Brewster, J., Ellis, G. and Girard, D. (1992) The Primary English Teacher's Guide England: Penguin Books
‘The most serious miscalculation which can be made when organising foreign language teaching in primary schools is to seek to make significant savings in time and to imagine, for example, that by starting the teaching two years before entry into secondary school, the pupils will have learnt the contents of the first year teaching program at secondary school, taking into account the fact that not so many periods are available in the primary school timetable.
This can lead to a temptation to base the two years of teaching on a textbook or program used in the first year at secondary school. Such a course of action is doubly dangerous because it fails to take into account not only the fact that the learning strategies and interests of children under eleven are different from those of older children in the first years of secondary school, but also the fact that the rate of progress is different.
Foreign language learning in primary school should always be seen as a satisfying experience in a relaxed atmosphere and not as a race against the clock.’
I came across this quotation in the Primary Essentials course.
On the one hand, I agree that strategies we use in a primary classroom are different from those we use with teenagers or adults. The main motivational factor that drives primary kids is interest, novelty also plays its part. I also agree that the point of teaching English in a primary classroom doesn't consist in teaching a set of grammar rules.
But, judging from the quotation, primary classroom is only fun and no work. I think, the primary aim of a teacher is to educate and to develop, not to entertain. Here, in Russia, we are learning English as a foreign language not as a second one. As an English teacher, I can provide "comprehensible input in a low anxiety setting" (Krashen) for my kids, but it's impossible for an average parent. Moreover, parents and supervisors want a good outcome from our lessons. So, sometimes we have to foster learning, and create artificial environment. Learning must be learning, fun has to be a tool of learning.
So, as the main aims of teaching kids in a primary classroom, I would list the following:
2) arising interest in languages;
3) internalizing a set of the most common structures;
4) developing good pronunciation;
5) learning to read (and ideally to listen);
6) develop a "feeling" for language.
The last point I consider highly important. I've noticed that kids who start learning English early, better "feel" what to say in a particular situation, make fewer mistakes in articles, or "to be", or -s for the third person singular.
What do you think of it?
- Teaching resources
- Teacher development
- Teacher training