Motto: ‘Without grammar very little can be conveyed, without vocabulary nothing can be conveyed.’ (David Wilkins)
Changes are quick and inevitable in the 21st century. The need to teach in general and teach English language to young learners effectively in particular is the challenge posed to all the teachers.
Today, it has become mandatory for the teachers to rethink their teaching strategies with the changing times. As there has been a continuous change in the teaching methods and techniques, vocabulary teaching methods and techniques need desirable changes in a view of the demanding job market in the globalized world.
Teaching young learners is obviously an intensely practical undertaking. We think many teachers believe, or assume, that the practice of teaching is, or should be, based on the application of theories elaborated in parent or feeder disciplines, especially linguistics and psychology. This type of top-down approach to professional education, whereby knowledge is handed down to practitioners by experts remote from the everyday realities of the workplace, is common in many fields apart from teaching. In this ‘applied science model’ , professional competence develops through practice informed by the results derived from scientific knowledge and experimentation. Since scientific knowledge is in a continuous state of flux and development, professional competence needs to undergo periodic in-service updating.
The transition from home to school, whether it occurs at a preschool or in the primary school, marks an important turning point in terms of language development when it comes to young learners. At home, children develop both their physical and conversational skills in unstructured circumstances. The strategies children have developed at home make sense of their world, to talk about their experiences and to wonder about what is new or imaginary continue to be effective. These strategies should not be supplanted but augmented by teachers in helping all children discover theirpotential.
In this respect, the scope of the present paper is to illustrate, in a theoretical and practical form, the specific conditions and the factors that accompany and determine the correct choice of methodologies, materials and activities involved in teaching English to young learners. Moreover, it aims to demonstrate that a professional approach to teaching young learners, based on modern theories and practices, encompassing young learners’ specific needs and considering individual differences will give the expected results.
The main objectives of this paper are: to summarize the theoretical approaches regarding the particularities of teaching young learners; to provide a series of interactive methods of teaching vocabulary through interactive methods; to demonstrate the advantages of applying the multiple intelligences theory when teaching young learners; to highlight that each type of intelligence has its characteristics and it is different from the others; to find ways to develop students’ creativity and critical thinking through interactive methods.
Firstly, fun vocabulary activities can be used to develop a positive effect in the young learner. Interactive teaching techniques have become a part of our everyday teaching, incorporating a multitude of goals beneath a single roof. Interactive classes are designed around a simple principle, without practical application, students often fail to comprehend the depths of the study material. It has been proven that interactive methods are highly efficient, yet the teaching process could be made more efficient through better knowledge of students. For this, we are fortunate to have the multiple intelligences theory proposed by Howard Gardner, according to whom all people possess seven (eight) type of intelligences. I myself never considered that the teacher is much more superior to students, however if it comes to knowledge, life experience, abilities, and skills then ‘Yes’, the teacher is superior, but we should never forget that first of all we are all human beings, both students and teachers, and we have the same feelings yet different personalities and interests.
Secondly, teaching young children is highly rewarding and motivating. Seeing the joy and happiness on their tiny faces, seeing how their eyes sparkle like diamonds when they have a thought-provoking task to undertake, gives the teacher a real satisfaction and the feeling that it is worth all the effort.
All in all, I would like to dedicate this paper on young learners to that particular type of teacher who thinks that it is important whether the children understand what they are taught, whether they enjoy the lesson or they are bored to death, whether they find a way to motivate and help develop student’s abilities and skills. Briefly to that kind of teacher who ‘Does care’.
Prof. Ciurea Roxana-Maria
Şcoala Gimnazială “Marin Preda”, Piteşti
(Postat octombrie 2017)