young learners

Seesaw for EAL and young learners

Someone contacted me last week in a panic. ‘Aaargh, we’re going to start using Seesaw – any tips? Is it easy? Can you do a lot on it?’ etc.

I find Seesaw really easy to use as a classroom learning app for EAL. The functionality for slides and templates is like a Jamboard +1 (you pay for the privilege). You can do quite a lot with it – here are some random (very random) screenshots from my Year 4/5 lessons just to give you a general idea. These aren’t all-singing-all-dancing, I just want to reassure the person who contacted me that things will be more familiar than you imagine.

In no particular order…

It’s really easy to model activities/tasks when not doing a live lesson. In this example, I wanted learners to predict the captions for a load of images. I can record myself doing the task and add a voiceover with instructions too (students just click play button to view).

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Materials Development Task 4: Making connections

This is a new series of blog posts for teachers looking to become materials writers. It aims to help future writers explore topics and issues in writing, encourage deeper insight into the content of published materials, and promote a principled approach to materials development.

Think…

  • What does it really mean to ‘personalise’ materials for a learner?
  • In what ways could you personalise a text?
  • How can you help young learners make connections between a text and their existing knowledge/experiences?
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Fluency and fun: Hidden words

Here’s a quick speaking activity for Primary EAL. A good one for Friday afternoon fun.

Check out this ‘Hidden Words‘ post on Bored Panda. Is just a load of illustrations with six hidden words in each.

Get the students to spot the words, explain where they are, explain their meaning, look up their meaning if unsure, etc. Lots more language than I thought came out of this one, and the students took control of the activity! A nice one for fluency practice.

Here it is as a Powerpoint. All images (including feature) copyright Bored Panda, I just had to add it to a ppt because of adverts or suggested reads on their site being potentially iffy for YLs. Plus all the comments give the answers away!

Review: The Routledge Handbook of Teaching English to Young Learners

This review of The Routledge Handbook of Teaching English to Young Learners by S Garton & F Copland (Eds) first appeared in IATEFL Voices Issue 276.

This handbook provides an overview of teaching English to young learners across a wide variety of international contexts. The editors state that this 540-page volume outlines the key issues in young learner teaching and offers a ‘plausible research agenda moving forward’. It achieves this for the most part, although there will inevitably be gaps given the scope of the book. (more…)

App review: Studycat

Studycat is a language learning app for young learners. It aims to ‘revolutionise the way kids learn a foreign language, by making it fun and engaging’. According to the Studycat website, the app has been downloaded by 11 million families, it is multi-award winning, and it provides opportunities to learn more than just English – Chinese, French, Spanish and German too.

The main approach is learning through play. It aims to ‘create gameplay that naturally leads to language acquisition’. This very brief video from the Studycat subscription channel should give you a feel for the app:

As with many edtech tools, Studycat is currently free to support home learning (Corona), so it’s a good time to check it out. It comes with a LMS and book resources, although I am reviewing this product based mainly on the app as it appears to be the driving force of the product. (more…)

Hirameki with young learners (via Emily Bryson)

A very quick post to say thanks to Emily Bryson! She recently shared this interesting post on using the Japanese art of Hirameki as way to teach life skills and encourage creativity.

This worked a treat with my 6-year-olds! We are currently doing a module on animals and have just covered animal body parts. Emily’s activity was a great way to review/use this language. The learners turned their colourful splodges into animals and then labelled the various body parts. Simple, engaging, effective… and they were speaking in full sentences: ‘I think it looks like…’, ‘What can you see?’ Great to hear!

I can’t really share the learners’ own drawings on my blog, so the feature image is my own example (using one of Emily’s images).

Hey, that’s the great thing about reading other blogs! So much inspiration. Cheers Emily. Buying your book as a thank you, hopefully more inspiration in there!

Wordwall with young learners

I wrote an overview of Wordwall last year. Here’s a more practical example of how I actually use Wordwall, rather than just as a load of games… Well, still as a load of games actually, just in a more purposeful way!

I’m teaching a PP1 class at the moment (aged 6/7). This week we were reviewing/learning vocabulary for fruit as the task was creating your own fruit juice (bit random…). So, I started planning by making a Find the Match… (more…)

Tweaking my young learner teaching

I start my PGCEi next month. I’m really looking forward to having an extra reason to reflect on my classroom practice, overall approach, etc, and delving into research about how children learn and develop.

I’m focusing on primary level learners during the course. I have experience teaching ‘upper’ primary age groups (aged 9-11), but I’d love to learn more about teaching younger primary learners. I felt a bit out of my comfort zone teaching younger learners during the CELTA YL extension course a few years ago. With this in mind, the PGCEi is a perfect opportunity to gain more experience and understanding of YL teaching and child development. (more…)

Book review: ELI Vocabulary in Pictures

This week I received a huge box of resources from ELI Publishing. The first book that caught my eye was ELI Vocabulary in Pictures, which looks like a useful and good value resource.

Vocabulary in Pictures (VIP) is a picture book aimed at A1-A2 level young learners. It introduces more than 1000 words (nouns, verbs, adjectives and prepositions) through various thematic situations. It has a digital component, which includes audio recordings for each word plus some interactive activities for learners. (more…)