It’s quite easy to list adults’ or teenagers’ learning aims. Business, travelling, exams, movies, “I just like it”…But why do children need English? What’s the purpose? In case they accept the targets of their parents, motivation to the studying drastically decreases. Our task is to find out the individual learning goals and give students necessary learning tools for reaching them. Teachers get the information during discussions or give a questionnaire.
Here are some of the widespread aims of kids:
School or kindergarten
Lots of schools and even kindergartens have English as one of the compulsory subjects in the curriculum. Children start learning it at a young age and even have to take tests and do projects in English. At some education institutions, English is used as the medium of instruction, for example, bilingual centres that grow in popularity nowadays. Therefore kids have to know the language well.
Some families move abroad and children have to acquire a new language as now they will be immersed in it, surrounded by it everywhere: playgrounds, child centres, shops, cafes, schools, etc.
Cartoons, movies, music
It’s great to watch cartoons in your L1, but imagine children having an opportunity to do it in the original language, hear the original voice, watch the authentic videos. Isn’t that great? Moreover, they can listen to English songs and understand them. We often say that kids learn the language through songs but it also works vice versa.
It’s a well-known fact that the earlier children start learning the language, the easier it is for them as they do not “learn” it the way adults do. They are quick learners, they acquire it naturally and pick up things. Moreover, kids will have fewer challenges in the future learning process as they will already have a solid language background.
General cognitive development
This goes without saying that learning another language improves mental ability, influences cognitive development and generally stimulates the intellectual process. A good language programme for young learners is skill-oriented, includes multi-sensory and intelligence-building activities, which activate different types of “intelligences” besides learning the language itself. For instance, Herbert Puchta, based his famous books on the SMILE approach.
Sometimes you see that children just enjoy learning the language, the process itself. They can do it just for fun. I remember being a kid and playing some computer games about the English language, for example, find matching pairs or do the puzzle/crossword; find some letters or play board games. That was extremely beneficial as I didn’t even notice how I was learning English, for me it was just a game.
Tools for tracking the goals
- GROW model
It is the way to organize students’ thoughts:
- Identify your goal of learning English.
- Compare it with the reality – a level you are staying at.
- Enumerate the obstacles between you and your goal and possible options – how to improve the situation.
- Decide upon the way forward towards your aim. In fact, on this stage you develop a consistent plan for reaching your learning goal.2. The learning log.
Students write down new words and structures in a diary, that helps them keep an eye on their progress. Children divide the way to the goal into small steps and feel more motivated as they see their results every day.
Different people have various goals and reach them differently. Setting aims makes learning more independent and conscious. Children are mistakenly treated as passive learners. Although, they get motivated by an inner learning goal the same as adults.
Find the right goals of your students and support children on the way to them!