Teaching young learners is in some ways similar to teaching adults.
The teacher needs to take into account the student’s experiences, background and preferences. For young learners however, the teacher will need to take more note of the learner’s emotional and intellectual maturity.
The style of teaching will often depend on the learning experiences of the learner and the expectations of parents.
Many of our young learners will go on to study in independent British schools so often part of the course is to help prepare them for the that environment.
In most cases, a young learner course will be a combination of ‘sit-down’ lessons and educational activities and visits. Around 30 – 40% of a course could be taken up by activities outside the home. In addition to this, most young learners will need a social programme, which might include going to the cinema, bowling etc.
Most young learners who come on Homelingua courses are teenagers. In almost all cases they are motivated to learn and can gain a lot from their stay. As with all learners, making a success of teaching teenagers means tailoring the course to their needs and situation.
- Discovering what they find motivating
- Providing plenty of praise and reassurance
- Finding out if shadowing their school syllabus makes sense
- Correcting diplomatically and being aware of shyness and insecurity
- Deciding if all skills need to be taught (writing a daily journal can work well)
- Choosing topics that are meaningful to them eg music, fashion, sport
Role-plays and dialogues
- When quite controlled, they can provide practice of key structures or vocabulary.
- When looser they can provide the hook for great invention and creativity. Exaggerating common situations can be great fun. Here is an example for meal times: Homelingua mealtime dialogues
- They also provide a way of working on features of pronunciation.
- Dialogues in particular can be repeated many times without becoming boring.
Video. Show short pieces of video ( 3 minutes max?) can be used in a whole host of ways
- To learn or review key vocabulary
- To guess what happened in the past or the future
- As listening practice
- To set the scene for role-plays or dialogues
- To stimulate the imagination
- To provide a context for debate or discussion
Young learners write a daily journal
- Useful writing practice
- Emphasis can be on written fluency rather than accuracy
- Gives you an idea of productive level
- Can be shown to parents
- From language games like Scrabble to using games for speaking practice eg charades
- A snakes and ladders type game with a dice can be quickly made to review vocabulary, grammar and dialogues e.g. Make a grid of 16 or 20 squares and write instructions in each one. Take turns to roll the dice and do what it says in each square e.g. Square 2: Tell me about your favourite sport, Square 6: Buy 2 things at the Post Office (shop conversation practice), Square 9: Name 10 things you can see in the kitchen, Square 13: Describe the weather etc etc. The object is to reach the last square. You can see an example here: Homelingua Board Game
- Short projects can be fun and motivating. E.g. students can use their mobile phones to take photographs or make a video of your town or village. This can be made into a diary, scrapbook or story.
Graded readers. A number of publishers produce collections of readers at different levels
- Great for practice outside lesson time
- Provide material to discuss
- Give the learners hundreds of examples of well-constructed sentences
- Are fun to read
- Can be used with gap-fill exercises
- Lyrics can be ‘improved on’. Website for lyrics: www.lyrics.com
- Can be ranked/criticised in terms of originality, melody, etc
- Can be great fun and involve lots of interaction and new vocabulary. Here is Scones recipe with teacher’s notes: Homelingua Scones Lesson
Activities outside the classroom
- Choose a museum that is likely to be of interest!
- Teach any key vocabulary before the visit
- Practise any speaking situations that might arise eg buying a ticket
- Give the learner a task to do at the museum eg a quiz, notes on 10 thing, 5 things you didn’t know before coming etc
- Review visit when back home
- Follow-up writing
- Discuss shops in learner’s country
- Learner predicts differences
- In the supermarket, search for certain products, look for special offers, compare with learner’s country, compare layout, compare range of goods, what is better, what is not etc
- At home learner puts any purchases away in the right place (following instructions practice)
- Review new vocabulary
- Follow-up writing