LEARNING ENGLISH AT EARLY AGES
Most adults have attempted to learn English through investing a lot of time and effort without the result that they expected. That is why we see the importance of introducing the learning of a second language from an early age.
What are the advantages?
It has been shown that the first years of children’s lives are when the greatest number of neural connections are produced, which will later translate into learning and the development of social, emotional, motor, cognitive and linguistic skills.
Learning a second language at these ages is much easier as it develops through imitation and observation. Learning happens in a natural context through play where children do not “learn” English but rather “acquire” it.
How do we do it?
The most important thing is that children are exposed to English naturally and without pressure. In our classes the English teacher communicates exclusively with them in English but allowing students to respond in Spanish when they do not yet have the necessary tools to answer in English. All learning is linked to emotion. The important thing is not that the children begin to speak English as soon as possible, the fundamental thing is that they feel comfortable and motivated with the subject without pressure or making them feel insecure due to the inability to express themselves in a language that is new to them. Of course, they are always encouraged and motivated to use grammatical expressions that they already know, such as “May I go to the toilet please?” “Can I play with…?” “Can I have more…?”
The fundamental thing is that they have a good time and that English is synonymous for them with having a good time.
From there, we must always keep in mind that understanding always goes before and much more advanced than production. They start by understanding the phrases that we repeat over and over again, almost like mantras, in every class. Children often tell us that they don’t understand English while doing the actions you ask them to do in English almost without thinking. It is an automatic process that many times they are not even aware of. Little by little they learn that they don’t have to understand every word we say, they pay more attention to keywords, gestures and the context to be able to make a hypothesis about what we are trying to say.
Finally, we must not forget that the speaking of the language is done in the English class where the children associate its use. In other aspects of everyday life they don´t need it and therefore it makes no sense for them to try to express themselves in English.
Early Years Teacher