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Excuse me, do you speak English? An International Evaluation using ESLC

Globalization and market integration have made languages an essential tool for worldwide communication. Nowadays, English knowledge is spread internationally, its importance is growing, and educational systems introduce students to English learning at an increasingly early age. However, until now, very little was known about the determinants of English competences, which di erences are linked to country speci c factors and which policy educational measures can be taken to improve the English level of
students at the end of compulsory education. This paper uses data from the European Survey of Language Competences (ESLC), which allows to make the rst study that addresses these queries. By making use of an
educational production function, where the `outcome' is the level of English acquired in the evaluated competences, we can infer which are the determinants of English performance at the end of compulsory education.
English class size is a particularly important feature of the educational systems because it can be quite easily modi ed by policy makers. Following Woessmann (EP, 2005) class size European study in sciences cognitive skills, and implementing similar techniques, previously developed by Angrist and Lavy (QJE, 1999), we obtain a statistically signi cant causal result: bigger English classes perform better on average than smaller ones in Reading and Writing competences.

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Excuse me, do you speak English? An International Evaluation using ESLC

  1. 1. Excuse me, do you speak English? An International Evaluation using ESLC Ester N´u˜nez de Miguel CEMFI March 23rd, 2015 Ester N´u˜nez de Miguel (CEMFI) Excuse me, do you speak English? March 23rd, 2015 1 / 29
  2. 2. Outline 1 Introduction 2 The European Survey of Language Competences 3 The Education Production Function 4 English Class Size 5 Conclusion Ester N´u˜nez de Miguel (CEMFI) Excuse me, do you speak English? March 23rd, 2015 2 / 29
  3. 3. 1 Introduction 2 The European Survey of Language Competences 3 The Education Production Function 4 English Class Size 5 Conclusion Ester N´u˜nez de Miguel (CEMFI) Excuse me, do you speak English? March 23rd, 2015 3 / 29
  4. 4. Introduction Economists are interested in educational topics since we consider Education is an Investment of society in today youngs in terms of the youngs’ personal effort This Investment ends up with individuals with greater and more diverse skills, whose final reward are better employment opportunities once they finish their studies. Nowadays, English knowledge has become a very valuable skill in the labor market. International trade and globalization have made English an essential tool for worldwide communication. Due to its importance, countries allocate a great amount of public expenditure in education, making special emphasis on English as a foreign language. Ester N´u˜nez de Miguel (CEMFI) Excuse me, do you speak English? March 23rd, 2015 4 / 29
  5. 5. Differences in the educational systems on the English onset and the importance given to foreign languages varies greatly across countries, and this creates huge differences in World English levels. From a quantitative point of view, economists search which teaching methods are more effective in terms of results. In terms of educational policy, economists search which policy changes can improve educative results with a given amount of available resources. Until now, the lack of comparative English test and teaching data prevented an exhaustive applied analysis to be done. Ester N´u˜nez de Miguel (CEMFI) Excuse me, do you speak English? March 23rd, 2015 5 / 29
  6. 6. European Survey of Language Competences (ESLC) 2011 its the first database of its kind, and allows to evaluate Which are the main determinants of English proficiency at the end of compulsory education? Explore which factors effect differ from previous research in other skills previously evaluated. Use Instrumental Variables techniques to address the identification of the effect of English Class size on outcomes. “If custom and law define what is educationally allowable within a nation, educational systems beyond one’s national boundaries suggest what is educationally possible.” W. Foshay (1962), first pilot study of international student achievement. Ester N´u˜nez de Miguel (CEMFI) Excuse me, do you speak English? March 23rd, 2015 6 / 29
  7. 7. 1 Introduction 2 The European Survey of Language Competences 3 The Education Production Function 4 English Class Size 5 Conclusion Ester N´u˜nez de Miguel (CEMFI) Excuse me, do you speak English? March 23rd, 2015 7 / 29
  8. 8. The ESLC The European Survey on Language Competences (ESLC) 2011: 14 countries participated and were evaluated in their 2 first target languages (among English, French, German, Spanish and Italian): Tested Educational level: Last year of lower secondary education. Ages: 14-16 years old English was the first target language for 13 educational systems. The test evaluates 3 skills: Reading, Listening and Writing Each student was evaluated in 2 skills and completed a student questionnaire (SQ): 23,358 students Teacher Questionnaire (TQ) Principal Questionnaire (PQ): 1047 schools National Information Ester N´u˜nez de Miguel (CEMFI) Excuse me, do you speak English? March 23rd, 2015 8 / 29
  9. 9. The ESLC The sample was designed to satisfy the technical requirements for international testing, ex: PISA, TIMSS. A routine test previous to the skill evaluation assigned each student to a test level: A1-A2, A2-B1 and B1-B2. Each student did 5 tasks per skill: each task measures only within a limited range; results are not comparable across students. Results of the test are reported in terms of the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) which has 6 levels of functional competence: A1 (lowest) - C2 (highest). ESLC Level CEFR Level Definition Independent User Advanced B2 Can express herself clearly and effectively Beginner B1 Can deal with straightforward familiar matters Basic User Advanced A2 Can use simple language to communicate on everyday topics Beginner A1 Can use very simple language Beginner Pre-A1 Have not achieved the A1 level Ester N´u˜nez de Miguel (CEMFI) Excuse me, do you speak English? March 23rd, 2015 9 / 29
  10. 10. Mean Test Results by Country Ester N´u˜nez de Miguel (CEMFI) Excuse me, do you speak English? March 23rd, 2015 10 / 29
  11. 11. 1 Introduction 2 The European Survey of Language Competences 3 The Education Production Function 4 English Class Size 5 Conclusion Ester N´u˜nez de Miguel (CEMFI) Excuse me, do you speak English? March 23rd, 2015 11 / 29
  12. 12. Education Production Function Economic literature has made use of international test of educational achievement to analyze the determinants and impacts on cognitive skills. Our purpose has been the estimation of an education production function using ESLC: Sisc = β0 + β1Fi + β2Ris + β3Ic + β4Ai + isc Sisc Listening, Reading and Writing. Fi captures student and family background characteristics Ris school resources, I institutional features Ai individual ability The cross-sectional nature of this estimation allows only for a descriptive interpretation of which are the determinants of English performance Ester N´u˜nez de Miguel (CEMFI) Excuse me, do you speak English? March 23rd, 2015 12 / 29
  13. 13. Specification Student and Family background characteristics Studenti : age, gender, immigrant, repetition; Familyi : Father and Mother English level, education, books at home, profession, English use at home, early onset at home; School Resources Studentis: number of years of English at school, early onset at school, English lesson time per week, English class size, ancient languages, number of foreign languages; Institutional Information School: External Exit Exams Country: GDP 2010, Educational Expenditure 2010, TV in English is subtitled, Multilingual region Family Language Controls Germanic: Netherlands, Sweden Romance: French Belgium, France, Malta, Portugal, Spain Slavic: Bulgaria, Croatia, Poland, Slovenia Ester N´u˜nez de Miguel (CEMFI) Excuse me, do you speak English? March 23rd, 2015 13 / 29
  14. 14. Available Data Original sample size: 23,358 students Following the Main Sample Remove 4 schools where no SQ was reported 5,228 observations are lost due to missing values in the SQ 40% of the sample is lost due to missing values in PQ and TQ Final available data: 14,964 students. S Listening observations: 11,116 S Reading observations: 11,225 S Writing observations: 10,951 Estimation Method Least Squares Regression weighted by students sampling probability ⇒ Population Effects Ester N´u˜nez de Miguel (CEMFI) Excuse me, do you speak English? March 23rd, 2015 14 / 29
  15. 15. Environmental Factors Mean Mean Mean STUDENT BACKGROUND Listening Reading Writing Age -0.14*** -0.09*** -0.18** (0.028) (0.03) (0.085) Female 0.02 0.01 0.48*** (0.03) (0.03) (0.08) Repetition -0.18*** -0.35*** -1.26*** (0.058) (0.056) (0.13) Immigrant 0.23*** 0.10 0.27 (0.08) (0.08) (0.21) ESCS index 0.13*** 0.15*** 0.26*** (0.03) (0.03) (0.10) Observations 11,116 11,225 10,951 R-squared 0.502 0.442 0.439 Clustered robust standard errors by school in parentheses, *** p<0.01, ** p<0.05, * p<0.1 In line with PIRLS studies, Girls perform better in writing skills. Immigrant is a positive and significant determinant of Listening skills. Repetition effect is negative and significant for all skills. ESCS index is a positive and significant predictor of student performance. Ester N´u˜nez de Miguel (CEMFI) Excuse me, do you speak English? March 23rd, 2015 15 / 29
  16. 16. Environmental Factors Mean Mean Mean FAMILY BACKGROUND Listening Reading Writing Father University 0.085** 0.09* 0.28** (0.04) (0.047) (0.121) Mother University 0.113*** 0.11** 0.35*** (0.043) (0.05) (0.106) White Collar Father 0.02 0.04 -0.12 (0.039) (0.047) (0.117) White Collar Mother 0.18*** 0.21*** 0.57*** (0.049) (0.049) (0.14) Blue Collar Father -0.09** -0.12*** -0.42*** (0.039) (0.04) (0.13) Pink Collar Mother 0.10*** 0.08* 0.48*** (0.036) (0.046) (0.129) Father English Well 0.16*** 0.15*** 0.48*** (0.035) (0.035) (0.098) Mother English Well 0.04 0.05 0.13 (0.032) (0.04) (0.099) English use at home 0.41*** 0.35*** 0.98*** (0.04) (0.05) (0.13) Early Onset at home 0.23*** 0.23*** 0.41** (0.074) (0.08) (0.18) Clustered robust standard errors by school in parentheses, *** p<0.01, ** p<0.05, * p<0.1 Ester N´u˜nez de Miguel (CEMFI) Excuse me, do you speak English? March 23rd, 2015 16 / 29
  17. 17. Environmental Factors Family Background Mother and Father University have a positive and significant impact. Blue Collar and White Collar have a negative and a positive effect respectively in all the skills. The fact that only one of the parents affects the kid could be driven by relative impact or by collinearity due to assortative mating. Correlation between parents education expressed in years: 62,4%. Father’s English knowledge is a positive and significant determinant. Early onset at home: English knowledge at home before 5 years old. Ester N´u˜nez de Miguel (CEMFI) Excuse me, do you speak English? March 23rd, 2015 17 / 29
  18. 18. Environmental Factors Mean Mean Mean NATIONAL INFORMATION Listening Reading Writing GDP ppa 2010 per capita -0.07*** -0.06*** -0.18*** (0.02) (0.02) (0.05) Educational Expenditure 2010 0.16*** 0.15** 0.62*** (0.06) (0.06) (0.14) Un-dubbed English TV 0.16 0.20* 0.47* (0.10) (0.12) (0.27) Population 2011 -0.11*** -0.06*** -0.20*** (0.02) (0.017) (0.04) Multilingual Region 0.28** 0.08 0.65 (0.13) (0.16) (0.42) External Exit Exams -0.11 -0.35*** -0.67*** (0.08) (0.09) (0.2) *** p<0.01, ** p<0.05, * p<0.1 Educational Expenditure in 2010 at secondary is positive and signif. Un-dubbed English TV is positive and significant. Multilingual regions perform positive and significantly in Listening. External Exit Exams are negative and signif: teaching-to-the-test? Ester N´u˜nez de Miguel (CEMFI) Excuse me, do you speak English? March 23rd, 2015 18 / 29
  19. 19. What happens in the School? Which educational policies can significantly change the results in English performance at the end of compulsory education? Mean Mean Mean SCHOOL INFORMATION Listening Reading Writing English Hours per Week 0.08*** 0.1*** 0.27*** (0.026) (0.031) (0.067) Years English School >5 years 0.03*** 0.05*** 0.08*** (0.006) (0.006) (0.02) Early Onset at School <5 years 0.17*** 0.17*** 0.51*** (0.06) (0.06) (0.13) Number of Foreign Languages 0.11*** 0.11*** 0.21*** (0.024) (0.026) (0.06) Ancient Languages 0.07 0.13** 0.39*** (0.054) (0.058) (0.14) English Class Size logarithms 0.16*** 0.19*** 0.75*** (0.05) (0.057) (0.17) *** p<0.01, ** p<0.05, * p<0.1 The English class size effect is positive and significant: bigger classes perform better on average. Ester N´u˜nez de Miguel (CEMFI) Excuse me, do you speak English? March 23rd, 2015 19 / 29
  20. 20. 1 Introduction 2 The European Survey of Language Competences 3 The Education Production Function 4 English Class Size 5 Conclusion Ester N´u˜nez de Miguel (CEMFI) Excuse me, do you speak English? March 23rd, 2015 20 / 29
  21. 21. English Class Size English Class size is a positive and significant determinant in the 3 skills analyzed ⇒ Bigger classes perform better on average than smaller ones. Class sizes depend on choices by politicians, administrators and parents which may be related to the level of performance achieved ⇒ A more accurate estimation method is needed to get the effect of English Class Sizes on Results. Economics is a social science, therefore we can not experiment with students to estimate the effect of class size changes. Regulation induces changes in the class size ”treatment” Angrist and Lavy (1999) Maimonides’ rule exploiting maximum class size regulation is the best known example. Maximum Class size induces nonlinear and non monotonic relationship between grade enrollment and class size ⇒ Creates exogenous variation Ester N´u˜nez de Miguel (CEMFI) Excuse me, do you speak English? March 23rd, 2015 21 / 29
  22. 22. English Class Size A simple example Country with Regulation Maximum Class Size (25) Treatment: English Class Size Number of Number of School Cohort Size Classes Students per Class A 25 1 25 B 26 2 13 C 50 2 25 D 51 3 17 E 75 3 25 School A has 25 students in the course ⇒ 1 class ⇒ Treatment: English Class Size = 25 School B has 26 students in the course ⇒ 2 classes ⇒ Treatment: English Class Size = 13 English Class Size Treatment differs only due to the regulation that affects maximum class size (25 in the example) Ester N´u˜nez de Miguel (CEMFI) Excuse me, do you speak English? March 23rd, 2015 22 / 29
  23. 23. English Class Size According to Eurydice, 9/13 countries in ESLC sample have maximum class size regulations. Principals of each school report the number of English students per grade (Cohort size). The dynamics of the previous example can be modeled to create the Predicted Class Size function. Predicted Class Size can be used as an instrument of the actual class size, therefore, it allows to create exogenous variation and infer causality from class size. Ester N´u˜nez de Miguel (CEMFI) Excuse me, do you speak English? March 23rd, 2015 23 / 29
  24. 24. Example: Portugal Ester N´u˜nez de Miguel (CEMFI) Excuse me, do you speak English? March 23rd, 2015 24 / 29
  25. 25. English Class Size Mean Listening Mean Reading Mean Writing English Class Size logs OLS IV OLS IV OLS IV Bulgaria 1.01** 0.41 0.59** -3.57* 0.8 -1.65 Estonia 0.46*** 0.531 0.164 0.565 0.329 1.258 Greece 0.10 0.057 0.17 -0.005 0.67*** 1.3 Spain 0.16 0.23 0.31*** 1.979* 0.47 1.35 France 0.29 -0.25 0.27 1.06** 1.23* 4.27** Portugal 0.16 0.06 -0.14 0.16 0.002 -0.72 Slovenia 0.34** 4.81 0.077 0.87 -0.16 -0.82 Sweden 0.42*** 0.05 0.70*** 2.08** 1.39*** 4.46** Previous Estimation [13] 0.16*** 0.19*** 0.75*** Countries with Regulation [8] 0.19** -0.029 0.28*** 1.01*** 0.65** 1.84** *** p<0.01, ** p<0.05, * p<0.1 Method 1 (OLS) estimates by country present the same positive pattern in English Class Size effect previously shown. Method 2 (IV) coefficients are no longer statistically significant for all but for Reading and Writing in Spain, France and Sweden. Ester N´u˜nez de Miguel (CEMFI) Excuse me, do you speak English? March 23rd, 2015 25 / 29
  26. 26. English Class Size What previous results have shown, after using IV estimation of Class Size effects, was that IV coefficient were negative or no longer significant. The Writing skill IV Class Size coefficient results in Spain, France and Sweden are positive and even greater than the OLS coefficients. Since English is a multi-skill ability, teachers that face bigger classes can make special emphasis on one skill versus some other. If the teacher has a bigger class, he/she could dedicate greater part of the class to grammar and exercises correction rather than speaking or listening activities. This focus on grammar can make bigger classes more effective in English Reading and Writing skills. Ester N´u˜nez de Miguel (CEMFI) Excuse me, do you speak English? March 23rd, 2015 26 / 29
  27. 27. 1 Introduction 2 The European Survey of Language Competences 3 The Education Production Function 4 English Class Size 5 Conclusion Ester N´u˜nez de Miguel (CEMFI) Excuse me, do you speak English? March 23rd, 2015 27 / 29
  28. 28. Conclusion During this study we wanted to explore the main determinants of English outcomes performance using an European sample (ESLC). Since English class size was a positive and significant determinant of all skills we explore the causality using IV Maimonides’ rule. The positive and significant result obtained by IV in Reading and Writing skill in 3 countries has a clear policy implication: The fact that bigger classes performed on average better in Writing indicates that bigger classes emphasize more grammar and writing activities at a cost of reducing the relative time allocated to other English skills. Ester N´u˜nez de Miguel (CEMFI) Excuse me, do you speak English? March 23rd, 2015 28 / 29
  29. 29. Thank you very much! Questions? Suggestions? Ester N´u˜nez de Miguel (CEMFI) Excuse me, do you speak English? March 23rd, 2015 29 / 29

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