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Kindergarten Syllabus Material and Design

 
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EFLwithlittleones



Joined: 12 Jan 2004
Posts: 59

PostPosted: Wed Apr 12, 2006 10:34 am    Post subject: Kindergarten Syllabus Material and Design Reply with quote

(Thanks Lorikeet and Dave)

I'm writing a 40 week syllabus for kindergarten (ages 4-6 years) and would like to discuss ideas that teachers have found lead to a genuine, communicative aquisition of English across the 4 skills in children of this age as well as the kinds of challenges teachers face.
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shannonsensei



Joined: 24 Mar 2006
Posts: 15
Location: osaka, japan

PostPosted: Wed Apr 12, 2006 11:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

is your syllabus geared towards kids who are in a full time english speaking kindergarten? or for kindergarten-age children whocome to english classes one or two times a week but go to regular school in their native language? i have experience with both...
love,
shannon
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EFLwithlittleones



Joined: 12 Jan 2004
Posts: 59

PostPosted: Wed Apr 12, 2006 2:18 pm    Post subject: Kindergarten EFL Syllabus Reply with quote

Hi Shannon

It's an efl syllabus which will link with the rest of the primary English program. It is taught within an English Program comprised of regular subjects taught in Thai. The children get about 2 hours of English a day. I am particularly concerned to make sure that the language and concepts are age appropriate. I have also attempted to design L2 literacy material which links with the child's concurrent L1 literacy development.
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shannonsensei



Joined: 24 Mar 2006
Posts: 15
Location: osaka, japan

PostPosted: Mon Apr 17, 2006 2:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

the first thing that comes to my mind is this great program that the kinder teacher at our school has been doing with her kids (she teaches in the 4-6 age range, whereas my focus is the 2-3 year olds).
every week, they learn about a new country, following the letters of the alphabet (A=australia, B=brazil, C=canada, etc.). she shows them what their money looks like, maybe pictures of the people or things that that country is famous for. then they often do an activity related to it...for example, for canada, the class made pancakes anad ate them with maple syrup!! when they got to japan, where we are, she broke the kids down into groups of 4. each group was responsible for teaching her something about japan--food, music, clothes, etc. the kids have been really really into it.
is this the type of idea that you're looking for? or something more along the lines of "how to teach past tense"?
love,
shannon
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EFLwithlittleones



Joined: 12 Jan 2004
Posts: 59

PostPosted: Tue Apr 18, 2006 10:17 am    Post subject: Approaches to teaching in the EFL Kindergarten Reply with quote

Sounds interesting. I can imagine any child enjoying eating pancakes!

However I've become rather more hardnosed over the years...

By that I mean, do these lessons work? Do the children actually learn English? (or do they just remember - in Japanese, the brilliant fun they had in Mrs So-and-So's pancake making class) and if so how is that learning evidenced?

Research generally shows that the Whole Language Approach in a risk free environment is most successful with children this age. Which means all skills are balanced (there is a tendency as you probably know, to foreground speaking and listening). In other words we want to build confidence by giving the children the means to express their understanding of L2 in a variety of different ways.

Stephen Krashen refers to 'comprehensible input' as of critical importance. If the children can't comprehend what they are being given then acquisition will not take place. This makes me sceptical therefore of teaching small children in an EFL classroom about different cultures unless they have regular interraction with other children or adults from different cultures (as is common in a regular British or American kindergarten) since global geography would not come within the ambit of a kindergarten child's conceptual capabilities, and therefore only the other relevant content, like pancakes will trully be acquired. I noticed on your weblog that you teach your 2 and 3 year olds the days of the week and this I wonder about also. Apart from memorising the names of 7 days do you think your students understand for instance what 'Tuesday' means and if so how is that meaning reinforced?

In my classes in the past I used some routine drills, exercises at the start of the day and ABCs, both of which worked inasmuch as the children kept supple and learned to write their letters beautifully. We had reading, puppet plays, lots of whiteboard games, demonstrations, there were word indexes round the classroom (L1 + L2), craft activities, music and movement, group work, pair work, individual work in fact quite a rich blend of different activities across the four skills. There was a lot going on. But acquisition was not as widespread across my classes or as developed in L2 as I'd expected.

What I realise now as I design the new syllabus is that the previous approach was too structured, too linguistic. Not enough of a whole language approach and not enough comprehensible input. This time I'm going for personal journals, big books for group reads, buddy reading, play acting, fairy tales, puppet plays, initial consonant recognition in writing, as well as music and movement and some of the other things I did previously like science topics and maths. I want my classroom opened up in a way that enables each of my students to feel free to create with the new language as they like.

EFL kindergarten teaching is replete with folk theories and most of them have no grounding in research. I therefore want to include a careful observation of the learning in process ('kid watching') so I can modify as I go. A serious application of methodology in consonance with contemporary research findings. Genuine acquisition evidenced from the child's progress.
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mesmark



Joined: 19 Apr 2005
Posts: 276
Location: Nagano, Japan

PostPosted: Tue Apr 25, 2006 5:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've been watching this with some interest. I too teach a lot of young children and have been working on my own curriculum. I applaud your effort and wish you the best of luck with tackling the mountain.

As for research, what works best, what makes the biggest difference, I think the reason it's all theoretical is because there is too much variation amungst all the variables. Every teacher is different. Every child is different. External stimuli is different country to country and even within a country. Classes meet at different intervals and are different sizes around the world. Education system goals are also different place to place. Then add in the time (years down the line) to compare a new curriculum to the old.

As for age appropriateness, I would have to say days of the week are not so important. 4-6 year olds start to understand there are days and they have names, but ordering them and understanding them for real use comes toward the end. You can see this with most children refering to anything in the past as yesterday and future events are comprehended as happening tomorrow.

Me: "We're going to go to grandpa's house next weekend."
Son: "When? Tomorrow?"
Me: "No, next weekend. Saturday"
Son: "Is tomorrow Saturday?"
Me: "No. Tomorrow is Tuesday. Tuesday, Wednesday... Saturday. 5 days from now."
Son: shrugs his shoulders and keeps drawing. Later, never remembers we had that conversation.
Rolling Eyes

Days of the week also are generaly used in English curriculums to talk about continuous actions. "I play soccer on Thursdays." But most young children hardly use the present tense for anything but immediate description,feelings or desires. (have, want, like, need, and emotions.)

I'm not sure how much input I can really provide because I'm working in a very different environment. I only have students once a week for an hour. I also only have 4-5 classes in this age group so I just don't have the time, focus, energy, or funds to really devote myself singularly to that age group. Nor do I have the experience with a group like the one you have.

However, I spent a great deal of time watching my own kids learn English and taking note of what was necessary, useful and understandable for children. I also spend a lot of time looking at English curriculums and asking is this really promoting language learning or is it just an adult perception of communication. In those areas I think I can help. So, I'll be checking back in and helping out if possible.
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shannonsensei



Joined: 24 Mar 2006
Posts: 15
Location: osaka, japan

PostPosted: Tue Apr 25, 2006 12:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

sorry it's taken so long to respond. i've recently had too many kids in my class and have just been absolutely exhausted at the end of each day. Laughing
this is not my class and i'm going to bring up your points/questions with the kindergarten teacher to see what she has to say.
what i can say is that this particular class has a very keen interest in geography. they can find many major countries on a map and know which teachers are from which countries. many have travelled overseas and understand that for example, you can't drive a car from japan to america. they understand that there are many different languages that are spoken. many of the kids are near-fluent in english. i speak to them the same way that i would speak to any american 4 year old.

i don't really actively teach days of the week to my two year olds. we sing a "days of the week" song. i do it cuz they like the song and i think that it will help them remember the order of the days when they get to an age when it's more appropriate.
love,
shannon
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mesmark



Joined: 19 Apr 2005
Posts: 276
Location: Nagano, Japan

PostPosted: Thu Apr 27, 2006 1:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

shannonsensei wrote:
many of the kids are near-fluent in english. i speak to them the same way that i would speak to any american 4 year old.

i don't really actively teach days of the week to my two year olds. we sing a "days of the week" song. i do it cuz they like the song and i think that it will help them remember the order of the days when they get to an age when it's more appropriate.

Shannon - I wasn't questioning you and I don't think it's bad or wrong by any means. Also, if your students are near fluent then we should be taking pointers from you. Very Happy

EFL... just asked what is real usable language. What I should have said is days of the week and such are not so real to students. They are learning and using words for that instance without any real relation. The abstract concept isn't what we want to be teaching as language to EFL pre-schoolers in my opinion. With fluent speakers, I think that's fine.

Quote:
ideas that teachers have found lead to a genuine, communicative aquisition of English across the 4 skills in children of this age

What types of reading and writing were you think of for EFL pre-schoolers?

As far as I go are simple phonics, letter writing, and short 3 letter words before they enter elementary school. I'm now beginning to question whether I should even go that far with EFL students before they hit elementary school.
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Katie BN



Joined: 06 May 2006
Posts: 1
Location: Stuttgart, Germany

PostPosted: Sat May 06, 2006 8:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi,
I’ve also been watching this forum with interest. So much so that it has given me the courage to contribute for the first time!!
I also teach English to “very young learners” aged 3 – 6. I teach four groups of 10 German children in kindergarten. The lessons are once a week, last 45 minutes and my courses run for one year. After searching long and hard I have found a program that I find effective with a few minor adaptations!!
The syllabus uses TPR as it’s main teaching methodology. There’s the obligatory hand puppet who’s the main character in the course. The themes and language are appropriate for this age-group - colours, body parts, toys, family, farmyard, food, holidays, animals, the home, and counting etc . We sing songs to learn the vocabulary and related phrases e.g. “Let’s play with the ball!” each song is accompanied by actions. There are also songs to introduce routines like moving from the circle to their chairs, standing up, sitting down etc. Singing the “routine songs” is a magical classroom management tool! We play lots of age-relevant games e.g. hide and seek, memory and do simple crafts, puzzles and colouring activities. I use props, flashcards and most importantly of all a box to hide them in! It’s very fast moving - no time to get bored. My husband says it’s like watching a kids T-V. show.
Reading and writing isn’t an issue as the children in Germany don’t officially start learning to read and write until they are 7. In my experience this inhibits language learning anyway.
I use a lot of “Real English” in the classes right from the first lesson, lots of “lexical chunks”, familiar language and idioms that I use with my own kids - Oh dear, Be careful! Never mind, Where are you? Let’s play.. Did you? etc. The kids don’t use English straight away and I never make them say anything but there’s lots of praise if they do and even more praise if the pronunciation was right and even more praise if the context was right … I think you get the idea! If they say things in their L1 I often repeat it in English. After about 10 weeks or so, after I’ve begun to worry that they aren’t learning anything, the first kids start throwing English words into their sentences, using the phrases and it improves from there. Here’s an example of a sentence a 5 year old produced at a lesson last week ( I have translated the German and put it in italics) “ Hey David! It’s your turn to pick up the doll and put it in the box.” – not bad after only 17 weeks of lessons.
One major addition that I have made to the course is the role the parents play. I believe that learning can only be successful if we, the teachers and parents work together. I send a mini lesson plan home every lesson (on the back of the activity sheets) and a letter every six weeks or so explaining what we are doing in class e.g. telling them how to do the actions to the songs what vocabulary we are learning etc, encouraging the parents to play an active part. I invite the parents along to the first lesson and offer parents evenings where the course components are explained. I encourage the parents to get in touch with me if they have any questions or worries. A child’s intrinsic motivation to learn anything is high. Acquiring new knowledge seems to be a survival instinct. The praise that kids receive from the English teacher contributes to their extrinsic motivation but that’s nothing compared to the effect praise from their family members has on them. The children who receive help from their parents really shine in the lessons.
I’d be very interested to know what conclusions you reach about the best teaching method for this age group. Please keep us posted.

[/u][/i][/b]
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jamesbondinchina



Joined: 09 Jun 2005
Posts: 4
Location: China

PostPosted: Wed May 10, 2006 3:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am interested in all of what you have said. However each country is different in its education system. So the best approach I found from teaching in China (note: Chinese and I am sure most Asian countries the native teachers teaching the foriegn language make a very big stress of proper pronounciation and memorizing) is that the English should be the same as what the learn in their native tongue. For example say this week they are learning days of the week in L1 then teach teh same in L2. When a young child learns English they dont always stress the words right but over time they will learn to properly stress the word. I take the same approach when teaching young children, they always hear me say the right way and with time they also begin to pronounce properley. But learning a second language they need to be active, in my half hour or one hour lessons(depends on if theer 2/3 or 4/5) I sing at least two songs and play one game on top of teaching the new lesson. When teaching the new lesson I do force the students to read and repeat several times which is just to get them to use the words they have learned. But before all the read and repeating starts I let them say the word in thier language and guess the word in L2. This is fun for my kids and they can easily reconize the words if they see the pic or I act it out.
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activekidsenglish



Joined: 24 Mar 2006
Posts: 4

PostPosted: Wed May 24, 2006 10:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's true that each country is different in it's education system, but certainly some are more effective than others. I really cringe when I hear phrases like "make a very big stress of proper pronounciation and memorizing". This is the standard approach in Japan, Korea, Taiwan and China; all countries which have very poor results in EFL teaching, in spite of huge amounts of time and money spent on it.
It was very refreshing to hear Katie say:
Quote:
Reading and writing isn’t an issue as the children in Germany don’t officially start learning to read and write until they are 7. In my experience this inhibits language learning anyway.

Reading is really pushed too soon in Asia. Having kids read at age 3 or 4 is just not effective. The most that should be done at this age is an introduction to the alphabet and some fun phonemic awareness activities. Increasing vocabulary for listening and speaking is the primary goal at this age. Western kids already have a speaking vocabulary of over 5,000 words before they begin to read.

I also agree with Katie that TPR is the most effective method for teaching very young learners. Lots of fun activities that involve listening and moving is the best way to get the maximum "Comprehensible Input" that Krashen is always going-on about. I am curious to know the name of the program she mentioned:
Quote:
After searching long and hard I have found a program that I find effective with a few minor adaptations!! The syllabus uses TPR as it’s main teaching methodology.


http://www.activekidsenglish.com/home.html
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d.



Joined: 13 Apr 2005
Posts: 12
Location: Nagano, Japan

PostPosted: Sat Jun 03, 2006 12:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don`t have any qualifications in teaching EFL to young children but I have five years experience teaching full time in kindergartens Japan (Ehime and Nagano) including two years of immersion (seven contact hours a day, five days a week). I applaud EFLwithlittleones` plans to introduce
Quote:
serious application of methodology in consonance with contemporary research findings
. There is a paucity of materials suitable for teaching children under six. Here are a few observations that I have made.

Young children will learn what you try to teach if you force it enough. Parents and administrators wanted me to teach writing and countries so I tried my best to teach these things and I got acceptable results but children learn faster when they can relate to the materials. As teachers we have to be careful--just because our students are learning doesn`t mean we are teaching what is best for our students.

Young children can benefit from the same style of classes as are normally taught to elementary students where language is introduced in a logical progression but these are best kept short. The immersion students who were taking conversation classes outside of the kindergarten tended to be more advanced than those who were not but few of them had the attention spans to focus on learning for a full hour so I question whether they were getting full value for their lesson. Additionally, some children had not, in my estimation, matured enough to get anything from lessons that required concentration.

When teaching young children for long periods of time the best method I found was to not teach, but rather do things in English. My students regularly surprised me with how quickly they learned new, activity specific language. I normally talked about the activity once the day before then led the activity and finally closed the activity with a review of what we did the next day. I continually checked for comprehension and increase It has been the accepted wisdom that the best time to learn a language is when you are very young but this is not borne out in research. I think, and would love the opportunity to prove or disprove it with research, that this is because children pick up language as an adjunct to communication (sorry I can not think of any better way of putting it and I don`t have the patience to elaborate) whereas older children and adults employ cognitive strategies to memorise and learn. The point being that young children can only focus on learning for short periods, but can do interesting things all day. The teacher has to balance teaching and facilitiating based on the students` age, interests, attentions spans and class length.

Just because a child does not appear to be listening, does not mean that the child is not listening. On a couple of occasions I have taught chidren who did not appear to be listening and were not participating when learning a new song but who, afterwards, sing the new song on their own.

Music is good but when you introduce vocabulary you should try singing it to a simple melody. Hold up a teddy bear for your children and then try singing to the melody "Shave and a Haircut": bear bear bear bear bear, bear bear.

I could go on but this is an essay as it is.

If I were to write a curriculum my goals would be:

2 years: Mostly teacher centred songs, TPR, stories and play. Encourage production, but don`t force it.

3 years: As above but you can do activities in English and expect more production. When they want something from you, make them ask you in English

4 years: As above plus simple games in English.

5 years: As above but the games can be more complex. They can follow plots and activities lasting several days.

I hope some of this helps. Feel free to make suggestions, additions etc...

Damon
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trubadour



Joined: 13 Dec 2006
Posts: 37

PostPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2008 10:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I too would like some ideas of where to acquire texts or syllabi for the preschool kids.

Are there any good books out there?

One could use ones for older stutents and make it easier/more relevant but isn't there a danger of them just becoming bored in the long run?

I must say that the thing about preschoolers is their amazing capacity to pick up and retain new vocabulary. TPR is great for that, too.

However, it's a puzzle how to get them to produce sentences or to help them be linguistically creative with their new words.
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Sally Olsen



Joined: 08 Apr 2004
Posts: 1311
Location: Canada,France, Brazil, Japan, Mongolia, Greenland, Canada, Mongolia, Ethiopia next

PostPosted: Thu Jan 10, 2008 3:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

In Mongolia they use the Montessori approach to education and have centers for the children. There is a main area for the children to meet and eat (the nursery school I saw was in two ger, two small felt tents. There were small chairs and tables where they ate and met first thing in the morning and last thing before they went home to make sure all problems were solved. The children had a card with their picture and name on it and the first thing after a snack and sometimes a wash and even a change of clothes if they were too dirty, they chose to go to one center and put their picture card in a hanging chart with pictures of each center on it. There was a water center, a play ger, a puzzle, toy, craft, drawing/writing, puppet, storybook, and so on area. They could only chose one and only four children could be in the area. The teachers had gradually built up a store of English promoting things in each area - games or charts, or books or pictures with English names and so on. The most of the English ideas were in the drawing/writing area and the science area but there were many good ideas - a pretend telephone in the play ger so they could dial numbers said in English and talk to people in English, notes to put on the fridge in English and notes to make shopping lists. There were samples so they could copy down names of food they wanted to buy and so on. The teachers moved around the areas and encouraged the children to use the English ideas but in a friendly, I'm a participant now in the ger playhouse, or I like to play with cars as well and am just telling you that I have a red one and you have a blue one, mine is a truck and yours a station wagon. They also did a lot of work on instructions, did exercises with lots of explanation of what they were doing and names for each exercise - let's do six pushups - and so on. There were four teachers for 20 children and you could hear English constantly throughout the two rooms from the teachers and the children. I saw them at the end of the year and the children ran up to me saying, "Hello, how are you? Where are you from? Come and play with the ...." Very impressive in comparison to some of my grade ones who were 8 and could only say swear words accurately.


I would imagine you have to take a Montessori course to gain access to these materials and ideas but it might be worth it so you will feel that the children are learning.

I have always like centers for learning as the students can work on something they are really interested in for long periods of time and I guess that carries over to my adults who I encourage to do projects.
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