How to teach a foreign language to children is certainly different from teaching a foreign language to teenagers or adults. Generally the characteristics of children are more enthusiastic and enthusiastic as learners, they want to please the teacher rather than their peers; they will carry out activities even when they don’t understand why and how; they also lose interest faster and are less able to motivate themselves in tasks they find difficult; children do not easily use language to talk about language; children are not ashamed to speak in a new language than adults. However, not all children have these characteristics. Therefore, as teachers of course we must find out the characteristics of each child. Important differences we will know such as the linguistic, psychological, and social development of learners. Then, we need to adjust the way we think about the language we teach and the class activities we use.
Successful learning and activities are those that are adapted to student learning needs, rather than the demands of subsequent textbook units, or for the benefit of teachers to distinguish perspectives centered on learning from ‘student-centered’ teaching. Knowledge about children’s learning is seen as the center of affective teaching.
Piaget’s concern was with how children function in the world that surrounds them and how this influences their mental development. The child is seen as continually interacting with the world around her/him, solving problems that are presented by the environment. It is through taking action to solve problems that learning occurs. Piagetian psychology differentiates two ways in which development can take place as a result of activity: assimilation and accommodation. Assimilation happens when action takes place without any change to the child. Accommodation involves the child adjusting to features of the environment in some way. A Piagetian viewpoint “a child’s thinking develops as gradual growth of knowledge and intellectual skills towards a final stage of formal, logical thinking. At each stage, the child is capable of some types of thinking but still incapable of others. Piagetian end point of development-thinking that can manipulate formal abstract categories using rules of logic-is held to be unavailable to children before they reach 11 years of age or more.
Child as an active learner and thinker, constructing his or her own knowledge from working with object or ideas.
Donaldson’s world emphasizes that
(the child) actively tries to make sense of the world….asks questions…wants to know…Also from a very early stage, the child has purposes and intentions: he wants to do. (Donaldson 1978: 86, my emphasis)
Piaget’s idea: environment provides the setting for development through the opportunities it offers the child for action.
Vygotsky views of development differ from Piaget’s in the importance he gives to language and to other people in the child’s world. Vygotsky’s theory: his central focus on the social modern developments (social cultural theory). He didn’t neglect the individual or individual cognitive development
The importance of the word as unit has been downplayed by those who have develop Vygotsky’s theories (e.g. Lantolt 2000). Words do have a special significance for children learning a new language. Many of Vygotsky’s ideas will help in construction a theoritical framework for teaching foreign languages for children. The new language is first used meaningfully by teacher and pupils, and later it is transformed and internalized to become part of the individual child’s language skills or knowledge.
Language is the most important tool to cognitive growth and he has investigated how adults use language to mediate the world for children and help them to solve problems. Bruner’s most useful example of a routine is of parents reading stories to their children from babyhood onward. Transferring to the language classroom, we can see how classroom routines, which happen every day, may provide opportunities for language development. As the language becomes more complex, the support to meaning that comes from the routine and the situation helps the children to continue to understand.
I have teaching experience at SDN No. 21 Laman Mumbung for one month in 2018. I feel that teaching is not an easy thing, we cannot just go to class then explain the material and give assignments for them to do. Many things that I need to know. Here are a few things I encountered there:
- The way I teach and also some of the teachers there are still focused on books. We do not manage teaching and learning processes based on student learning needs;
- The learning method is still teacher-centered learning so that many students are passive;
- The teacher uses the lecture method while students only listen then work on the practice questions.
The above causes students to be less active so the teaching and learning process becomes passive. Therefore, the teacher must be creative in managing the class. Curriculum and learning plans must be made based on students’ needs.