On the occasion of the introduction of English at Primary Level in the Greek educational system, the British Council has provided an online course addressing English teachers who are involved or interested in teaching Young Learners (approximately 5-12 years old). Several members of our Union have attended this seminar which was given over a 4-month period, from January to April 2011.
The course was structured in 6 modules containing overviews of fundamental topics in Primary ELT, namely:
- First Steps
- Songs and Games
- Learning Styles
- Syllabus and Lesson Planning
- Classroom Management.
The introductory module aimed at familiriasing the participants with e-learning practices, that is how to use the Moodle platform, how to create a personal profile and understanding the different ways of working together online.
“First Steps” explored issues such as the characteristics of children learning English at different ages, whether there is evidence that “younger is better” when it comes to language learning at school, YL’s needs and profile, teaching implications and suggested activities.
“Songs and Games” focused on the reasons why they play such a vital role in language learning, the advantages of using them and the different types available, how they can be adapted to different levels and linguistic objectives and what to avoid when using them.
“Learning Styles” considered differences among learners and different learning styles, the implications for teaching, a multi-sensory approach to teaching and how we can cater for VAK (visual, auditory and kinaesthetic) learners when practicing the language skills and teaching vocabulary.
“Syllabus and Lesson Planning” looked at how a syllabus can be produced and the different types that exist, what different approaches and methods can be used, what the differences are between syllabus and curriculum, how teachers can move on from curriculum to lesson planning and guidance for a successful lesson.
“Classroom Management”, the last module, covered a burning issue, how to ensure that classes run smoothly and disruptive behaviour is minimized. A variety of questions have been dealt with such as: what classroom management is, when and if L1 can be used, how to maintain control and discipline, what to do when the situation gets out of control, time management issues and how to establish rapport with your students.
By the end of each module a written assignment had to be sent to the course moderator on a relevant topic, either individually or in groups. A number of tools were used such as videos, forums, wikis, quizzes and reflective journals.
The dual benefits of taking this course related both to its form and content. For many participants this was their first experience of e-learning and they became familiar with this contemporary form of teacher training. Most important though, we had the chance, albeit not much time, to evolve professionally and keep up to date on the latest developments in our field of interest.