As you know, I work in a kindergarten. That’s why I have posted my lesson plans as a kindergarten level. And today I am here with “YOUNG LEARNERS” post. I will describe young learners, their abilities, the reasons to learn a foreign language, some strategies to use in the classroom.
“Young Learners” is a broad term that covers from 3 to 12 years old. (3-6 years old very young learners) Although these age groups are seen as representing one group, there are in fact distinctive differences between what children of 3 years old can do and what children of 6 can do, or 7. We can group the children according to their ages, but cannot say they develop and grow in same way or in same time. Some children develop gradually, others in leaps and bounds. It is not possible to say that the age of 5 all children can do x, at the age of 7 they can all do y,etc. We consider them in 4 related but separate developmental areas;
-physical (physical growth and motor skills)
-cognitive (intellectual growth)
– socio-emotional (social rules)
-communicative (contains all other developmental areas)
It is possible to point of certain characteristics of young children which you should be aware of and take into account in your teaching. You,as the teacher, are the only one who can see how far up the ladder your individual pupils are.
Do you get surprised sometimes, when you hear your cuties make a sentence in target language? We already know that children learn foreign languages more easily than adults. The young brain is inherently flexible and uniquely structured to acquire language naturally. A number of studies in linguistics and education (for example, Curtain & Pesola,1994; Gilsaw & Branaman ,2000; Rhodes & Branaman ,1999; Met &Rhodes,1990) have suggested that foreign languages should be taught to children as early as possible. You can think a child’s brain as an empty notebook. They can learn naturally, absorbing the sounds, structures, intonation patterns and rules of a second language intuitively, as they did their mother tongue. First they take and memorise the language,when their receptive language is on. Then,they start to make sentences or say the vocabularies when their expressive language is on.
In addition, learning a second language has many benefits. Personally children will develop a lifelong ability to communicate with other people and a deeper understanding of their own and other cultures.
Some evidence (Hakuto & Pease-Alvarez,1992; Rovenbush,1995; Boston,1998; College Entrance Examination Board,1982 and 1992) suggest that children who receive second language instruction are more creative and better at solving problems.
It also develops their mind at memorisation. They ,who are exposed to second language , are good at planning and multi-tasking subjects.
While teaching to young learners, the words are not enough. You should use your body language more. There must be more movement in your classroom. You should demonstrate what you want them to do. And also use more visuals in your class. It would be great if you hang visuals of vocabularies you teach.
Children love rhymes. And they learn more easily with rhymes. Don’t be afraid of using songs, rhymes. Don’t be afraid of using nonsense sentences : let’s go pets go. They will laugh and will learn.
Having routines in your lessons will make them feel more comfortable. They will be confident with using language. Ask same questions at the beginning of your every lesson, use same songs at the beginning of each similar activities. They will be familiar with these activities and will feel confident.
Enjoyable homeworks will be useful to their memorisation. And they will go on to have fun at home as well with target language. With some homeworks ,which they can play with their families, they will have fine time at their home.
Finally go on being crazy at your class. Don’t be afraid of using visuals and songs.
Enjoy with your cuties ☺
Scott,Wendy A.& Ytreberg Lisbeth H. (1990). Teaching English to Children. New York: Longman Inc.