Małgosia Tetiurka is a lecturer and teacher trainer at the John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin, Poland. She has been teaching English for nearly thirty years. She has taught every age and level, but has always particularly enjoyed teaching children. For the last fifteen years, Małgosia has also shared her experience as an in-service teacher trainer, material writer and conference presenter. She has worked with teachers in many countries including Croatia, Lithuania, Russia, Estonia and Ireland. She is a trainer at Norwich Institute for Language Education (NILE) in the UK, where she specialises in running courses for teachers of young learners from all over the world. Małgosia is also a Cambridge ESOL Oral Examiner for all proficiency levels.
Topic: Myths and facts about teaching young learners
Teaching foreign languages to small children is not as new a phenomenon as some might think. According to Johnstone (2009), we are now witnessing the third wave of early foreign language learning enthusiasm, following one in the late 60 s and one in the 80 s.Consequently, the body of research related to Young Learners is growing, offering new insights into this relatively unexplored area. But do the findings of this new research actually reach front line teachers and do they influence their everyday classroom practices? There are still many myths and fallacies around which hinder effective early foreign language learning. This talk will debunk some of these myths and offer a fresh look at tools, methods and techniques that teachers of English to Young Learners have at their disposal.
Video recording of the plenary session
You can watch the full recording of Małgosia Tetiurka’s talk on British Council Russia’s YouTube channel by clicking the link below:
In this interview, Małgosia Tetiurka talks about some of the reasons why language learning has become increasingly popular over the last few years with young learners. She discusses some of the myths surrounding teaching young learners, as well as some of the discrepancies between what these students need and the instruction they actually receive in the classroom. Małgosia makes some very clear distinctions between young learners and adults and suggests some of the ways in which they can be taught differently. What are some of the key issues teachers should consider with young learners?
Watch the interview with Małgosia clicking the link below.
As part of the interview, Malgosia also answered some of the questions that our online audience asked. You can read her answers below:
Why young learners this year have been chosen for a start? (by Twitter user @urbanurchin)
I don't think I'm in a position to answer this question as it's more a question to Forum organisers. However, if I were organising a conference myself, I'd probably start with YL as well. Why? First of all, this is a topic a lot of people are interested in, either as teachers or as parents. Secondly, there are a lot of controversial issues around the topic and most peope usually have some kind of opinion on them, so it was a good idea to start with discussing these issues. And thirdly, teaching YL involves some energising, invigorating activities and no presentation on YL can do without them. So, all in all, it was a good way to start the conference, wasn't it?
What is the best way to support learners' motivation if they have been learning English for more than 10 years? (by Shadrova Ekaterina)
That's a big issue! If I knew the answer I'd be a rich person because I'd travel the world and share this news with people around. Seriously, I think it's one of the biggest challenges of lowering the starting age: how to keep learners motivated for all those long years. I think part of the solution may be following their development and responding to their changing needs - you can't teach them in the same way when they are 8 and when they are 12. Also, you need to give them a sense of success. Set small goals for them and help them see that they are developing and improving all the time.
I myself teach English as a foreign language to adults and I’m also a mom to a 1-year old girl Lana, whose L1 is Russian. At this very young age she understands (to my surprise) a lot and can speak a few basic words in her mother tongue. Since I have this privilege of teaching her by myself, I always choose very natural contexts for that, but don’t seem to succeed yet. Every time I speak English to Lana, she is rather bewildered and our communication breaks since it doesn’t make any sense to her. Do you think I should keep on going with that or wait and start teaching L2 to her later? I’m a bit worried she will mix up words from both languages, so how do I switch from L1 to L2 so that they both wouldn’t interfere with each other? Thank you for sharing your experience!
In bilingual aducation we usually stick to the 'one person, one language' principle: one parent consistently speaks one language. So when Lana hears you usually speak Russian she might feel confused when she hears English sounds coming from your mouth. Also, bilingual children do not develop two languages to the same extent, one language is always dominating, this might explain why she's more 'fluent' in Russian.Mixing the two languages is also normal for bilinguals, so you shouldn't be worried. Your daughter is very young so you shouldn't be discouraged by these early results. Keep going if you're determined to raise her bilingual.
You can download the presentation “Myths and Facts about teaching Young Learners” below