“Teaching Language to Young Learners” Taking a learning-centered perspective Pichilef Andrea Caldentey Agustin Practice II 2012
General charcteristics of young learners• Enthusiastic and lively• They want to please the teacher, rather than peer group.• Even when they do not understand why or how to do an activity, they will have a go at it• Loose interest more quickly.• Do not find it easy to use language to talk about language.• Lack of inhibition at talking in a new language.
However…Important differences arise from the linguistic, psychological and social development of the learners.We, as teachers, need to adjust the way we think about the language and the classrooms activities we use.
Two teaching perspectives• Learning Centered: lessons and activities tuned to the demands of the next text book unit, or to the interests of the teacher.• Learner Centered: Knowledge about the children’s learning is central to effective teaching.Nevertheless, it is important to bare in mind the time available in schools for language teaching.
PiagetMain concern: how young children function in the world surrounding them and how this influences their mental development.The child is continually interacting with the world around her/him, solving problems that are presented by the environment. Knowledge is actively constructed and thought is seen as deriving from action
Two ways of developmentAssimilation and Accomodation• Assimilation happens when action takes place without any change to the child.• Accomodation involves the child adjusting to features of the enviroment.These two adaptive processes occur together.In 2LL accomodation takes the label of “restructuring” and refers to the re- organisation of mental representations of a language.
Critics to Piaget’s theoryAccording to Piaget, “child’s thinking develop as a gradual growth of knowledge and intellectual skills towards a final stage (11 years old) of formal, logical thinking”This explanation has been critiziced for not being sufficiently child-friendly, and for underestimating what children are capable of.
Implications of Piagetian theory for language learningPiaget considers children as active learners and thinkers who construct their own knowledge from working with objects or ideas.Therefore we can think of children as “active sense makers”. Though their sense making is limited by their experiences, it is a key concept for teachers to understand how they react to tasks.
The world is offeringopportunities for learningAs children take every obstacle as an opportunity to learn, teachers should think of the classroom and classroom activities as creating and offering such opportunities.