Child Development and the Four Receptive Skills Throughout the TEFL course, there are a

Throughout the TEFL course, there are a fair amount of topics covering and emphasizing the fact that children learn differently from adults. Teaching children requires different methods and psychology preparation for the teacher.

Young learners age 4 to 7 enter into what is known as ´play age´. They would start to slowly develop imaginative, cooperative and leadership skills. They would also have some residue of their infancy fears depending on how they have been brought up by their adult caregiver. They can sometimes be over-reliant on adults for their emotional needs. As much as they are more imaginative, they are still restricted in terms of ideas and play skills. Therefore when teaching children, a lot of visuals, play, realias, dramatic intonations and gestures are needed to trigger and expand their imagination. Here we will briefly talk about child development in relation to the four receptive skills.

We will start with reading skills. Children by the age of 7 should be able to name common objects in picture books or magazine, connected the story between the pictures and seeing the relationships. They should be able to repeat sentences as long as nine words, do simple readings and write short simple words. They might not know what each word means individually but it is not really important at this stage. Care must be taken not to over correct their fluency or accuracy as it will improve with time. The important objective here is to make reading interesting for them by choosing books that is visually enticing and the plot simple. When teaching speaking skills, the teacher should be aware of how a child would develop his/her speech pattern. For most 4 to 5 years old, they would be able to handle 3 words sentence easily and can repeat four syllables words. They should have a bank of close to 1000 words and would be able to speak intelligently although articulation might be lacking. They talk extensive and use words repeatedly during activities. They have no firm sense of reality and believe in magical creatures or events. For 6 to 7 years old, their word bank would have dramatically increase, less grammatical errors and would have master all the consonants. They speech would be more fluent and socially useful.

The teacher should encourage the children to talk as much as they want to during the engage or activate phrase. The younger children might not make much sense in speech and there would be mistakes in pronunciations but the more they talk, the more practice they would have. Children don´t generally understand the logic behind grammar, they are more aware of repeated speech pattern and adapt to their own ´linguistic rules´. Therefore the teacher should use poems, tongue twisters ,songs with repeated sentences etc. This would help the learner to ´program´ the speech pattern in his/her mind and would modify as they go along.

Children by the age of 7 should be able to write simple and short sentences. They would generally have no problems with writing exercises and would be able to curve their As and Ss nicely with practice. They should be able complete simple crosswords and word puzzle. They would be able to remember simple spellings but might need help with consonants. They should be able to use pronouns like ´I, you , they´ correctly and known some plurals and past tenses. They should also know some prepositions and common opposites.

To ensure a child have good writing skills, it is important to develop auditory and vocal skills too. Children who writes well generally speaks and read well. It is essential to teach the correct pronunciation to the children before the spelling. If not done so, the child might spell the words the way he pronounce it. It is also important to teach the meaning behind the words so that the child can understand what he/she is writing and use it when speaking. Use lots of props to let the children practice. Using word blocks, poems with sentence ending with same letters, finger painting, graffiti etc to make it interesting for them.

Last but not least, teaching listening skills. Children develop listening skills as early as infancy. The first voices they heard generally are their parents voice, other people voices, sound from the play mobile, toys with soothing music, the television, radio, the streets. By the time they are 7, they would already have many different type of sounds and voices stored in their head. They should be able to match the sound or voice to the right object or person easily. They are ready to follow simple commands even is the stimulus objects may not be insight. They can repeat what they heard without much difficulties although they may not totally understand what is being said. It is not uncommon to see a 5 year old repeating over and over again a tune he/she just heard on the radio or words he/she heard from another person. Therefore listening skills could probably be one of the easiest skills to teach.

Children loves story-telling, the intonations and expression on the reader´s face can help bring the written word to life. It is always good to start reading to them when they are very young. When listening to cheery children´s song or a mother goose rhyme on a tape, it would encourage the children to imagine the characters on the tape. Different intonations, pitch and volume can help children to recognize different types of speech and the meaning . For example, to identify a happy event or sad event on the phone by recognizing the tone and pitch. It can also help them recognize danger such as honking of a car or fire alarm. Therefore the teacher should incorporate lots of listening exercises, story telling sessions, show and tell etc to stimulate the children´s listening skills.

References Action Plans For Teacher

By Callum Robertson Richard Acklam

Language Assistant

By Clare Lavery

Child Development and Parenting Information

Young Learners : children

Child Development Basics

Teacher´s Resource

Young Learner´s Teaching Tips