Опубликован: 18.11.2015 | Доступ: свободный | Студентов: 2635 / 0 | Длительность: 22:20:00
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Лекция 12:

Teaching Young Learners

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Classroom management

In this section the focus will be mainly on the young learners’ motivation and discipline, because these are the main areas that differentiate adult classes from young learners’ ones.

A) Young Learners’ motivation

Initially, the young learners come to the English class already motivated intrinsically. The curiosity about the new subject and the new teacher, the simple fact that they are dreaming of sounding like their favourite cartoon or film hero makes them eager to learn. They also come to class with some English already acquired from informal exposure to it, but they are proud to show the knowledge they have. This enthusiasm is what we rely on when we start an English course with young learners and we would all like to keep the smile on their faces and their eagerness to show what they have learnt in our classes. Unfortunately, this high level of motivation tends to decrease as they advance in their study of English if we, the teachers, try too hard "to teach" them, to control their learning in an authoritarian manner.


Here are a few statements collected from some teachers who have some experience in teaching young learners. Read them and see if you agree with them or not.

  1. I have a routine in the classroom and I do not change it because the students need to know exactly what to expect.
  2. I always give them small tasks that can be corrected immediately. In this way I have full control on what they learn. They are too small to be given "larger tasks".
  3. The young students all need to be given the same task that at the end can be corrected with the whole class. Only in this way can they and I know who has done the work correctly and who has not.
  4. Never give them options. This might disturb the class and it is almost impossible to correct at the end.
  5. Never involve the young learners in making decisions about what they will do in the next lesson, or the time they need to do a task, or how to set the homework.
  6. It is good to know what students think about the lessons and what they need to do more work on, but it is very difficult to cater for all individual needs and interests; so, it is better that I decide what needs to be done in terms of what needs to be done in the classroom.
  7. A system of rewards should be set. This encourages the students to learn better. Competition is what most of them like.
  8. Be optimistic. Even the weaker students can learn something.

Now go to the Self-check key and read the comments.

B) Dealing with discipline problems

A teacher’s voice: Sometimes I envy some of my colleagues who have a charismatic authority, if I can say so. They never seem to have problems with discipline. Whenever I go to observe their classes, all the students are at their desks, doing what they are told to do. There is no noise from the beginning to end. I my classes, I spend most of my time to have their attention. When they do a group activity, they start well, and after a while some of them become disruptive and ‘infect’ everybody else with their misbehaviour. I often have to raise my voice to call for silence. It works for a short while, but then they start again. I very rarely finish what I have planned to do with my students in class because of lack of discipline.


Why do you think this teacher has discipline problems? Could you think of any reasons and give him/her some pieces of advice?

(There is no key for this Self-check. You will find your answers in the text below.)

Now read on.

Most teachers of young learners complain about the lack of discipline in their classrooms. We all know that effective learning can happen only in a disciplined classroom. What does a disciplined classroom look like?

In a disciplined class: In a disciplined class:

  • learning is taking place. All students, either working individually or in pairs, or in groups or with the whole class, know what they have to do and they do the task(s) which are relevant to them and whose point is clear.
  • There is a time for activities done in silence and a time for more noisy activities. Distinction has to be made between chaotic noise and constructive noise.
  • The teacher is in control. This does not mean that the teacher has to be standing in front of the class at all times giving orders. Even if you "hand over the control’ for a while, delegating the responsibility for some group activities to some students, you can take it back as soon as the activity does not go as desired; you took the decision to hand the initiative over to them, you can take it back.
  • There is cooperation between the teacher and the students. This cooperation is based on mutual respect and on a code of behaviour that has to be mutually agreed on.
  • The students are motivated. It is easier to manage the students who are motivated, so it is the teacher’s responsibility to engage students in activities that are motivating.
  • The lesson runs smoothly, but not necessarily according to the plan. It is very important to have a plan and to know exactly what you are doing and when. It is important to have all the materials ready at hand and also have some contingency plan. This shows the learners that you are prepared and in control so they will trust you. It happens sometimes that you can’t follow the lesson plan and you find yourself improvising. This is not a problem. At least the students will see that you care for their needs and you are not too rigid.
  • It also helps that the students know the objectives of the lesson, or at least the aims of the activities, mainly the ones that you think might not be extremely enjoyable. They need to know why they are doing what you asked them to do, when this is not obvious. You might find yourself in the position of having to make some compromises sometimes, ie the students want to do something else (eg to talk about another topic). It is ok as long as they promise you to do something that you know they need but they will not find so enjoyable (eg a fill-in- the-gaps grammar exercise.)
  • It is true that some teachers have charisma which gives an air of authority, and they find it easier to control their classes. The majority of teachers do not possess this natural authority, but they can have equally disciplined classrooms; they just have to work harder.

Here are some tips to maintain discipline in the classroom:

  1. Start by being firm with the students; you can relax later.
  2. Involve students in making a code of behaviour in the classroom and also let them decide on sanctions in case this code in broken. Display it on the classroom wall. BE CONSISTENT in applying them.
  3. Get silence before you start speaking to the whole class.
  4. Learn and use the students’ names.
  5. Prepare the lessons thoroughly and have a logical and firm structure.
  6. Be prepared to deal with the unexpected.
  7. Be mobile; walk around the class.
  8. Change the students around.
  9. Start the lesson with a ‘bang" and try to sustain their interest and curiosity.
  10. Speak clearly at all times; mainly when giving instructions.
  11. Check instructions and/or demonstrate activities. Have all your students’ attention.
  12. Have extra materials prepared for the students who work fast.
  13. Vary the pace of the activities and teaching techniques.
  14. Choose topics and tasks that will activate the students. Cooperate with them in this respect.
  15. Make the work appropriate to the students’ age, ability, cultural background.
  16. Anticipate discipline problems and act quickly.
  17. Never reprimand a student in front of the class. Have a private talk with him/her trying to get to the reason of his/her disruptive behaviour.
  18. Avoid confrontations. Never get angry in front of the students and shout at them.
  19. Avoid confrontations.
  20. Show your students that you care by being supportive and encouraging.
  21. Use praise only when the students deserve it.
  22. Don’t use threats. If you do, then be ready to put them into practice immediately.
  23. No matter the age of the students, DO NOT PATRONIZE them. Treat them with respect.
  24. Use humour constructively. Do not use irony and sarcasm.
  25. Be warm and friendly to your students./Adapted from Ur (1996:263)

In conclusion, to ensure discipline in your classroom, you will have to:

  • But most of all be FAIR

What to teach?

On a general English course for adults we teach language and skills: Grammar (structures and functions), vocabulary, pronunciation, and the language skills (listening, speaking, reading and writing). We usually have a balance of skills and all language components are considered as equally important by the students and teachers alike. Naturally, the course components depend on the language needs of the group as a whole.


Here is a chart that compares younger learners (pre-school and primary school learners) and older learners (11 years olds +). Study it and then decide which of the language skills and language components should be emphasized in teaching English to these two categories of students.

Younger learners Older learners
  • These children are learning how to behave in school, classroom routines and learning in community
  • They can understand meaningful messages but cannot analyse language yet.
  • They are not aware about the learning processes; also, they are not fully aware about themselves.
  • They have no or very limited reading and writing skills in their first language (which in most cases do not use the Latin alphabet)
  • They are more concerned about themselves than others.
  • Their knowledge of the world is limited.
  • They enjoy fantasy, imagination and movement.
  • These children are already used to school routines which they do not question.
  • They start to show a growing interest in language as an abstract system; they are moving from concrete to abstract thinking.
  • They are more aware about themselves and the way they learn. They are becoming more and more independent.
  • They already have well developed skills as readers and writers in their own language
  • They show interest in the others’ viewpoints and usually compare and contrast them with theirs.
  • They have a growing awareness about and interest in the world around.
  • Real life issues are more interesting to them than fantasy.

Prepare answers and then compare with the suggested answers in the key.

How to teach young learners. Some techniques and activities.

A) Listening

5-8 year olds:

  • Children’s songs with movements.
  • TPR-type of activities (listen and do).
  • Games such as ‘Simon says…’.
  • Arranging pictures of a story while listening to it.

9-11 year olds:

  • Quizzes - Listen to the question and choose the right answer.
  • Matching picture with story from a choice of slightly similar pictures.
  • Drawing dictation.

11-13 year olds:

  • Most of the activities listed above can be used with this age group as well, but this time you can add a bit of reading as well (eg Listen to the story and put the sentences in chronological order.)

14-16 year olds:

  • Listening to songs and filling in the gaps or arranging song lyrics in order

17-19 year olds:

  • Any type of listening activities will work. What you need to take care of is to have relevant topics for their age.
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Лилия Громова
Лилия Громова
1 октября отправила на проверку первое задание, до сих пор не проверено, по этой причине не могу пройти последующие тесты.
Светлана Носкова
Светлана Носкова