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Talking about How Young

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1 Talking about How Young
Learners Learn Lesson 1

2 GENERAL OVERVIEW In this course you will : learn about teaching English as a foreign or additional language to young learners from three to 12 years old consider how young learners develop cognitively, how they learn languages, and how your understanding of these two areas can help guide you in your role as a teacher of young learners and a teacher of language combine theory with practice and be provided with examples that will help illustrate how you can teach language to young learners in your classroom be introduced to ways of teaching the four language skills (listening, speaking, reading and writing), as well as techniques for using stories, songs and rhymes, games and role-play in your classroom consider the role of assessment and evaluation in teaching English to young learners

3 An Approach to TEYL Teaching English to young learners (TEYL), including children within the 3-12 age range, in a meaningful and memorable way requires a person to understand how children learn and how they learn languages. The following diagram shows how a number of building blocks (each representing a different part of language learning and teaching) can be placed together to create a structure that can represent our approach to TEYL. By stacking these blocks one on top of the other, we can consider how each is crucial for the support and development of the following tower of understanding.

4 Building blocks of understanding in teaching English to young learners

5 Characteristics of YLs
VYLs (under 7) YLs (7-12) acquire through hearing and experiencing lots of English, in much the same way they acquire L1 learn things through playing; they are not consciously trying to learn new words or phrases – for them it’s incidental love playing with language sounds, imitating, and making funny noises are not able to organize their learning not able to read or write in L1; important to recycle language through talk and play their grammar will develop gradually on its own when exposed to lots of English in context are learning to read and write in L1 are developing as thinkers understand the difference between the real and the imaginary can plan and organize how best to carry out an activity can work with others and learn from others can be reliable and take responsibility for class activities and routines For more information, see: Slatterly, M., & Willis, J. (2001). English for primary teachers. Oxford: Oxford University Press

6 Piaget (one of the best-known
theorists in developmental psychology) “tried to work out how children thought and developed cognitively” children actively construct knowledge from their experiences from birth, children try to make sense of the world through their actions

7 Developmental stages of children
Sensori-Motor Stage (from months) children seem to learn through interaction with the world around them, and through the use of their senses. Children are particularly egocentric, able to think about things in terms of how they interact and link with themselves. Pre-operational stage (from 18 months - 7 years) children are developing towards the next stage, start using some aspects of the concrete world around them, begin to internalize information in a very basic way through the use of their imagination and memory.

8 Concrete Operational Stage (from years) able to operate and learn through their interactions with the concrete world around them, moving towards the final stage which would involve more abstract thinking. Formal Operational Stage (from approximately 11 years of age to adulthood) able to develop more abstract thought and understanding in this final stage of cognitive development Coincides with puberty and the development into adulthood.

9 Influential findings in Piaget's work
Identified how children could assimilate (add new knowledge to support old knowledge already established by them ) and accommodate (change their present understanding of something based on the new experience they have had), and how they might develop their cognition and understanding using both. Believed the stages were fairly fixed in age and children went through them in this particular sequential order - children could only move onto the next stage when they had completed the stage before and were ready to do so. “Children should be given thinking time when faced with an experience or problem that they are trying to solve.”

10 Issues with Piaget's work
Margaret Donaldson recreated many of Piaget’s experiments and found that: Piaget’s observations and measurements didn’t really reflect the way children were actually able to think. Piaget didn’t consider the role of language to be an important catalyst in the cognitive development of the child. Children were able to achieve and understand more than Piaget believed they could. Piaget had not taken into account what sense children were making of the type of adult questioning that was used in the experiments he carried out, or the fact that the experiments were taking place in very unnatural and child-unfriendly settings, such as science laboratories.

11 Lasting importance of Piaget's work
Established the idea of the child as a lone scientist who was actively seeking answers Suggested that children had the need for thinking time Thought about the child as an individual who developed and thought as an individual rather than a small version of an adult or a passive and empty vessel waiting for adults to fill his or her mind with information Was the first step in gaining understanding of the cognitive development of children

12 Language is Central to Child Development
Lev Vygotsky (1978) & Jerome Bruner (1987) believed, in contrast to Piaget that: language was central to the cognitive development of children it was instruction (provided by an adult, a teacher, or a more able peer) that helped children to learn and develop

13 Vygotsky and Bruner believed that the act of internalization for children (moving thought from something that was spoken out loud to thought that was in their heads) was helped and supported when another more knowledgeable person talked the 'thinking' process through with children and instructed or guided them along as they did so.

14 Guiding the 'thinking' process
Now let's find all the pieces with the straight edges and put them over here. And where are the four corner pieces? Oh, yes. Here they are. Let's take all the pieces out of the box and turn them over.

15 Piaget’s views Vygotsky’s views
Piaget talked of children working through different stages of learning on their own. Vygotsky (1978) described the difference between: what children could achieve (and how they could develop) on their own and what children could achieve (and how they could develop) when an adult was able to work with them as the zone of proximal development

16 Encouraging development and growth
Do you think it would sink if you put it in water? How could we put the stones together so that they would make a wall? Is it heavy? Do you think the big ones should be at the top or the bottom? How does the stone feel? With scaffolding, children could develop and grow because the adult would give support to their thinking and encourage them to think in ways that would develop their own ability to think through situations.

17 Making sense of experiences
Donaldson believed that children were able to cognitively develop by trying to make sense of the experiences that they had, and by asking questions and trying things out, or hypothesizing The child creates a hypothesis and searches for meaning and patterns by using his /her own knowledge of communication The child uses this gathered feedback to establish his/her own rules and then internalize these rules and remember them The child looks for clues and uses anything around him/her to support the hypothesis The child then tests this hypothesis by listening, questioning and trialing. The child then adjusts the hypothesis according to the feedback received

18 How Do We Think Children Learn Languages?
Language learning – innate and universal? Critical period for language learning? Noam Chomsky believed that: learning was innate – it happened to all individuals there was an innate language capacity in all of us which he called the Language Acquisition Device (LAD). This ability to acquire language was later referred to as Universal Grammar (UG). Lenneberg thought that: there was a critical period, up to the age of eleven, in which children were able to learn language if language was introduced to children after this age, it was extremely difficult for them to learn it. “This hypothesis is one of the main reasons for starting the teaching of foreign or second languages early in a child's schooling.” Bruner feels that there is a Language Acquisition Support System (LASS) supplied by adults, or more able mentors, that helps children to develop such a language acquisition device and that this input and support is crucial to the success of language acquisition in children.

19 Multiple Intelligences
Linked closely with the three types of learning styles is the work of Howard Gardner (1993) who suggested that there are a lot of different learning styles or intelligences, as he called them, that we all have at our disposal. Children with Linguistic Intelligence: favor reading, as well as the creative use of words (such as doing crossword puzzles) enjoy listening and telling stories have good memories for names, places, dates and trivia Children with Logical-Mathematical Intelligence: favor sorting, ordering, classifying, ranking and sequencing enjoy research and organization have the ability to reason deductively and can recognize and manipulate abstract patterns or relationships

20 Children with Spatial Intelligence:
favor the use of diagrams, maps, charts, plans, pictures and seeing how things fit together favor the ability to create visual-spatial representations and be transferred mentally or concretely need a mental or physical "picture" to understand the information being presented Children with Kinesthetic Intelligence: lean toward the physical, and favor interaction with and manipulation of themselves and objects use their bodies to solve problems, or convey ideas and emotions use physical activities, good hand-eye coordination and have a tendency to move around a lot while expressing themselves Musical Intelligence The use of rhythm, music and song is particularly important to this intelligence. Songwriters, singers and musicians would use this intelligence much more than others

21 Children with Interpersonal Intelligence:
interact and relate well with others work effectively in a group and understand and recognize the goals, motivations and intentions of others are skilled at communicating, mediating and negotiating Children with Intrapersonal Intelligence: have the ability to understand their own emotions, goals and motivations. have good instincts about their strengths and abilities have personal thoughts about what is happening to individuals and the world around them

22 How Do We Think Children Learn a Foreign or Second Language?
Jim Cummins (1979), suggests two types of language that can be acquired: Proficiency Cognitive Academic Language (CALP). Basic Interpersonal Communicative Skills (BICS) everyday social interactive language used when interacting from a very early age language heard when listening to children their own age playing language used when learning about and discussing content in an academic class language used by a ten-year-old when studying topics like the characteristics of the sun in a science class We need to prepare our students to use and understand both types of language.

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