20 Oct 2016

Useful tips

I read an article last month where it was said that the content of lessons is less important than the methodology that teachers use in an age where the access to the internet and information has an important value everywhere.   At that moment, I thought of my Primary English lessons and I did agree with that idea. Maybe because I have my personal methodology. Let me explain.
When I teach very young children I usually start lessons in a circle. We look at and greet each other through a song. After that we follow with a poem or chant they have previosly learnt through repetition in other lessons. We play to repeat words or group of words in different ways, making a line or a train,  aloud and whispering, and giving different musical versions to what we are learning as well. We have fun and students feel comfortable with the language. However, we all know that it is sometimes difficult for those who are shy or introverted. For that reason, sometimes we use mime to match the action with some words (do, listen to and say)
I want their best because my main goal is to hear my students speak English when they greet, ask questions and share some feelings among others. So, how can I manage that? Personally, I think that the clue is to reinforce students' confidence through these tips:

  • Speak English as much as possible so children can listen to the foreign language and have a good comprehension of the different messages. In this way, children will get familiar with phonetics from the very beginning.
  • Design speaking activities for everyone to succeed. Give patterns to them if the activity requires them. Make them feel confident with the activity.
  • Present short activities to keep their attention and interest. Remember that attention is the sharpest during the first 10 minutes. If the teacher speaks for more than that time, students will start to tune out.
  • When you introduce poems, songs or chants, use lots of repetition because children need to do things many times. That makes them feel comfortable and helps them to  learn.
  • Link gestures, movements and/or actions with clue words. This way of introducing the new vocabulary or structures in oral activities will reinforce children’s learning. Whenever they want to produce the activity, these clue words will remind them and they will match their gestures with their productions.
  • During your first time introducing the oral exercise, do not use any visual support. When children get used to the new vocabulary and gestures and actions, then they will be ready to see the corresponding images and spelling. 
  • Pay special attention to those students who need your reinforcement. Maybe they need to be encouraged to repeat and do the actions that the oral activity requires.
  • Use technology in some activities and upload some of them to the School English's web. Students will check and share them at home.
As a conclusion, I would say that the goal of teaching oral language skills is to improve students’ communicative skills, because in only in that way, students can express themselves in the foreign language. In addition, lots of research underlines the importance of play, especially in the early years of life. When students play and have fun, there’s motivation to create a safe place, which inspires good sharing and can stimulate learning.

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