Characteristics of Young Learners
Young learners are children who
- 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 doing this helps them learn.
- can generally imitate the sounds they hear quite accurately and imitate the way adults speak in.
- are naturally curious.
- love to play and use their imagination.
- are comfortable with routines and enjoy repetition.
- have quite a short attention span so they need variety.
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9 Tips to Teach Young Learners More Effectively
- Make English learning enjoyable and fun – Remember you are influencing their attitude to language learning.
- Don’t worry about their mistakes. Be encouraging. Make sure they 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 the 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 to do while they’re quiet, others while they’re noisy, some to while they’re sitting, others while they’re standing and moving.
9 Steps to Teach Young Learners Any Task More Effectively
- Introduce the activity clearly.
- Activate their previous knowledge that relates to the current topic.
- Give them clear instructions and make sure they know exactly what to do.
- Model the activity with a good child.
- Get two children to model the activity (Pair Work)
- Specify some time for completing the activity in pairs (Private Pair Work)
- Move around to monitor them, listen to or look at their performance.
- Get some pairs to do the activity in public (Public Pair Work).
- Elicit the answers orally from them involving as many children as possible.
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