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Reading with Young Learners 
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Joined: Thu Aug 23, 2007 10:46 pm
Posts: 2
Location: Slovakia
Post Reading with Young Learners
I´m teaching English to children aged 8-10 and I´ve got a big problem with my youngest student. I began to teach him 5 months ago and he had never had any English lessons before. He enjoys my lessons very much - last week he told me that he would like to have one more lesson/week - and he is doing quite well as far as vocabulary and grammar is concerned, but he still has problems with reading and writing. I think he simply can´t understand that English words have different pronounciation and spelling. He usually understands what I say in English, but if he has to read the same word or sentence, he mostly doesn´t recognise that it´s the same thing. He learnt to read and write in his mother tongue last year, so do you think I should rather focus on listening and speaking and wait with the rest until he grows older? However, my older students (9-year-olds) do not have any difficulties with reading ... What went wrong?
What should I do? Help me, please!

Sat Feb 16, 2008 5:33 am

Joined: Thu Jan 24, 2008 5:38 am
Posts: 128
Location: Italy
Generally speaking, as students get older they get better at reading in comparison with speaking and listening, and the majority of adult speakers of foreign languages are more proficient at reading than speaking and listening. Now, this kid you're teaching, he's still at that age when the brain has a magnificently sponge-like ability to soak up language. I'd say don't waste that trying to improve his reading. That'll come easily enough later. Now's the time to give him maximum exposure to the spoken language.

Sat Feb 16, 2008 8:44 am
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Joined: Fri Nov 10, 2006 3:35 pm
Posts: 119
Location: Yamaguchi, Japan
Take a look at all the phonics material here and start slowly with that. Some of the students my wife teaches here in Japan can read simple sentences at 5 and 6 years old and there are some who can`t. A lot seems to depend on how well they understand phonics.
My two girls have been learning Japanese for the past year while in Japanese classes. The younger one is slightly better (more fluent) at reading than the older one. What seems to have made the difference is that the younger one`s class does a lot of repeating after the teacher and
chanting with the writing in front of them. If you write words on the board and the students see them all the time they get used to how reading works.

Mon Feb 18, 2008 12:20 pm
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Joined: Mon Jan 02, 2006 10:46 am
Posts: 2130
Location: Nagano, Japan
The first few groups of students I taught took to phonics like it was candy. They were reading and doing wonderfully. I was singing the praises of phonics to all that would listen. ... Then came along Kenny...

I had a few Kennys. They weren't interested. They couldn't remember the rules. They asked to go to bathroom every time the phonics cards came out. They wouldn't even look at the board or anything. So, I learned.

Some kids just don't take to phonics like candy. It's hard and they don't like the whole thing.

I did make progress with those students, but I had to reassure them (and myself) that it was OK that they were struggling. I told them that many native speaking kids also have problems with this. It's not easy and if they don't get it now, that's OK, but it's important to keep trying. Little by little they'll make progress.

I generally don't have young students read anything they can't readily say or understand. It's not very encouraging to read something correctly but not understand that you were successful. Having students read a word or a sentence with some achievable task associated with it, is very encouraging and fun for them. (connect the word to the picture, select the word that matches the picture and so on.)

Anyway, keep at it, try some different things and see what the students find stimulating. Good luck!

Build up! Be positive! Teach hard!

Tue Feb 19, 2008 10:00 am
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