Classroom tips for teaching English to elementary students.

When students don’t understand instructions:

One of the biggest challenges of teaching elementary students lies in setting up activities. As students know barely any English, giving instructions becomes a difficult task! When planning it’s important to plan what you need to say and how you’ll say it. You’ll need to anticipate what vocabulary your students don’t know and what grammar structures they can use/understand – after all there’s no point in using the present perfect, if they don’t even understand the past simple! You may find you need to pre-teach some vocabulary before you begin. First lessons are a great opportunity to teach instructional language ‘turn to page ___’, ‘work in pairs’ ,‘spell_____’ etc.

It’s a good idea to demonstrate activities with one pair/group first(choose strong students to do this).Also getting the students to repeat directions back to you is a good way of checking students’ understanding

classroom instructionMonitoring:

One of the best ways to assess what your students need and what they understand is by walking around the classroom and listening to your students.

Teacher talk time:

Think of ways to reduce teacher  talk time and increase student talk time! Students  learn from doing.

How to stop students from speaking their own language:

At an elementary level, students will of course need to use some of their own language in the classroom in general. Students may need to discuss their comprehension of grammar,vocabulary and instructions together and this will be helpful to them as they process their understanding of English.However, in controlled practice activities and freer practice activities, students should be using only English. You will therefore need to make it clear to students that in these activities they must only use English. It is a good idea here to implement the points systemwhereby students can lose points for their team if they don’t use English (you could appoint some monitors to help you catch naughty students out!). (more…)

Assessing Young Language Learners

Assessing Young Language Learners
P. McKay.
Cambridge University Press 2006, 388 pp., £20.10
ISBN-13: 978 0 521 60123 8

The recent upsurge in young children learning English as a second or foreign language around the world has brought in a concomitant need for understanding how to assess their language learning. While there is a substantial number of methodology books in the area, research into and work in the area of assessment at this level seems to have just begun. It is also intriguing that when the British Council designated 2003–2004 as the ‘Year of the Young Learner’ and brought out a special collection of young learner (YL)-focused articles ( Ellis and Morrow 2004) published earlier in ELTJ, the collection did not have any section or article on assessment. It could be that there was no previously published article on this topic worthy of inclusion in this collection, but see for example Mattos (2000). However, we need to admit that the area of assessment of YLs is still young as the author acknowledges (p. 61) and needs to be attended to immediately. This book is an excellent effort in this direction and as the series editors remark, it ‘provides both a discussion of the research to help readers better understand (these) children and how to assess them most appropriately, and a principled discussion of the variety of assessment approaches that are available to practitioners’ (p. xi). The author makes her extensive experience of teaching and research in the area of YLs accessible to the reader. Although it is a part of the Cambridge Language Assessment Series, it is a stand-alone book and does not presuppose ‘traditional’ language testing knowledge such as test construction, statistical issues, test validation, etc. (more…)