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