Teaching EFL for Young Learners -...

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Teaching EFL for Young Learners ELTA-Albania, May 2013 Amber Warren, Indiana University, USA

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  • Teaching EFL for Young Learners ELTA-Albania, May 2013 Amber Warren, Indiana University, USA

  • Think about it/Talk about it

    When did you first begin learning English?

    What were your English classes in school like?

    Did you enjoy your English class?

    How old are your students?

    What are their English classes like?

    Do they seem to enjoy the class?

    PresenterPresentation NotesThis activity is called Think-Pair-Share. You can use it any time, but it works great at the beginning of a lesson to activate students prior knowledge. It is also good for shy learners, or students who are not comfortable speaking English in front of a group.

    Begin by asking a question (or, for more advanced learners, you can ask multiple questions, like I did). Give students time to think about their own answers (silently).Then ask students to pair up and share their responses.Finally, you can ask some of the partners to share their responses with the whole group. Record their responses on a big piece of paper or on the board. Read them back together.

  • Who are Young Learners?

    Students who are 7-12 years old

    May be simultaneously learning how to read and write in their native language

    Benefit from strategies designed to capitalize on how children learn

  • What do we know about how children learn?

    Piaget says

    Children learn through actions and exploration (learn by doing)

    They relate new ideas to the themselves and their immediate surroundings (make connections to things they know)

    Vygotsky says

    We learn through social interaction with a more experienced other (the Zone of Proximal Development)

  • And Bruner says Parents scaffold learning for their children, providing input that supports and promotes the cognitive growth of the child

  • Scaffolding

    Create interest in the task

    Break big tasks down into smaller steps

    Model the task (show students how to do something before you ask them to do it alone)

    Remind students of the goal or purpose for doing a task

    Help students identify the big ideas in each task

  • We help children learn language when what we ask them to do is

    Full of practice Supported Meaningful

    Purposeful Enjoyable Social

    Read, 1998

  • Technique 1: Extend Vocabulary


  • What do you think? Are these statements true or false? Thumbs up for true. Thumbs down for false!

    1. Research suggests that students need to see a word 7-10 times to learn the word.

    2. Vocabulary is easiest to learn when it is taught in lexical sets (e.g. words that end in op, words that mean happy).

    3. We should only use the target language when teaching new vocabulary.

    4. Knowing a word means more than being able to give a definition.

    PresenterPresentation NotesThis strategy is called an Anticipation Guide. It is a great way to introduce a new topic. It sparks students interest in the topic. It also activates their prior knowledge because it gets them thinking about what they already know.

    To create an anticipation guide, think of several simple statements about the topic you are going to introduce. Make some of them true and some of them false.Share the statements with your students orally, in writing, or both. Give students time to decide which ones are true and which ones are false.Ask students to share their responses with you.

    Answer Key: 1. True (Nation, 1990); 2. False (Nation, 2000); 3. False (Cook, 2001) ; 4. True (Nation, 2005)

  • Four levels of word knowledge

    I know the word well and can use it with confidence.

    I know the meaning a little bit. I can associate it with a concept or context.

    Ive seen it or heard it, but I dont know what it means.

    Ive never seen or heard the word before.

  • Teaching Vocabulary

    Students develop knowledge about a word slowly, through repeated exposure to the word

    Introduce terms in context to help make vocabulary meaningful to students

    Define and demonstrate terms for students

    Use your resources- providing a translation in the L1 is okay!

  • 4-Corners Word Chart Illustration Sentence

    It is raining today.

    Definition Rain comes from the clouds.



  • Personal Dictionaries Designate part of Students Notebooks

    to be a Personal Dictionary

    Allow time for students to enter new vocabulary in their books

    Encourage students to illustrate and write a definition in their own words OR make a definition as a class

    Dictionaries can be organized alphabetically (A,B,C), by theme, or by chapter

  • Word Walls

    Designate wall space for your English Word Wall

    Use notecards or strips of paper

    Allow students to write words themselves

    Encourage students to illustrate the words

    Limit number of words

  • Games


    Hot Seat

    Teacher May I

    Teacher Says

    20 Questions

    PresenterPresentation NotesVo-BACK-ulary: Print vocabulary words on cards (or post-it notes). Each student gets one word to put on his/her back. Students must try to help each other guess the words on their backs by acting or by giving clues.

    Hot Seat: One student sits in the front of the room (in the hot seat). The teacher or another student writes a word on the board. The rest of the class must try to give clues to help the student in the hot seat guess the word.

    Teacher May I: This game works best outside or in a big, mostly empty space. Students line up on one end of the room. Teacher stands at the other end. Teacher holds up word cards. Students must raise hand if they know the word. Teacher then calls on ONE student to say the word (or define the word, or act out the word). If student is right, he or she gets to take one step forward. If he or she is wrong, teacher calls on another student. The first student to reach the teacher wins.

    Teacher says: Like Simon Says. Teacher gives commands with vocabulary. (Example: Teacher says wave your hand. or Teacher says gallop like a horse.) Students must follow commands. If students do the wrong motion, students sit down. If the teacher does not use the phrase teacher says and the students follow the command anyway, they are also out. The game is to listen to the teacher!

    20 Questions: Teacher (or student) thinks of a vocabulary word. Students must ask YES/NO questions to figure out the word. (Example: Is it an animal? Is it big? Does it eat meat?) This is good for practicing grammar too!

  • Technique 2: Incorporate different ways of learning

  • Whats my category?

    Interviewing Miming (Act it out) Writing on the Board

    Clapping in a rhythm

    Watching a short video

    Chanting or Singing

    Illustrating (Drawing)

    Turn and tell a friend

    Coloring Listening to a story Performing

    a play Practicing a


    PresenterPresentation NotesThis is a Concept Sort. A concept sort is an introduction strategy that uses new and known vocabulary to get students thinking and talking about a topic.

    To make a concept sort, choose vocabulary words related to a theme or topic (example: sports, foods, pets, travel). Put each word in a separate box or on a separate piece of paper. The goal is to decide how to organize the words into categories, or groups of similar items. (example: travel vocabulary might include things we pack, types of transportation, and places we go.)

    Students can work in small groups or pairs to sort the vocabulary into categories.

    The words on this slide can be sorted in different ways. Here is one possible answer:

    Spatial-visual learning: illustrating, coloring, watching a videoMusical learning: chanting/singing, clapping in a rhythmBodily-kinesthetic (movement) learning: miming, performing a playAuditory learning: practicing a dialogue, turn and tell a friend, listening to a storyLinguistic: writing on the board, practicing a dialogue

    Here is another:

    Group or Pair Activities: interviewing, turn and tell a friend, performing a play, practicing a dialogueIndividual Activities: miming, writing, clapping, watching a video, chanting, illustrating, coloring, listening to a story

  • Grouping and pair-work: Why try it?

    Knowledge is actively constructed through interaction in

    collaboration within a social context (Aljaafreh & Lantolf, 1994)

    Students actively assist one another through collaboration in dialogic events (Donato, 1994)

    Engages students in content and creates more student-talk time

  • Ways to group students

    Individual work

    Partners (2) or Triads (3)

    Small Groups (4-6)

    Whole Class

    By Language Proficiency Level (High-Mid, Mid-Low) High-High, Mid-Mid, Low-Low)

  • More about Grouping

    Strategies Think/Pair/Share

    Turn & Tell a Friend

    Numbered Heads Together

    Organization Be clear about rules for

    behavior in groups

    Give all students a turn to participate

    Have a signal for bringing the class back together

    PresenterPresentation NotesThink/Pair/Share (see slide 2)Turn & Tell a Friend: A less formal version of Think/Pair/Share. Teacher asks a question and instead of responding to the teacher, students share their response with a nearby student.Numbered Heads Together: Students are placed in groups and each person is given a number (from one to the maximum number in each group). The teacher poses a question and students "put their heads together" to figure out the answer. The teacher calls a specific number to respond as spokesperson for the group.

  • Technique 3: Storytelling

  • Brainstorm What is important for the

    storyteller? What is important for the


    Put your ideas here Put your ideas here

    PresenterPresentation NotesWith a partner, share what you think are the most important aspects of storytelling. Put ideas about important aspects for storytellers on one side of the chart. Put ideas about important aspects for listeners on the other side of the chart. Then, share a few of your ideas with the group!

    A T-chart organizer like this one is a simple way to help learners organize their thoughts.

  • Why use stories in the classroom?

    It is an authentic form of communication

    It introduces new cultures to children

    It teaches younger learners in an entertaining way

    It helps develop critical thinking skills

    -Shin & Crandall, 2013

  • Storytelling is authentic communication

    Every culture has storytelling

    Stories can teach lessons

    It allows students to hear language in use

  • Storytelling involves culture

    Using stories from the target language teaches children about the culture of that language

    Comparing and contrasting versions of the same story can teach children about similarities and differences in multiple cultures

    PresenterPresentation NotesComparing Cinderella stories across cultures- from left to right:

    Bae Kkoch (Pear Blossom), KoreaRhodopis (Rosy Cheeks), EgyptCinderella (Little Ash Girl), USAYeh-Shen, China

  • Storytelling is engaging and develops critical thinking

    Stories are appealing to students imaginations

    Storytelling hides the work of language learning in a fun activity

    Storytelling can help young learners acquire language unconsciously

    Teachers can ask questions about stories that help students learn to predict, make comparisons, identify facts from fiction, and state opinions

    Retelling involves making decisions about whats important

  • Stories should

    Be highly predictable (lots of repetition)

    Be familiar to students

    Include lots of known vocabulary

    Invite the use of TPR, drama, visuals and realia

  • Before you tell a story Review grammar or vocabulary students have already learned

    Pre-teach important new vocabulary words and expressions

    Show students an image from the story and ask them to guess what the story will be about

    Engage students in active listening by giving them a job to do during the story Listen for the ______________ Whenever you hear ___________ do ____________

  • While you tell a story

    Use pictures, realia, or other props to help you tell the story

    Use lots of expression and emotion

    Speak slowly (but not too slowly!) and clearly so your students can follow what you are saying

  • After you tell a story

    Use a post-storytelling strategy to Check for understanding

    Allow students to practice the new vocabulary or expressions

    Encourage creativity

  • Version 1 Predict: What will my story be about?

    PresenterPresentation Notes1. Use a picture to engage your students and spark their prior knowledge. Ask guiding questions to help them recall important vocabulary. For example: Where do sharks live? What do sharks eat? Are all sharks mean?

    2. Pre-teach important vocabulary (words that will appear in the story, but which the students might not already know, like jaws, attack, fierce).

    3. Give students an active listening job (for example: whenever you hear the word shark, move your hands like a sharks mouth).

  • A non-fiction story about sharks

    This is a shark. A shark lives in the ocean. A shark can be big or small. They eat fish. They can use their jaws full of teeth to catch food. A shark can be fierce. But, that is because they are hungry. When a shark sees a fish move, it might attack it.

  • Post-storytelling activity: Say it again! Repeat the story. This time when you come to the word shark hold up your picture. Every time you hold up your picture, the students should say the word shark.

    Repeat the story again. Invite students to speak along with you if they remember any of the words. As you tell the story, write the words on the board.

    As a whole class, read the story on the board together. Point to each word as you read it. You can then invite students to read sentences individually or in groups.

  • Version 2 Predict: What will my story be about?

    PresenterPresentation Notes1. Use a picture to engage your students and spark their prior knowledge. Ask guiding questions to help them recall important vocabulary. For example: Where do sharks live? What do sharks eat? Are all sharks mean?

    2. Pre-teach important vocabulary (words that will appear in the story, but which the students might not already know, like jaws, attack, fierce).

    3. Give students an active listening job (for example: listen for the problem in the story).

  • A fiction story about sharks Bruce the shark was sad. No one wanted to be his friend. He tried to use his jaws

    to smile at the people. But the people screamed and ran away. He did not know the people thought he was fierce. Bruce was not fierce. He did not want to attack the people. Bruce was a friendly shark.

    PresenterPresentation NotesTell the story to your students. Remember to use lots of expression and emotion. You may tell the story more than once. When you are finished telling the story, you can check students active listening by asking for the answer to your question.

  • Post-storytelling activity: Start and Stop!

    Repeat the story. This time, change some things in the story. When students hear something that is different, they should say stop! When a student says stop, pause and ask the class what you said that was different. Ask them what you should have said. Then, continue re-telling the story.

    Ideas for things to change: vocabulary words, pronunciation, the actions of the characters, the order in which event occur

  • Writing your own stories

    Pick a topic related to a lesson in your book

    Write a short simple story

    Use some of the vocabulary from the book

    Add some new, related vocabulary (but not too much!)

    It can be fiction or non-fiction

  • Complete List of Strategies Used in this Presentation


    Anticipation Guide

    Concept Sort

    Partner Brainstorm

    Say it Again (story re-telling)

    Start and Stop (story re-telling)

  • References All of these references are OPEN ACCESS.

    Cook, V. (2001). Using the first language in the classroom. Canadian Modern Language Review. Retrieved from: http://homepage.ntlworld.com/vivian.c/Writings/Papers/L1inClass.htm

    Donato, R. (1994). Collective scaffolding in second language learning. In Vygotskian approaches to second language research. Norwood, NJ: Ablex Publishing. Retrieved from: http://sun.iwu.edu/~cisabell/courses/spanish410/donato.pdf

    Nation, P. (1997). Teaching vocabulary. Asian EFL Journal. Retrieved from: http://asian-efl-journal.com/sept_05_pn.pdf

    Nation, P. (2000). Learning vocabulary in lexical sets: Dangers and guidelines. TESOL Journal, 9(2), 6-10. Retrieved from: http://www.eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/search/detailmini.jsp?_nfpb=true&_&ERICExtSearch_SearchValue_0=EJ611408&ERICExtSearch_SearchType_0=no&accno=EJ611408

    Read, C. (1998, April). The challenge of teaching children. English Teaching Professional, 7, 8-10. Retrieved from: http://www.ilkogretimkalbi.com/dokuman/ingilizce/English_Teaching_Professional-/challenge.pdf

    Sharrio, C. (2011). How Students Learn Words. Florida Department of Education Website. http://faculty.scf.edu/sharric/lesson7/lesson7topic2.htm

    Shin, J. (2011). Best practices for teaching English to young learners . Presentation given at the Methodology of the ELT Tour (Venezuela). Retrieved from: http://www.slideshare.net/VenTESOL/teaching-english-to-young-learners-by-joan-shin


  • References continued These references are not Open Access.

    Donato, R. (1994). Collective scaffolding in second language learning. In J. P. Lantolf & G. Appel (Eds.), Vygotskian approaches to second language research (pp. 33-56). Norwood, NJ: Ablex.

    Shin, J. & Crandall, J. (2013). Teaching young learners from theory to practice. Boston, MA: Heine Cengage.

  • Keep in touch!

    Amber Warren: [email protected]

    Twitter: @AmberESL

    LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/awarren1/

    mailto:[email protected]://www.linkedin.com/in/awarren1/

    Teaching EFL for Young LearnersThink about it/Talk about itWho are Young Learners?What do we know about how children learn?And Bruner saysScaffoldingWe help children learn language when what we ask them to do isTechnique 1: Extend Vocabulary PracticeWhat do you think?Four levels of word knowledgeTeaching Vocabulary4-Corners Word ChartPersonal DictionariesWord WallsGamesTechnique 2: Incorporate different ways of learningWhats my category?Grouping and pair-work: Why try it?Ways to group studentsMore about GroupingTechnique 3: StorytellingBrainstormWhy use stories in the classroom?Storytelling is authentic communicationStorytelling involves cultureStorytelling is engaging and develops critical thinking Stories shouldBefore you tell a storyWhile you tell a storyAfter you tell a storyVersion 1Predict: What will my story be about?A non-fiction story about sharksPost-storytelling activity: Say it again!Version 2Predict: What will my story be about?A fiction story about sharksPost-storytelling activity: Start and Stop!Writing your own storiesComplete List of Strategies Used in this PresentationReferencesReferences continuedKeep in touch!