Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Advice for teaching English to young children

Advice for teaching English to young children
· The emphasis should be on listening and speaking the language, see below for comments on
reading and writing.
· Relate what you teach to what they already know in their own language; don’t use the new
language as the basis for teaching new concepts.
· Use as much English as possible, talk to them all the time, so that the children hear as much
as possible. This gives them more opportunity to begin to understand the language and
absorb its rhythm.
· Your first aim should be that the children understand the language they are being taught.
· Allow the children to respond in their first language, then repeat back to them in English
what they said.
· Once they understand, then you should aim for them to produce the language.
· Start with simple vocabulary: just words, not sentences.
· Go slowly, with much repetition, to give the children as much opportunity as possible to
really learn; there’s no rush.
· Gradually introduce sentences, when the children are ready, always making sure the
children understand the language.
· The lessons must be fun! The most important thing is that the children enjoy the lessons; the
children will not learn if they do not enjoy the lessons and the children’s motivation to
learn is in order to participate in the lessons.
· Have a routine, so the children know what to expect and feel comfortable in the lessons.
· Start each lesson with a visual signal, to show the children that it’s now the time when
another language is spoken.
· Use body language, facial expressions and visual aids to make yourself understood; do not
resort to translation!
· Use lots and lots of visual aids; the more visual the better, so the children have a chance to
understand even before they know the words.
· Use games, to involve the children and make it fun.
· Use songs, because through these, the children learn vocabulary, grammar and the rhythm of
the language without trying.
· Use stories, because the children love them and it gives them a real experience of the
· Use short activities, to keep the children attentive.
· Use active activities, to change the rhythm of the lesson, to keep them attentive, to stop
them fidgeting.
· End the lesson with a quiet activity, to calm the children down for their next lesson.
· Speak in English as much as possible (all the time, if practical!). This allows the children to
get used to the rhythm of the language and to pick up some words without really trying.
· Use the children’s first language only when necessary, for example, to explain a game or for
discipline purposes.(Fiona L Cooper)

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