A word about Young Learners
What are children like as learners?
– are developing quickly as individuals.
– learn in a variety of ways, for example, by watching, by listening, by imitating, by doing things.
– are not able to understand grammatical rules and explanations about language.
– try to make sense of situations by making use of non-verbal clues.
– talk in their mother tongue about what they understand and do – this helps them learn.
– can generally imitate the sounds they hear quite accurately and copy the way adults speak.
– are naturally curious.
– love to play and use their imagination.
– are comfortable with routines and enjoy repetition.
– have quite a short attention span and so need variety.
How can you as teacher help them?
– Make learning English enjoyable and fun – Remember you are influencing their attitude to language learning.
– Don’t worry about mistakes. Be encouraging. Make sure children feel comfortable, and not afraid to take part.
– Use a lot of gestures, actions, pictures to demonstrate what you mean.
– Talk a lot to them in English, especially about things they can see.
– Play games, sing songs, say rhymes and chants together.
– Tell simple stories in English, using pictures and acting with different voices.
– Don’t worry when they use their mother tongue. You can answer a mother tongue question in English, and sometimes recast in English what they say in their mother tongue.
– Constantly recycle new language but don’t be afraid to add new things or to use words they want to know.
– Plan lessons with varied activities, some quiet, some noisy, some sitting, some standing and moving.
Reference: English for Primary Teachers By Mary Slattery & Jane Willis