At present, languages are taught to children in a way that is truly different from that of which their parents have retained the memory.
The teaching of English in kindergarten and primary school is becoming more and more frequent, both in the private and public sectors. This is due in part to the insistence of the parents.
According to a recent study by the British Council, parents who enroll their children in British Council courses consider English as an essential skill for their future. They believe that the acquisition of this language will improve their child’s career prospects in a world far different from where they grew up.
Teaching methods used in the teaching of young children generally focus on oral communication. Teachers use a wide variety of resources, such as songs, nursery rhymes, rhymes, DVDs, flashcards, sound effects, objects, actions, gestures, expressions, etc. to speak and communicate meaning.
They stimulate several senses at the same time and offer children multiple ways to connect and assimilate concepts. For example, some children prefer to hear information while others prefer to view it. Children have the opportunity to react in a variety of ways (speaking orally, physically, drawing, etc.), enabling them to take advantage of their strengths.
These methods often differ from the methods that were in place when parents learned a foreign language. They are not necessarily the same as those used to learn other subjects in school.
If parents perceive certain pedagogical techniques as ‘not formal enough,’ ‘not serious enough’ or ‘not sufficiently stringent,’ they may tend to question their effectiveness.
It is very important to dispel this kind of misunderstanding by helping parents understand how children learn and by explaining the reason for these techniques.
It will help them figure out what is going on in class and take advantage of classroom activities to support their children’s learning at home.
The first years of a child’s life are the most propitious for learning a language because it is during this period that they most naturally apply to a new language. The mechanisms of acquisition of the language spoken at Home Children learn by doing and actively engaging in the learning process.
Here are some activities used by teachers and the benefits they receive from children:
Songs, rhymes, and rhymes
Children love songs, rhymes, and rhymes. Their repetitive and rhythmic character makes them ideal for learning a language. They allow children to become familiar with the new language and through repetition, retention, and reuse of sentences. They enhance the motivation and confidence of the child. They promote concentration, memory, and coordination.
Many songs, rhymes and nursery rhymes come from the traditional repertoire; they awaken the intercultural sensitivity of the child. Finally, by singing together, children share an activity and develop social skills.
Children like the board games that motivate them and give them the opportunity to practice a foreign language in a relaxed, pleasant and thoughtful way.
They improve the ability to focus and concentrate as well as memory. Children also acquire important social skills by learning to share, to wait, to participate and to cooperate.
The use of illustrated books and narrative techniques provide rich and natural contextualized learning opportunities. Children like to listen to the same stories over and over again, and this repetition allows them to acquire certain elements of language while consolidating others.
By telling stories to children, they are led to adopt certain learning strategies: listen to understand the general meaning, predict, guess and make assumptions. This particularly favors oral comprehension in children.
The quality of the illustrations helps children understand the story by associating what they hear with what they see. When they listen to stories in class, children share emotions such as laughter, sadness, excitement or anticipation. This encourages the child to feel confident and promotes emotional and social development.
It is often referred to as “total physical response” when referring to these activities because physical activities allow children to improve their ability to listen by following instructions and showing through actions and gestures that they have understood them.
Children appreciate physical activities and help them to enrich their vocabulary and exercise their memory.
The Role of the Teacher
Teachers should explain to children the reasons and objectives of language learning activities to understand what they are learning, why they are learning it, and why they learn it.
The role of the teacher is largely that of a facilitator whose mission is to create a positive climate in the classroom. Teachers should also maintain contact with parents to make them understand the merits of these activities and to extend the learning of their children at home.