10 useful terms for teachers of young learners

Teaching with Bear, what a classic!

This post is for anyone about to start a training course in teaching young learners. These 10 terms came up a lot on my YL training course so it’s worth reading up on them before you start. I’ve explained each one in brief, but you’ll also find some links for further reading. If more jargon pops up during your training I recommend this good online glossary for ELT related terms from eltnotebook.

  1. Differentiation

According to Carol Ann Tomlinson, differentiation is ‘tailoring instruction to meet individual needs’. Carol has a great summary article on this on the Reading Rockets site, which you can access here.

You can differentiate in tonnes of ways – adding more support or more challenge to a task, having graded outcomes, allowing learners to choose how they demonstrate learning, adapting the learning environment, etc. Tomlinson provides a fair few examples in the aforementioned article.

Rachel Roberts is also a great source of info on differentiation. This article and this webinar are worth viewing.

If you really want to get stuck into this topic, Larry Ferlazzo’s page is probably what you’re looking for. I’d say this is a must learn phrase! Then again, it doesn’t even make the glossary of Annamaria Pinter’s ‘Teaching Young Learners’, so perhaps its losing its ‘buzzwordiness’.

  1. Scaffolding

Scaffolding is providing structured support to help learners achieve a task. The clue is in the word I guess… Personally, I used to think of scaffolding as part of differentiation, until I read this useful definition from The concept of ‘scaffolding of learning’ is attributed to Jerome Bruner. One important aspect of scaffolding is how teacher support given to learners is gradually taken away as the learners become more independent. I’ve posted a few examples of scaffolding in action, here’s my favourite.

It’s worth reading about Lev Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) if you want more context for Bruner’s ideas. (more…)


Help please: Frayer models

What better place to think through a lesson idea than on my blog?! Hopefully all you great teachers can offer a few ideas…

I recently came across the idea of Frayer models while browsing Teacher’s Toolkit. I found other explanations and examples of their use on this blog, and concise definition here. To be honest I’d never heard of them, but they look very useful. It’s a ‘graphic organiser’ for new vocabulary, normally split into 4 sections. Students write a definition of a word, draw the word, then give examples and non-examples of the use of the word. Most models online look like this:

I’ve decided to give this a go next term with my younger students (aged 10) and perhaps some teen classes. I’m going to make an A4 vocabulary booklet with two models on each page, maybe 20 words in total. (more…)

Fluency practice: What do you know about Britain?

Here’s a fun way to get students sharing information, in the context of history and culture. I originally got this idea from, which is a good source of lesson inspiration if you’re a teacher based in South Korea.

Let’s say you have 16 intermediate/upper-intermediate students. Give each one a slip of paper with information about British history on it, here are four examples: (more…)