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Teaching English to Children

What 5 to 7 year olds can do at their own level?

1. They can talk about what they are doing.
2. They can tell you about what they have done or heard.
3. They can plan activities.
4. They can argue for something and tell you why they think what they think.
5. They can use logical reasoning.
6. They can use their vivid imaginations.
7. They can use a wide range of intonation patterns in their mother tongue.
8. They can understand direct human interaction.
Other characteristics:
- They know that the world is governed by the rules.
- They understand situations more quickly than they understand the language used.
- They use language skills long before they are aware of them.
- Their own understanding comes throught hands and eyes and ears.
- They are very logical- what you say first happens first.
- They have a very short attention and concentration span.
- They sometimes have difficulty in knowing what is fact and what is fiction.
- They are often happy playing and workinh alone but in the company of others.
- The adult and the childs world are not the same.
- They will seldom admit that they dont know something.
- They cannot decide for themseleves what to learn.
- They love to play and they learn best when they are enjoying themselves.
- They are enthusiastic and positive about learning.
8 to 10 year olds
1. Their basic conepts are formed. They have decided views of the world.
2. They can tell the difference between fact and fiction.
3. They ask questions all the time.
4. They rely on the spoken word and the physical world to convey and understand meaning.
5. They are able to make some decisions about their own learning.
6. They have definite views and what they like and dont like doing.
7. They have a developed sense of fairness about what happens in the classroom and begin to
question the teachers decisions.
8. They are able to work with others and learn from others.
Language development
They are aware of the main rules of syntax in their own language. They can understand
abstracts, symbols, generalise and systematise. Much seems to depend on which mother
tongue the pupils speak and on social and emotional factors in the childs background. They
have some sort of readiness and awareness. The magic age seems to be around 7 or 8 when
things seem to fall into place and they begin to make sense of the adult world as we see it.
What this means for our teaching
- We have to include movement and sense for the younger learners.
- Let the pupils talk to themselves (make up rhymes, sing songs, tell stories). Playing
with language is very common in first language development.

Becoming aware of language as something separate from events taking place takes
time. The spoken word is often accompanied by other clues to meaning- facial
expression, movement, etc. Reading and writing are important for the childs growing
awareness of language and for their growth in the language.
Since concentration and attention spans are short variety (of activity, pace,
organisation, voice) is a must.
Have systems, routines, organise and plan your lesseons. Use familiar situations and
Avoid rewards and prizes. Other forms of encouragement are more effective.
Group the children together whenever possible.
The barest mininum of grammar taught as grammar and then for the older children
When a pupil asks for explanation, that is the best time to introduce some simple
Make regular notes about each childs progress.

What is an ideal teacher?

- Learn to mime, act, draw very simple drawings.
- Respect your pupils and be realistic about what they can manage at an individual
- Like all pupils equally.
- Feel secure in what you are doing.
Helping the children to feel secure
- Know what you are doing.
- Respect your pupils.
- Constant, direct correction is not effective and it does not help to create a good class
atmposphere. Children should be told that everyone makes mistakes.
- Establishing routines leads to familiarity and security.
- Give them the responsibility for doing practical jobs in the classroom.
- Language learning is a situation where everyone canw in.
- Avoid giving physical prizes or rewards.
- Dont give children English names.
The physical surroundings- children respond well to surroundings which are familiar and
Arranging the desks
Arrangement A- you can teach the whole class easily, you can have group work in fours.
Pairwork can be done easily. You can play games, tell stories, act out dialogues.
Arrangement B- works for individual and whole class work. Does not encourage natuwal
communication. It is not as suitable for language work as A is.
Arrangement C- Works in the same way as B, but it is more flexible and leaves you with
space in the middle of the classroom.
Grouping the children- Cooperation is something that has to be nurtures and learnt. In
arrangement A, even though they are working as 4 individuals, they often develop a group
identity. We should establish some sort of regular grouping especially for 5-7 year-olds.

Pairwork- It should be introduced first. Very useful and efficient. Dont move desks, but let
the children sitting near each other work together. Establish a routine. Everyone in the class is
occupied. Let one group work as a three, you should not partner with an odd pupil. Be on the
outlook for pupils who just do not like each other. Go through what you want pupils to do
before you put them into pairs.
Introducing groupwork
- Start by having teaching groups- groups which you teach separately from the rest of
the class.
- Introduce self-reliant groups- groups which are given something to do on their own
with the teacher only giving them help when needed.
- Start with just one group. Tell them clearly what the purpose is.
- Go through this process with all the groups before you let the whole class in groups at
the same time.
- Limit numbers in the group between 3 and 5.
- 8-10 year olds you might want to put them in mixed ability groups some of the time,
but sometimes group them according to ability. Give extra help to the clever ot not so
Classroom language
- The sooner the pupils learn simple, meaningful expressions in English the easier it
will be.
- They wont admit they dont know the answer to a question, nor will they ask for
more information so teaching them phrases like Im sorry, I dont know, I dont
understand helps their development. Please and thank you help a lot.
- Try to speak English as much of the time as you can using mime, acting, puppets and
any other means.
- Decide how much mother tongue you will use.
Listening in the classroom
Listening is the skill that children acquire first. It is their main source of language. We should
also give them as much visual back-up as possible. Its important to sat things clearly and to
repeat them. Decide how fast you work. Concentrate very hard when you are listeing. Do not
overload children when you are working on listening tasks since they have a short attention
span. If we dont understand then we usually say so at once. Some listening activities will
wake up your students up, make them move about, create movement or noise . Others will
calm them down.
Listen and do activities- Giving instructions
- Exercises where children have to physically move about (the advantage of that type of
exercise is that you know at once if the children have understood, theyll still be able
to do the activity by watching the others).
- Children putting their hands up when they hear a certain word.
- Mime stories- teacher tells the story and the pupils do the actions.
- Listen and draw- drawing takes time so keep the pictures simple. It is useful for
checking vocabulary, prepositions, colours and numbers.
Listening for information- it is an umrella heading which covers a very wide range of
listening activities. It refers to listening for sprecific information.

Identifying exercises
Listen for the mistake
Putting things in order- pupils have a number of pictures which illustrate a text in
front of them, they have to put the pictures in the order.
Questionnaires- writing or filling in of numbers.
Listen and colour
Filling in missing information- words of a song, text, timetable.

Listen and repeat activities- it is useful for getting the feel for the language (the sounds,
stress, intonation, rhythm).
- Rhymes- natural rhymes, have an element of fun.
- Songs
- Exercises
Listeninh to stories- stories have a vital role in the childs development and the development
of language. Make sure there is a friendly and secure atmosphere. Rearrange the seting so
that you have eye contact- if you can, all sit together, on the floor or wherever you are
comfortable. Listening to stories helps children form their own inner pictures. The teacher
should not moralise or explain the story. The structure of the story helps children when they
come to telling and writing their own stories.
Telling stories- Adapt the language to childrens level. You can go back and repeat, put
gestures and facial expressions.
- Traditional fairy tales- Little Red Riding Hood, Godilocks. They have a clear structure
with a special type of beginning, middle and end. They start off with a setting- when
and where.
Creating stories with the children- you cannot tell how the story will end but it does, usually
rather unconventional.
Reading stories- reading aloud from a book, you should not change the story at all. For the
older group it is often good to have a continuing story so that you read a bit of the book every
time you see them.
Independent listening- English cassette material.
Oral work
Limitations- the most demanding skill.
- We cannot expect to be able to predict what language the children will use.
- The balance between providing language through controlled and guided activities and
at the same time letting them enjoy the natural talk.
- If they make mistakes at this stage then they should be corrected at once.
- Emphasis for the pupils should be on content.
- The teacher should be corrected and take it up in class later.
Presenting new language orally- children need to be given language before they can
introduce it themselves. Language has to go in before it can come out.
- Through the pupils- the sentences should be true and accompanied by the appropriate
actions and sounds.

Using a mascot- once the teacher has given the models, pupils can ask Teddy all sorts
of questions and Teddy can provide all sorts of answers.
Drawings- very simple line drawings.
Silhouettes- on the overhead projector.
Puppets- masks, do not have to be complicated.
Other suggestions: mime,act situations, use realia.

Controlled practice- goes hand in hand with presentation since it is important that pupils try
out new language as soonas they have heard it. They provide the basis for oral work but do
not always produce real language at once. Their purpose is to train pupils to use correct,
simple, useful language within a situation or context.
- Telling the time
- Whats he/she doing?
Guided practice- follows on directly from controlled practice but will often be done either in
pairs or in small groups. It usually gives the pupils some sort of choice, but the choice of
language is limited.
- Whats the time- follows on from the controlled practice above. Both pupils have
clocks with hands that move. Mini-dialogue.
- Chain work- picture cards, or word cards.
Dialogues and role play work- working with them is a useful way to bridge the gap betweena
guided pratice and freer activities. The teacher will have to present the dialogue in whatever
seems most suitable. Dialogues which involve some sort of action or movement are the ones
which work best with young children. Intonation is very important. After they have heard a
dialogue couple of times they can repeat it with you.
- Using objects
- Role play- for young children they should go grom the structured to the more open
type of activities.
1. Beginners of all ages- learning a simple dialogue by hear and then acting it out in pairs. 57- giving them a model first and then acting out the dialogue with a mascott. Older childrenact it out with one of the cleverer pupils.
2. Practise the above dialogue, but asking for different things, different prices, put the
suggestions on the board.
3. 8-10- the language used comes from the pupils themselves. The roles could be given
orally or they can read it.
Dialogues and role play are useful oral activities because:
- Pupils speak in the first and second person. Texts are often in the third person.
- Pupils learn to ask as well as answer.
- They learn to use short complete bits of language and to respond appropriately.
- They use tone of voice, stress, intonation, facial expressions, etc.
- They encourge natural chat in the classroom.
Free activities- a good background for activities where children say what they want to say.
- Focus is on the message/content and not on the language
- Genuine communicaiton even though the situations are sometimes artificial.
- Really show that pupilas can or cannot use the language.
- Concentrate on meaning more than on correctness. Fluency- natural flow is more
important than the accuracy at this stage.

Teacher control is minimal, pupils have enough language to do the task.

The atmosphere is informal and non-competitive. All pupils win.
Game element in the activity.
Most of them are based on the information gap principle.

Pairwork- 1. Restricted free exercise for older children- the vocabulary and language
structures are limited. One pupil has the map A and the other map B. Pupil A explains to pupil
B where various places are and pupil B can ask where the places are.
2. Information gap principle, younger children- made a bit more communicative. Ask all the
As in the class to colour the girl and Bs to colour the boy. Walk around and encourage them
to talk about what theyre doing. Then when theyre done put them facing each other and ask
the other person how theyve coloured in their part of the picture. They should have two
identical pictures in the end.
Groupwork- 1. Take a picture, copy it and give it to pupils. Each pupils has to describe to the
others what is in his or her picture without showing it to them. The group decides on the
correct order of the pictures.
2. Story-telling exercise- 8-10 at level 2. Everyone in the group has 2 objects or pictures of
objects. You start off the story and then they continue it with one pupil adding to the story
using their object.
Whole class exercise- get up and walk about.
1. Matching activity- make cards that are similar but a little bit different. Pupils memorise it,l
leave it face down and walk around to find the identical card just by talking to each other.
2. Questionnaires- mixture of groupwork and whole class work, writtent and oral work. They
can be guided or free activities. Give them each a different task, ask them to find out about
favourite foods, books, etc. 8-10- make their own questionnaire. 5-7- we will have to provide
them with their own questionnaire.
Reading- printed word becomes the main source of expanding and strengthening the
Approaches to reading- Many 5-10 year olds are in the process of learning to read in their
own language. Whether or not they have mastered the skill in their own language, and
whether or not their own language is written in the Roman alphabet, will have an effect on
the initial stages.
- Phonics- based on letters and sounds. We teach them the letters of the alphabet, and
the combination of letters, phonically- as they are actually pronounced. Although very
complicated they are very useful way into reading.
- Look and say- based on words and phrases, and makes a lot of use of flashcards. Start
by teching everyday words which are already familiar to children.
- Whole sentence reading- recognition of whole phrases which have meaning in
themselves. This often means a story which the children read for the first time
themselves after the whole text is familiar tot hem. Words are not presented in
isolation but as whole phrases or sentences.
- Language experience approach- based on the child spoken language.
Which method to choose?
The book favours an approach which concentrates on meaning from the beginning.

5-10 year olds

- Take longer to learn to read in a foreign language. They have to go through a process
of doing reading-like activities- reading from left to right, turning the pages at the
right place, going back and reading the same pages again,etc.
- If they have not learnt to read in their own language they wont understand what a
word is.
- Sentence structure, paragraphing, grammar- none of this means anything to most
pupils at this stage.
- Decoding reading- adults make use of all sorts of clues on the written page. Visual
clue is what they have instead. Illustrations in a book for young chuldren matter
almost as much as the words themselves.
8-10 year olds - will already be able to read a bit in their own language and most seem to
have little difficulty in transferring their reading skills to English.
Possible starting points:
- Reading a story from a book- Read with quite a small group. Read the book so that all
the pupils can see it and point to the words as you say them (connection between the
spoken and the written word). Read at just under normaln speed the first time, keeping
your intonation correct. They can ask questions as long as they do not interrupt the
story. Talk about the story, ask them questions in their own language. Leave the book
in the book corner. The next week read the story again. Give them their own copy. If
they point to the wrong words, correct them. Let them read the books for themselves.
Tell them they can read the book whenever they have time.
- Reading a class story- photocopy freely and they can colour their own copies. Build
up a short story about Teddy using the story-telling techniques. When you make the
book ask pupils to help you with illustrations.
- Reading texts based on the childs language- pupils have their own written text which
says what they want it to say. Ask them to tell you about the picture. Ask them
questions. Write a sentence in the childs book based on what the child has told you.
Say the words as you write them. The child repeats the sentence after you, pointint to
the words. This is now pupils reading task. The sentence can be gradually built on.
- Reading familiar nursery rhymes or songs- isnt real reading but it builds up
Reading aloud- not the same as reading silently. It gives little please and little interest. It
encourages mistakes in tone. It may be harmful to the silent reading techniques of other
pupils. It is a very inefficient way to use your lesson time.
- Should be done individually or in small groups.
- A means of training and checking rhythm and pronunciation.
- An efficient way of checking work.
- A treat for the whole class.
Silent reading- nobody can guarantee that all your pupils will love books but it is important to
keep a positive attitude to reading.
Building up confidence- Some children are natural readers. You can talk about a story with
them in the mother tongue after theyve read it. You can give them only half a story, and
discuss what happens next in the mother tongue. You can use it for role play (8-10).
Different reading materials:

Reading cards- which tell a story can be read qucikly. They can have nursery rhymes.
You can add questions on the back of the card.
Home-made books- verses of a song the children are already familiar with, class
Books for native speaker of the language- not too childish for older children.
Easy readers for foreign languge learners
Picture dictionaries
Books with tapes- for both slow readers and those who progress quickly.

Introducing new books- you should read all new books to the whole class (5-7).
- Show them the new book, tell them what it is about.
- Show them the cover and ask them what it might be about.
- Read them an interesting bit from the book.
- Put the title of the book on the notice board.
Book reviews- what the students thought about the book. Tells us a lot about suitability,
progress, helps others decide about the book, developing critical approach to reading.
Writing- you cant make use of body language, intonation, tone, eye contact. Very little of
what you write is concerned with here and now. Handwriting, grammar, spelling and
punctuation are often given priority over content.
It adds another physical dimension to the learning process. Hands are added to eyes and ears.
It is for conscious language development. It helps us build up language choices. It is valuable
in itself.
Controlled writing activities:
- Straight copying- reinforces language that has been presented orally or through
reading. Connection betweent he written and the spoken word.
- Matching pictures and texts
- Organising and copying- structured writing.
- Delayed copying- training short-term memory.
- Copying book
- Dictation- elementary and simple. Texts should be short, made up of sentences which
can be said in one breath, have a purpose and be connected to work which has gone
before or comes after, be read or said at normal speed.
Guided written activities:
- Fill-in exercises- beginner stage. They do not require much active production of
language but understanding. Focus is on specific language items. Can be used for
vocabulry work.
- Dictation- dictate only half a sentence and pupils can complete it.
- Letters, cards, invitations- short, meaningful pieces of writing. They can write to each
other and send them via classroom postman.
Free writing activities- it is their own language no matter the level. Correct mistakes while
they are still working on it so it will be the result of working on the piece of writing. Have a
folder/ring binder of their own to keep their work in.

Pre-writing activities- warm-up activities since free writing activities seem to be going from
nothing to something. Their vocabulary is limited and they are still not confident about the
mechanics of writing.
- Talking about the subject- get ideas going and collect thoughts.
- Word stars- put the key word on the blackboard and make bubbles.
- Vocabulary charts- make use of the idea of picture dictionaries.
- Topic vocabulary- collecting related words only for helping them write the story.
- Dialogues- speech bubbles, pairwork based on a dialogue, given situation.
- Descriptions- talk about a picture/scene with a class.
- Collages- large piece of paper/ board which is made into a poster/picture by sticking
on illustrations, texts and other materials.
- Picture descriptions
- Letters- written to other pupils, teacher, may take a form of a diary.
- Stories- actual writing can be shared, lots of pre-writing activities so that they have
something to write about. The final version should be on a reading card. Poems, book
reviews, ads, jokes, postcards, messages, etc.


concentrate first on content

spend a lot of time on pre-writing work
springs naturally
say sth positive about their work
keep all the writings

- announce the subject out of the blue

- set an exercise as homework
- correct all the mistakes
- set work which is too hard

Topic-based work- the emphasis is on a subject, theme, topic. Story-based or activity-based.

- Content of the lesson becomes more important than the lesson itself. It is easier to
relate experiences and interests of your pupils.
- It can help the learning process, memory and understanding. The children can
associate words, functions, structures and situations with a particular topic.
- Personal touch to materials.
- The amount of time you spend on a topic can be as long or as short as you like
de[ending on how much intrest it arouses, how much language work you are getting
out of it, how much time you have available and how much material you have.
- Includes all the language skills as well as guided and free activities.
How to set about it:
- Choosing your topic- what pupils are interested in.
- Planning time- You should decide at the long- term planning stage which topics you
are going to work on and how long you plan to spend on each topic. Start off at a
small scale, taking just one lesson on a topic which the children are interested in.
- Collecting material
- Functions and situations- work out whish f and s you want to concentrate on. Choose
your situation first because if you focus on the function you may lose sight of the
content matter.
- Methods and activities- Familiarity nurtures security. Let the free activities take over
but remember the unput and the guided activities have to be there too.

Assessment- do it in the mother tongue. Ask the children what they like/ do not like
Vocabulary work- cards, pictures pasted on cardboard, card games like Find Your
Partner, Memory, Food Dominoes, listening comprehension work that has to do with
Dialogues and role play- simple ones, freer work using cue cards, picture dictionaries.
Free activiites- bring the mascott- Teddys favourite breakfast, it can be written or
oral- a collage, a list, a dialogue, a play, even a story.
Stories, songs, rhymes- The Hungry Caterpillar, the Turnip Story.
Recipes and making food- choose recipes with no actual cooking involved like
making sandwiches, salads. Build up the recipe with them, show it on the board or
overhead projector.

9-10 years old, level 2

- What is a good friend- ask them about it, sentences are collected to make a Good
Friend Poster
- What do you quarrel about- close their eyes and think of the last time they quarrelled
with a firend. Two colums- important and unimportant things. And make up quarrel
- My secret friend- write their name ona a piece of paper and that will be their secret
friend for a week. They have to be kind and helpful towards that person and have to
guess at the end of a week who their secret friend was.
- The ideal friend- questionnaire.
Planning your work
Why good teachers plan their work?
- It makes life much easier for you in the classroom
- It saves time: you can adapt the plan for future use, you get quicker at preparing work
with experience, you become aware of how much time activities take, its much
quicker to check at the end of a lesson what actually happened.
- You know what you will need for each lesson.
- You can more easily see how to balance your lessons.
- It gives you security and confidence, which is passed on the pupils
- Use more energy and enthusiasm
- Sit back and observe whats going on.
- Pupils become more aware of how well-prepared lessons are as they get older.
When, how and with whom to plan:
- long-term planning= whole term. It will take place before or at the beginning of term.
Talk to the parents about what you intend to cover. If you are using a textbook, look
through the list of contents and the teachers guide. If the book is topic-based you
might want to decide to change the order, or to miss out on something which isnt
suitable for your pupils. Things which are used in other subjects can be used in the
English lessons too.
- short-term planning=a unit of work. Once the long-term planning is done, short-term
planning is much easier. You may plan the lessons on one topic, the lessons for one
unit in the book or the lessons for one week. The more you teach the easier it gets to
change other peoples plans. After some time you may find that you have different
timing, problems, classes from the ones in the textbook. Decide what language items
you are going to teach. Make quite sure you know how the language items are used.

Decide roughly on the way you want to teach the unit and find activities that suit your
topic. Both teachers and pupils like to know what they are doing. Dont get too
lesson planning for individual lessons. It has to be done every lesson. New teachers
star by writing very detailed plans, which become less detailed with time. Planning
becomes easier with practice. Decide when and how to use group work. Link this
lesson with the one before and think about the one after. the time of day is important.
Indicate how much tie you think each activity will take. Always have more activities
than you think you will need. Balance quite/noisy exercises, different skills,
individual/pairwork/groupwork/whole class activities, teacher-pupil/ pupil-pupil

How did it go?

Did the pupils learn what I wanted them to? You should sit down at the end of the week and
go through your lesson plans marking what you did and what you didnt do, and if the
activities worked or didnt work. You can make a quick checklist:
1. Did the pupils understand the teaching point? Did they learn what they were supposed
to learn?
2. Did the organization work?
3. Did they like the subject matter?
4. Did I do this part of the lesson?
5. Was it the right kind of activity at that stage?
What to do when things go wrong?
Young children are spontaneous, and do and say whatever comes into their heads. Their
enthusiasm sometimes overflows. Try to make the bits that went wrong into something
- An external disturbance- get rid of it or make use of it.
- An internal disturbance- pupils burst into tears, or two of them start fighting. If this
happens in the middle of a class activity, give the pupils sth quick and easy and quiet
to do like Think about/write 3 words beginning with p or What was the best/most
difficult new word last week?
- The class is out of control- calming activity like telling a story or filling in the words
in a text which you need to read to the whole class. emergency activity
- An activity is taking too long- say that the pupils can do this activity so well already
that you want to move on, leave it for homework, say youll come back to it another
day (remember to do so), decide what this activity is so important that you want to
spend time on it, this means adjusting the lesson plan for next time.
- You have extra time- use emergency activities
- An activity that doesnt work- the cassette player doesnt work, then you can sing a
song yourself.
- An activity is too difficult- the language is too difficult, stop it gently and move on to
an easy activity which you know they can do.
The tools of the trade
Materials for you and your pupils to make:
- Puppets- paper bag, glove, head, finger puppets. In addition make a simple stage if
you want to perform dialogues and sketches.
- Class mascot- Teddy, rag doll, special puppet.

Paper dolls- for teaching clothes. They have quite a short life and should be replaced
English corner- the board, the shelves. Encourage students to collect anything which
is in any way connected with the English-speaking world.
Cardboard boxes- for filing, ones with lids are more useful.
Picture cards- drawings, or cut-outs from magazines, or photos. Sort them according
to size, really big ones for class work and smaller ones for individual/pair/group work.
Put them in themes like people, places, food.
Card games- language card games like Memory.
Board games- relaxation and language work. Making of them is a challenge.
Word/sentence cards- useful for displays and for work on the flannelgraph. You
should work out a system of classification.
Word card displays- flexible order
Word displays- inflexible order.
Books/ reading cards
Transparencies- put some of your pictures on t on overhead projector.
Calendar- date, the day, the weather, and special days such as birthdays.
Clock- with movable hands.

Materials to buy:
- Readers- easy readers and childrens books in English. Coding- read through all the
books first, select then classify. Displaying the books- so that pupils are physically
able to reach them. Borrowing cards- have a system so that you know who has each
book and how long they have had it. It also tells you how popular the book is.
- Maps- of the world, or a globe.
- Wallcharts
- Toys- cars, animals, furniture.
- Building blocks- wooden, plastic. Lego is wonderful but expensive.
- Cassette recorders- which can record and have a built-in microphones.
- Cassettes- blank cassettes to record in the classroom.
- Overhead projector- common focus of attention. You can use the same material with
different classes
Materials for you to collect- things can be used in making collages, making puppets,
decorating pictures/boxes, going shopping, telling stories, counting, acting, miming, etc.


Children learning a foreign language

Taking a learning-centred perspective- Piaget
Children are often more enthusiastic. They want to please the teacher rather than their peer
group. They will have a go at an activity even when they dont quite understand why or how.
They lose interest more quickly and are less able to keep themselves motivated on tasks they
find difficult. They do not find it easy to use language to talk about language, they do not
have the same access to metalanguage. They are less embarrassed than adults at taling in a
new language. They can get a native-like accent.
We distinguish a learning-centred perspecive from learner-centret teaching. Learner-centred
teaching places the child at the centre of teacher thinking and curriculum planning. In
centring on the child we risk losing sight of what it is we are tryinh to do in schools. Learners
are enjoying themselves on intellectually undemanding tasks but failing to learn as much as
they might. Move the child towards increasingly demanding challenger so that no learning
potential is wasted.
Piaget- the child as active learner
Piagets concern was with how young children function in the world that surrounds them and
how this influences their mental development. It is through taking action to solve problems
that learning occurs. The knowledge that results from such action is not imitated or in-born
but it is actively constructed by the child.
What happens early on with concrete objects continues to happen in the mind, as problems
are confronted internally, and action taken to solve them or think them through. Thought is
seen as deriving from action, action is internalised, or carried out mentally in the imagination,
and in this way thinking develops. Much less important role is given to language in cognitive
development than in Vygotskys theory. It is action rather than the development of the first
language which is fundamental to cognitive development.
There are two ways in which development can take place as a result of activity: assimilation
and accommodation. Assimilation happens when action takes place without any change to the
child, accommodation involved the child adjusting to features of the environment in some
way. Assimilation and accommodation are initially adaptive processes of behavior but they
become the processes of thinking. Accommodation is an important idea that has been taken
into second language learning under the name restructuring which is used to refer to the reorganisation of mental representations of a language.
Childs thinking develops as gradual growth of knowledge and intellectual skills towards a
final stage of formal, logical thinkning. However, gradual growth is punctuated with certain
fundamental changes which cause the child to pass through a series of staegs. Thinking can
manipulate formal abstract categories using rules of logic. It is unavailable to children before
they reach 11 years of age or more.
This theory has been critices for not being sufficiently child-friendly and for underestimating
what children are capable of. When appropriate language, objects and tasks are used, very
young children are capable of many of the ways of thinking that Piaget help too advanced for
them, including formal, logical thought. This undermines some of Piagets theoretical views,
particularly the notion of discrete stages and the idea that children cannot do certain things if


they have not yet reached that stage. Piaget neglect the social, child is in communication with
adults and other children.
The child as sense-maker- Realising that children are active sense-makers but that their sensemaking is limited by their experience is a key to understanding how they respond to tasks and
activities in the language classroom.
The world as offering opportunities for learning- Classroom and classroom activities are
creating and offering opportunities to learners for learning. Ecological thinking that sees
events and activities as offering affordances or oppurtunities for use and interaction that
depend on who is involved.
The child as social- Vygotsky
He gives the importance to to language and to other people in the childs world. It is a
sociocultural theory since he did not neglect the individual or individual cognitive
development. The development of the childs first language in the second year of life is held
to generate a fundamental shift in congnitife development. As children get older they speak
less and less aloudm and differentiate between social speech for others and inner speech,
which continues to play an important role in regulating and controlling behaviour.
In considering the early speech of infants and its development into language, he distinguishes
the outward talk and what is happening in the childs mind. The infant begins with using
single words but these words convey whole messages. As the childs language develops, the
whole undivided thought message can be broken down into smaller units and expressed by
putting together words that are not units of talk.
Development and learning take place in a social context, in a world full of other people who
interact with the child from birth onwards. For Piaget the child is an active learner alone in a
world full of objects but for Vygotsky full of other people who are helping children to learn
bringing objects and ideas to their attention, talking while playing and about playing, reading
stories, asking questions. Adults mediate the world for children and make it accessible to
Zone of proximal development (ZPD)- intelligence was better measured by what a child can
do with skilled help. The idea that the adult tries to mediate what next it is the child can learn.
Internalisation was not just a transfer but also a transformation; being able to think about
something is qualitatively different from being able to do it. In the internalising process, the
interpersonal, joint talk and joint activity, later becomes intrapersonal, mental action by one
individual. The new language is first used meaningfullyby tacher and pupils, later it is
transformed and internalised to become part of the individual childs language skills or
Scaffolding and routines- Bruner
Scaffolding is the talk that supports a child in carrying out an activity, a verbal version of the
fine-tuned help. In experiments with American mothers and children, they did the following:
- they made the children interested in the task
- they simplified the task by breaking it into smaller steps
- they kept the child on track towards completing the task by reminding the child of
what the goal was

they pointed out what was important to do or showed the child other ways of doing
parts of the tasks.
they controlled the childs frustration
they demonstrated an idealised version of the task

Attend to what is relevant- suggesting, praising the significant, providing focusing activities.
It refers to noticing!
Adopt useful strategies- encouraging rehearsal, being explicit about organisation.
Remember the whole tasks and goals- reminding, modelling, providing part-whole activities.
Formats and routines are features of events that allow scaffolding to take place, and combine
the security of the familiar with the excitement of the new. The most useful example- reading
stories to children from babyhood onwards. The child sits on the parents lap with a large
picture story book, and parent and child turn the pages together. With very young children,
adults do most of the talking, describing the characters and objects in the pictures involving
the child with instructions, tag questions and talk. The child can be involved by pointing to
known pictures. The childs verbal involvement increases as she/he joins in naming pictures
and events.
The context and the familiarity og the event provide an opportunity for pupils to predict
meaning and intention, but the routine also offers a way to add variation and novelty that can
involve more complex language. As the language becomes more complex the support to
meaning that comes from the routine and the situation helps the children to continue to
There is a space within which the child can take over and do the language himself/herself. It
matches the childs zone of proximal development.
First, second and foreign languages
The central characteristcs of FLL lie in the amount and type of exposure to the language:
there will be very little experience of the language outside the classroom. In the case of a
global language like English, however, even very young children will encounter the language
in use on video, TV, computers and film. What they might not be exposed to is street use. The
teacher has to provide exposure to the language and opportunities for learning through
classroom activities.
Learning the first language
Formal literacy skills are still in the early stages of development at 5 and 6 years of age, even
though the beginnings of literacy can be traced back to experiences in infancy (listening to
stories). Some structures are acquired late because of their connection with the written
language. Children of 11 years tend not to use relative clauses beginning with whose, or
preposition + relative pronoun (e.g. in which). This is because such structures occur mainly in
written text and so children have little experience of them in their early years. The full use of
co-ordinators including but and yet is developed after the age of 11, although and unless can
cause problems even for 15 year olds. The meanings are logically complicated and they have
to develop both logical understanding and the language in which to express it.
Discourse skills in the FL continue to develop through the early school years. At 7 years of
age, children are still acquiring the skills needed for extended discourse. Children may find it
difficult to use pronouns correctly in their FL to control reference to characters across a

sequence of events and plot actions. FL proficiency does not develop as a single, global
phenomenon, but that different domains of language use develop differently. Children
develop narrative and discourse skills faster in families where narratives are told around the
dinner table, on topics such as what happened to ;parents at work or siblings at school.
Children whose families use a wide vocabulary develop faster in the lexical domain.
Different aspects of language will have different ZPDs.
Learning a second language
The critical period hypothesis is the idea that young children can learn a second language
particularly effectively before puberty because their brains are still able to use the
mechanisms that assisted the first language acquisition. It holds that older leanrers will learn
language differently after this stage and particularly for accent, can never achieve the same
level of proficiency.
Brain activity patterns of early bilinguals who learn two languages at the same time from
infancy differ from those of learners who being learning a language after about 7 or 8 years of
age. Different parts of the brain are used for language recall and activation.
The influence of the first language on the second
The Competition Model of linguistic performance is a theory that explains how FLL may
affect subsequent second or foreign language development. Different languages have
different ways of carrying meaning, and the particular ways in which a language encodes
meaning act as cues to interpreting the meaning of what is said. All levels of language can
provide cues, including lexis, morphology and phonology.
As babies they learn to pay attention to particular cues which hold useful information for
meaning. Later, if faced with trying to understand a second language, they will transfer these
first language strategies to make sense of L2 sentences, trying to find information in familiar
places, Where two languages make use of very different types of cues, the transfer of
strategies from L1 to L2 may not be fruitful.
Age and first language
Younger children (7-8) seem to pay more attention to sound and prosody whereas older
children (12-14) are more attentive to cues of word order. Directing attention is a key
principlewith many applications in the young learner classroom. Learning a foreign language
students are learning botht he whole and the parts. The parts are tiny aspects of grammar or
phonology that are crucial in reaching a whole interpretation.
Influence of teaching on SLL
If lessons provide opportunities to participate in question and answer type talk then they will
be good at that but not necessarily at other, more extended, types of talk. FLL who depend on
their teachers and texts for most of their exposure and input, will not, if this is restricted in
type, develop across the full range of foreign language. Particularly extended discourse
(talking at length, writing at length). If we want children to tell stories or recount events, they
need to have experience of how this is done in the FL. Modelling of language use by teachers
need further to be genre-specific.
Advantages to starting young with foreign languages
North American experience with immersion teaching, where native speakers of English are
placed in French-speaking nursery and infant schools, and vice versa. Children who have an

early start develop and maintain advantages in some, but not all areas of languge skills.
Listening comprehension benefits most, pronunciation benefits in the longer term, but is
restricted to learning language in naturalistic contexts, and will not necessarily apply to
school-based learning. Younger children learn the grammar of the L2 more slowly than older
learners. Receptive skills are likely to remain ahed of productive skills, and grammatical
knowledge, which is linked not just to language development but to cognitive development,
is likely to develop more slowly for younger children.
The foreign language: describing the indivisible
The four skills- listening, speaking, reading and writing, and then to add grammar,
vocabualry and phonology. Some syllabuses also deal in topics, functions and notions
describing language in terms of how it is used in communication rather than seeing it as a
linguistic system or a set of skills. The division can be seen as an artificial breaking up of
what grows through an organic process in a childs mind.
Literacy skills are those distinct learning tasks that require teaching. Teachers need to plan
and support literacy skills development informed by specific knowledge and understanding of
literacy issues.
Spoken language is the medium through which the new language is encountered, understood,
practised and learnt. New language is largely produced orally, understood orally and aurally,
practised and automatised orally. Focus on words and interaction, think about how children
seek out meaning for themselves in language. Refers to vocabulary.
Interaction is labelled as discourse skills. Doing listeing and speaking we will think about
how they learn to inteact in the foreign language.
Grammar will be seen as emerging from the space between words and discourse in childrens
language learning and as being important in constructing and interpreting meaning.


Mona: Across time and geography

Interactions can be materially or symbolically mediated. We use a material tool to extend our
reach (kill a bee with a book). We use a symbolic artifact-language written in a book about
bee behaviour to plan and direct our interaction with that annoying bee. All human-made
objects (material and symbolic) are artifacts, but not all artifacts are mediating means, they do
not by virtue of their existence act as shapers of our interaction with the world. They have the
potential to become mediating means, but not until used as such, they offer only affordances
and constraints to an individual. Artifacts can be simultaneously material and symbolic
aspects of goal-directed activity. Activity is when humans use artifacts to attain goals. All
forms of human mental activity are emdiated by material and/or symbolic means that are
constructed within and through culturan activity.
Landings are moments when we feel competent in our use of the English language. Tools
mediate our actions through material (concrete) objects. The tools function is externally
oriented and it must lead to changes in objects. Signs (numbers, artistic forms, charts,
diagrams) mediate are actions through abstract, symbolic representations and have mediating
functions. They are a means of internal activity aimed at mastering oneself, it is internally
oriented. Affordances are opportunities.
Internalization (development) is the process by which symbolic systems take on
psychological status. It is the internalization of symbolic systems that enable us to voluntarily
organiza and control (mediate) mental activity and bring it to the fore in carrying out practical
activity in the material world. The interaction with the artifacts and people in the social
context mediates out internalization of signs/symbols.
The nature of the artifact, the nature of each persons interaction with the artifact, when and
with whom this interaction takes place will determine how useful it will be as a mediational
Reciprocity (bidirectional) provides the connection between culture and individuals.
Bidirectional relationships represent the way in which individuals and cultural artifacts
continuosly develop. We use artifacts created by us or our predecessors, we change them,
which then change us.
Intermental processes are interactions with professors and other students. Intramental
processes are interactions with ourselves.
Internalization as mastery refers to knowing how to use particular mediational artifacts.
Internalization as appropriation is the relationship of agents to mediational means. Translation
of the Russian verb prisvoit- to bring something into oneself or to make something ones
own, explains it.
Madame Tremblay: A French immersion story
Zone of proximal development (ZPD)- the difference between what an individual achieves by
herself and what she might achieve when assisted. It has sometimes been referred to an
unfinished concept. It has been called a metaphor, an opportunity for learning, a heuristic, the
distance between being and becoming, a dialectical (balanced tension) unity of learning and
development, a place.


Holzman suggested the name zone FOR proximal development since it makes it sound less
linear. Negueruela names it zone of potential development. Vygotsky chose proximal
development instead of proximal learning to indicate that eh focus was on the individual
growth not on the skill/task. Mercer conceived of the intermental development zone (IDZ) as
a shared understanding and activity that, if successful, leads to transcendence of current
knowledge. If not successful, the IDZ collapses and the construction halts. Intermental
emphasizes the mutual nature of achievement.
We do not wait for development to occur but instruction and learning are the means by which
we can encourage development to occur. Gesture represents potential for learning. Student
play/drama is also a potential for learning. Emotion can impede eather than advance learning.
Being unable to speak in the face of fear (or ridicule) is a strong theme in much of the
research on anxiety and failure in language development, and appears frequently in first
person accounts of language and culture learning.
When somebody else helps us remember a word it has a short-term goal, just in time for
ZPD. But the question is whether we really learn at that moment. Development might take
place in the sence that we continue our socialization into the use of foreign language. We
might also internalize that peers are a resource for language and support.
ZPD requites co-authorship or co-construction. Even between an expert and a novice there
needs to be some level of intersubjectivity- enough common ground to proceed. The situation
lacks intersubjectivity if the two interlocutors are on different planes- one is talking about
form, the other about content at different times.
Scaffolding is a kind of process that enables a child or novice tos olve a problem, carry out a
task, or achieve a goal which would be beyond his unassisted efforts. It is close to the
Vygotskian ZPD. Not only teacher-student but also student-student scaffolding can be
powerful. It is an intermental zone where student scaffold one another. The ZPD and
scaffolding support each other conceptually and syntactically. In co-contruction of
knowledge, the assistance is given when needed and in the quantity and quality needed, and
is then gradually dismantled when the structure/individual can mediate (regulate) itseld.
There can be a rigid or a flexible scaffold. Support sometimes falls apart rather suddenly and
at inopprtune times. The lesson may end without time for debriefing, the supply teacher who
perhaps began the process leaves and does not return, the dictionary disappears, the student
changes classes.
Community of practice (COP) is a gradual and deepening process of participation in a
community of practice. The theory pays less attention to cognitive processes themselves but
more to social practices that facilitate cognitive processes. Both during a ZPD and in a COP
people develop and learn through interaction. COP theory sees less elarning as participation
in the cultural, historical, political life of the community. It is the learning that happens
beyond schools. Vygotsky would argue that school learning is where intentional teaching of
systematic and generalizable knowledge (scientific concepts) should occur. Neither ZPDs nor
COPs focus only on the intramental (individual) rather they rely on the intermental (social).
One weakenss of COP is that critical discourse analysis (which examines issues of
power/dominance/ideology evident in talk) is not often examined.
Languaging: private speech and collaborative dialogues

Collaborative dialogue and private speech are two forms of languaging that originated with
Vygotsky. We are constantly internalizing aspects of language in our everyday lives.
Private speech is speech adressed to the self. It is intrapersonal communication that mediates
thinking processes. It is a cognitive tool that helps to structure and organize our own thinking.
Different labels: self-directed speech, speech for the self, self-talk, intrapersonal
communication. It was first used by Flavell to differentiate it from the term egocentric speech
which Piaget used to refer to the speech of young children who developmentally did not yet
distinguish between the self and the others. The externalization of higher mental processes in
the form of a dialogue with the self is part of the evidence. With each repetition we are able to
further disentangle the meaning from its melodic rhythm (inner speech to private speech).
Languaging focuses our attention, retrieves stored information, creates artifacts for us to
compare and question. It has the empirical characteristics: no eye contact, voice is lowered
often to a whisper or is inaudible, utterances maybe short.
Language is a semiotic tool that mediates thinking and learning. Vygotsky argued that during
a childs development (ontogenesis), language and the ways it is used in the childs
environment, are internalized to become tools for self-regulation and mental functioning in
Object regulation is when concrete objects control childrens behaviour. Other regulation is
the regulation by an other. Self-regulation is when speech becomes the instrument of the
problems organized solution. The development of an individual is seen both in the
individuals increasing ability to use language to mediate congnition and in the transition
from speaking-after-action to speech/action unity to a speaking-before-action. Initially childs
speech and action are independent. Then the childs speech begins to accompany action sto
that action and speech occur simultaniously. Later, speech begins to appear before an action is
taken. Language now intervenes to mediate (organize and plan) the childs behaviour.
Speech for the self goes underground to become inner speech. On its way to being
transformed into inner speech it is abbreviated, agglutinated and fragmented. Voluntary action
is where we find the mastering of ones own behaviour with the assistance of symbolic
stimuli. Voluntary ation constitutes the activiry of our higher mental processes such as
focusing attention, solving problems, evaluating, planning, memorizing, thinking logically,
all of which together form human consciousness. We use language for collectively making
sense of experience and solving problems. The genesis of private speech is: social speechegocentric speech-inner speech-private speech.
Collaborative dialogue means saying more for ourselves than for the other. It extends or
clarifies our understanding of the topic/conversation so far directing our future action. Speech
intended primarily for the self can also function to inform/direct a co-participant and thus
play a significant role in how the interaction proceeds. Although we speak out loud, we
engage in private speech. It is used for organizing our thinking when faced with tasks that
were cognitively complex for us.
Languaging is a term that covers both the private speech and social use of spoken and written
language to mediate the process of thinking. It is one of the mechanisms of internalization. It
is also a means of externalization: it completes our thoughts and transforms them into
artifacts that allow for further contemplation, which in turn transdorms thought.


Signs and words serve children first as a means of social contact with other people. It is the
intellectual function oof language that corresponds to languaging. It mediates those
cognitive/intellecutal processes. Speaking and writing that is routine that has the social
function of passing along a simple message, of being friendly, of showing support is not
languaging because that language is not being used as a cognitive tool to mediate thinking.
Grace: the effect of affect
The affect (emotion) and cognition link is stronly supported by Vygotsky. He emphasizes the
social construction of emotions and their implication in cognition. Emotions appear first on
the social plane and only then on the psychological plane.
Perezhivanie is a Russian term used by Vygotsky to refet to the emotional experienceexperience as lived through the emotions. The emotional experience arising from any
situation or from any aspect of his environment determines what kind of influence this
situation or this environment will have on the child. Krashen refers to it as affective filter.
There is evidence that negative affect does not always turn the learning swith off. The
emotions can mediate the learning and the participation in a variety of ways. Lending support
to others is a form of caring (attention to emotions) and can build confidence. Caring for the
affective state of students is more likely to be achieved by teachers whose affective states are
cared for by their professions.
Being embarrassed does not always result in defeat-sometimes it pushes one to work harded.
Experiencing negative emotions does not always switch learnin off. It is important to
distinguish stress from tension: the former is an impediment to learning while the latter acts
as an impetus to learning. Learning for revenge. Frustration and boredom are normally
anathemas to learning.
Self-regulation refers to the ability to determine for oneself what elements of ones language
use are right or wrong, appropriate or inappropriate. It is ones ability to evaluate not only
discrete elements like morphology or pronunciation, but also ones general performance,
legitimacy, as a user of language. Principle of continuous access- learners often re-access
earlier stages of development when their regulation of mental behaviours becomes deautomatized.
Division of labor into three components- orientation (attitude to action), execution
(production of action, the most often assessed) and control (evaluation of the action). The
other two are difficult to measure or observe through traditional means.
There are times when self-regulation means seeking other-regulation, seeking the help of
others may indicate and lead to a return to self-regulation.
Identity comes into play each time we interact with others. We all engage in multiple
identities. Idenity is never determined by one person alone but is socially constructed. There
are multiple understandings of identitity. Erikson looked for a trajectory that led to a final and
coherent identity. Mead semed to not have an end point in mind. He understood indentity as a
sense of ones self in multiple social roles. Identity that is socially developed and interpreted
and adjusted according to shifts in the context would be more conguent with SCT.