How do children learn? Ideas we need to know for teaching young learners

Chances are that at some point in your teaching career, you will teach or will have taught children. I had the classic scenario of starting with adults and slowly but surely being given classes with younger and younger students, until one day I realised that I was almost entirely a young learner teacher. Thing is, I never got any clear guidance in all that time as to how that should have been affecting my teaching. How do children learn? Were there any learning theories I should know about?

Homo Ludens? Learning and play in the language classroom

Well known author and teacher developer Jim Scrivener spoke to me in an interview a couple of years ago about focusing on where learning is happening. He claims that we devote  lot of time as teachers to almost ritualistic teaching acts to engage and entertain students. In this article I go on to explore this idea further.

Teaching Listening

Listening skills are complex and we need to consider more than just what a coursebook may provide. We also need to rethink the classic TESOL/TEFL techniques that we learned in our CELTA course and roll out by default. Authentic materials and situations are key as well as scaffolding that is thoroughly applied to the actual learners and the learning happening right in front of you.

Teaching Pronunciation and Phonetics

“Essential Phonetics is a great book. It is very comprehensive and concise at the same time. It deals with pronunciation problems we always face in multicultural classes, and gives us teachers easy, straightforward phonetic input, enabling us to help our students.”

Differentiated Instruction

We talk about the principle of differentiation in the TEFL Preparation Course and again in the Teaching English to Young Learners Course.  In both courses we consider how to apply it both in the adult classroom and with younger english language learners. Here are some books for further reading.

Language Clarification and Practice: Teaching Grammar, Vocabulary, Lexis

This was the first book I ever bought as a fledgling English teacher. It saved me on many an occasion when I was busy lesson planning and trying to anticipate questions about meaning , form and register. It’s a book for dipping into as needs arise.

Learner Centredness, Management, Language Clarification, Practice, Skills and Planning

Part of being a teacher is also like being a camp leader. How a group bonds, how they manage cultural difference, and solve problems at a social level really affects your class. Language clarification aside, you need to have techniques, approaches and activities that help develop rapport.

Using Image in Language Teaching

This is a publication I’ve participated in, contributing one of the chapters. The book features articles and practical ideas for using still and moving images in language education.