when I was a little learner…

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IS STARTING ENGLISH LEARNING AT AN EARLY AGE ADVANTAGE FOR ME OR NOT?
Think about a little girl who likes dancing and singing when TV is on. The moment I decided to learn English was when I was trying to sing English songs in a program on TV. I started learning English 18 years ago when I was 6 or 7 years old. Because English wasn’t taught to younger children at public schools at that time, my parents made me take private courses. As far as I remember, I didn’t like the first teacher. Considering my age to start English in Turkey in 1990s, I was a lucky child. Even at public schools, not until the sixth grade in secondary level did the students get any English lessons.
My first teacher was so strict that she tried to teach me through a book and I was forced to complete an activity book. I was so disappointed since I wanted to learn English to sing songs. I gave up taking lessons. After a year, I started to take courses again with another teacher who was advised by a teacher at my school. The teacher was EFL teacher and she had given lesson to children in various countries before she came to Turkey. My new teacher and I began the lessons and I learnt lots of things with language games, songs, puzzles or different tasks which a child could enjoy and participate actively. Taking my age into consideration, she used lots of different techniques and methods which are useful for the kids that I can only understand now. Looking at different topics and areas in SLA and Approaches and Methods, a child should be carefully taught; furthermore, developmental sequence and the nature of a different language should be given a great deal of importance. My first teacher had no idea about teaching a foreign or second language to a child. At those times in Turkey, we cannot hope to see public school teachers to know Krashen’s comprehensible input, İ+1 or the natural sequence of order. The teachers didn’t know about any methods or techniques to teach a language, because nearly most of the teacher weren’t the EFL or ESL teachers. They were the ones who graduated from different departments. Although I was living in a big city as Istanbul, fifteen years ago it was nearly impossible to have a branch teacher at public primary schools. Even, the age of English learning decreased ten years ago in Turkey; because there was a huge need of teachers, any kind of people who knew English started to give lessons in public schools. As EFL teachers, we all know that different age of groups need to be taught with different kinds of techniques and methods. One way that works with a group doesn’t work with another due to physical or mental developmental reasons. When English lessons started at school 2 years after I did, I was far beyond the class. I was so bored during the lessons because the teacher was completely different from my teacher at home. The lessons were based on a book which hadn’t got any pictures or photos and wasn’t appealing for a 10 year-old child. We never played games which were hard to apply in our classes not only because of the number of the students but also the shape of the class. My family wanted me and my brother continue the lessons at home because they were aware of the fact that it was impossible to speak, listen or write in English with the lessons which were taking at schools. I was so delighted by the lessons at home that I wanted to learn another language when I started secondary school.
Starting learning English at an early age with a good teacher who cared about the child’s learning styles and registers was a chance for me to acquire English rather than learning it. I remember lots of the patterns and rules from my childhood experience even though I never took any specific grammar courses. The way I learnt or acquired English has affected my style and awareness of teaching as an instructor.
Ayşegül ÇEPNİ

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  1. Pingback: Learning about the Conventions of Print: Step 2 Left to right | That fun reading teacher

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