young learners

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…)

Lesson idea: Introducing inventions (2)

My Primary students (aged 11) are studying technology and inventions at the moment. I used this activity to introduce the topic – it worked well. This idea could be used for generating interest, sharing personal responses, developing schematic knowledge, revising comparatives, developing spoken fluency, and much more… It’s amazing what a few images can too – it’s fairly low-prep.

  1. Students work in pairs or groups. Give each group some images of inventions (like above). Do a ‘name the invention’ mini whiteboard challenge, or some variation. Use word scrambles for support (e.g. theelonep = telephone). Check and drill the invention names
  2. Instruct students to put the images in order – which was invented first?

Give them process language to help, e.g.

A: I think _______________ was invented before ____________

B: I agree / maybe / hmmm, I’m not sure. I think….

Etc. (more…)

Book review: Classroom Community Builders

I’ve just received a copy of the latest book from Alphabet Publishing. Walton Burns is following up last year’s ’50 Activities for the First Day of School’ with a new cookbook of ideas for building a classroom community.

Burns states this book is a natural continuation to his previous offering, which was a compendium of icebreaking activities. Having considered the role of icebreakers more, he reflects that these types of activity aren’t always used effectively in lessons. Many icebreakers encourage teamwork, and are best used when they are a) relevant to the content of the class, and b) give learners the feeling of accomplishment. With this in mind, he offers a range of activities that go beyond simple rapport builders – aiming instead to build a culture of collaboration and community from day one.

The book is organised in four sections:

  • Set Your Expectations
  • Working Together
  • Getting To Know You
  • Getting to Know Your Teacher

(more…)

Supporting young learners

Young learner classes at our school are mostly organised by age. This means there can be quite a range of abilities, and differentiation* is an important part of planning.  I generally find that our materials can be a bit on the tough side for my class, so I’m used to providing more support rather than extension tasks.

Here’s an example of how I supported my young learners in class last week. We were studying celebrations. I produced lots of short reading texts about different festivals/events and displayed these around the room. I’d made a couple of words in each text bold. Students did a vocabulary matching task, here’s part of it…

support

Note the HELP box. If students felt they needed more help they could move the box. There was a clue underneath telling them which text the word appeared in (e.g. ‘Text A’). This meant their choice was narrowed down to two words. (more…)