К содержанию номера журнала: Вестник КАСУ №2 - 2012
Авторы: Кызыкеева А.Б., Токтаргалиева Kымбат Mукатаевна
Vocabulary has a
special significance for children learning a new language. It is an element
that links the four skills of language like listening, speaking, reading and
writing altogether. Vocabulary is one of the most important aspects of the
foreign language teaching and learning. The word is a recognizable linguistic
unit for children in their first language and so they will notice words in the
new language. Often children are taught words in the new language by showing
them objects that they can see and touch, and that have single word labels in
the first language. From their earliest lessons, children who are “young
learners” are encouraged to think of the new language as a set of words.
First, it is
necessary to give the definition to the notion “young learners”. The term
covers a wide age range. This can be anybody from the age of three to the age
of eighteen. There is a big difference between what a three-year-old child can
do and what a child of fifteen can do. We should consider their development
too. Some children develop faster, others need more time. Teaching young learners
requires the knowledge of all the differences in their development.
Understanding these differences can help a teacher to develop methods and a
system of work to be used in the process of teaching. Of course, it is not
possible to say that every child of nine will know this and that. But it is
possible to pick out some characteristics which a teacher should know and
should be aware of.
Teaching a foreign
language to children is different from teaching adults. Some differences are
obvious: children are often more enthusiastic and lively as learners. They want
to please the teacher rather than their peer group. They will have a go at an
activity even when they don’t quite understand why or how. However, they also
lose interest more quickly and are less able to keep themselves motivated on
tasks they find difficult. Children often seem less embarrassed than adults at
talking in a new language, and their lack of inhibition seems to help them get
a more native-like accent [1, 34].
Young learners are
grateful when someone invests time in them. The results are seen quite easily
and of course teachers demand this kind of satisfaction. These children still
want to learn something new. When they know it, they are happy to present it
and they feel more important. It is necessary to point out some characteristics
of this age group:
- They are already
very good at interpreting meaning without necessarily understanding the
- They already
have great skills in using limited language creatively.
- They frequently
learn indirectly rather than directly.
- They take great
pleasure in finding and creating fun in which they do.
- They have a
ready imagination and use it a lot.
- They are happy
when they can play.
- They love to
share their experiences.
- They love when
people pay attention to them and their talking.
- They are able to
talk about what they are doing.
- They can think,
argue, discuss and they are able to interact with both children and adults.
- They are able to
concentrate for some period of time.
situations and through situations – they use several senses.
-They are able to
use language skills not even realizing them.
-They do not
realize what is fact and what is fiction sometimes.
- They want to
learn and are happy when they learn something, then they have to share it with
somebody and they are proud that they learnt something, they can show off a
- Often they
“teach” each other.
- They love to be
praised for what they have done and learnt, this is very important fact to keep
-Very often they
pretend they understand everything and they know everything.
gives the following tips for teaching English to children:
1. Involve children
in hands-on activities. Children's minds are incredibly open and they learn by
absorbing ideas and concepts directly. Children need to be actively involved.
Get students up and out of their chairs and moving around. Sing songs, and play
2. Avoid talking
for long periods as the energy level of the classroom drops lower and lower.
Explain an activity quickly and then go to it. Keep the energy moving! If the
planned activity is a flop, move on. Keep a few extra activities handy for this
purpose. Children need lot so f stimulation all the time.
3. Children learn
by interacting with each other and with the teacher. Try to talk to each child
individually each class. Whenever possible, have children working in groups and
4. Review. New
information is absorbed and has meaning when it is related to information
students have already learned. Quickly review new concepts at the beginning of
students to correct themselves and other students. Self correction or
self-regulation is an important part of learning. Students should be encouraged
to ask, "How am I doing?" and "Am I doing this right?" in
an open and non-judgmental environment. Children raised in authoritative
cultures may need additional re-enforcement.
6. Use what is learned
in different contexts. The more contexts used the better, and the more concrete
and “real life” the contexts the better. Make it real for students by talking
about them and their lives.
Encourage and build students up in a natural way. Learning occurs when students
are motivated and feel good about themselves [2, 36].
It is very
important to choose the right way of teaching English for children. In case of
children as language learners, successful lessons and activities are those that
are tuned to the learning needs of pupils, rather than to the demands of the
text-book unit, or to the interests of the teacher. The teacher definitely has
to be very sensitive to the children’s needs and has to prepare the lessons
well. The teacher should avoid a stereotype; the lessons have to be creative
and lively. Otherwise, this could have bad consequences for the learners’
further improvement in the language.
school students is different from teaching adults. Young learners tend to change
their mood every other minute, and they find it extremely difficult to sit
still. On the other hand, they show a greater motivation than adults do to do
things that appeal to them. Since it is almost impossible to cater to the
interests of a number of young individuals, the teacher has to be inventive in
selecting interesting activities, and must provide a great variety of them.
vocabulary instruction indicated that children learn most of their vocabulary
indirectly by engaging daily in oral language, listening to adults read to
them, and reading extensively. Moreover, vocabulary could be taught directly;
this can be done by introducing specific words before reading, providing
opportunities for active engagement with new words, and repeating exposure to
the vocabulary in many contexts.
development involves children’s coming to understand unfamiliar words and being
able to use them appropriately. It also involves teachers’ helping them to
model how to use a variety of strategies. Besides this, the role of the teacher
is to support and to mediate.
In case of
teaching vocabulary to secondary school students, teacher supports learning
process and mediates what next it is the child can learn; this has applications
in both lesson planning and in how teachers talk to pupils minute by minute.
Good support is
tuned to the needs of the child and adjusted as the child became more
competent. Wood (1998) suggests that teachers can scaffold children’s learning
in various ways:
- Teachers can help
secondary school students to attend to what is relevant by suggesting, praising
the significant, and providing focusing activities.
- Teachers can
help secondary school students to adopt useful strategies by encouraging
rehearsal and by being explicit about organization.
- Teachers can
help secondary school students to remember the whole task and goals by
reminding, modeling, and by providing part-whole activities.
The notion of
helping secondary school students attend to what is important will recur in
various topics. In directing attention and in remembering the whole tasks and
goals on behalf of the learner, the teacher is doing what children are not able
to do for themselves. When they focus on some parts of a task or the language,
they want to use, secondary school students may not be able to keep in mind the
larger task or communicative aim because of limits to their antinational
capacity. Between them, teacher and students manage the whole task, but the way
in which the parts and aspects are divided up varies with age and experience.
The teacher does most of the managing of joint engagement on a task.
characteristics of secondary school students’ foreign language learning lie in
the amount and type of exposure to the language: there will be very little
experience of the language outside the classroom, and encounters with the
language will be through several hours of teaching in a school week. In the
case of a global language like English, however, even very young children will
encounter the language in use on video, TV, computers and film. What they might
not be exposed to is “street” use, i.e. people using the language for everyday
life purposes all around them. In foreign language teaching, there is a
responsibility on the teacher to provide exposure to the language and to
provide opportunities for learning through classroom activities [3, 11-12].
generally less able to give selective and prolonged attention to features of
learning tasks than adults, and are more easily diverted and distracted by
other pupils. When faced with talk in new language, they try to understand it
in terms of the grammar and salient cues of their first language and pay particular
attention to items of the vocabulary the second language that they are familiar
with. These findings will not surprise experienced primary teachers, but they
give further empirical support to the idea that teachers can help learners by
focusing their attention on useful sources of information in the new language.
So, directing attention is a key principle with many applications in the
secondary school students’ classroom [4, 13].
point in teaching vocabulary is the selection of words teachers want to teach.
It is quite easy to teach concrete words at lower level and then become more
abstract. Thus, teachers need to consider the frequency too. There is a choice
which words to teach on the basis of frequency, how often the words are used by
the speaker of the language. Especially with Pre-Intermediate secondary school
students words that they are familiar with and they can stick to them should be
taught. Very often words are taught according to themes and topics.
Nowadays all the
course books are organized into themes and they provide vocabulary according to
it. If there is e.g. a theme “Animals”, then words like naming animals, also
where they live, what they eat etc. are expected. Words that have quite
specific meaning should be avoided with pre-intermediate secondary school
Ur states that young learners need to be
taught the form of the word, then grammar, collocations, meaning and word
formation. In the form pronunciation and spelling should be mentioned. “The
learner has to know what a word sounds like (its pronunciation) and what it
looks like (its spelling)” [4, 60].
One of the popular
and effective ways in which to teach a new vocabulary is the Presentation,
Practice, and Production teaching method [5, 44].
teacher presents the new word, an event that involves the presentation of pronunciation
and spelling, all in context.
Next the teacher
allows the students to practice the new word in a controlled setting, making
sure the learners have understood it properly.
The third is the
production stage, where there is less-controlled practice and an informal
assessment of learning whereby the students get chance to use the new word in
an original way, to relate it to their knowledge and experiences.
These three stages
help the learners to consolidate the new word in their mental vocabulary bank.
This method of
presentation, practice and production is an approach that follows a definite
1. The teacher
presents the new vocabulary and explains the form of the language in a
2. The students
practice this new vocabulary through controlled activities such as worksheets
or question and answer activities.
3. The students
use or produce what they have learned in a communicative activity such as a
role-play, communication game, or question and answer session.
Each stage of the
Presentation, Practice and Production lesson must be planned well to be
effective. Firstly, the teacher should consider how many words should be
presented during the lesson. This is closely connected with several factors:
- the level of the
pupils – beginners, intermediate, etc.
familiarity with the words – have they come across these words or are they
- words difficulty
– are the words abstract, are they easily pronounced, can similar words be
found in the learner’s native language, etc.?
- can the words be
- shall the
teacher use regalia or anything that the pupils can become familiar with?
- can pictures be
used to elicit vocabulary?
After the teacher
chooses what items to teach, he or she should follow certain guidelines.
However, the Presentation, Practice, and Production method is a highly flexible
approach to teaching and there are many different activities a teacher can
employ for each stage.
include mime, drawing, audio. In fact, it is a good idea to try to engage with
different sense of the students to get across the meaning of the new word. It
is also important to make sure that students have understood the new word
before getting them to move on to practice it. It is often fun and highly
effective for students to play games to practice their new vocabulary and to
A number of
techniques can be adapted to present new vocabulary items. Some techniques are
more popular and more often used than others are. Also it is up to the teacher
which techniques he or she decides to use but always the effectiveness of
teaching should be considered. Moreover, of course there are techniques that
teachers try to avoid.
techniques that are particularly appropriate types of words – for example,
actions can be explained through pantomime. Another factor that is worth
considering is the age of the learners. Younger ones react quite well when
teachers show them concrete illustrations, the older ones can manage pretty
well abstract explanations or even definitions.
of new vocabulary can be classified for example according to verbal and visual
techniques, teachers can find pictures - flashcards, photographs and magazine
pictures, wall charts, posters, blackboard drawings, word pictures, several
realia that teachers can hold up or point to.
Mime, action and
gestures can be used especially for explaining actions and times. Learners can
label pictures or objects or perform an action.
consist of using illustrative situations, descriptions, synonyms and antonyms,
collocations, scales, and using various forms of definition: for example, definition
by demonstration (visual definition), definition by abstraction, contextual
definitions, and definition by translation. Explanation can become extremely
difficult especially with beginner levels [5, 55].
Another way that
can be used is translation. This technique is not used much recently, even
though it is quick and easy but can be very discouraging for learners. They
cannot interact with the words. Words can be organized into sets, subclasses
and subcategories often aided by visual presentation. Translation is one of the
traditional ways of explaining the meaning of words. It could be done by the
teacher or with using a dictionary. It has its advantages but also
disadvantages. Using this technique, learners can learn how to use dictionaries.
Most of the young learners have never used a dictionary before so it is a need
to teach them to use dictionaries first. They have to be told there are two
parts – English-Russian (Kazakh) and Russian (Kazakh)-English. Then they have
to be told about the alphabetical order and about other things they can find
there. It is considered good with young learners to use both picture
dictionaries and classical dictionaries where students find the meaning.
Teachers can prepare quite interesting lesson where the learners learn how to
use dictionaries [6, 64].
Practice is a
vital part of learning new elements of a language. In order to help students to
get practice using their new vocabulary, teachers need to come up with ideas
for activities during which students get opportunity to use their new words
alongside their existing knowledge. These activities could include devising
written and spoken role-plays, writing letters, taking part in question and
answer session with a partner, group questions, and playing games.
Learning can be
absorbed really well. Quite often the learners do not realize they are
learning. Fun and games should have an important role in the children’s
education. Teachers need to have enjoyable games ready to help students
practice their newly acquired language. Learning through playing games can help
to consolidate a student’s knowledge. The memory is stimulated in a fun way and
the words become embedded in the student mind much more easily than if words
are listed and simply repeated by drilling. It is evident that young learners
learn through play much easier and they enjoy it more. This is quite a natural
way for them to learn. They play and love to play. In playing together teachers
can see elements of interaction and during interaction the learners develop
their language skills.
stage of the lesson allows for the proper assessment of student development,
where the teacher can discover just how much the students have learned. There
are some ideas for activities for the production stage of a lesson:
dramas and role plays;
- giving map
- question and answer
- surveys and
- continue the
- summarizing a
- correct mistakes
in the text;
- gap fill
- matching the
beginnings and the ends of words together;
pictures to words;
- using antonyms,
and other activities.
It is up to the
teacher mostly to choose the right activity. This is not easy and teachers
should spend really quality time to think about this. It needs to be considered
well. Some language activities can stir a class. Thinking about the positive
way of the word “stir”, it means these activities will wake up the class, warm
them up. Of course, there are activities that have the opposite effect. They
may seem to settle the pupils. Before the lesson is planned, there should be
considered what kind of activities should be chosen knowing the effect of them.
can come across many language teaching ideas and techniques. There are many of
them in circulation that it is quite easy to get carried away. Teachers draw
pictures, cut paper into small pieces, draw flashcards, make crosswords etc.
They want to be flexible, creative, sensible, They want to praise the children
as much as possible but on the other hand they want to be realistic and, very
honestly, their expectations are sometimes very high. However, sometimes something
goes wrong. Language classrooms are noisy; there are at least fifteen pupils –
usually even more.
The classes with
high number of students put exceptional demands on teacher’s preparation for
the lesson and there is obviously a requirement of larger classrooms too. Quite
often the children are not “angels”. Teachers encourage them to interact, be active,
creative, and independent. This of course leads to the fact the children will
become silly and they will really enjoy it. There are teachers who would never
do such activities again. Moreover, their lessons then turn to be boring. “We
need to be realistic in our expectations of ourselves and the learners. ... It
does not mean, for example, we should reject the idea of pair-work because our
classes are big, not very able, or poorly motivated. On the contrary, being
realistic should mean taking realities into account in such a way that good
things can still happen” [7, 47].
lesson, teachers should ask themselves whether the lesson was productive or
unproductive and they should go back to their objectives and aims. Teachers
should evaluate the lesson themselves. They should not forget context
developing activities. “If we are to help the learners acquire independent
second language lexicons, we need to highlight the importance of the context in
which the language naturally occurs. Once the idea of context playing a
decisive role in the choice of language is firmly established, we can begin to
introduce varieties of the language used in different contexts. Many
course-books provide learners with plenty of opportunities to develop their own
context for the language presented, for example activities like “odd one out,
filling-in exercises, dialogues” etc” [8, 14].
that teachers should bear in their minds is to keep the lessons simple. They
often try to make our lessons varied. This is good but can lead to
misunderstanding. The lesson can be varied by doing many activities on
different topics. However, this can mean teachers may produce a lesson, which
is a disaster, too many activities, and changing the activities all the time
can destroy the lesson well. The children’s minds have to jump from one topic
to another with not much time to let things sink in effectively. The important
things that teachers should realize are the following:
- The teacher will
not help the children to develop their capacity to concentrate if he or she
jumps inconsequentially from one topic to the next.
- There are ways
of varying the oral work so that it is making different demands on the children
and therefore feels different even when the topic remains the same.
Variation does not
only mean changing the topics and materials but also the change of work
teachers do. Variation comes in the forms of activity. Using different methods
and ways of teaching should become a regular part of the lessons. Teachers can
re-use materials all the time, they can come up with new things but always the
activities should be simple in principle. Then they can transfer to different
topics and situations. “Because you use them regularly you will quickly get to
know the best way to set them up with your classes. Because the classes know
them, they will take to them easily when they appear.... They can become truly
the core of your language teaching” [9, 38].
young learners, the teacher has to be strong at the knowledge but also needs to
connect with the children. They need to feel the teacher likes them and wants
to teach them something new. In case of teaching young learners, the results
are seen easily and the learners at this age are very grateful when someone
invests time in them. The teacher has to know his or her pupils. It is important
to understand their needs, their expectations with which each child comes to
the lessons, also ways how to motivate them and last but not least their
learning style. All this the teacher is learning while working with the
learners. The teachers get to know their families, their hobbies and interests
and just basic information about the learners. Also, especially nowadays,
teachers have to consider the learning disabilities too. There are more and
more children with these problems and teachers need to help them to enjoy the
lessons and help them to learn too. The teacher needs to understand their
differences, their cultural and family background etc. Understanding the personality
of a young learner plays an important role in effective teaching.
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Ur, Penny, Marion Williams, and Tony Wright. A Course in Language Teaching:
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Judie Haynes. Vocabulary Instruction for English Language Learners. Essential
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Cohen, A. D. Strategies in learning and using a second language. - London: Longman, 1998.
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К содержанию номера журнала: Вестник КАСУ №2 - 2012