PELT is a newly emerging area in ELT, so offers a lot of spaces for investigation and research. In 2000, Research into Teaching English to Young Learners consisting of 20 papers from two international conferences held in Hungary and Poland in the autumn of 1999 was published. It provides us a full understanding about issues in teaching English to young learns from macro to micro levels. Perhaps, I am more interested in what we can do next to fill in the gap of literature. Here are a few focuses we may want to work on. I just pick up two statements from researchers in the publication.
‘It is surprising that there is no study on how teachers’ proficiency, and especially pronunciation, influences young learners’ language development’ (p.39)
From my own observation in teaching children, the area which should be paid much attention to is pronunciation. Jayne Moon claims that children are sensitive to pronunciation. We do not know whether “the younger, the better” or not, but we can understand that the pronouncing organs are weak and growing in children, so it is easy to change and practice a new pattern. Interestingly, there are a few studies on how teachers’ English proficiency influences on students’ pronunciation as stated in the quote above. In addition, we need to examine the ways to teaching pronunciation to children. Many people insist on giving good models for them to learn subconsciously, but from my own experience, children are not shy when being correct. It is very important for teachers to learn how to shape their mouth when saying a certain sound in English. It gives children a model to start speaking correctly.
‘Absolutely no research has been found into how secondary schools build on existing L2 proficiency’ (p. 36)
to be continued….
J. Moon and M. Nikolov (eds.) .(2000). Research into Teaching English to Young Learners. University Press Pecs Hungary , 416pp., £15 from Blackwells’ Bookshop, University of Leeds ISBN 0963 641 5684