphaela Porsch
Project management: Janina Ehmke
Project team: Benjamin Möbus, Rebecca Schlieckmann


Porsch, R., & Wilden, E. (2021). Teaching English Out-of-Field in Primary School: Differences in Professional Characteristics and Effects on Instructional Quality. In: L. Hobbs & R. Porsch (Eds.), Out-of-field Teaching across the Teaching Disciplines and Contexts. Singapore: Springer.

Wilden, E., & Porsch, R. (2020). L1 and L2 use in primary EFL education and the role of teachers’ L2 proficiency. Studies in Second Language Learning and Teaching, 10 (3) 631-655. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.14746/ssllt.2020.10.3.9

Wilden, E., Porsch, R. & Schurig, M. (2020). An early start in primary EFL education and the role of teacher qualification and teaching quality. Language Teaching for Young Learners, 2(1), 28-51. https://doi.org/10.1075/ltyl.19002.wil

Wilden, E. (2020). Freude und Angst bei Lernenden im Englischunterricht der Grundschule. In E. Burwitz-Melzer, C. Riemer, & L. Schmelter (Eds.), Affektiv-emotionale Dimensionen beim Lehren und Lernen von Fremdsprachen: Arbeitspapiere der 40. Frühjahrskonferenz zur Erforschung des Fremdsprachenunterrichts (pp. 249-259). Tübingen: Narr.  

Wilden, E. & Porsch, R. (2019). The impact of teaching quality and learning time on the primary EFL learners' receptive proficiency. Preliminary Findings from the TEPS study. AILA Review, 32 (2019), 160-177. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1075/aila.00025.wil

Wilden, E., & Porsch, R. (2019). Early vs. Late Starters' Receptive Proficiency. Babylonia, 2019(2), 46.

Conference Talk - Teachers and teacher educators: Education and professional development for early language learning

Video of online talk at the virtual TEdELL2020 conference

On Nov. 13, 2020, Prof. Dr. Eva Wilden gave an online talk at the virtual TEdELL2020 conference on ‘Teachers and teacher educators: Education and professional development for early language learning’ hosted by the Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal. In her talk Eva Wilden reported on a study investigating the role of teacher enthusiasm, L2 proficiency and instructional quality among primary EFL teachers with different qualifications.