Small children require the teacher’s individual attention as much as possible. Their attention span is small (five to fifteen minutes). For the teacher, it can be quite disconcerting when a three-year-old wanders off in the middle of a song or story to play with a toy. It does not mean they are not following what is going on; it is probably because some other child had the toy before and they see this as their only opportunity to get hold of it. We must not take it as a personal rejection. It is very difficult to hold the attention of a whole group of small children and the best way to do it is to ring the changes every five to ten minutes –unless you see that they are all really absorbed in what they are doing, in which case the teacher can let it go on a bit longer.
Young children may spend a long time absorbing language before they actually produce anything. It is not a good idea to try to force them to speak in the target language as this can create a lot of emotional stress. By doing repetitive songs, rhymes, games and plenty of choral work, children will be able to produce language without the stress of having to speak individually.
Children of this age are less inhibited. They are not afraid to be imaginative and they are not yet bound by the constraints that demand that adults be logical. As they are so young, they are not carrying any negative attitudes left over from previous school experiences. They are curious about everything, keen to learn, and very receptive. However, they can be selfish and uncooperative. If they want something, they will push another child over to get it and show little concern for the other child’s feelings. Some of them will use temper tantrums to try and get their own way, and may scream or bite. Some may need help with going to the toilet and there could be occasional accidents with incontinence.
In the primary school years (6-11 years), children are in the concrete operational stage, that is, they are not as egocentric as before, they can perceive something else beyond their own realities and point of view, and have an incipient comprehension of physical and mechanical realities and causal relationships, though they cannot yet carry out abstract operations. Their memory techniques are progressively developed, being able to review, organize and use imagery, recall and scripts for learning. The first metacognitive abilities appear, so that they can start learning how to carry out intellectual processes such as planning, decision-making and strategic choice for solving problems.
Linguistically speaking, they have learnt nearly everything regarding the oral aspects of the language, including discourse and pragmatic skills such as illocutionary intentions, speech registers and topic shifts. Nevertheless, some grammatical aspects are still in the process of being learnt, such as the full use of co-ordinators, conditionals, and relative clauses. Another very important task ahead is the achievement of complete proficiency for the symbolic communication represented by reading and writing, which, for the English learners, has an added degree of complexity, due to its deep orthographic system.
This is the situation of prospective Primary learners, whose job is learning a new language with the cognitive and linguistic tools they have and with the help of the teacher (and probably a textbook).
APPROACH, METHOD, TECHNIQUES AND STRATEGY
o A set of assumptions dealing with the nature of language, learning, and teaching.
o Theoretically well-informed positions and beliefs about the nature of language, the nature of language of learning, and the applicability of both to pedagogical settings.
o Described as an overall plan for systematic presentation of language based upon a selected approach.
o A generalized set of classroom specifications for accomplishing linguistic objectives.
o Tend to be concerned primarily with teacher and student roles and behaviours and secondarily with such features as linguistic and subject-matter objectives, sequencing, and materials.
o An approach is axiomatic, a method is procedural.
o Implementational – that which actually takes place in a classroom. It is particular trick, stratagem, or contrivance used to accomplish an immediate objective.
o Must be consistent with a method, and therefore in harmony with an approach as well.
o Specific methods of approaching a problem or task, modes of operation for achieving a particular end, or planned design for controlling and manipulating certain information.
o Pedagogical practices in general (including theoretical under-pinnings and related research), it is How to teach.
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