Handouts for Ukraine

They’re not just smaller – how young learners are different

They are still developing physically


Hand eye coordination

Motor skills

Handling pencil, pen, scissors

Sitting still / Self-control



         Lets face it:

         its difficult for students to spend long periods of time confined to the small space of the classroom.                                                           

                                                                         Zoltan Dornyei


We need to be patient and allow for wriggling and walkabouts

We need to teach handwriting skills

Children need opportunities to develop motor skills in class

         Throwing and catching a ball


         Cutting out

         Sticking stickers

         Art and crafts

         Movement games


They are still developing socially

Need to work together

Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development

The zone of proximal development (ZPD) has been defined as "the distance between the actual developmental level as determined by independent problem solving and the level of potential development as determined through problem solving under adult guidance, or in collaboration with more capable peers" (Vygotsky, 1978, p86).

Lev Vygotsky views interaction with peers as an effective way of developing skills and strategies. He suggests that teachers use cooperative learning exercises where less competent children develop with help from more skillful peers - within the zone of proximal development.

Vygotsky believed that when a student is at the ZPD for a particular task, providing the appropriate assistance will give the student enough of a "boost" to achieve the task


Cognitive Development

The brain continues developing until we are in our early 20s.

At the age of seven thinking is largely reliant on perception. Children are egocentric and lack the capacity for logical thinking.

From 7 -11 logical thinking begins to develop but understanding depends on immediate context and generalising is hard.

Teaching grammar rules just aint gonna work!

Focus on meaning

Give plenty of language input so that slowly children will notice patterns and acquire language


         Give the students something to do, not something to learn; and the doing is of such a nature as to demand thinking; learning naturally results.

         John Dewey (1859 1952, American philosopher and educational reformer)


         John Holt Natural Learning Style

The child is curiouswants to make sense of things is open and receptive experimental.. bold not afraid of making mistakes is patientcan tolerate an extraordinary amount of uncertainty, confusion, ignorance and suspense..


We ought to accept mistakes as learning steps

We should not be obsessed with the right answer

We must create classrooms where the focus is on learning not teaching

         I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.

Albert Einstein


         Research in nursery schools by Tizard and Hughes showed that the girls they were researching asked 26 questions an hour at home and only 2 an hour at school. The teachers dominated the discussion with questions, only giving the children a short time in which to reply. Unintentionally the teachers were conveying the message that it was the childrens role to answer the questions rather than ask them.


         Encourage exploration and imagination

         Avoid questions which have only one correct answer

         Celebrate questions

         Ask real questions

         Include activities that are Multiply Intelligent: music, movement, pictures, group work, working alone, problem solving etc

         Don’t teach the book, teach the children

         Remember - variety is the spice of life


Creating the right conditions for childrens language learning

         a need and desire to learn English

         sufficient time for English

         exposure to varied and meaningful input

         opportunities for experimentation

         opportunities to practise and use the language in different contexts

         a friendly atmosphere in which children can take risks

         help in noticing the underlying pattern in language             

Jayne Moon, Children Learning English, Macmillan


We do not have to train children to learnwe have to avoid interfering with it

Frank Smith, Reading, 1978, CUP


Homework – is it a waste of time?


When students lack the support to do it well.

If we don’t plan for success, we’ll have a lot of correction to do.

When students are so overwhelmed with studies, they are too tired to do it well.

When it’s learning by rote.

When it’s just easier to copy off your friend tomorrow..

Or when mummy will do it..

When the work benefits from collaboration

When we haven’t actually planned how it links with what is done in class or considered its value.



When students are well prepared in class to do it on their own.

Writing a composition - Have you?

  • brainstormed  vocabulary

  • pretaught  useful vocabulary
  • reviewed  grammar to be used
  • presented ideas
  • discussed ideas
  • drawn up plans together

When they see a point in doing it...

Letters to teacher
Preparing input for next lesson e.g doing research, collecting materials, rehearsing dialogues for taping
Part of an ongoing scheme of work e.g. extensive reading, a project, portfolio work

When the medium is appealing

When homework tasks can be chosen

When parents can help and encourage their children at home

When parents are trained/advised how to help their children

When it’s a pleasure to do


Checklist: does the homework:

maximize use of time?

provide pre or post lesson support

encourage independence?

allow for personalisation?






In praise of teenagers

Two weeks ago in Johannesburg, educators celebrate teen learners through some creative writing.

Here are some of their fabulous products: