Dates: 19 January – 2 February
Article: Key themes and future directions in teaching English to young learners: introduction to the special issue, by Fiona Copland and Sue Garton
Moderators: Sandie Mourão and Shelagh Rixon
The discussion will take place in the Research SIG's Yahoo!Group, which is open to members and non-members of the SIG alike.
Link to article: http://eltj.oxfordjournals.org/content/68/3/223.full
Link to the related author video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6WAanK3eMRs&feature=youtu.be
Despite being something of a ‘Cinderella’ area of study, research into and informed discussion of teaching young learners is on the increase, perhaps mirroring the increasing numbers of children learning English globally in primary schools. This introductory article reviews key themes and issues in the teaching of English to young learners, and explains how the articles in this Special Issue connect to and develop them. It also points forward to some of the areas we expect to be of interest to researchers and practitioners in the years to come.
About the moderators
Sandie Mourão is a teacher educator, author and educational consultant working part-time as an invited assistant professor at Universidade Nova, Lisbon. She has a PhD in didactics and teacher education from the University of Aveiro and specialises in early years language education and the use of children’s literature in all areas of language education. Sandie is co-editor of Early Years Second Language Education: International Perspectives on Theories and Practice (2015, Routledge) and the CLELE journal, an open access online journal http://clelejournal.org/. She is author of the forthcoming Small children - teaching and learning English (DELTA Publishing) as well as a number of language learning courses and resource books. She is a regular speaker at conferences and contributes to edited volumes, journals and magazines related to ELT. Sandie has a website: http://sandiemourao.eu and keeps an award winning blog Picturebooks in ELT, http://picturebooksinelt.blogspot.com/.
Shelagh Rixon’s first degree was in Classics but her career has been in English Language Teaching, teacher education and materials writing. Having taught English in Rome for 3 years in the 1970s, she then trained as a teacher of TESOL to primary and secondary school children. She spent 16 years in the British Council in various roles, including English Language Officer in Italy, before joining the University of Warwick as a lecturer in 1991. There she set up and co-ordinated the MA in Teaching English to Young Learners. She holds an MSc in Applied Linguistics from the University of Edinburgh and in 2012 obtained a doctorate in the area of early literacy teaching to Young Learners of English. She left Warwick University in 2009 and now concentrates on writing and research, as well as acting as a school governor and volunteer in two primary schools.
Questions to prompt discussion
Days 1 and 2
1. Looking at the key themes that Copland and Garton have highlighted, what do you think about each one and the issues that have been raised? Do you agree with the authors? Do know of any other research to support / contradict the authors’ ideas?
Days 3, 4 and 5
2. Do you agree that the term 'Young Learner' is vague? Thinking of your context, how appropriate are the two terms that Copland and Garton adopt from Ellis (2014)? (These are 'early years/ pre-primary' and 'primary'.)
3. Do you have any comments to make in relation to your own practices or on other empirical studies which might shed further light on age appropriate activities and the relevance of 21st century approaches in the YL classroom?
Days 6 and 7
4. What are the policies in your own contexts regarding the teaching of English? How are teachers trained in answer to the lowering of the age in learning English? Have any mistakes been made in your contexts? If so, what have been the effects on approaches to ELT for YLs? What have been the effects on learner results? Are you aware of any studies reporting such issues to add to those that Copland and Garton have cited?
Days 8 and 9
5. What do you feel are appropriate YL pedagogies (for 'pre-primary' and 'primary')? What research are you aware of that supports your ideas?
Days 10 and 11
6. Copland and Garton describe five areas they think would benefit from further investigation. Do you agree with them? Are there any other areas you feel should be included?
Days 12 and 13
7. If you were able to read the ELTJ special issue, how has the collection of articles contributed to your thoughts on the principles and practice of teaching English to YL? Which do you find has been most inspiring?
19 January – 2 February: Article discussion: Key themes and future directions in teaching English to young learners. ELT Journal, 68/3: 223-230
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