Teaching English is an art-form. There are many approaches and methods from which to
choose, and such a choice may be influenced by the age and level of the students, time, learning preferences, special needs, and – of course – the resources available to the instructor.
Teaching English to children, moreover, poses its own particular challenges, and imposes even more particular demands on the instructor. Instructors must take into account learners’ short attention spans and/or lack of discipline and possibly underdeveloped linguistic foundations in the learners’ native languages (i.e. young learners may not yet be able to read or write in their own language by the time they begin to learn English). Additionally, teachers should take an instructional approach that fosters positive experiences and provides a supportive learning environment, rather than placing emphasis on correctness or grades.
Luckily, in today’s technologically-advanced world, the recent proliferation of computer-based curricula (or blended learning designs for language learning) in school systems – including for very young learners – has opened doors to English teachers all over the world.
In fact, whether we like it or not, computers are permeating every aspect of our daily lives, and children are not only embracing the technology at hand, but they would not know what to do without it. As instructors, therefore, it is our duty not only to teach the next generation what we know, but to adopt new methods of instruction which are more appropriate to the context in which we are living – and in which our students are growing up.
Now teachers have stimulating tools and rich libraries of multi-media materials available to them to better adapt educational content to the specific needs and preferences of the learner. Videos, games, speech recognition tools, and internet-based communication can all add vast depth to traditional instruction materials – such as text books. Incorporating multi-media into the language curriculum, therefore, engages students in more communicative, authentic, contextualized, and
interactive activities that practice all four skills in an integrated fashion, and even provide instant feedback.
In addition, utilizing multi-media not only provides stimulating and effective instruction in a manner to which most young students are already accustomed due to their extracurricular (i.e. non-educational) activities, but also allows teachers flexibility with course content, and provides a learning environment in which students can begin to develop autonomy.
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