Introduction. Teaching English: More than Teaching Language
Teaching, in general, and teaching the English language, in particular, is a challenging and complex task. It involves numerous stages of the crucial factors’ analysis, identification of the existing methods for managing specific problems and providing learners with the necessary resources.
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These resources are needed to acquire the necessary information and train the corresponding reading, writing, and speaking skills. However, apart from the specified challenged, an English language teacher faces the necessity to play the role of an inspirer and a leader, supporting students and encouraging them to develop the ability to learn independently and understand what they need in order to accomplish a particular goal.
The process of teaching languages to young children owes most of its complexity to the fact that, despite a common idea of young learners acquiring information fast, students need extensive help and consistent support. To meet the needs of the target audience, a teacher must design the strategy that will promote active learning among the students and motivate them to learn more, therefore, increasing the rates of enthusiasm and involvement among them.
Literature Review: What Young Language Learners Need
A detailed analysis of the existing studies on teaching English to young learners will reveal that the process in question demands that the teacher should be able to address the specific needs of young learners. Particularly, it is important to keep in mind that crucial cognitive skills are developed at the specified age. Thus, a teacher must be able to identify the unique characteristics of learners and provide them with the opportunities for becoming proficient in English.
Local Studies: Recent Tendencies in Education
An overview of the existing resources on the subject matter shows that the Saudi Arabian education process is focused on integrating the traditional Islamic values into the learning process (Gawi, 2012). As a result, the process of the required information acquisition occurs by interpreting the data in question through the lens of the Islamic philosophy and worldview (Gawi, 2012).
One must also bear in mind that there has been a sharp increase in the number of students and teachers recently; particularly, the introduction of numerous ESL learners into the environment of public schools needs to be brought up as the key factor shaping the teaching strategies (Malihi, 2015).
Foreign Studies: Addressing the Needs of ESL Students
Foreign studies also point to the necessity to consider the use of games as the key to promoting early childhood learning. However, researches also show that the consistent focus on entertainment rather than education may occur as a symptom of teachers’ lack of enthusiasm in promoting change in the classroom.
The teaching strategy based solely or mostly on games may also be interpreted as the symptom of the teacher’s lack of involvement in the learner’s progress (Gaynor, 2014, p. 123). Therefore, when evaluating the teaching approach adopted, one must also consider the factors that defined the choice of a particular strategy. While studies have shown that young learners acquire information and train skills more efficiently when playing educational games, the use of the latter will not make for the lack of teachers’ concern.
Foreign studies also point to the possibility of developing bilingualism in young children (Nunan, 2010). It should be noted, though, that the specified prospect may become a possibility in cases of high parental involvement rates. In other words, it is necessary that parents should help students develop the necessary skills by creating the environment, in which learners will train the skills of using both languages. The need to schedule the learning process is, perhaps, the trickiest requirement.
The existing studies, therefore, point to the fact that the issue regarding early education is not as simple as it might seem. There are indications that young children learn the information related to languages very fast and develop an intrinsic understanding of the languages true.
However, young learners will not necessarily display the readiness to learn the English language at the same pace and with the same enthusiasm. Herein the need to design the approach that will encourage young students to develop English speaking, reading, and writing skills lies (Rahman & Alhaisoni, 2013).
Problem Analysis: Factors Affecting the Learning process Among Young Students
Needless to say, age plays a significant role in the identification of learners’ needs. In the specified scenario, it is important to take into account that young learners who are at the stage of acquiring essential knowledge do not necessarily display the tendency for rapid skills acquisition.
Specifically, previous studies conducted on the subject matter delivered mixed results concerning the students’ ability to acquire information faster at the early stages of their development (Copland & Garton, 2014, p. 224). In other words, a teacher must realize that student will need substantive help to attain the required level of proficiency.
In addition, studies point out that young learners tend to acquire information in a manner that presupposes a stronger emphasis on acquisition rather than learning. Indeed, as recent studies show, the significance of formal language learning should clearly be downplayed compared to the process of training communicative skills in the target language despite the common misconception (Sukarno, 2008, p. 59). Therefore, it is important to make sure that the process of learning should be focused on developing specific habits.
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Learners’ Aptitude, Motivation, and Learning Styles
The importance of the social environment, in which the students have been growing up and which define the way that the students view specific phenomena from are an essential factor shaping the teaching strategy to be adopted by the educator. Specifically, the social environment, in which the learners live, dictate the ideas and concepts that the instructor will use to help the learners train a particular language skill.
In order to teach students to speak English, the teacher will have to create the environment, in which the will be required to use their language skills, and the specified environment must be inviting. The creation of the atmosphere that students view as familiar and, therefore, inviting to engage in a communication process, will help motivate them to train the corresponding skills.
Apart from changes in the social environment, it is strongly suggested that the emphasis should be placed on games as the key tool for achieving high engagement rates in the classroom. Particularly, it is suggested that the teachers should encourage students to engage in the activities such as memory games (e.g., the “snowball” game), word matching games, etc.
Attaining high engagement rates requires meeting the needs of all students. In other words, it is essential to remember that even young students have very diverse skill levels character traits; thus, it is imperative to make sure that the tasks assigned to them correspond to their command of English and their background knowledge. Specifically, it will be crucial to provide the students with disabilities with the support that will help them acquire the English speaking skills fast.
Apart from the factors attributed to learners, there are teacher factors that affect the choice of the corresponding strategy in a tangible way. Specifically, the tools that teachers use to educate deserve to be considered closer. Specifically, the significance of the teacher’s ability to provide comprehensive information regarding the English language, communicate with students, create tasks, supervise the learners and evaluate the students’ performance is obvious.
To teach students English efficiently, an educator must revolve professionally so that they could inspire their learners and be efficient leaders. Moreover, the adoption of the strategies aimed at controlling students’ behavior, such as creating the so-called stop signs (Garton, Copland, & Burns, 2011, p. 14) is as an essential tool for promoting the acquisition of the English speaking, reading, and writing skills by the Saudi Arabian students.
Apart from the development of a coherent teaching strategy, an instructor must design the approach that will help To evaluate the learners’ performance teachers should consider both traditional and modern tools. Specifically, tests (both traditional and online ones) should be viewed as the basic tool of an English language instructor.
Speaking of which, it is essential to realize that a language teacher performs the roles of an instructor, a lecturer, a motivator, a coach, and a guide. To be more exact, a teacher not only provides students with instructions and information but also inspires them to learn more and, more importantly, learn independently.
. One of the most efficient tools in evaluating the performance of young students, assessment by observation can be deemed essential to their success as it helps identify the slightest hiccups in the education. Thus, the emerging issues can be addressed correspondingly, and the learning process will remain uninterrupted.
Self-assessment is another important method of evaluating progress. As it has been stressed above, a teacher must inspire students for self-directed learning and meta-cognition as the means of identifying the needed mode of teaching and acquiring the necessary information in an efficient manner.
Therefore, the learners must be provided with an opportunity to evaluate their progress on their own. The given goal can be accomplished by assigning students with the tasks related to peer assessment and self-evaluation.
Learning Materials: Resources to Consider
The significance of learning materials is especially high for young learners, as these materials define their further understanding of the subject matter and, therefore, their ability to acquire knowledge. Therefore, it is crucial to incorporate different types of resources including visuals, textbooks, online tools, etc.
First, the significance of a curriculum must be addressed. It is essential to make sure that the continuity of the learning process should be maintained. Thus, the provision of a consistent learning process can be facilitated. The continuity in the learning activity can be facilitated by revising the information learned previously during the first ten to fifteen minutes of the lesson.
The importance of textbooks and the scheduling of the curriculum are not to be overrated in the early education setting, either. As a recent study explains, the problem of improving the quality of education as the means of promoting higher performance rates among learners through educating teachers has not been on the state’s agenda for quite a while (Maltihi, 2015, p. 98).
However, the importance of the teachers’ competency is obvious, as it contributes to the provision of a perfect learning environment for young students. Therefore, an adequate arrangement of the existing learning resources and the students’ time is essential to the outcomes of the learning process.
In addition to textbooks, learners need graphic examples of the information acquired in the process of studying. Herein the necessity to use various tools for exemplifying data lies. Although the use of visual aids and textbooks is the most common practice, the adoption of the information technology tools has recently gained popularity due to numerous positive effects.
Visual aids can be interpreted as a crucial part of the young students’ learning process. Posters, pictures, charts, maps and other visual tools for arranging information can be deemed as very efficient. They are popular for a reason; helping learners identify essential data and summarize it, they allow for memorizing it fast by visualizing it.
In addition, to reach a particular demographics, a teacher must appeal to their vision of the world. Consequently, it is essential to take the students’ cultural background into account. In the setting in question, the teacher must adopt the approaches that will help them appeal to the students from middle-, low-, and high-income families, the students from the American, African American, Asian, and other ethnic backgrounds, etc. To enhance the communication process, it will be reasonable to incorporate the use of modern tools such as online assessments, the use of iPods in the classroom, etc., to promote active learning.
To address the needs of young learners, a teacher should consider the use of both traditional resources, e.g., printed books, exercises, etc., and the adoption of interactive online tools. Thus, the learners will be able to receive the necessary information in a manner that involves exciting and engaging activities.
As a result, the students will be capable of memorizing the necessary information fast and recall it easily when necessary. More importantly, the use of the latter set of tools will help create the environment that is close to natural English-speaking one. Hence, the learners will practice their newly acquired skills more efficiently.
Learning Environment and Exposure to English
There is no need to stress that the role of parents in the process of children’s early development is crucial. It is important to make sure that parents take an active part in their children’s education and that they encourage the further use of the skills acquired during lessons by the learners.
However, to facilitate a flawless learning process, the teacher must also make sure that the classroom environment creates the premises for successful knowledge acquisition. Particularly, a teacher must arrange the classroom environment in the ay that allows for the interaction between the students and the teacher as well as among the students.
Conclusion: Fostering Development to Complete a Student as a Person
An educator must bear in mind that teaching young students means inspiring them for further learning and providing them with the set of skills that will help them educate themselves efficiently in the future. More importantly, a teacher must make sure that the students will be able to engage in the process of self-directed learning as they grow older.
In other words, a teacher of young learners must facilitate the students’ personal development along with the academic one. To provide learners with this opportunity, a teacher must consider their unique characteristics and create the environment, in which they feel comfortable learning.
Copland, F., & Garton, S. (2014). Key themes and future directions in teaching English to young learners: Introduction to the Special Issue. ELT Journal, 68(3), 223– 230.
Garton, S., Copland, F., & Burns, A. (2011). Investigating global practices in teaching English to young learners. Birmingham, AL: Aston University.
Gawi, E. M. K. (2012). The effects of age factor on learning English: A case study of learning English in Saudi schools, Saudi Arabia. English Language Teaching, 5(1), 127–139.
Gaynor, B. (2014). Teaching English to young learners in Japan: Communicative competence and classroom reality. In Proceedings of CLaSIC 2014 (pp. 118–127). Japan: Muroran Institute of Technology.
Maltihi, J. F. A. (2015). Saudi EFL teachers’ readiness and perceptions of young learners teaching at elementary schools. English Language Teaching, 8(2), 86–100.
Nunan, D. (2010).Teaching English to young learners.. Anaheim, CA: Anaheim University.
Rahman, M. M. u., & Alhaisoni, E. (2013). Teaching English in Saudi Arabia: Prospects and challenges. Academic Research International, 4(1), 112–118.
Sukarno, O. (2008). Teaching English to young learners and factors to consider in designing the materials. Jurnal Ekonomi & Pendidikan, 5(1), 57–73.