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Play with English
- Play with English
- Oh, Hyun Joo
- Issue Date
- 외국어교육특수대학원 TESOL학과
- 이화여자대학교 외국어교육특수대학원
- Candice A. MacDonald
The English education system in Korea mainly focuses on grammar, reading and listening skills. Therefore, students have less opportunity to be exposed to English environments in order to enhance their speaking and writing skills. However, English has evolved into a global language and people now have more chances to use English, even in non-English speaking countries. For example, English has become one of the mandatory subjects in Korean schools and high scores on English proficiency tests influence college entrance and job prospects (Cho, 2004). Cho (2004, p.32) also states that “parents of young learners are ready to invest money and time in helping to improve their children’s English proficiency.” Based on my experience of teaching English to young learners in Korea, parents want their children to learn integrated language skills through more than just textbooks. According to many parents I have talked to, the major reason they send their children to English-speaking kindergartens is get them exposed to a language-rich (English) environment and they want them to develop their integrated skills naturally, especially with their listening and speaking skills. As a result, there have been a number of changes in the current Korean English education system even with the younger age groups.
In order to enhance children’s listening and speaking skills, as well as teaching well balanced integrated skills, some efficient teaching approaches and methodologies need to be incorporated in Korean English textbooks. Therefore, I would like to incorporate a theme-based methodology and communicative language teaching in my textbook. The aim of this book is to, get students to learn English and then use it through a variety of interactive activities such as: role plays, games, arts and crafts and singing and dancing.
The group of students I seek to address consists of young learners, specifically, those aged from five to seven. The textbook is suitable for both kindergarten children and those in the first grade of elementary school. The textbook will be used for private institutes, such as: English kindergartens or English private schools for elementary school students. The class will be conducted with ten to twelve Korean students or possibly groups of students of different nationalities. For instance, students in my current kindergarten class are from Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Japan and Korea. To study with this textbook, the child must meet the level of 2 - Beginning Speaking and Writing according to WIDA standards. For example, students are expected to know and read some basic vocabulary and phrases and to be able to produce short sentences orally. I have chosen this target group of students because I have been teaching children of this age group for the past two years and I would like to apply my acquired language and teaching skills to my own materials. Moreover, it will be a great opportunity for me to modify, enhance and improve materials, activities and exercises I have had to use in the past.
In my textbook I would like to adopt some aspects of Content-Based Instruction (CBI). According to Snow (2001), CBI forms five different models and I like to adopt one of these models called the theme-based approach. This approach puts focus on language to learn content areas when teaching and learning English. Therefore, other subjects such as math, science, music and art will be taught in English. Richards and Rodgers (2001) state that theme-based lessons are a beneficial approach to teaching integrated skills, since it avoids fragmentation and requires multiple skills to complete task and is connected with the theme. Thus, each unit will be based on a particular topic. The target vocabulary will be introduced by flashcards, realia or by showing video clips. TPR (total physical response) activities can be done through role plays, games or singing and dancing. According to Cameron (2001), children can associate words, functions, structures and situations with a particular topic. In spite of using solely the L2, through a variety of interactive activities, games and visual aids, a positive and enjoyable atmosphere will be created, which will help students to feel less anxiety. It will also lower students’ affective filter and encourage them to engage more in class activities.
I also would like to adopt Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) into my textbook. According to Cameron (2001, p.107), in CLT lessons, “learners learn the language by using it to communicate with others”. Richards and Rodgers (2001) also mention that in CLT classrooms, students interact and communicate with each other through pair and group work. By applying a CLT approach, I want my students to develop their integrated language skills, especially with listening and speaking skills. Through interactive and meaningful-based activities, students can develop their communicative competence and learn how to work cooperatively. Alptekin (2007) believes that “language is learnt effectively when the student’s focus is on meaning rather than form.”
I would also like to incorporate Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL) into my lessons so that students can learn through multimedia. Hacken (2003) claims that computers and the web are very useful tools for foreign language learning since they provide a lot of audio-visual input which facilitates students’ learning positively. For instance, online stories and activities will be integrated in my textbook so that learners can repeatedly listen and watch the stories and be able to grasp and repeat the words or phrases from the stories. This will improve the flow of ideas as well as enjoy watching them.
By studying with my textbook, students should be able to understand and use target vocabulary, phrases and sentences related to certain topics. Students should be able to make a connection between the concept and the language that have been learned through each unit. Students should be able to understand the teacher’s instructions as well as content areas. Moreover, students should be able to apply their acquired language in real life situations.
Due to the needs of my target group, I believe my textbook will incorporate a number of useful resources and materials in order to achieve students’ needs and enhance their language learning. By incorporating theme-based teaching, CLT and CALL, my textbook has numerous interesting, fun, and interactive lessons which will develop students’ integrated skills as well as content areas. Attractive materials such as stickers, CDs, online stories and video clips, will be utilized in my textbook to motivate young learners. I want my students to be exposed to a friendly, enjoyable and language-rich classroom environment.
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