Chapter II Teaching English to young learners 55
55 CHAPTER TWO TEACHING ENGLISH TO YOUNG LEARNERS The aim of this chapter is to characterize modern approaches to teaching foreign languages to young learners. First, an overview of approaches to teaching young learners is presented. Next, a detailed insight into the learning process of differ- ent language areas and skills in the light of children’s development is provided, with typical techniques and activities suggested. In addition, such issues as lan- guage of instruction, learner autonomy and assessment are discussed. The chap- ter finishes with some pedagogical advice for teachers of young learners. 2.1 Approaches and methods At present, six approaches and methods to language teaching are commonly used in primary schools (Brewster et al. 2002). The Audio-Lingual Method (ALM), rooted in structuralism and behaviourism, involves mainly the repetition of new language items, usually based on dialogues. Although it dates back to the 1940s, its modified versions are still used today. However, ALM is generally assessed as too restrictive since it overemphasizes memorization, imitation, and mechanical practice of decontextualized language which is usually carried out with the whole class. When implemented to teaching children, it encourages them to listen to and memorize language chunks, which are crucial in the learn- ing process, but it does not encourage them to think and produce language to express their own meanings. What is more, this approach does not offer enough variety to maintain children’s interest, putting their positive attitude to foreign language learning at risk. Total Physical Response (TPR) is very popular in...
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