Multilingual Education

, 2:5

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Reassessment of English-only approach in EFL context in view of young learners’ attitudes, language proficiency, and vocabulary knowledge

  • Jang Ho LeeAffiliated withDepartment of English, Korea Military Academy Email author 


A set of young Korean EFL learners (n = 208) participated in a multi-instrument study of the relationship between English proficiency and several learner variables. Participants were given 1) a questionnaire exploring their attitudes towards an English-only teaching approach in EFL classrooms and perceptions of teachers’ English use, 2) measures of proficiency in their mother tongue and English, and 3) a test of vocabulary knowledge. The results of the regression analysis show that Korean proficiency, vocabulary knowledge, and the amount of English instruction one can understand were strongly predictive of their English proficiency, but their attitudes towards an English-only approach were found to have little relation to English proficiency. The results of the questionnaire analysis further suggest that the young EFL learners involved in the study were not in favor of an English-only teaching approach, which matches previous findings but runs counter to the common assumption that young English learners are less opposed to being exposed to such an approach. The findings here suggest that an English-only approach delivered via one particular English variety is neither a learner-favored one nor a cutting-edge teaching method. Instead, they support the recent movement towards bilingualism.


English-only approach Learners’ attitudes L2 vocabulary L2 proficiency English as a foreign language