With schools closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, parents (and close family members) need to keep their children learning and entertained at home. Reading stories helps children practise English in an entertaining way. To begin with, show your child several storybooks. Ask them to choose the one they want to read. Continue reading
Thank you to everyone who attended the webinar ‘Strategies for EMI/CLIL Success for Primary Learners’! During the webinar I had defined EMI and CLIL while addressing a few strategies applying the CLIL approach focusing on primary learners.
EMI – English as a Medium of Instruction
Information communicated to the learner (English being their non-native language) in the classroom is in English. This includes subject content, student materials and resources (textbooks and or coursebooks), and lecture instructions.
CLIL – Content and Language Integrated Learning
CLIL refers to, situations where subjects, or parts of subjects, are taught through a foreign language with dual-focused aims, namely the learning of content and the simultaneous learning of a foreign language.
[D. Marsh, 1994]
Strategy Focus for Primary Learners with CLIL – Use of Visuals and its Benefits
Visual aids are tools and instruments teachers will use to encourage student learning by making the process easier, simpler, and more interesting for the learner. Visual aids usage supports information acquisition by allowing learners to digest and comprehend knowledge more easily.
- Examples of visual aids, but not limited to, are: Pictures, models, charts, maps, videos, slides, diagrams, flashcards, and classroom props.
Thank you all for your interesting questions! Here I will do my best to respond to a couple of those I could not answer during the webinar.
What challenges do students in EMI [classes] face?
A student’s stage in education, (i.e. Primary, secondary, etc.) would result in different challenges. Overall, there are usually two main factors to consider in an EMI learning environment; first the student’s native tongue is not English, and second, the acquisition of the subject content being taught. Since the learner is dealing with new and fresh information in a relative new subject, those challenges being difficult on their own, a strong command of English would be a prerequisite.
That being understood, without the language ability, challenges could include difficulties comprehending subject concepts or themes, struggles communicating with the teacher or classroom peers, even troubles using materials such as their textbooks, workbooks, or class resources.
I am not stating that a student must be 100% fluent in English for EMI to be successful, but since EMI classrooms do not focus solely on English language learning, an appropriate level of English is needed to help learners reach their goals.
Does CLIL overlap with the PPP approach?
I believe that CLIL and the PPP method can overlap. Just to clarify the PPP methodology, this style of English teaching follows the 3Ps – presentation, practice, production. This method deals with a set process of how to deliver content to a L2 student, then provides support for language usage and application. Though CLIL does not encompass or represent all learning styles, it does provide a more flexible set of principles and guidelines. To paraphrase our previous definition, CLIL is established as a learning environment that satisfies the two goals of learning content and learning a foreign language equally. I like to think of the PPP method as a language delivery system. If an English teacher is teaching her L2 students science and writing skills, the PPP method can be used just as effectively as with a teacher teaching L1 grammar to an L1 classroom.
Many of the questions that were included were in regards to characteristics of a CLIL classroom/lesson. For that, I would like to recommend a short article for additional information.
The British Council has an article by Steve Darn that addresses CLIL’s framework and expectation in the classroom with supplemental resources: https://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/article/clil-a-lesson-framework. I also would like to recommend some other resources that I have found very helpful as well for CLIL and EMI in the classroom:
- Ball, P., Kelly, K., Clegg, J. (2015). Putting CLIL into Practice. Great Clarendon Street, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
- Deller, S., Price, C. (2007). Teaching Other Subjects Through English. Great Clarendon Street, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Missed my webinar? click the link below to watch the recording!
Interested in EMI and CLIL? Get practical recommendations from our experts with our position paper. Click here to download.
Joon Lee has been involved in the EFL and ESL educational community at the positions of Academic Director, Content and Curriculum Developer, and Academic Advisor. He has been fortunate to pursue his interests in developmental learning from both in and out of the classroom. At OUP he is part of the Asia Educational Services team and shares his experiences providing teacher training and professional development workshops. He holds great respect for educators and administrators who show passion towards nurturing a learner’s path to success.
If I asked you what the hardest part of learning English was, how many of you would point out the relationship (or seeming lack of a relationship) between how English sounds and how it is written?
My social media feeds are full of jokes about English spelling, like the famous poem ‘The Chaos’ by G. Nolst Trenite, which uses rhymes to point out that
“Blood and flood are not like food,
Nor is mould like should and would.”
Ahead of my forthcoming webinar Fun with Phonics next month, let’s go back to basics with phonics and think about how it is relevant in the young learner’s classroom.
What is phonics?
English is not spelt phonetically so reading and spelling in English can be challenging even for native speakers. Phonics is a system that was developed to help native speaking children learn to read in English. It involves linking the 44 sounds of English (phonemes) to the possible ways they can be spelt (graphemes). There are three main types of phonics: Analytic, Embedded and Synthetic.
- Analytic phonics takes whole words and asks learners to analyse them. Students are taught to compare sound patterns, for example identifying what is the same about the words pet, purple and potato, or noticing the similarities between words with the same ending like book and cook.
- Embedded phonics teaches phonics as and when it is needed. For example, if a student is having particular difficulties with a new word. It is not a systematic approach, and students are only taught what is needed so not all phonics elements are covered.
- Synthetic phonics is the most widely used approach around the world. This is because it is the most effective. This method takes a systematic approach to phonics, teaching children to sound out words to ‘decode’ what they say, or blend sounds together to ‘encode’ them in their written form.
As Synthetic phonics is the most widely used, we will look at this further during the webinar.
Why does it matter to English language teachers?
As a native English speaker (and reader) I clearly remember receiving phonics instruction as I navigated English spelling. I remember working through levelled reading schemes in school, and reading with my Grandmother as she challenged me to find all the words in the newspaper with “oo” in them while we experimented with the sounds they make. More than 30 years on and phonics has become a buzzword in the English language classroom.
However, phonics doesn’t just help children to associate the sounds and spelling of English. Through focusing on the sounds of English, young learners can develop confidence when they tackle new words. It can also help them to improve their spoken and written English and develop their learner autonomy. We’ll be exploring this further in the webinar.
How can I teach phonics?
In 2018 there are plenty of great phonics-based reading schemes that can be used in our classrooms.
There are those such as Floppy’s Phonics which is designed for the first language English speakers, but which is increasingly used in the second language classroom. Then there are schemes such as Oxford Phonics World which is developed specifically for learners of English. Phonics can also be seen embedded in young learners’ coursebooks such as Family and Friends, where children learn phonics while they learn English.
Of course, having the right materials is only half of the battle. As with anything else in the classroom, success with phonics will also depend on how well you implement the ideas into your lessons.
Charlotte Rance is a freelance teacher trainer and educational consultant based in Brighton, UK. She has been working in the English Language Teaching industry for over a decade, and her key areas of interest are young learners and the use of stories and reading as a tool for language learning. Her main goal as a trainer is to provide practical advice and strategies that teachers can implement in their lessons.
This presentation draws from my experience of working as an ELT teacher, teacher educator and researcher in relatively underprivileged contexts in sub-Saharan Africa. I hope the issues I have highlighted here resonate with teachers in other parts of the world. While policymakers continue to promote Curricula changes which focus on the development of communicative competence and learner-centred pedagogies, such policies are not often matched by a concomitant provision of human, material, or financial resources. As a result, classrooms remain overcrowded (some of my examples are taken from a classroom of 235 teenagers), and there is an acute lack of textbooks and other teaching and learning resources.
Teacher educators and teachers in this context, like elsewhere, have traditionally concerned themselves with teaching methods and techniques, teaching theories, learning materials, and classroom conditions. Yet there is evidence (e.g. from work done by members of the Teaching English in Large Classes Network, which shows that learners can play a very important role in the development of good practices. My own experience of working with young learners and teenagers in large under-resourced classrooms in sub-Saharan Africa has shown me that the best policies, materials, teaching practices etc. can only be as good as the learners for whom they are designed.
My research into context appropriate ELT pedagogy in Cameroon has shown that it may be possible to develop a pedagogic partnership which takes account of learner agency in teaching and teacher education processes. In this study, 11-year-old children claimed to learn better through collaborative tasks rather than quietly listening to their teacher.
Good teaching does not necessarily lead to good learning, but good learning can be achieved sometimes in spite of teaching. In an under-resourced context, learning must be a mutually constructed endeavour; a collaborative experience between teachers and learners, striving towards common goals. Both parties should have the same answers to the following questions:
- What do we want to achieve?
- How shall we achieve it?
- Where shall we find the resources we need?
This collaboration between teachers and students in the design of content and process of learning is what I call a ‘pedagogy of partnership’. The examples show that when students are involved in sourcing and or producing their own materials for the language classroom and when they are given opportunities to contribute ideas for classroom activities, they benefit from using language productively and authentically. What is more, student-generated materials become invaluable learning resources in resource-poor contexts.
Watch my webinar to learn more about my research, and the Pedagogy of Partnership.
Harry Kuchah has been involved in English Language Teacher education and materials development for 20 years. His interests are in developing appropriate learning resources and processes for English language education in under-resourced large class contexts.
Puppets are a great way to encourage and motivate your pre-primary learners when learning a new language.
Here, Kathryn Harper, one of the authors from Show and Tell, gives her top ten tips for using a puppet in the classroom.
1) Greetings and routines: “Hello. How are you?”
Establishing predictable routines is extremely important in the pre-primary classroom to help with classroom management. With routines, children quickly get to understand what’s expected of them, giving them the confidence to learn and achieve more.
A great way to use the class puppet is for routines. The puppet can greet and say goodbye to the children when they come in or leave the class, and elicit information from them, for example, “How are you today?”
The children will be comfortable and interested in replying to the puppet, and even the shyest child will want to interact with it in this way.
By using the puppet regularly for specific activities such as ‘Reading time’ or ‘Goodbye time’, you can move from one activity to the next seamlessly, keeping your students motivated and engaged.
2) Creating affective conditions
One of the pre-conditions for learning is for children to feel comfortable, secure, and in a nurturing environment. The presence of a class puppet can help reinforce this ‘safe’, affectionate space.
Here’s how to create this space using your puppet:
- Puppets, particularly a soft one, can give cuddles to the children. This creates an instant warm reaction with the children.
- Children can express affection towards the puppet by stroking it, patting its head etc. This contact can be extremely important in breaking down barriers, relaxing the children, and enabling physical expression.
- The puppet can comfort children if they are sad, for example, they can sit with the puppet. The puppet keeps children comforted and includes them in the class.
- The puppet can be emotional when you can’t, for example, show anger or cry. This is a great way for children to learn about different emotions.
3) Using humour to animate the classroom
As a teacher, you know that getting and keeping the attention of a class full of little ones can be a challenge when it’s just you up at the front of the class. Having a class puppet can suddenly make everything more interesting for your students, and is a great way to animate your class. Used in the right doses, the puppet can keep the attention of your students in many ways:
- By doing funny or unusual things.
- By showing reactions or emotions that might not be acceptable.
- By creating a focus to an otherwise boring event.
- By interacting with you.
4) Being allowed to get things wrong
Learning from mistakes and helping children see the good side of getting things wrong is key for their development. The puppet can be a huge confidence booster to your students, by showing them that it’s perfectly normal to get things wrong. It can do this by:
- Showing the children that it doesn’t understand everything – and that’s alright!
- Making fun of itself when it doesn’t understand –taking the pressure off children to get things perfect first time.
- Letting the children play at being the teacher.
5) Modelling activities
When it comes to new activities and role plays, puppets can make the best partners. The puppet can attempt the role play and make a few mistakes. This shows students that it’s fine if they don’t get things right first time. Eventually, the puppet will complete the role play correctly and provide the perfect model for the children.
6) Acting out
One of the most effective and involving activities for children is acting out stories or situations. Of course the children could be the actors themselves, but if they use puppets, it liberates them and gives them greater creative licence. In particular, shy children can come alive using puppets as it takes the focus off them. What’s more, children with lower linguistic levels can be just as engaged with puppets because they can react visually through actions when they don’t have words.
7) Helping create stories or storytelling
Following on from number six, the next step is for children to create their own stories or follow on from an existing one. For this, you will need more than one puppet but you can easily get kids to bring in some of their cuddly toys, or make your own! When children tell their own stories, you really know they are engaged, their brains are working, and they have something to say.
This is a great activity to get the whole class participating. It can be very casual and short, or more involved and set up with props depending on your class size, the confidence of your students, or the learning outcomes you have set.
8) Being a target for activities
Activities are a lot more fun when a puppet is playing along. For example, if you are working on furniture vocabulary, you could play games such as ‘Where’s the puppet?’ – “He’s on the chair!” Or for classroom objects, you could play ‘What’s in the puppet’s bag?’ You can play games in which you pass the puppet around the class until someone says a particular word, and you could even play ‘Puppet says’ (instead of ‘Simon says’). The variations are endless. Have fun including the puppet in class games, and see your students’ participation soar!
9) The puppet as a a ‘prize’
The puppet is a tool for helping students learn how to behave in class, and as such, it can be used as a reward or a prize to incentivise good behaviour or hard work. Some ways you could use the puppet as a reward include:
- holding the puppet for the rest of the class
- leading the class in a song as ‘the puppet’
- saying ‘Goodbye’ to everyone as ‘the puppet’
Children will be proud to take responsibility for the puppet during the class, and know they must look after it carefully.
10) Making puppets and creating a persona
Making puppets can become a great cross-curricular activity in itself and develop students’ fine motor skills. Get the children to create puppets reflecting characters from their English coursebook or their favourite stories, reflecting themselves or their chosen imaginary characters. By investing with the actual making of these puppets, role play or storytelling will become a lot more personal to the students.
Puppet making can be very simple or more complex. You can make puppets out of socks or paper bags. Finger puppets can be made out of felt, wool, paper or other materials, or even stick puppets made from lollypop sticks. There a lots of other ways to make great puppets so have fun getting crafty with your students! Looking for some templates to help you get started? Here are some finger puppets featuring some of the much loved characters from OUP’s Show and Tell series!
Kathryn Harper has a background in ELT teaching in both France and Canada. She worked in publishing for 10 years as a grammar and reference editor (OUP), developing-world schools and ELT publisher (OUP and Macmillan), and ELT publisher for Latin America (Macmillan). She has written educational materials for the Middle East, Latin America, and Africa, and is one of the authors of the pre-primary course Show and Tell (OUP).