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Interviews Topic: Young Learners

Posted by Maria on April 6, 2017


Interview with Carol Read

Carol Read, ex president of IATEFL talks about coming back to Glasgow and her plenary session and workshop on values of education and teaching life skills to young learners.

  • The opening plenary session for Young Learners & Teenagers SIG must have been an exceptional one because of the timely topic on values education, which, according to the speaker, should be part of our language teaching practice.  
  • Values education is a complex mixture of cognitive, affective and behavioural dimensions, so there are many ways to define it. Also, lots of controversial issues are involved when deciding on the content of the curriculum, their actual teaching in classroom and on learners’ assessment.
  • Values education overlaps with life skills training, an umbrella term for various thinking, personal and social skills, to which young leaners (6-12 years old) need to be exposed from the outset.
  • WHO, Unicef and UNESCO have identified ten core life skills: thinking skills (e.g. critical thinking, creative thinking, problem-solving, decision-making), social skills (e.g. communication) and personal skills (e.g. empathy, ability to resolve conflict).

Interview with David Nunan

David Nunan talks about the issues involved in how to decide at which age to start learning a second language. He also talks about blended learning and how technology can help younger students to become more  autonomous learners.

  • The general assumption “the younger, the better” is challenged on the basis of empirical research. Considering this, other issues come into play, such as the content of the curriculum, teachers’ proper training of English for young learners, the amount of classroom time and exposure to language itself, the appropriacy of materials. Also, young learners’ different developmental stages should be acknowledged as an important factor for language learning.
  • Digital learning time in classroom is proved to be significant for more individualised attention to learners’ needs. At the same time, their social skills and interactions may be developed throughout the rest of the time.

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