Teaching Young Learners

Teaching of young learners plays a crucial role in the evolution of personality and society by and large. The teaching process that is related to English language requires not only teaching the language by means of expressions and ways to communicate but by a specific individual approach. That approach will help young learners to adopt and store knowledge of English language. There are different ways and methods of planning the lesson. Most of them require taking to consideration social and cognitive development of the personality. In this essay, we will analyze the basic principles of teaching English to young learners and will provide the methods to make the pupil’s perception and comprehension of the language on the highest level. While analyzing principles of teaching English, we will answer several important and obvious questions that are: ‘What is the teaching process? Who are young learners? How do young learners acquire language? What are the principles of teaching young learners?’

Teaching is the process of passing ideas or information to the learner so that they can gain knowledge about the topic in discussion. There are five characteristics that are vital for becoming a highly effective teacher: subject area expertise, organization, preparation, communication, and high standards for learners. Together, these characteristics will greatly accelerate the process of assimilation of English language to young learners.

The most reasonable age category for young learners is 6 to 12 years old that are in the sixth year of the formal education. Early childhood teaching is vital to the learner. It equips the child with basic learning, and it should be done in a way that the learner will get information in the easiest way.   It is important to plan the learning process properly, based on the psychological, physiological and physical characteristics of age. As children learn indirectly rather than directly, they create fun in what they do and they have a ready imagination full of fantasy.

The teacher is highly required to use different methods of learning English. Interesting approach to learn English language was created by Halliwel. This scientist created communicative method of teaching, based on games. For teacher, it provides effective, person-oriented communication training. Psychological, physical and physiological characteristics of primary school children promotes the rapid and qualitative remembering, that will transfer in different communicative situations. Making discussion situations, playing games that develop listening, comprehensive, and writing skills will help the young learner not only to have fun but to achieve the goal of the lesson – learning language material.(Pinter,2006 ). Since the game, training and labor are major activities in human life, and the transition from one activity to another  is the interaction of previous and subsequent forms, the choice of playing is quite justified.

Teaching English, the use of technical visual technologies is a must (Baker, 2001). Sound Recorder enables children hear the language. And younger children have well-developed ability to imitate, it affects their pronunciation and the ability to perceive speech by listening. In forming lexical skills teacher must choose a vocabulary in the process of communicating with children. It should be specific and clear for all learners. The main objective here is to help children to realize that they learn vocabulary to communicate. New vocabulary can be memorized only on the basis of known vocabulary. In the course of learning vocabulary teacher must help children to discover the relationship between well-known and new vocabulary (Harmer, 2001).

According to young learners perception of language and individual psycological state, there are some basic principles to make teaching process of young learners easier and comprehensive.  The main two principles of teaching provided Piaget and Vygotsky.

Piaget came up with various theories that attempted to explain cognitive development. He believes that young learners intelligence comes from adapting and organizing. Also, Piaget believes that a child organizes ideas into schemes, which becomes useful for the assimilation of new information (Piaget, 2001). According to this principle, teacher must always take care to consideration the learner as a personality and to adopt the lesson to the individual way. In that case, the pupil feels free to ask, communicate and learn English step by step as a teacher requests. 

Regarding Vygotsky, he provided another principle that is quite similar to Piaget’s one, but has one main peculiarity. The base of Vygotsky’s theories was that development occurred mainly through interaction with a person’s culture (Lee & Smagorinsky, 2000). Vygotsky posits that a child transforms and internalizes information via language. Vygotsky believes that development starts with socialization and the acquisition of language, which results into developmental learning. According to this principle, teacher is highly required to create a social sphere in the lesson and make as much communicative situations and discussion clubs as possible. Communicating between young learners and teacher will help to memorize the language. But the negative point of this principle is that the communicational side will not teach grammar of the language while Piaget’s individual principle makes this learning possible. (Williams, 2009)

According to these main principles, we can make the decision that there are different ways of teaching English. The only requirement for the teacher is to understand the social and cognitive development of the learner and to combine these factors with the highly effective lesson. It is impossible to say that one of these principles is the most effective. The wise teacher will always combine different principles, and will make the lesson individual and social simultaneously. Such lesson will be full of games and information, interesting facts and examples and the most important, this lesson will organize children’s desire to learn English language.

In conclusion, it is inportant to say that teaching young learners can be very hard and at the same time very pleasant work. It involves many different techniques, qualifications, principles to know and to use. Only chosen ones can become teachers by God. Nevertheless, it is  always a great pleasure to see the result when the learner starts speaking clearly and easily.