Young learners

How Young Learners Learn Languages – True or False

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(960 words)

For this writing task, I was asked to give my response to 5 statements about how young learners learn languages. I will answer true or false statements 1- 5 and explain why.

1) Babies are unable to respond until they are at least 6 months old.

Is this True or False?

2) Babbling has an element of the meaning of which the young child is aware.

Is this True or False?

3) Children may sometimes use words in a way different from an adult’s understanding of the language item.

Is this True or False?

4) Grammar rules cannot usually be taught to young children.

Is this True or False?

5) Repetition plays an important part in first language acquisition.

Is this True or False?

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Setting out some ideas for developing and maintaining motivation in either young children or teenagers

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(409 Words)

The teacher’s skills in motivating young children should be seen as central to teaching effectiveness. This means motivating them to learn and acquire new skills. Finding what interests these learners is the way to inspire them to learn. Interest is an intrinsic motivator. These engaged children are more likely to employ a deeper level of study if the teacher can provide opportunities for likable learning. All young children are motivated by different reasons to learn to which the teacher has to recognise. It is the teacher’s attitudes to perform these tasks in learning that affect learners’ attitudes. Furthermore, while they are learning, the teacher has to maintain the learners’ interest. The learners have to feel that the teacher respects and accepts them for who they are and allows them to express themselves without the worry of criticism for honest errors. This is why young people need a lot of support and time.

The teacher’s teaching methodology should be to sustain learners’ motivation and engage in activities that lead to learning. There is no point in playing games that are fun and exciting if the learner is missing out on chances to learn new vocabulary and absorb and use new phrases. The teacher has to realize that the holistic development of the children is not only their language development but also in their social, cognitive, and emotional growth. For example, lessons that have an activity-based approach in which children engage in meaningful tasks and activities elevate learning. The children can use English genuinely, learn something new, and develop as whole individuals as well. Lessons should also be varied; drama and role play can be a good platform for motivating children, especially if costumes and props are involved. This should promote interaction among students. So, in these respects, the teacher has a broader educational role in their relationship with their learners. This entails the teacher being aware that each child is at a developmental stage and some tasks can be impossible for them. Learners all have motivation but on what level. It is the teacher’s job to put this to learning where their lesson has clarity and purpose. Moreover, the syllabus has to take in the fact of age, cultural and social background of the children to be taught. A teacher can personalize teaching if the children are allowed to talk about their own interests and families. The teacher could well have to adapt the syllabus to address particular students or groups of students.

Games and puzzles with young learners

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It is generally accepted that language teaching not merely can be, but should be enjoyable. This is not to assume that it is easy, but only that there is no need, by excluding enjoyment, to make it more difficult.

Games are enjoyable. The essence of many games lies in out- stripping, in a friendly fashion, someone else’s performance, or (and adult learners often prefer this) in bettering one’s own, as in the world of sport. The goal is visible and stimulating: outdoing others, and improving on oneself, are by and largely enjoyable pursuits. Enjoyable also is the active cooperation with one’s fellows. In a group or team activity, rivalry and cooperation go hand in hand. There are other groups or teams to surpass, and friends to help surpass them. One’s own activity takes on importance in the latter’s eyes.

But in spite of all the effort -and sometimes, when attention is sharply focused and the learner’s energies stretched to the full in a game, it is hard to see any difference between ‘work’ and ‘play’ -there is a pleasant, informal, and often relaxed atmosphere, favourable to language learning.

Nevertheless, the case for language games is not identical with the case for enjoyment in the language lesson. An agreeable although busy atmosphere can be attained by other means, even if games are absent, and games have other and equally important virtues. They banish boredom and so make for willing learners, who look forward to language lessons. But after all, any kind of interesting activity would make them do that. We should ask, therefore, what other advantage language learning games offer than the creation of an enjoyable atmosphere in which to learn.

A language is learnt by using it -and this means using it in situations and communicatively. Disembodied sounds, words, phrases, and sentences, however, wrapped about with rules, do not carry language learning far; although it is helpful up to a point to remove such elements and look at them closely, much as one examines components of a machine, before returning them to the intermingling streams of discourse.

The situations which bring a foreign language to life in the classroom are provided by gestures, by handling and touching things, by incidents and activities, by pictures, by dramatization, by interesting stories spoken or in print -and not least by certain contests and games. In these, the language is linked with action and is no longer a disembodied thing.

(405 Words)

Grammar assignment

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Students are always worried about grammar. There is a consensus of opinion that they need to study a lot more on their grammar. Of course, a teacher who does not know grammar would seem a bit strange, and they will be asked about it and will at times have to highlight it in the course of their teaching; once they are over that I feel the teacher should, in essence, focus on providing information about the students’ specific goals so that acquisition activities can focus on the topics and situations most relevant to the students’ needs. It can be shown that “we determine the situations in which they will use the target language and the sorts of topics they will have to communicate about” notwithstanding “we do not organize the activities of the class about a grammatical syllabus” (Krashen and Terrell 1983:71). All the same, on my TEFL course I had to complete a grammar assignment. I have added it here for you guys to get a feel of what is involved which is not just knowing how the grammar point is formed.

Grammar Assignment

Form

Past perfect tense in the if clause                  and would have + past participle 

(had + past participle)                                  the other part of the sentence

Example

If you had asked me                                      I would have told you

Real situation = you didn’t ask me, so I didn’t tell you.

Use

When do we use 3rd conditional?

We use the 3rd conditional to talk about –       regret, wishes, hindsight

Meaning

*Unreal past situation (imagining the impossible): to talk about hypothetical past situations. The speaker is dreaming of or imagining a different past. But the past cannot be changed.

*The conditional may be with a negative. In the case of a negative with the past tense, the opposite of what is said is true, that what was said in the negative did, in fact, happen, like ‘If it had not rained…’, meaning it did rain.

*You must watch the tense; maybe it is in the past, even though a conditional sentence. If the verb is in the past perfect tense, it can refer to something that did not happen in the past.

Example

‘If I had known I would have told you’.

Real situation = I didn’t know. I didn’t tell you

* The if sentence that describes the past, describes something different from what happened,

Example

‘ If we hadn’t invented paper we wouldn’t have had newspapers; in fact, we did invent newspapers.

When the time referred to is the same in both clauses, we have:

‘If he had done this (or ‘Had he done this’), he would have sinned’; ‘Had we done this, we should have let you know.’

Real situation = He didn’t do this, so he didn’t sin.

*Strategy: When you hear an ‘if’, you must think that this is a conditional and that if the sentence is positive, then the speaker means the situation never happened or has not yet happened and if it is negative and in the past, then the situation did happen. Don’t forget the inverted form of the conditional, like ‘Had it not rained…’ for ‘If it had not rained…’; in both cases, they are of course the same, it did rain!

Pronunciation (problems with)

Example

If  (1) you’d listened you (2) wouldn’t have failed the exam.

If you (3) hadn’t gone I would have spoke with you.

(1) The pronunciation of  YOU + HAD when contracted = YOU’D with the /d/ sound.

(2) The pronunciation of WOULD + NOT when contracted = WOULDN”T with the /nt/ sound.

(3) The pronunciation of HAD + NOT when contracted = HADN”T with the /nt/ sound.

Mistakes that can be made

Different structures using conditionals makes for different meanings.

Example (Second conditional)

If I were rich I would spend my time traveling.

This sentence is talking about unreal or improbable situations now or in the future.

CORRECT example using (Third conditional)

I f I had been rich I would have spent time traveling

The speaker is dreaming of or imagining a different past. But the past cannot be changed.

Example

If my father hadn’t met my mother I wouldn’t be here now.

This sentence is talking about the present situation that is no longer possible because of the way things have turned out.

Comprehension checking questions

If  I hadn’t gone out  last night          I wouldn’t have crashed my car

Did I stay in last night?

Did I go out in my car last night?

Did I get home safely last night?

Did I crash my car last night?

Was my car damaged yesterday afternoon?

Is my car damaged now?

Did I go out then crash my car?

Did I crash my car then go out?

Real situation: I went out last night and crashed my car.

(b) If Jeff had gotten up early, he wouldnt have missed the plane

Did Jeff get up early?

Did Jeff miss the plane?

Real situation: John didn’t get up early, so he missed the plane.

The grammatical form changes from the unreal to the real in the answers to a conditional sentence.

Exercise (Testing Point)

*Strategy: When you hear an ‘if’, you must think that this is a conditional, and that if the sentence is positive, then the speaker means the situation never happened or has not yet happened and if it is negative and in the past, then the situation did happen. Don’t forget the inverted form of the conditional, like ‘Had it not rained…’ for ‘If it had not rained…’; in both cases, they are of course the same, it did rain!

Example: If the children had been better fed, they would not have fallen ill.

(A) The children became sick.

(B) Children were not fed and that made them ill.

(C) It was wrong for them to feed the children.

(D) Even though they were well fed the children fell ill.

Correct Answer: A

Explanation: The result of the situation was that the children fell ill, or became sick, but not as in B, because they were not fed, but because they were not ‘better’ fed. The condition was that they were not fed well, and if they had been they might not have fallen sick.

Complete the dialogues

(1)

A: My shirt is too small.

B: Did you throw away the receipt?

A: No, I’ve still got it. Why?

B: If you ______________ you wouldn’t have been able to take it back to the shop.

(2)

A: I got drunk last night and got into work late.

B: You shouldn’t drink so much.

A: If ________________ so much last night I wouldn’t have been late this morning.

Write a sentence for this situation

You are upset because last night you said ‘you are stupid’ to a friend. Your friend walked out of the restaurant very angry. Use the third conditional to imagine a different past.

If I ____________________________ I _____________________________________

Use of special conditional structure

Example: __________ , we wouldn’t have gone to the beach.

(A) If it rains

(B) Had it rained

(C) It rained

(D) If it has rained

Correct answer: B

Explanation: The sentence is conditional, as can be seen by ‘would’ in the main clause. The subordinate clause could begin with ‘if’ ; ‘If it had rained’ to be parallel with ‘would not have gone’. However, an alternative structure is the inverted form without ‘if’ , ‘Had it rained’.

Activity (Desert Island Game)

The teacher outlines a situation:

The story

A man went out in his boat and there was a storm, he could not get back to the harbour because the engine was broken and the sails ripped in the wind. He was blown hundreds of miles off course. He landed on a desert island with no supplies, food or radio equipment.

Students’ Job

The students must decide which 10 things he should have done or shouldn’t have done that would have helped him; being on a desert island using third conditional.

The students in their groups must justify their answers.

List of resources

A-Z of English grammar & usage by Geoffrey Leech – Longman

Practical English Usage – Michael Swan – Oxford University Press

English grammar in use – Raymond Murphy –Cambridge University Press