|"In this lesson, we will start to look more closely at the practical side of teaching |
|young language learners. After looking at the characteristics of young learners |
|(alongside other groups of learners), we will think about ways to approach teaching |
|vocabulary, grammar andpronunciation in the young learner language classroom. We will |
|also look at how to create a supportive environment for our young language learners that|
|encourages them to learn about and reflect on their learning. Then, we will consider the|
|use of topic and activity-based teaching for young language learners and think about |
|planning activities across topic areas. Finally, we will startto think about ways to |
|focus on the four language skills that are part of the young language learner |
An Introduction to Teaching English to Young Learners
Your Instructor: Annie Hughes
Considering the Characteristics of Young Learners – and Using that Knowledgeto Teach Vocabulary
In the lesson, Implications for Teaching English to Young Learners, we looked at the interests of different ages of young learners as well as their needs and skills. We will expand on that topic briefly in this chapter to consider the characteristics of young learners (ages 3-6 years as well as 6-12 years), alongside older language learners (teenagers as well as adults).Then, we will take what we know about young learners to look at how to approach teaching vocabulary, an area of language learning that is of key importance, especially in the initial stages.
An Overview of Language Learners
When considering the abilities and skills of young learners, as well as the needs and challenges, we must consider numerous factors about them, including their development(social, emotional, physical and cognitive) and their feelings about learning English.
The approach to learning and teaching is very different from one group of language learners to the next as a result of their developmental level as well as their needs and interests. While we are not going to be looking at adolescent or adult language learners in any detail in this course, it is important to be awareof where young learners fit into the overview of language learners.
For a summary of the characteristics of young learners alongside different age groups of language learners, see Figure 3.1 in Chapter 1 (Characteristics of language learners) in the Supplementary Material at the end of this lesson.
Planning activities for young learners
Looking specifically at the characteristics of younglearners, we can see that although their motivation and interest level tends to be high in general, they will not be fully aware of the need for the new language and will not easily take responsibility for their own language learning.
This means that when planning activities for young learners, teachers need to:
• capture their interest and motivate them with appropriate and engaging activities.• monitor the learning that may, or may not, be taking place and provide scaffolding and guidance for all aspects of their language learning.
• show them how to learn to learn. This involves helping them become more aware of what they are doing in class activities, learning to reflect on this and becoming aware of how these activities might benefit them.
• encourage them to take amore reflective approach to learning the language. Such reflection will help lead them to take a greater interest in what they are learning and also to take long-term responsibility for their own language learning.
Given what we know and understand about young language learners, we will now look at how to approach the teaching of vocabulary.
Teaching vocabulary to young learners