The age of students is a major factor in our decision about how and what to teach. People of different ages have different needs, competences, and cognitive skills; we might expect children of primary age to acquire much of a foreign language through play, for example, whereas for adults we can reasonably expect a greater use of abstract thought.
There is a considerable debate about whether young learners learn language better or more efficiently than older children or adults.
Some people say that children learn languages faster than adults do. They talk of children who appear to pick up new languages effortlessly. Adolescents are believed to be unmotivated, uncooperative and therefore they make poor language learners. There is another category of people who thin
k that adults have so many barriers to learning (both because of the slowing effects of ageing and because of their past experience), that they only rarely have any success.
There are a number of reasons for teaching English at primary level that do not rely only on the claim that that is the best time to learn languages in a better way:
· the need to expose children from an early age to an understanding of foreign cultures ;
· the need to link communication to the understanding of new concepts;
· the need for maximum learning time for important languages - the earlier you start the more time you get.
Young children spend most of their day-time in an organized learning environment, the school, which is continued at home where they are surrounded by family and friends, all contributing to their development.
Children, small children, are very different from older ones; they are sweet, charming, always asking questions, they are in a continuous movement and expect you to be the same, they need to be rewarded for any little thing.
We must take into account that the child is the adult to be; therefore he/she has a childish side as well as an adult one.
Here are some of the most important characteristics:
- they ask questions all the time;
- they respond to meaning even if they do not understand individual words;
- their understanding comes not only from explanation, but also from what they see and hear, and most of all from what they have the chance to touch , fell and interact with;
- they generally display an enthusiasm for learning and curiosity about the world around them;
- they need individual attention and approval from the teacher;
- they are developing the sense of fairness and they begin to question the teacher's decisions;
- they are able to talk to others, to relate with others in order to communicate, to share information ,and even to learn from the others;
- they have a limited attention span; they get bored easily if the activity is not interesting or engaging.
Taking into account all the characteristics mentioned above it must be said that teachers teaching at this level need special skills, which are completely different from those needed elsewhere in the education system.
Children and Their Particularities of Age in Teaching a Foreign Language written by Monique Barb for FamousWhy.com
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