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

Teaching Young Learners

< Лекция 11 || Лекция 12: 12345


SELF-CHECK 7 1, p.1 - Comments

1. Younger children learn languages better than older ones; children learn better than adults.

This has become a myth based on the empirical observations of different people watching young children picking up the foreign language very quickly either through immersion into the foreign language, or by having been transplanted into a foreign language environment or by watching hours of English cartoon programmes on TV when parents are too busy to organize their children’s time. They definitely learn pronunciation better, but not necessarily the other components of the language. At the same time, their critical self is not so developed; ie they do not feel so embarrassed when making mistakes as adults usually do. There are studies that reached the conclusion that the older the child, the more effectively she/he learns a foreign language. In this respect, maybe teenagers make the best learners.

Young children definitely do not learn better in formal classroom settings. Their cognitive skills and self-discipline are not developed enough to make the most of the teacher-filtered input; they rely more on acquisition than on conscious learning.

2. Foreign language learning in school should be started at as early an age as possible.

This statement is directly connected with the previous one. As younger children do not necessarily learn better in a formal classroom environment for the reasons already mentioned above, it seems that language learning in school does not need to be started too early. Some say that the age of twelve would be ideal, others ten. It is also true that an early start to language learning, reinforced as the child grows older will lead to better long-term results. So, if there is time and if there are enough teachers in a school, you can start teaching young children at as early an age as possible.

3. Children and adults learn languages basically in the same way.

This might be true only in an immersion situation when people of all ages can acquire the foreign/second language for survival. The differences become obvious in formal courses. Adults have a number of learning skills and strategies already developed and their capacity of understanding concepts and logical thinking is greater. Moreover, adults tend to be more disciplined and are more cooperative in the classroom. Adults are more patient, not so competitive, they are aware of their learning needs and no matter what type of motivation they have, they can set their own learning objectives and pursue them. They know why they are in a classroom, while most children have no choice in whether they want to be taught, where or how they are taught.

4. Adults have a longer concentration span than children.

The difference here between children and adults is that children will always spend hours in activities that really interest them, but they will never have the adults’ patience to carry on activities for which they have no immediate intrinsic motivation. One major implication for teaching is that the teacher needs to choose (only) activities that the young learners will enjoy.

5. It is easier to interest and motivate children than adults.

This is partly true. The children’s motivation fluctuates rapidly. If the activities are apparently pointless to them or monotonous or boring, they lose their motivation quickly and become disruptive. By selecting interesting activities you can raise the children’s motivation more easily than that of the older learners. The older learners are more tolerant with apparently pointless activities; they can wait to see where the activity is leading them to. Children’s motivation varies more easily depending on the influences of the immediate surroundings (the teacher, the peers, the materials, other distractions); that of the older children tends to be more stable.

SELF-CHECK 7 2, p.2 - Suggested answers

  • The characteristics of each age from reference books on child psychology;
  • Knowledge about how children of different ages learn from books on pedagogy on young learners;
  • Periodic contacts and discussions with the children’s parents to find out as much as you can about the children’s personalities and interests;
  • The other teachers of the class can provide a lot of information that you need about each child in the class and the class as a whole.

SELF-CHECK 7 3, pp.2&3. Just a few examples.

Age group Early Elementary (Age 5 to 8) Middle School (Age 9 to 11) Early Adolescence (Age 11 to 13) Middle Adolescence (Age 14 to 16) Middle Adolescence (Age 14 to 16)
Topics Family, Animals, Daily activities, Holidays (Christmas, Thanksgiving, etc) Friends and family, The Earth, School, Jobs, Nature Heroes Relationships Celebrations Fashion Manners Nature and environment Relationships, The world, Cinema/films, Music, Music and film stars, Young people of other cultures, Fashion, Travelling, Knowing yourself (strengths and weaknesses), Environment Anything that has to do with life, relationships, work, careers will do, "Taboo" topics
Techniques and types of activities Games involving physical movement, Arts and crafts, Pictures, Stories, Nursery rhymes, Chants Chants, World knowledge (eg quizzes), Mini-projects, Poster creation, Games Projects and project presentations, Letter writing/emails Drama, Creative writing, Intensive and extensive reading, Projects Projects, Creative writing, Functional writing, Intensive and extensive reading, Drama, Reflective essays
Classroom management tips Always demonstrate activities. Vary the pace frequently. Activities have to be short (max 10 minutes each). Alternate quiet activities with activities that require movement. Close monitoring, Establish classroom behaviour rules Close monitoring most of the time. Establish classroom behaviour rules and be firm. Vary pace and types of activities. Individual, pair and group work. Establish roles in the groups. Vary the pace of activities. Very sensitive with the feedback. Start using descriptors of performance and encourage self-assessment Use descriptors of performance and encourage self-assessment At this age they know the routines. They appreciate the teacher’s input for a short time, but they need to work independently as well. TTT should be very low

SELF-CHECK 7 3, pp.5&6 - Comments

Some practical ideas for sustaining motivation

  1. Experiment, take risks. Do not be afraid of breaking the routine of the classroom. You need to find a balance between established routine of the classroom and introducing variety. Vary the kinds of things you do in the classroom to see what different students respond to best. For example, try short stories, films, classroom drama, songs, projects, grammar exercises, dictations, etc.
  2. Choose ‘larger’ tasks. If you read the features for each age group, you will see that, in one way or another, each age group likes projects, larger tasks for different reasons. Chose tasks that give students more ‘psychological space’ to plan their own work, set their own pace, make their own decisions about how and what they do. For example, process writing and simulations. Just do not forget to set rules that are accepted by everyone and monitor closely.
  3. Choose open-ended tasks. The production tasks should leave room for individuals to express themselves or to contribute to a group task. As these tasks are part of a process, each child will have the chance to participate and contribute along the process in a personal way. The production task, such as making posters, writing poems, creating designs and describing them, etc where there is "no right answer" will give the children the feeling that they are valued as individuals, and the quality of their performance is judged in relation to their previous performance and not by comparison to their peers’ performance. .
  4. Provide choice. Children learn effectively, on the principle "I like it, and I’ll do it. I don’t like it, but I’ll do it reluctantly or not at all." If children are involved in deciding what to do, they are usually more committed to it and there is no excuse for them not to do it. As a teacher, you are in control. If you give them options, such as ‘You can choose exercise 3, 5 or 9. Or if you’d like to do something else, ask me first’ - you are still in control but the student will feel that his/her preferences are important to you, so you will gain more respect.
  5. Involve students in classroom decision-making. Children have always enjoyed ‘playing the adults - the ones that make decisions’. You still make the decision about what your students will learn but other decisions, such as when homework is set, how long they will spend on a particular task, what they will do next lesson, and so on can be shared with them without any risk to the course as a whole.
  6. Find out what students think. Of course the final decision is yours, but you need to know what they think they need as well. In this way, you can make better informed choices about future lessons in terms of content and activities. Find out if students think they need more practice, if they have suggestions of their own, if they find things easy or difficult, boring or interesting. You could place a ‘suggestion box’ in your class, or write an open-ended letter that students could complete with their ideas, or devise short questionnaires.
  7. Think about how you give feedback and what you give feedback on. Feedback needs to be done at the end of each activity, and it has to be constructive. If you see any signs of failure in some students, try to identify aspects that you can praise and encourage and for the areas they did not meet the criteria of performance, explain to them, in concrete terms, what they could do to improve it next time.

    Another aspect here is the reward system that some teachers use. The students need to be trained to accept success and just enjoy it for its own sake. They need to be able to see when they were successful or not. That is what the feedback is for. The extrinsic reward as marks or smiley faces will only turn the intrinsic motivation into an extrinsic one: the race to get the rewards. The ones who take them more often will continue taking them, because they feel extremely confident. Success breeds success. The ones who did not get two or three in a row, will soon become demotivated, their self-confidence will diminish gradually, and after a while it is very hard for those students to keep up. They will also be the ones who will give up, will not participate in the lesson or become disruptive.

    Gradually, teach students to self-assess. Establish together criteria of performance and write descriptors for each criterion. They can then do self-assessment of their performance (speaking and writing) by measuring their performance against these criteria. They need patient training in using these descriptors of performance but it is worth it in the long run.

  8. Communicate a sense of optimism in learning. As a teacher, you have to show the students a belief that everyone can learn. Encourage students to try, to take risks without fear of losing marks or feeling stupid. Show them how much they have learned ("You see; now you can spell these words correctly. Last week you couldn’t.") Tell them that it is ok to ask for help, so offer help when they ask for it.

As Andrew Littlejohn put it " Success comes in ‘cans’ not in ‘can’ts’."

Adapted after Andrew Littlejohn, 2001

SELF-CHECK 7 5, p.8 - Suggested answers

The children will not learn the language for its own sake; they will always want to learn English to be able to communicate, to get something or just for fun. With the exception of teenagers who will analyze the language to discover its subtleties and use it for self-expression, all the other young learners will not go into such depth.

Vocabulary: The primary school children will need to develop their vocabulary and some functional language.

Grammar cannot be taught formally and grammatical metalanguage is not an option. As they can’t analyse language yet, grammar is taught along with vocabulary, in chunks of language in meaningful contexts.

Pronunciation can be left to acquisition most of the time. If the children can’t pronounce some sounds even after lots of exposure to the language, then some pronunciation exercises can help.

Listening: The younger learners need a lot of listening before they are ready to speak. We can learn a lot about the acquisition of the second/foreign language from the way children learn their mother tongue/first language. TPR works best with these very young students. Listening to songs, short dialogues, watching short videos with the sound on are among the techniques that work with them.

Speaking: Young learners want to speak as soon as possible. They are like sponges absorbing everything the teacher says and how he/she says it. The rule here is slowly and steadily through constant revision and recycling. Choral repetition, songs, chants, nursery rhymes, short everyday dialogues, games, everything in a meaningful context for children will make them learn fast

Reading and writing are usually introduced later and gradually when the children already have an amount of vocabulary and functional language acquired or learned through listening and speaking. If the children start learning English at an older age, for example after 10 or 11 years of age, then all four skills can be developed more or less at the same time. Still, the principle remains: lots of listening and speaking practice, and only after that reading and writing which has been practised aurally and orally. This is due to the fact that English spelling and pronunciation are different, so children might get confused between the spoken and written word.

Last but not least, young learners need to be taught how to learn gradually. Teaching learning strategies has to be introduced in a subtle manner through guidance and relevant tasks (eg organize vocabulary in their wordbooks under topics, using stickers or drawing, to which the written words can be added at a later stage.)


Littlejohn, Andrew (2001), Motivation; Where Does It Come from? Where Does It Go? In English Teaching Professional, Issue 19, March 2001

Ur, Penny (1996) A Course in language Teaching, CUP

< Лекция 11 || Лекция 12: 12345
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