Our selection and development of resources and the way in which we approach our own sessions with young children is underpinned by some key beliefs about early years education:
In order for acquisition to take place, children need to be exposed to language being used in a meaningful way and they need to hear an item of language several times. While the amount of exposure is important, the quality of the input matters more. This means that language should be contextualised, used in real communication rather than isolated words, and repeated often.
In terms of second language acquisition, contexts often vary considerably and it is often not easy to provide the time or quality of exposure necessary. For example, children may only have 1 or 2 hours of dedicated English time a week. For that reason, Kids Club English seeks to help parents, teachers and other childcare professionals maximise the opportunities available. Stories, songs and craft activities that help the child view the second language as a genuine tool of communication will aid acquisition.
It should also be noted, however, that when young second language learners enter formal primary education, they are often ‘taught’ the language in thematic units. Here, the language is something to be ‘learned’, rather than ‘acquired’. Kids Club English attempts to bridge the two approaches by relating this thematically organised language to other mediums often associated more with first language acquisition: stories and songs.
Stories are fantastic tools for educators, in that they can provide the opportunities to learn and develop a whole host of skills. In the context of language acquisition, they are invaluable for several reasons:
Songs play an important role in acquiring our first, as well as second or third languages. Apart from being fun, engaging and motivating, they offer some distinct advantages for young language learners:
At Kids Club English, the approach is more English through Craft, rather than Craft through English. Whereas Craft through English activities are more focused on the completion of an activity in an environment where English is spoken, in English through Craft, activities and suggestions maximise interaction in English so that there are several opportunities for repetition, and thus language acquisition. Many are also dynamic in nature and connect to stories and songs so that interaction can extend beyond the classroom. For example, some crafts involve the creation of a game to be played with parents, while others illustrate a song or story that can be retold in a different context. In this way, the quantity of quality exposure to the language can be increased. The inclusion of craft activities allows:
Craft through English activites where specific language is less targeted are also of significant value. Kids Club Englsh encourages the incorporation of these types of projects, where time allows, as it is a less controlled way for children and adults to engage in genuine interaction.