teaching young learners

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  • Teaching young learnersPrinciples, strategies and trainingMarianthi KotadakiELT School Advisor, Ilia, Peloponnese

  • How do children learn?Young children are still using their individual, innate language-learning strategies to acquire their home language and soon find they can also use these strategies to pick up English.

    Young children, who acquire language rather than consciously learn it, as older children and adults have to, are more likely to have better pronunciation and feel for the language and culture.

  • The children as esl/efl learnersmore enthusiastic than adults.

    they want to please their teacher rather than their peers.

    they will have a go at an activity even when they dont understand how or why.they lose interest more quickly

    they become less motivated when tasks are difficult

    they find it difficult to use language to talk about language


    "Do it again. : a powerful tool! If the pupils find something amusing they will want to do it over and over againSo, how can these help?

  • Characteristics of young learnersChildren are active learners and thinkers. (Piaget, 1970)

    Children learn through social interaction. (Vygotsky, 1962)

    Children learn effectively through scaffolding by adults. (Bruner, 1983)

  • According to PiagetChildren learn through making sense of the world. According to Vygotsky Adults mediate the world for children through playing, stories, questions, ideas, experiences.

  • Children learn from actively interactingwith the physical environment in developmental stages.

    They learn through their own individual actions and exploration.

    The children gradually develop their formal, logical thinking.

    Children are encouraged to solve problems.

    Knowledge derives from action.

    Piaget in the English class

  • Vygotsky in the English classTeacher models questions for children

    Do you like swimming? and encourages similar questions

    Through doing things in a social context, the children internalise language

  • Bruners scaffolding and routinesTeachers have to get children interested in the tasks

    Teachers have to simplify difficult tasks breaking them into smaller steps.

    Teachers have to keep the children on track always reminding of the goal set.

    Teachers have to assist the childrens effort demonstrating other ways of doing the task

    Teachers have to show the idealised version of the task.

  • Key principles revisitedChildren actively try to construct meaning

    Children need space for language growth

    Language in use carries cues to meaning that may not be noticed

    Development can be seen as internalising from social interaction.

    Childrens foreign language learning depends on what they experience.

  • Key principles explainedTeachers need to examine activities from the childs point of view to assess whether pupils will understand what to do and why.

    Routines and scaffolding contribute to effective learning.

    Children need to be helped not through formal grammar- to grasp that meaning.

    Language can grow as the child takes control of language used initially with other children and adults.

    The broader and richer the language experience provided for the children, the more they are likely to learn. Development in certain skills means experiences that will build those skills.

  • Important secretsThough they may not understand everything they hear, children grasp the gist: they understand a few important words and decipher the rest using different clues to interpret the meaning. Children should not be told they have made a mistake because any correction immediately demotivates. I goed soon becomes went if the child hears the adult repeat back yes, you went; they will self-correct in their own time.Boys need some different language experiences with girls. Young children need to feel secure and know that there is some obvious reason for using English.Activities need to be linked to some interesting, e.g. everyday activities about which they already know.Activities are accompanied by adult language giving a running commentary about what is going on.English sessions are fun and interesting, concentrating on concepts children have already understood in their home language.Activities are backed up by specific objects, where possible, as this helps understanding and increases general interest. Before they can decode English, young children need to know the 26 alphabet letter names and sounds. As English has 26 letters but on average 44 sounds (in standard English), introducing the remaining sounds is better left until children have more experience in using language and reading.

  • A purpose for learning

  • Key words for YL teachingEnjoyableMeaningfulSupportedSocial PurposefulFull of practice

  • YL language teaching tips Imitate the L1 environment in the classTeach language in a context.Dont teach grammar explicitly!Create an English speaking environment.Keep yourself motivated!Encourage!Make English fun.

  • We usually needA starter activityAn attention getter activity/signal/chantBrain breaks An end-of-class activity

  • Do you want tomatoes? Yes, please.No, thanks

    How many ..?4 slices of cheese, please

  • Little Red Riding Hood: A board gameThe children roll a die, and rather than count the spaces, say the vocabulary on the space before proceeding. If they land on a flower space, they lose a turn and take one of the laminated flowers from the board, but,

    if they land on the wolf and have at least one flower, theyre safe.

    If they dont have any flowers, they must return all the way back to the woodcutter space (about a third of the way from the beginning of the path), as he was the one that saved Little Red Riding Hood in the story.

  • Not too much time on an activity!Different kinds of activities:quiet and noisy ones in turnslistening-speaking-reading-writingindividual-pair work-group work-classteacher-student and student-studentactivities foe various styles and intelligencesRepeat and recycle as much as possibleConnect language to other content areas.

  • Lesson planLesson (and song/story/poem) title:Vocabulary: Grammar:Objectives: By the end of the lesson, students should be able toWarm-up:Presentation:Practice:Follow-up:

  • Do we translate? Of course! For hard words and expressions(difficult) instructions for activities language objectives

  • Stories She tells the story waving pictures at the pupils.

    She gets groups of pupils to learn parts of the story by reading it.

    Pupils act out their parts in groups.

    Pupils complete blanks on a simple version of the story text.

    Children write their own story using new ideas.

  • Story lesson activitesQ & A. comprehension questions for students to answer orally.

    TPR. If the story has movements do a TPR activity with pupils.

    Group retelling. Students retell the story and fill in gaps.

    Create your own ending. Tell the story up to the climax, and have students predict the ending.

    Drama. Do a retelling by having students act out the plot of the story.

    Story mapping. Give students a graphic organizer to map out the plot of the story.

    Story boarding. Have students make simple drawings in boxes that show the plot of the story sequentially (like a comic book). The drawing can be accompanied by text or dialog bubbles.

    Read & Write Books. Students create their own storybook by drawing and adding text.

    Projects. Have students work together in small groups to create projects on the story.

  • A handful of resourceshttp://www.primaryhomeworkhelp.co.uk/interactive/onlinestory.htm

  • https://storybird.com https://storybird.com/books/favorite-animals-7

  • Annamaria PinterLynne Cameronhttp://didactics-a.wikispaces.com/file/view/lynne+cameron.pdf

  • http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/sites/teacheng/files/B369-Young-Learners-Activity-Book_v10.pdf

  • http://rcel.enl.uoa.gr/peap/training/e-training