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Comparing Selected Modern Methods of Teaching English to Young Learners

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Katarzyna Rokoszewska

The book presents the process of first and second language acquisition in children as well as the main principles of conventional and unconventional approaches and methods implemented in the general education as well as the language education of children. The long-term quantitative study described focused on the comparison of the results obtained by young learners taught English according to the Helen Doron Method in private courses and the results gained by young learners instructed according to the modern eclectic method at public primary school. The results were compared in such language areas and skills as vocabulary, grammar, language chunks, pronunciation, listening skill, speaking skill and a general level of language acquisition.

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Chapter II Teaching English to young learners 55

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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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