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Teaching Children with the SMILE
Учим Языки
Автор: Главный Редактор   
24.08.2016 00:03

Teaching Children with the SMILE .

(New courses for young learners).


The study of English by young children in Russia is definitely on the rise. Teaching English to young learners requires using activities which will offer a rich array of interesting and motivating learning material. These activities should also provide for the child's general development and help him develop cognitive, motor and social skills. Thus, the main aim of a modern course book should be offering an opportunity to use English in an active and creative way in a context of personal experience, and 'to give children those instruments through which they can grow as a person'(Gunter Gerngross and Herbert Puchta 'Teachers Guide to Playway to English').

Cambridge University Press has recently published two new courses for children written by the highly successful author team of Gunter Gerngross and Herbert Puchta, who together have many years' experience of teaching and writing for young learners.

Their materials draw on important findings in the fields of Neurolinguistic Programming and Multiple Intelligences. The result is the courses "Playway to English" and "Join In" through which children can learn easily and quickly.

"Playway to English" is an integrated teaching programme for teaching very young learners( starting from the age of five, though some teachers take it with the four-year olds!).It takes children from the beginner level up to the pre-intermediate level. The essential characteristic of the programme is acquisition of the foreign language through play. The fundamental principle of "Playway to English " is the tried and tested SMILE approach, which draws on the most recent findings of cognitive psychology and neurolinguistic programming.

The SMILE approach is based on the following principles:

Skill- oriented learning
Multi-sensory learner motivation
Intelligence-building activities
Long-term memory storage of the language through music, movement, rhythm and rhyme
Exciting stories, sketches and games

Below is the SMILE approach in a nutshell:
Skill-oriented learning.
Psychologists point out that the development of foreign - language skills doesn't take place independently of the child's general intellectual skills. Different activities the children are engaged in Playway to English help them develop linguistic skills while drawing on abilities, which they need for handling tasks in other areas of learning and life. These abilities include solving problems, reasoning, drawing conclusions, etc.

Multi-sensory learner motivation.
When children take in information they do it through the senses: they learn what they see, hear, do.
During the process of the intake a multi-sensory activation of the brain heightens children's abilities to pay attention to and concentrate on linguistic information. Thus, this information is fixed in their long- term memory.

Intelligence-building activities.
Children, like adults, have different abilities and learning styles; they have different kinds if intelligence. The Harvard psychologist Howard Garner claims that at least seven intelligences are clearly identifiable: linguistic, logical- mathematical, musical, spatial, kinaesthetic, interpersonal and intrapersonal. It is very important for a teacher to take into consideration the various forms of intelligence and to exploit them to the full. We should also bear in mind that learning a language at an early stage helps develop and stimulate a child's intelligence in a number of ways. Playway to English
activates all the intelligencies named by H.Gardner. For example, logical- mathematical intelligence is developed through activities in which pupils sort and put things in order. They also do a lot of exercises to establish logical perception through logical sequences (puzzles, etc.) (For further reference,see Gunter Gerngross and Herbert Puchta 'Teachers Guide to Playway to English' Level 1, p.22).

Long-term memory storage of the language through music, movement, rhythm and rhyme.
It is a well- known fact that music, movement, rhythm and rhyme are important memory aids that help facilitate language processing and fix linguistic information in the long- term memory. Music, dance and singing can form a solid base from which to start learning, helping children to pick up the language. Chants help pupils practice pronunciation, intonation and rhythm. To help children memorize a chant, there is a visual representation of it in the Pupil's book. The children listen to the chant on the cassette twice and at the same time point to the appropriate pictures in the book. The pictures help the children to reconstruct the text mentally.
In Playway to English this sort of activities aims to involve pupils totally and to stimulate their interest, thus making them experience language learning as enjoyable from the beginning.

Exciting stories, sketches and games.
The authors of Playway to English claim that "when learning, motivation is highly dependent on whether or not the learners identify themselves with the content of what they are learning. When children identify to a high degree with what they are learning, they understand it better and retain it in their long- term memories longer". Sketches, stories (including Action Stories, which are based on Total Physical Response method) and role - plays are a perfect means to achieve this end.

As the role of imagination in children's life provides another powerful stimulus for real life use, Gunter Gerngross and Herbert Puchta decided to build on this factor in the language classroom, introducing Max, the glove puppet. Max is the main character of the course book and of the video. He literally 'steps out' of the imaginary world of the puppet theatre into the real world of the classroom. We all know that with the young children the dividing line between the real world and the imaginary world is not clear. They sometimes have difficulty in knowing what is fact and what is fiction. Besides, they like to identify with fantasy characters, and the glove puppet is an ideal medium for increasing their motivation. So, it is not surprising that Max most naturally "interacts" with children and involves them in dynamic multi-sensory activities which are both useful and fun.

Teaching languages to very young learners is a difficult job. It requires not only skills of a good primary teacher in managing children and keep them on task. It also demands from a teacher
' knowledge of the language, of language teaching, and of language learning'(Lynne Cameron, 2001).
With Playway to English even an inexperienced teacher will be able to meet these difficult requirements and conduct lively and motivating lessons.

Gunter Gerngross and Herbert Puchta.1999. Playway to English. A four-level course (beginner to pre-intermediate) Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Main components:
1. Pupil's book
2. Stories Video
3. Set of Stories Cards
4. Class Audio cassettes/CD
5. Teacher's Guide

Optional Components:
1. Activity book
2. Activity book Audio cassette/CD
3. Set of picture cards
4. Set of Word cards
5. Stories Audio cassette/CD
6. Class Musical Video (for Levels 3-4)
7. Teacher Training Video
8. Max, glove puppet

1. Gunter Gerngross and Herbert Puchta.1999. Playway to English. A four-level course (beginner to pre-intermediate) Teacher's Guide.Levels1-4. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
2. Cameron, L. 2001.Teaching Languages to Young Learners. Cambridge Language Teaching Library. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
3. Vale, D., A.Feunteun.1999. Teaching Children English. Cambridge Teacher Training and Development. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
4. Williams, M., R.L.Burden.1997.Psychology for Language Teachers. Cambridge Language Teaching Library. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
5. See also website for author articles, teaching tips, additional activities:


Join in is a complete new course for children offering a motivating and enjoyable start to learning English.

Join In is also written by Gunter Gerngross and Herbert Puchta. It is available in three levels (beginner to intermediate). The characters in the book grow with the pupils and this is obvious from the illustrations and in the way the characters think and talk. So pupils in their final year of primary school will not find the characters they found in the book they used in earlier years of primary school too childish for them to relate to, as the characters will grow together with them. This is an indication of how much attention is paid to the person-pupil at the center of the learning process.

There are other indications of the attention that Join In gives to pupils as a person in the global sense:
types of exercises which stimulate all forms of intelligence, the way in which vocabulary and grammar structures are re-used, the way the children are assessed, etc.

The concept of regular testing has been revised to allow for continuous global assessment, which takes into account all indications of learning and not only those moments specifically dedicated to assessment. Thus, testing in Join In serves teaching, by providing feedback on pupils' learning that makes the next teaching event more effective, in a positive, upwards direction.

As Join in is also based on the SMILE approach, there is a very wide range of activities involving music, language, logic, movement, spatial relations and much more. It is well- known that children learn best when every aspect of their intelligence is stimulated. That is why all the activities in the course aim to involve pupils totally and to stimulate their interest.

There is an attractive range of optional extras to go with the course that make Join In absolutely unique. These are:
A CD ROM 'English with Toby' full of lively games and activities. If your pupils have computers at home, be sure, they will spend all their free time playing interactive games with Toby the Tiger- the main character of Join In. The CD ROM will help them to make very quick progress with their English. If you have a computer class at school, your pupils will stay long hours after classes practising their English, improving their spelling and grammar, doing all sorts of tests and enjoying themselves.

A Holiday Pack 'On Holiday with Toby'with puzzles and games for pupils to do in the holidays. An Audio cassette will help them practice listening skills, and interesting stories will give you a lovely material to discuss after holidays.

Video Cassette- is an important aid for the development of the long-term linguistic memory and for the acquisition of a good level of pronunciation and intonation. The Video Cassette contains an animated version of the Action Stories and Action Songs that appear in the Pupil's book. Classroom experience has shown that pupils like to see over and over again the things that they know,especially if the teacher asks them to notice different aspects each time.

Colourful Flashcards help the teacher to present and practise vocabulary. For a lot of pupils, the visual aspect is an essential part of the learning process. So Flashcards facilitate the process of acquiring the vocabulary.

Main Components:
1. Pupil's Book
2. Activity Book
3. Teacher's book
4. Audio Cassette
5. Audio CD

Optional Components:
1. Video
2. Flashcards
3. English with Toby CD ROM
4. On Holiday with Toby Pack

For those teachers who are planning to use these two courses in their classrooms the local representative of Cambridge University Press will give additional consultation and help with the materials.
If you are using these materials, please don't hesitate to approach Ludmila Kozhevnikova ( ioofs2@transit.samara.ru ) for support materials (posters, cards, badges, stickers,etc.).

There will be a special contest for the users of Playway to English and Join In (both for teachers and for pupils). Children will get small gifts and teachers will get CUP READERS.




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