Acquiring Vocabulary for Young Learners

Free vocabulary picture books and lists. Learning tips for young learners. Playing fun games

If learning English seems very challenging, break it down into smaller tasks. For example, your child/student shouldn’t try to learn lots of new words in one go. Instead, they should focus on learning a few new words every week. They will be much more likely to remember them!

Here are some ideas you can try at home or at school.

Free vocabulary picture books and lists

Use these books and lists to encourage young learners to speak, read and write in English

Download Cambridge English Assessment free Pre A1 StartersA1 Movers and A2 Flyers Word List Picture Books.
Download Cambridge English Assessment free vocabulary lists for A2 Key for Schools and B1 Preliminary for Schools.

Learning tips for young learners

Playing fun games

Try learning vocabulary and playing fun games at the same time! For example, you could use the words in the free picture books and vocabulary lists to play Charades or Pictionary.
Look at the vocabulary pictures together. For example, here’s a picture called At the doctor’s. Try using a mixture of closed questions, which assess quick factual knowledge (e.g. Where is the doctor?), and open questions, which assess reasoning (e.g. Why do you think the doctor is looking surprised?).

A busy doctor's waiting room.

Talk about the pictures.

If you are a parent or a teacher, find time to sit with your children and look at the book. Talk together about what you see. The ‘Let’s talk!’ questions on the picture pages give ideas of what you can talk about. Try and help your children to move from one-word answers to longer answers.

Find words in the pictures.

There is lots of action in the pictures. Ask your children to talk about what they see. Can they tell stories about the people in the pictures? They can then begin to use the words for a real purpose.
See if the children want to test your English too! What can they ask you to find in the pictures?

Always use the words in context and help young learners develop short responses into longer phrases and sentences

For more information about Pre A1 Starters, A1 Movers and A2 Flyers and for preparation materials, visit:
cambridgeenglish.org/starters
cambridgeenglish.org/movers
cambridgeenglish.org/flyers

A little bird told me …

It is an idiomatic expression that means “someone told me, but I’m not telling you who it is”. This phrase is often used more comically than seriously, especially when the source of the information is obvious to both parties but neither is willing to say.

Various authors over the centuries, including Shakespeare, have made reference to birds, feathered or otherwise, giving messages. I have found an earlier version of this phrase: “A little bird has whispered a secret to me,” from 1833 on www.phrases.org.uk

Idioms are fixed combinations of words whose meaning is difficult to guess from the meaning of each individual word. For instance, If two people are birds of a feather, they are very similar in many ways, so they naturally spend time together and join together. That is not the same as the separate meanings of their individual words.

“Do not complain about your friends. Remember, birds of a feather flock together. Your friends are just like you.”  These are examples of idioms, they cannot be taken literally.

Sometimes we use the features and cliches based on birds as a short way of expressing a more complicated idea. For example if “the student learned about the birds and the bees in his health education class at school” is a way of saying that he or she has learned the facts about sex and birth and life, the facts of life.

Also idioms help to make English a more colourful language: “An early bird” is someone who arrives someplace early or starts something early

“I am an early bird and I like to arrive early at work every morning.” If you wake up and get to work early, you will succeed, in this case we can say the proverb: “The early bird catches the worm”

Similes are expressions which compare two things, they always include the words as or like. You can use similes to make a description more emphatic or vivid, e.g. “as free as a bird” completely free, carefree. “Eat like a bird” to eat very little. The opposite would be “Eat like a horse”, and if he eats very unpleasantly and greedily with no table manners he “eats like a pig”.

Idioms are used to catch the reader’s eye, particularly those with strong images, e.g.: “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”. This expression means that it is better to have an advantage or opportunity that is certain than having one that is worth more but is not so certain. The ‘bird’ we already possess is far more valuable than the ‘two’ we could possibly get. In essence, don’t be greedy and a “bird brain”, stick with what good things you already have, instead of going after something you’ll probably never get.

The Teacher, a very interesting and intelligent person, not a “birdbrain”, introduces us to three idioms connected with birds:

  • Birdbrain.
  • To have a bird’s eye view. (a general view from above)
  • A little bird told me.

The phrase “to kill two birds with one stoneIdiom 68 Kill two birds with one stone 2I do use it by habit, but I catch myself every time I say it. The expression is rarely used literally, no one really goes around throwing stones at birds these days. Again, because these examples are idioms, they cannot be taken literally. The Oxford English Dictionary describes the usage as a proverbial phrase meaning “to accomplish two different purposes by the same act or proceeding.” Or in other words: “to use only one action to complete two tasks”.

And this is what I hope I have done with this post, learn about idioms and expressions and about bird features.

Another video about birds idioms by  JamesESL English Lessons (engVid)

To learn more about Bird Idioms:

About idioms in general:

 

 

Making Music Matters

Playing a musical instrument has many benefits and can bring pleasure to those around them.

The Chinese philosopher Confucius said long ago that “Music produces a kind of pleasure which human nature cannot do without.”  Learning to play a musical instrument is great for developing brains. Playing a musical instrument has many benefits and can bring pleasure to those around them.

Quotefancy-28004-3840x2160.jpg

More qualitative benefits than only listening to music. Passively listening to Mozart, or indeed any other music you enjoy, does not make you smarter. The so-called “Mozart effect” is  now a debunked myth: just listening to certain types of music does not improve intelligence, like you’re not going to become physically fit just by watching sports. It’s important to engage with the music in order to reap the benefits and see changes in your learning. Because it is only through the active generation and manipulation of sound that music can rewire the brain.

Moreover, people with little or no musical training, who represent the vast majority of the listening audience, perceive music in a totally different way than the actual musicians who play or create the music. Each person who hears music is influenced by his or her own individual personality, knowledge, and life experiences that have molded their minds.

This short animation from TED-Ed, written by Anita Collins and animated by Sharon Colman Graham, explains why playing music benefits the brain more than any other activity.

Extract from the video:

When you listen to music, multiple areas of your brain become engaged and active. But when you actually play an instrument, that activity becomes more like a full-body brain workout

Playing a musical instrument engages practically every area of the brain at once, especially the visual, auditory, and motor cortices. As with any other workout, disciplined, structured practice in playing music strengthens those brains functions, allowing us to apply that strengh to other activities.

The most obvious difference between listening to music and playing it is that the latter requires fine motor skills, which are controlled in both hemispheres of the brain. It also combines the linguistic and mathematical precision, in which the left hemisphere is more involved, with the novel and creative content that the right excels in.

– See more at: 

Benefits-playing-an-instrument MerceCardus

Anita Collins Music.com/films/

The Two Sides of Music

This Is How Music Can Change Your Brain – TIME

Mozart doesn’t make you clever – NATURE

The controversy about the value of Homework

There is controversy about the value of homework, with critics saying it is either ineffective or potentially harmful if the extra work is so dull that children switch off.

Few years ago, a group of French parents and teachers called for a two-week boycott of homework in schools, saying it is useless, tiring and reinforces inequalities between children. They say homework pushes the responsibility for learning on parents and causes rows between themselves and their children. And they conclude children would be better off reading a book.

This is a representative sample of what the detractors argue against having homework, but we can add others arguments opposed to homework: The school day should be long enough to allow the child to learn and write everything they need to” homework, whether good or bad, takes time and often cuts into each student’s sleep, family dinner, or freedom to follow passions outside of school”. “Not all families have the time or the necessary knowledge to help their offspring”. “Teachers don’t realise the unbelievable pressure they are putting children under”.  (should children have to do homework? comments)

And what the students have to add to this scenario against homework. For too many students, homework is too often about compliance and “not losing points” rather than about learning: “…it’s worksheets and problems at the end of the chapter. Just busywork”, “It doesn’t matter how I get the homework done, just as long as it is done before the teacher checks it. Right?” . “If I haven’t succeeded in doing the exercise at school, I don’t see how I’m going to succeed at home”.

From another standpoint, there’s pressure from external sources to set homework and a lot of teachers see that as if they must be setting homework all the time, even if it’s not necessary. There is also a parents’ common misconception that teachers and schools giving more homework are more challenging and therefore better teachers and schools. This is a false assumption. The amount of homework your son or daughter does each night should not be a source of pride for the quality of a school.

These are not good news for “homework”, but if so why it is so popular and widely applied. Maybe what we need is a new word instead of “homework”, how about “continued learning” or “ongoing growth activities”?

We want children to understand that they are always learners even outside school. So it makes no sense to even advertise a “no homework” policy in a school. It sends the wrong message. The policy should be, “No time-wasting, rote, repetitive tasks will be assigned that lack clear instructional or learning purposes.”

As a teacher, we know that by assigning homework, the teacher significantly extends the classroom learning time, that a teacher should never assign homework on a topic that has not been practiced first in the classroom. It should be difficult enough to challenge a student, but not so difficult that the student feels overwhelmed. Assignments should be graded and feedback should be provided.

Homework will be extended learning time if the students are inspired enough to want to practice the skills obtained class. Then make homework worth doing so they will want to do it.

What about Blended Learning? In Blended Learning teachers set up learning management accounts (LMS) on places like Moodle. They assigned students work and research projects through the LMS and students did the work at home. When they came to class, the teacher would either review what they had done individually, or step up the learning by providing further opportunities to apply their knowledge in group projects.

Children should be encouraged to read, write, perform arithmetic, better understand the world around them in terms of civics, science, and the arts, and, of course, develop their people skills: their emotional intelligence. This encouragement should be part of everyday family interactions outside of school, and the school should provide developmental guidance to all parents, in the appropriate languages, to help them do this. Experts agree on the value of parents taking an interest in their children’s intellectual and academic life.

Above all, schools should remind parents to never lose sight of modeling for their children the value of close relationships, support, caring, and fun. That is the most important “home work” of all.

Reference

Two hours’ homework a night linked to better school results

Homework guidelines scrapped to give headteachers greater freedom

EDUTOPIA BOOKMARKS

Learning to Think, Thinking to Learn.

Thirty years ago, some theories about teaching and learning were based on training exercises and drills. The idea was that if facts were repeated enough, then students would memorize them, and this was learning. Under this concept learning is shown by a change in behavior as a result of experience, but nothing is mentioned about what students believe, what process they use to solve problems, or their own awareness of their thinking.

This post is based on the idea that teaching means teaching students to think. It assumes that teaching is not just about communicating facts or mechanical skills like Math rules (of course, you must have facts in order to learn), but is a process of coming to understand how you think.

The idea that all students should learn how to think critically is a relatively new one (certainly since the turn of the 20th century) and one for which most schools are not well prepared. The point is how we teach thinking, and how to make students aware of their thinking.
vtVisible Thinking is a flexible approach to integrating the teaching and development of thinking with your content and curriculum. This is a project of Harvard University. The essence of this project is a series of routines for thinking. They are simple and to the point.

The idea of visible thinking helps to make concrete what a thoughtful classroom might look like. At any moment, we can ask, “Is thinking visible here? Are students explaining things to one another? Are students offering creative ideas? Are they, and I as their teacher, using the language of thinking? Is there a brainstorm about alternative interpretations on the wall? Are students debating a plan?”

The central idea of Visible Thinking is very simple: making thinking visibleWe learn best what we can see and hear, although thinking is pretty much invisible. Mostly, thinking happens under the hood, within the marvelous engine of our mind-brain.

Visible Thinking includes a number of ways of making students’ thinking visible to themselves, to their peers, and to the teacher, so they get more engaged by it and come to manage it better for learning and other purposes.

In DEEPdt, visible thinking is a game changer. Thankfully, Harvard's Project Zero has created some pretty awesome routines that can easily be utilized in the DEEPdt process. In trying to visualize ...

Here are some of its key goals (extract from his website www.visiblethinkingpz.org):

  • Deeper understanding of content
  • Greater motivation for learning
  • Development of learners’ thinking and learning abilities.
  • Development of learners’ attitudes toward thinking and learning and their alertness to opportunities for thinking and learning (the “dispositional” side of thinking).
  •  A shift in classroom culture toward a community of enthusiastically engaged thinkers and learners.
    Structure.

The routines are structured well and only take a single page for each. It covers:

• The thinking routines itself
• Purpose: What kind of thinking does this routine encourage?
• Application: When and where can it be used?
• Launch: What are some tips for starting and using this routine?

pageshot

Visible Thinking Routines: SEE THINK WONDER

If you go to the Visible Thinking website you can download these in zipped packages of PDF files. I have also upload these and you can get them from here. The Routine cover the following aspects of Thinking:

This visual features a number of key thinking routines together with examples of how to use them with learners:

visible-thinking

Resources:

Creat_pdfs.zipCreat_pdfs.zip 472 KB

Fairness_pdfs.zipFairness_pdfs.zip 544 KB

Truth_pdfs.zipTruth_pdfs.zip 357 KB

Understand_pdfs.zipUnderstand_pdfs.zip 701 KB

AERA06ThinkingRoutines.pdfAERA06ThinkingRoutines.pdf 238 KB

Why Blog? Blogging Suggestions for Teachers

As far as I am concerned, it is necessary for teachers to be writers and to share strategies, lessons, and resources with one another, as we are able to provide glimpses into our daily lives, while sharing effective ideas that are realistic and classroom-tested.

There are several reasons why teaching, writing, and blogging complement one another.  Following various teacher blogs, commenting on the entries, and interacting with other teachers is an excellent form of professional development.   What better way to improve your teaching than to have hundreds of teachers in your professional learning network?

If you are a teacher and are unsure about writing your own blog, here are some suggestions that you may find useful:

1.) There are so many excellent teacher blogs out there that you may find interesting.  A quick search would provide you with some great blogs that are related to your own teaching and are interesting to read.

2.) Every teacher is busy—between teaching, planning, marking, coaching, and our personal lives, we all have a lot on our plates.  How do we find time to write? We find writing to be a reflective practice that helps us become better teachers.  If you find a topic that you are passionate about, then writing will not seem like a chore, but more like a goal that you are inspired to reach.

3.) Be professional when writing! Never blog about anything that would compromise your integrity, that of your students, or your colleagues.  Respect and professionalism is of the utmost importance.

4.) Don’t think that your thoughts, reflections, and experiences shouldn’t be shared.  What you think is not that great, may be just what another teacher needs to read!

5.) Learn from others and reflect! Take what you see, make any necessary changes or additions and try it out! Once you have tried it for yourself, reflect! Then, share the experience again! As we pass it on, we continue to learn from others and others continue to learn from us!

Do you have any blogging tips? Share them in the comments section!

 

Ready for learning English ?

Are you ready for learning english? Here you are some resources for learning English from little learners to adults:

Infantil (de 0 a 6 años)

  • Lil’ Fingers: Historias mágicas para los más pequeños, ilustrado con imágenes con movimiento para hacer más entendedor el cuento.
  • Educa nave: Recopilación de recursos digitales clasificados por temas, ideal para aprender vocabulario con los más pequeños. El espacio web representa un mapa del tesoro ¿A quién no le gusta encontrar tesoros?
  • English for little children: Un nuevo sistema para aprender vocabulario básico, clasificado por temas y muy didáctico. La voz del personaje está interpretado por un niño por lo tanto los alumnos se sienten como en casa.
  • Sesame street: Recurso con una gran cantidad de canciones animadas, videosinfantiles y juegos divertidos para los más pequeños. Ideal para llamar su atención.
  • Learning english kids: Recurso educativo pensado para mejorar las habilidades lectoras, comunicativas y creativas mediante juegos interactivos, cuentos y actividades gramaticales. También es útil para Educación Primaria.
  • Appu SeriesVideos animados clasificados por: cuentos de hadas, canciones para que los más pequeños cojan el ritmo, videos para aprender lengua, matemáticas, arte y manualidades. Puedes usarlo tanto en Infantil como en Primaria.

Primaria (de 6 a 12 años)

  • Maya y Miguel: Juegos divertidos relacionados con recetas para aprender vocabulario, fichas para imprimir y videos educativos para aprender inglés.
  • Eduland: ¿Quieres que tus alumnos aprendan el vocabulario de las escuela? Ahora tienes la oportunidad de ofrecerles una actividad interactiva para que conozcan todos los elementos de la escuela en inglés.
  • Professor Garfield: Actividades interactivas con sonido sobre matemáticas, diálogos, ciencias, libros online y diccionario. ¡Hay mucho para escoger!
  • Uptoten: Un lugar seguro para niños menores de 10 años donde aprenden jugando,ideal para utilizarlo en casa.
  • The place for fun learning: Aprender y practicar la gramática de manera interactiva y divertida. Muchas actividades diferentes para adaptarse al niño.
  • Fun english games for kids: Multitud de juegos divertidos y recursos para los docentes, por ejemplo: fichas para imprimir, actividades de todos tipos desde pictionary a varias pruebas (Quizzes).
  • Starfall: El mejor espacio interactivo para aprender a leer en inglés. Gran cantidad de actividades y juegos para que los niños disfruten leyendo.

Secundaria (de 12 a 18 años)

  • Channel 4 learning: Recurso para practicar las habilidades de inglés, también ofrece la opción de conocer algunos autores y sus libros, y saber todo sobre literatura en la lengua inglesa.
  • English for everyone: Variedad de fichas para imprimir (edades de 11 a 14 años), donde podrás escoger lo más conveniente para tu clase.
  • English area: Practicar la gramática de forma interactiva con este recurso es posible. Los alumnos podrán practicar, comprobar su nivel a través de pruebas y jugar con las formas verbales.
  • BBC secondary ages: Listado de páginas interactivas para alumnos de 11 a 14 años donde encontrarás actividades de todas clases. Ideal para trabajar en casa y en clase.

Para todas las edades

  • ABC teach: Recurso para todas las edades donde podrás encontrar material para imprimir, generar tus propias fichas y de este modo organizar tu clase a tu manera.
  • Children’s storybooks onlineCuentos online para niños y adultos con increíbles ilustraciones y una gran variedad de historias para escoger.
  • Mes english: Un recurso que no puedes perderte ya que puedes crear tus propios juegos y fichas adecuándolos a tus alumnos. Puedes construir cosas increíbles, desde dados, memories, dóminos personalizados.

¿Preparado para transformar las clases en un espacio diferente? Con tanta variedad de recursos educativos no tienes excusa para no innovar y aprender con las nuevas tecnologias 😉