English in Kindergarten

Nowadays, learning a modern foreign language is a priority. Indeed, we live in a world more than ever open to others. In our daily lives, we are increasingly confronted with a language other than our own, whether in newspapers, on television, on the internet or the radio. The role of the school is to help youngsters adapt to changes and news, which is why we find it essential to learn a modern foreign language as early as possible. This will allow our students to open up to the world and gain a better knowledge of it for their future life. Modern foreign languages are therefore on the school program and it is recommended to start with an awakening to languages in kindergarten.

The aim of this linguistic and cultural awakening is to ensure that students discover that there are various languages that allow us to communicate. This is why, in order to get into languages, choosing to introduce our students to the English language through a youth album seems the best solution. It is not really a linguistic awakening, because we do not compare this language to others in order to exploit its similarities, but rather a discovery of English through fun activities adapted to the profile students.

„From the point of view of language teaching, we are condemned to look into the problem of learning the lexicon if we want our students to be equipped to face authentic communication situations”, inform us Kathleen Julié and Laurent Perrot in Teaching English, 2014 p. 169. Indeed, when we communicate with people whose language is foreign to us and whom we do not fully understand, it is easier to understand what we are being told than to produce sentences because we lack vocabulary. Therefore, we encourage teachers to enter into this learning process by reading an album in the English language, not so much for the lack of motivation of our students, but because the albums provide an authentic context for children’s language learning.

Today, learning modern foreign languages seems essential to us in terms of communication. Therefore, it seems necessary to teach it in school and to start this learning early.

We see several reasons for formalizing early language teaching in schools. Today’s world allows a wider openness to others. Indeed, thanks to the internet, the media and literature, people can broaden their knowledge of the world in a more accessible way and interact with all the people who live with us (even on the other side of the world). As internationalization is increasingly facilitated by daily international contacts, long-term stays, scientific research or even the increase in the number of tourist stays, it is a question of promoting access. In addition, the decentration which makes it possible to fight against ethnocentrism, sociocentrism and egocentrism, and which admits that cultural modes different from those we know exist side by side, is favored by more affordable and easily accessible technological means. : planes, train, blablacar, etc. Since English is among the most widely spoken language in the world, communication is facilitated if we master it (when travelling, at conferences, in companies). Therefore, the programs promote the learning of modern foreign languages, especially English. Learning this language allows you to better understand the world in terms of communication.

It is essential to give everyone the means to open up to the world by mastering a modern language, to enable them to become a citizen of a space extended to Europe or beyond. In addition, we can speak of „critical age”. Indeed, after 10/11 years, languages are learned less well and sounds and accents are less easy to reproduce. It is then a question of taking advantage of the phase in which we can clearly distinguish the sounds. The working environment in modern foreign languages is moreover much more conducive to learning since it is centered on playful activities and is based on a certain tolerance: children discover a new language, an unprecedented discipline for each student. student and everyone can therefore make mistakes.

The teaching of modern foreign or regional languages constitutes a means of giving full place to cultural learning and civic training of students by questioning the lifestyles of the countries or regions concerned, their cultural heritage, and by understanding differences with curiosity and respect. The teaching of a modern foreign language is made compulsory with a relatively recent implementation. To do this, teachers have recourse to a multitude of resources aimed at developing the five skills in a precise order: oral comprehensions, and productions (in interactions and continuously) then written comprehensions and expression. When learning a foreign language, the rituals are a key moment, essential elements that can help to tackle the language session or to introduce it on a daily basis. Indeed, they allow the development in students of behaviours and attitudes essential for reaching their goals. The rituals promote the reappropriation by the students of the lexicon already encountered, systematic and regular training being essential if we want to accustom the ears of young children to hearing various new sounds, rhythms, and accents. In the process oral activities of comprehension, expression and interaction are given priority. Indeed, the oral approach to the language arouses curiosity and captures the attention of students by placing them in a position of communication and interaction. In some cases, one can see the practice of the communicative approach in the classroom for the teaching. A good example would be the song “head, shoulders, knees” often used as a basis for the introduction of body parts in a class group.

The objective is to memorize the parts of the body stated and associate the gestures with them. The reaction comes from the TPR: Total Physical Response approach which combines „say and do”. In Asher’s American approach, students respond to instructions in a foreign language through gestures and mimes. When the song names a body part, children can repeat the word while pointing at the designated body part. The group effect allows the imitation of the teacher’s gestures and the repetition of phonemes. The schoolteacher in his teaching of the modern foreign language relies on listening, observation, and repetition. Memorization is primarily oral, through repeating sounds, exercises and mimicry. The acquisition of a foreign language passes jointly by the oral and the visual, in particular thanks to flashcards which allow the pupil to associate the image with the word (images, drawings, shapes, colors). Memorization also includes phases of reusing the lexicon and structures already encountered.

The goal is to create automatism through repetition.

In the second grade, the lexicon must be associated with a formulation of small statements to then use it in the production of sentences. Appropriation of the oral form is a priority (comprehension and production). However, in the 3rd grade, the student is encouraged to observe and reflect on the functioning of the foreign language, but always through playful activities. Students appropriate the linguistic elements they must learn to use in new contexts (guided then unguided production). Speaking is always the first step in learning a foreign language. In the second grade, the written word is almost absent because the pupil must master the oral forms.

Indeed, students do not fully master their mother tongue, both spoken and written, and the early introduction of the spelling of the foreign language creates obstacles to correct pronunciation. The discovery of the lexicon is very limited, maximum ten words per topic studied. Awakening to linguistic diversity is the first step in a modern foreign language learning path that will continue during preparatory class and throughout schooling.

 

prof. Elena-Monica Munteanu

Profil iTeach: iteach.ro/profesor/elena.munteanu1

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