INTRODUCTION OF ENGLISH IN THE SECOND
YEAR OF NURSERY EDUCATION
Scheme for in-service training in
Department of Education – Basque
Academic year 1999-2000
SUMMARY OF DCB (National Curriculum Reform Blueprint) FOR NURSERY EDUCATION
and general objectives of Nursery Education.
of children in the second year of Nursery Education.
for teaching and learning.
SCHEME FOR THE EARLY INTRODUCTION OF ENGLISH
for the project.
objectives of the project.
teaching of languages: some reflections.
Educational interactions: role of the teaching staff.
Role of the English language specialist.
of the classroom teacher.
Social organisation of the class and distribution of time and space.
Organisation of contents.
Materials and teaching resources.
of a session.
introduction of English in the second year of Nursery Education will become a
reality in nearly all State schools in the Basque Autonomous Community during
the academic year 1999-2000.
document is intended to be, firstly, a springboard for reflection for those
teachers who will be involved, and, secondly, to serve as an orientative guide
to help put the project into practice.
this end, we have considered it necessary to undertake an exhaustive study of
the Diseño Curricular Base (National Curriculum Reform Blueprint) as applied to
Nursery Education, reflect on its content and highlight what we consider to be
essential points to be taken into account by the person specialising in English
in Nursery Education. We present these conclusions in section II.
in section III we will make specific reference to what this project involves. We
will justify and explain the general objectives that we plan to achieve. We will
reflect on the integrated approach to language teaching which ought to exist in
every school, and on the interaction between teachers and pupils. We will also
consider other aspects, such as the distribution of space and time, how contents
should be organised, materials and didactic resources which will be used and the
type of evaluation which can be carried out.
document is the result of the reflection and discussion carried out by a group
of teachers taking part in the experimental project concerning plurilingual
teaching set up by the Basque Government in September 1996. Their professional
experience and daily teaching practice have helped to create this document,
which attempt to draw some working conclusions. However, the content of the
document can, and indeed should, be modified, revised and discussed by all those
people involved in the process.
II. SUMMARY OF THE DCB FOR NURSERY
1. AIMS AND OBJECTIVES OF NURSERY
introduction of a foreign language (L3) in the second year of Nursery Education
takes as its starting point:
“The main aim of Nursery Education is
to promote child development.”
Department of Education has observed the benefits that knowledge of several
languages provides and has decided to start introducing L3 in Nursery Education.
1996 an experimental project to introduce English at Nursery level was put into
practice in 13 Basque State schools with very favourable results.
The Department of Education has recently decided to extend this project
to the remaining state schools at Nursery and Primary levels, encompassing the
aims expressed in the DCB for Nursery Education:
“The many means of expression,
especially oral language, are extremely important at this age. (...) Educational
intervention at this stage, aimed at getting rid of discriminating differences,
provides a stepping stone to obligatory schooling.”
introduction of the L3 in the second year of Nursery Education should help
children to achieve the objectives stated in the Decree of Curricular
Development for Nursery Education:
“Discover, get to know and progressively control their own body,
forming a positive image of themselves and their sexual identity, valuing their
abilities and limits of action and expression and acquiring basic habits to
protect their health and well being.”
“Progressively act more autonomously in daily activities, acquire
emotional and affective security and develop their capacity for initiative and
confidence in themselves.”
“Establish relationships in a gradually widening circle, begin to
listen and learn to articulate interests, points of view and contributions with
“Establish ways of relating to adults and to their own friends,
exchanging displays of affection, respecting diversity and developing the
attitude to help and co-operate.”
“Observe and explore their immediate surroundings with an attitude of
curiosity and care, identify the most meaningful characteristics and properties
of the elements which form their world.”
“Learn some of the cultural norms of society and develop attitudes of
respect, interest and participation towards them; begin to respect and show
interest in other cultures.”
“Be able to represent and evoke diverse aspects of their experience,
either lived or imagined and express them through the symbolic possibilities
offered by games and other forms of expression.”
“Use spoken language appropriately in the different situations
experienced in daily life in order to understand and be understood by others,
express their own ideas, feelings, experiences and desires, make progress in the
construction of meaning, control their own behaviour and influence that of
“Enrich and diversify their
ability to express themselves via the resources and means within their reach,
make contact with and appreciate different artistic phenomena appropriate to
2. CHARACTERISICS OF CHILDREN IN THE
SECOND YEAR OF NURSERY
development of the young child demands a comprehensive response to education in
all its aspects. Some of the characteristics of children in this age group are
set out below.
Development of motor skills
is a constant need for movement. Games making use of motor skills need to be
alternated with quieter activities, e.g. those requiring balance and co-ordination
variety of actions that the child is capable of increases due to greater hand
control. Progress in using a pencil is notable.
child learns to position him/herself in relation to objects.
can name different parts of the body and recognise them in a picture.
knowledge of their world increases. Symbolic games acquire greater importance
within the group.
first signs of logical thought appear (classifying, ordering and recognising the
notion of quantity).
four years old the child is much better able to distinguish between reality and
fantasy. Their explanations are more real.
continue to express themselves via gesture and facial expression, but their
ability to communicate with spoken language improves greatly. Knowledge of their
surroundings and social interaction helps them to widen their vocabulary and to
structure and articulate their sentences more correctly. The child can
understand more complicated explanations and stories and is able to concentrate
on what an adult is saying for longer periods of time.
Affective and social development
child enjoys handicraft activities, painting, modelling...
oppose adults as a way of self-affirmation, but they know how to accept reasoned
are able to become part of a more or less stable group. Many pal up with a
friend and become inseparable for a time.
attitude is more receptive, but still subject to the self-centredness typical of
this age group. Educational norms such as inviting him/her to hand out materials,
wait their turn, share toys... will help them to overcome this.
progressively acquire greater control over everyday customs (tidying away,
getting dressed and undressed, cleaning their teeth). In this way, they succeed
in reducing their dependence on adults and increase their own autonomy.
3. GUIDELINES FOR TEACHING AND LEARNING
the National Curriculum Reform blueprint for Nursery Education, (herein referred
to as the ‘DCB’) a set of guidelines are laid down in order that educational
practice coheres to the characteristics of the pupils at this age and takes the
following aspects into account:
this section, the DCB refers only to the two co-official languages of the Basque
Autonomous Community and does not refer to a third language. However, it does
contain some methodological guidelines for dealing with Basque as a second
language, which are also valid for the third language.
an atmosphere, which fosters a feeling of security and promotes communication.
-Promote the functional and
instrumental use of Basque.
-Guarantee the pupils’ comprehension
of the messages addressed to them in Basque.
-Encourage the pupils’ oral
production in Basque.”
part will be developed more fully in Chapter III, 2 of this document)
Dealing with mixed-ability
the DCB for Nursery Education puts it:
“Dealing with the heterogeneous
nature of the classroom supposes, on the one hand, accepting and appreciating
the differences. On the other hand, it implies coming to terms with such
differences and managing to develop the capabilities and skills of each and
every child whatever their stage of personal development, their socio-cultural
references, or their different processes and rhythms of learning. It also means
accepting the wide range of results and the giving help where it is needed.”
this reason, when planning the English language specialist’s role in the
classroom, both the different outcomes to the activities proposed and the
special educational needs that might arise, will be taken into account.
Affectivity and social relations
this chapter DCB states the following:
“...the need for affection is as
basic a human instinct as eating or protecting. Young children require a
constant, stable relationship with those who answer their needs for care,
protection, exploration and games. These relationships produce feelings of well
-being, confidence and security.”
on, it continues in this way:
“There is no place for the impersonal
or mechanical in the Nursery School. Children need an adult ready and willing to
provide an affective relationship.”
very interesting point mentioned is as follows:
“Children actively seek out social
stimulus, and when they live a situation in which they have to share the central
figure of reference and where they do not have exclusive access to that figure,
it helps them to restructure their egocentric position and develop new forms of
interaction in which they learn to wait, to retain their frustration and to
think about others.”
English teacher must keep this affective need in mind in her day-to-day dealing
with the pupils and be affectionate with each one.
Relationships with parents
English specialist must stay in touch with the family and share the
responsibility for her teaching with the rest of the teachers involved.
“The school needs to know the family
situation if its educational policies are going to make sense and be of personal
value to the children. A continuous, rather than sporadic, collaboration between
the Nursery School and the family is necessary to establish the roles of both
parties, and ways in which they can participate and co-operate.” (DCB)
the other hand, experience has shown that families are extremely interested in
this early introduction to English. It is easy to use the existing network of
communication (form meetings, School Board, Parents’ Association etc.) to
exchange information, not just between school and family, but also between all
the parties that make up the school community.
A comprehensive ‘whole’ child
feel it is important to highlight the following extract from the DCB.
“One of the aspects which stands out
most in this stage of education, is that children at this age express themselves
and relate to each other and learn in a ‘whole’ way. This is seen in their
expressiveness, their way of being and interacting with the world that surrounds
them. As they develop their whole selves, all the affective-emotional, sensory-motor,
social-relational and cognitive-linguistic dimensions are linked in such a way
as to be impossible to develop separately.
Since children work as an integrated
and unified whole, the Nursery School will create an educational framework in
which their experiences take place in a way which includes and integrates all
the dimensions of their development, without ignoring any or dealing with them
separately. This means that school activities and experiences
should allow the children to put into practice and develop their different
personal resources and whole selves.”
this reason, the introduction of English should not be an element that is
additional to, or independent of the normal educational framework of the
school.Thus, the whole learning approach is related to meaningful learning.
“... this does not mean the
accumulation and juxtaposition of learning experiences but rather establishing
meaningful connections between what has already been learnt in previous
situations and experiences, and the forthcoming information of new experiences.
The children’s schemata of action and thinking will restructure and change
gradually and progressively as they assimilate and relate the new information to
their previous schemata.” (DCB)
in order forchildren to learn in a meaningful way, the introduction of the L3
should promote experiences and activities that make sense to them in a real and
affective way. In other words, that children can relate learning to their own
interests and experoences which actively involve them
Relevance of the action:
following guidelines are to be found in the DCB concerning this point:
“Children start to know themselves and the reality that surrounds them
through manipulating, playing and experimenting with physical and social aspects
of their environment. The importance of the action lies in the fact that it is
the focal point and the driving force behind the process of learning development.”
on, it reminds us that:
“...the need to act should not lead us into senseless action, but
rather to propose meaningful, useful and varied experiences.”
Organisation of space, time and
order to make decisions about the organisation of the class, the following
aspects should be kept in mind:
The autonomy of the young child,
within different activity areas.
The mixed rates of working and
The balance between more
demanding and more relaxed moments in response to the needs of the child and the
Dealing with the individual and
dealing with the group.
FIELDS OF EXPERIENCE
this first phase of child development, the educational programme is closely
linked to the experiences that the children live and in this way they can
assimilate certain knowledge, values and attitudes. This fact asks for the
distribution of the pedagogic action into fields of experience, which contrasts
with the “fields of knowledge” proposed for primary and secondary studies.
Nursery Education, the proposal for working on concepts, processes and skills,
attitudes, values and rules is included in three fields of general experience:
The field of
identity and personal autonomy: includes all
the knowledge that the children assimilate step by step about themselves and
which guides them to an understanding of their self-image and confirmation of
their possibilities and limitations. Their progress in fine motor skills and
their growing concept of ‘self’ and personal autonomy helps them to
understand where they differ from others.
and social field: includes all the knowledge
gained from the physical and social world. In other words, all the elements that
children are in contact with daily: objects, people, animals, plants,
machines... It also includes those relationships that they form with the social
groups they belong to: the family, the school, friends... and related situations:
parties, special events...
The field of
communication and representation: looks
at all those forms of communication which help to establish the child and their
environment. We refer not only to verbal language but also to body language,
handicraft, musical and mathematical language. By these means, the child can get
to know, communicate and represent knowledge and relationships between things,
as well as feelings and experiences. This should be achieved within playful and
creative contexts. These fields are closely inter-related and naming them
individually does not imply that they should be worked on separately.
III. SCHEME FOR THE EARLY INTRODUCTION
1. JUSTIFICATION FOR THE PROJECT
the demand for English to be taught at school continues to rise, many schools
have introduced the teaching of English to Nursery-aged children with whatever
resources they have available and without adequate external help and expertise.
It is therfore logical that the Department of Education should provide
administrative channels and an appropriate methodological orientation for
schools in the foreseable future.
the academic years (1996-1999) a pilot scheme was carried out in 13 schools in
the Basque Autonomous Community. The decision made after these three years of
experimentation was that, with the right methodology, fruitful learning
experiences were possible. The positive lessons learned are therefore being made
available to other schools to use as starting points and points of reflection.
mentioned in the circular that the authorities from Educational Innovation sent
to all the schools about the early introduction of English, and based on the
ideas and opinions of specialists in this area, our bi-lingual education favours
the learning of a third language because of the positive transfer that takes
place between the languages that the children already know and the new language.
Our ultimate aim is to obtain the best possible level of proficiency in English
by the end of compulsory Secondary schooling. However, it is also our aim to
optimise the home language and the school language.
is very important to point out that the contact with another new language at
this age will help the child to understand other cultures and perspectives
better. Furthermore, introducing a different code through games and motivating
activities will help to stimulate learning strategies which will be beneficial
to the child’s cognitive development.
2. GENERAL OBJECTIVES
outcomes that we aim to foster in the pupils are as follows:
To understand the message of some oral texts in English (rhymes, songs,
stories, descriptions, instructions, errands etc.) that are accessible and
meaningful to children at this age and are related to their ideas, experiences
and interests, and also to appreciate their cultural value.
To use both verbal and non-verbal resources (signs, pointing, gesture,
looks, mime etc.) to interpret messages that have varying communicative
intentions (that arise in the classroom or from some other field of social
To take part actively in normal linguistic interactions (reaction or
reply to messages received) that might arise in the foreign language class
respecting the rules that govern the language (pronunciation, intonation, rhythm
etc.) or some social conventions of communication (gestures, seating...).
To show interest and curiosity in the foreign language and develop
positive attitudes towards the different uses of the language (formal and
To recognise linguistic diversity and realise that languages, and the
different ways they are used, are used to satisfy the need to communicate
3. SOME REFLECTIONS ON THE INTEGRATED
APPROACH TO LANGUAGES
to recent research on multilingualism, the acquisition of more than two
languages is feasible in both the natural, and school, environments and does not
pose problems in either cognitive or linguistic development.” (Cenoz &
there are problems, the causes are not in the number of languages that the
children are exposed to, but rather in the lack of coherence in the process of
teaching and learning each of them. The three languages should not be dealt with
in contradictory ways (with grammatical, functional, task-based approaches etc.)
but rather there should be a general plan common to all three, where the
conceptual, procesual and attitudinal concepts in the field of Communication and
Representation are co-ordinated.
acquisition of a language is not an isolated phenomenon. It is related to the
acquisition of other languages, and therefore it is important to look at all the
languages involved when studying attitudes in multilingual acquisition.” (Cenoz,
acquisition of English in the Basque Country supposes taking on a third language
in a bi-lingual educational context. This context justifies the need to compare
aspects related to the acquisition of English with those of the other languages
in the community.” (Cenoz, 2000)
early introduction of English requires an analysis and adaptation of the project
in every school: of the general objectives of each language, of the common
methodological plan, of the time for each language, the spaces that they will
use, and the different fields for using the language.
“In an early multi-lingualism
situation, it is vital that the school establishes both general and specific
linguistic objectives for each two year cycle for Basque, Spanish and English.
Furthermore, depending on the sociolinguistic context, the different
characteristics of each school and the hours allotted to each language, the
objectives will be different for the languages (…) An important aspect of
early multilingualism and one that has received a great deal of attention in
some schools, is the co-ordination between the syllabuses in the three languages
in order to promote the inter-dependence between the languages and make the most
of cognitive and metalinguistic advantages.”
example, in Nursery Education, as well as in Primary and Secondary Education, we
must bear in mind that:
“... languages are learnt when you do
things that are meaningful for those that learn them, and at the same time that
somebody teaches these things.” (Vila, 1997)
example is the treatment given to written and oral texts. The English language
should be using the same approach as with Basque or Spanish (Psychogenesis,
4.1. EDUCATIONAL INTERACTIONS: ROLE OF
THE TEACHING STAFF
Role of the English language specialist
specialist teacher forms part of the staff of the school and as such s/he should
be integrated in the appropriate teaching team, in this case the Nursery
Education team. S/he should attend and participate in the co-ordination meetings
established by the school. In these meetings, the English specialist will work
as all the other members of the group, collecting and giving information,
opinions, and proposals about how the levels are working, the organisation of
the classroom, and the characteristics and needs of the pupils.
a school which has more than one group in any level, or two or more English
specialists, we recommend that one teacher works with Nursery Education and the
first cycle of Primary, and the other teacher works with the second and third
cycles of Primary. However, there should be time, within the school timetable,
for co-ordination among teachers.
on the premise “one person – one language”, the specialist will use only
English in the classroom. It is also seen as opportune to extend the use of
English to other moments and places within the school context (playgrounds,
corridors...). The whole school committee should however, discuss ideas for this
type of proposal. The aim here would be to extend the formal use of English to
areas outside the classroom in order to promote individual or group production.
However, in reality, the specialist may find that the situation requires the use
of Basque or Spanish. The communicative and affective function of language with
the pupils, with the other teachers, with the ancillary staff and the parents
should always be the main concern. In this way, the children have a model of a
person who uses different languages to communicate.
many cases, the English specialists have spent their teaching careers working
with the second and third cycles of Primary. They are not Nursery specialists.
It is, therefore, important to take measures to ensure that their understanding
of Nursery and the first cycle of Primary be more effective. In the first place,
the specialist needs to collaborate with the classroom teacher. The specialist
could go into the class and share some sessions with the classroom teacher in
September to get an idea of the class dynamic and the everyday work of the
Nursery class. In this way, when the English classes start at the beginning of
October (when the full school day commences) they will have a clearer idea of
the tasks they will have to carry out during the school year.
the first term, it is advisable to have the classroom teacher in the classroom
as well, to work together and to establish a link between the classroom teacher,
specialist and pupils. The specialist will be responsible for the session but
will be able to count on the classroom teacher’s support. The presence in the
classroom and the type of support given should be decided on in the meetings
with the teachers of the cycle.
English specialist must keep in mind that in Nursery Education, the affective
factor and level of personal satisfaction are of primary importance. For this
reason, they must establish a warm, affectionate relationship with each and
every child. In this way, the children will feel more secure and gain confidence
to take risks.
the aim at this age is not oral production, but rather to create a motivating
atmosphere towards the English language by means of contextualised and
meaningful exposure, every effort must be made to provide authentic learning and
communicative situations, so that the pupils gradually, as they feel more
confident, can begin to produce orally. Language production should never be
forced and cultural and linguistic backgrounds (Basque, Spanish, Galician, Arab,
etc.) should be respected and valued.
with respect to error correction, it is worth pointing out that errors and
cross-language interference are part and parcel of the learning process, and are
therefore a positive sign that the assimilation of the new language is taking
place. As the DCB for Nursery Education points out, errors are signs of the
process of active construction of the language and immediate corrections based
on artificial repetition should be avoidedbecause they interrupt the flow of
communication and the desire to communicate.
Role of the
co-operation of the classroom teachers is vital for the development of the
project, especially since the aim of the project is to have the foreign language
integrated into the curriculum for Nursery Education in each centre.
attitude that the classroom teacher displays towards the English class is of
paramount importance: s/he can prepare and encourage the children at the start
of a session, greet the specialist in English when they come into the classroom,
participate in activities, and appraise the progress of her/his group of pupils.
propose that the educational activity carried out in the classroom be the fruit
of the collaboration between the classroom teacher and specialist, and that they
act together. It would therefore be very useful if the Nursery classroom teacher
had some knowledge of English.
4.2. SOCIAL ORGANISATION OF THE CLASS
AND DISTRIBUTION OF TIME AND SPACE
types of grouping should be used in the classroom depending on the activity and
on the aim which you hope to achieve. Each type of grouping favours a specific
type of learning, and therefore during the school year it is worth thinking
about types of groupings when planning activities.
interaction between the teacher and pupils and between the pupils themselves.
-Encourage the learning of co-operation
-Develop the autonomy of the pupils.
based on principles of heterogeneity and homogeneity depending on the
characteristics of the pupils, the teaching/learning activities and the factors
which are influential in the school and classroom.
the above reasons, we have planned activities for the whole group (stories,
games, dances, etc.), others for small groups or pairs (making up stories,
posters...) and others for individual work (products to be taken home etc.).
each session, one child in the group will be in charge as ‘monitor’ (it
should be the same person who has the responsibility on that day in the
classroom). Their responsibilities will gradually increase as the year goes on:
giving out material, getting the pupils into groups...
Distribution of space
guidelines for distributing the space in the classroom are outlined below:
the one hand, we recommend that the English class takes place in the children’s
normal classroom. We thereby fulfil a double objective: the children feel secure
since they are familiar with the space and the rules that govern it, and it
makes it easier for the specialist to use the information surrounding the
is important to differentiate between two physical areas of the classroom:
for activities with the whole group: story telling, games and physical
activities such as dance...
area for small group or individual work (the corners normally used in Nursery
Education can be put to good use here).
is also important to think about a space in which to keep material and
exhibition of work done in English should be displayed alongside work done in
Euskera or Spanish.
far as possible, it is desirable that products of the English class be displayed
outside the classroom (in corridors, playgrounds, etc.) to show the pupils their
value as a means of communication.
Distribution of the time
we have mentioned above, the time distribution will be in three sessions of ½
hour per week. That is not to say that we think this is the only valid
distribution of time. We do, however, recommend that the session be immediately
after the break or first thing in the afternoon in order to avoid interfering
with the work of the classroom teacher with her/his pupils.
in order to ensure that the sessions really last 30 minutes, we propose that the
teacher be allowed 5 minutes between classes to give them time to tidy up, put
things away and prepare whatever material is necessary for the next session.
specific characteristics of each school should be taken into consideration since
most of them have more than one class for each year group and the specialist has
to work in more than one year. It is vital that the Nursery team, English
teachers and School Board agree on his/her timetable.
4.3. ORGANISATION OF CONTENTS
project intended for the Nursery stage of Education must take as its basic
starting point, a way of working that deals with the different types of content
(concepts, procedures and attitudes) and the three areas of experience for this
stage as laid down in the DCB: Identity and Personal Autonomy, Social and
Physical environment and Communication and Representation, in a holistic and
the English sessions, therefore, we propose an approach that combines the areas
and contents in activities that are meaningful for children at this age.
article "Eleaniztasun Proiektua Kueto Eskolan" points out:
"... we take the characteristics
and attainment outcomes of the children in Nursery Education as the starting
point. We want to integrate the active methodology used nowadays in language
teaching into the dynamic of this stage.
A language is, for children at this age,
a tool to be used, and it is the job of the teacher to create the right
situations (games, stories, poems, songs, etc.) to make this possible. On the
other hand, the more natural these situations are, the easier the use, since the
language is produced more spontaneously.
The specialist teacher, as well as
providing appropriate communicative situations, is the linguistic model. This
means, on the one hand, that s/he has to adjust the language used for the
children (correct pronunciation, appropriate tone, use of gestures and mime to
aid comprehension etc.) and on the other hand s/he has to guarantee the quality
of the language used.
We mustn’t forget that the greater
the exposure to the language, the easier it will be for
children to recognise it. The more familiar they are with the language, the more
secure they will feel, and as a result, they will demonstrate what they have
learnt more easily.
The question of “security” is
extremely important. It is vital, therefore, to respect and
both the references and the characteristics of the children so that they feel
secure.” (Cardona & Iturgaitz, 1999)
is also worth thinking about what I. Vila from the University of Gerona has to
say on the same subject.
“The learner’s progress in their
mastery of the language goes hand in hand with their
to maintain social contact with the teacher. In this way, they have to
‘negotiate’ arbitrary means of deciding when they want to establish and
break off a social relationship, what type of relationship they want it to be,
what aspect of reality they want to share, where, etc. In other words, the
desire or need to regulate and control social exchanges becomes a potent source
of personal motivation to learn the new language...
In general, it is common to think that,
as they are so young, they can be fobbed off by
situation that is presented in the form of a game. They are, therefore, given
the same tasks to do in the same place and at the same time. However, it is
clear to see that, in practice, not all the children, since they are all
different, experience the same degree of satisfaction from the same task. On the
contrary, a more motivating and meaningful approach for the learner takes the
very differences in interests, attitudes and knowledge of the children as a
starting point when considering the types of activities to be used to learn the
(...) There are some games where the
language is an object in itself, and there is no relevance to the proposed task.
In this way, speaking or listening become activities in their own right without
any instrumental reference.
(...) In the long run, these activities
are meaningless for the pupils and they become poor contexts of teaching –
learning a new language. Since learning a language is directly related to
successfully carrying out activities, the new language must be meaningful."
4.4. TEACHING SEQUENCES
didactic sequences, organised into story-based units, are planned. Each unit is
made up of 8–10 sessions and each session follows the same format so that the
pupils have concrete reference points. These reference points are vital since
they provide security for the pupils. In this case, the pupils find themselves
with a new teacher and a new language, and having the same format helps them to
get their bearings. This format must be flexible enough to adapt to the specific
situation of each classroom: type of pupils, time of year, previous knowledge,
styles of teaching – learning, etc. In other words, each specialist, alongside
the teaching team for this stage, must decide how and when to carry out the
didactic sequences proposed.
session comprises the following phases:
2nd phase: Revision
of songs and rhymes
3rd phase: Main
4th phase: New
songs and rhymes
is a great help if, before starting the session, or even before the specialist
gets into the classroom, the children are seated in a circle.
phase: Greetings.The session begins with the
specialist English teacher greeting the class. This situation should be as
realistic as possible, in other words, the greeting will be to the whole group
and not to individuals. It is better to use the same formula and only change it
when it has been assimilated by the group. In this same phase, the helper or
monitor for the session is appointed.
teacher and pupils then talk about the news of the day: the date, birthdays, who’s
missing, the weather, etc. It is advisable to consult with the classroom teacher
to avoid going over the same ground.Finally, the teacher presents the activities
for the session.
phase: Revision of songs and rhymes. In
this second phase, as a warm up, the group will sing and recite songs and rhymes
that they have worked on before. This will be done gradually and systematically.
Main activity. This is the mid point of the
session where the main activity takes place. Usually, the activity will have
something to do with the story, or new games, or artistic production, shows,
phase: New songs and rhymes. Once the main
activity is over, a new rhyme or song is introduced, related to the story of the
moment. Once the children are familiar with them, the songs and rhymes will pass
to the second phase of the session.
phase: Farewells. The session will end as it began,
with the children sitting in a circle. To achieve this, a game, gesture, song...
can be used to facilitate the leave-taking and the link between one session and
4.5. MATERIALS AND TEACHING RESOURCES
material that we use usual, everyday Nursery material. We group it in three
material available on the market: stories, audio and videotapes, calendars,
prepared by the specialist teacher: silhouette puppets, posters, badges...
aids: video recorder, T.V., cassette recorder, computer, marker pens, scissors,
glue, puzzles, containers, building bricks, etc.
the DCB for Nursery Education puts it:
"...evaluation is part and parcel
of the educational process and its main aim
is to improve this process and the quality of the teaching.”
order for evaluation to be valid, it should be continuous. That it is to say
that it should be carried out continuously throughout the whole process. It
should also be integrated so that all the people and factors that form part of
the process are taken into account. Finally, it should be individualised (from
one person, from one group, from one school).
is worth clarifying the areas we should evaluate in our context of the early
introduction of English in Nursery Education, how this evaluation should be
undertaken, who should be responsible for it and when.
5.1. AREAS OF EVALUATION
The school centre
to see if the early introduction of the English language is reflected explicitly
in the school’s curriculum project; to assess the participation of the school
members in this early introduction; to analyse the school’s management: the
organisation and co-ordination of the teaching staff with the English
specialists, the adaptation of times and spaces dedicated to this early
introduction (timetables, use of classrooms and didactic resources, etc.);
lastly, to observe if the general objectives, proposed at the start, have been
through meetings where the above mentioned topics are dealt with, and where
decisions are taken to adjust the aspects that are possible to improve.
the school community through its different participating bodies (in our case,
the staff, the English teachers along with the directing team, the cycle and/or
stage teams, etc.).
the meetings can be periodic (termly, monthly) depending on the needs of each
The teaching/learning process
to analyse the objectives proposed and the learning contents selected; to
reflect on the situations and activities for teaching and learning planned, and
see if they are coherent with the proposed methodological approach; to observe
the atmosphere and the relations in the classroom which should be supporting the
well-being and whole development of the child, and to see if such a climate
favours the interactions in the group and the development of autonomy and
socialisation of the children; to reflect on the organisation of the space, the
grouping of the pupils and the adaptation of the human and material means and
resources in the classroom.
also through periodic meetings where the above-mentioned topics are dealt with,
and where decisions are taken to adjust the aspects that can be improved. A
systematic assessment of each session and/or each unit of work can be carried
out using the tables included with the sheets, where all the activities of the
sessions are described. (See Appendices I and II). These tables can be used to
note down comments on the timing, the didactic proposals, the materials used,
changes made and any other contribution that could be useful for future users.
the English teachers in the school; on
the one hand with the Nursery Education team, and on the other hand with other
English specialists from other schools in order to exchange opinions and
experiences. As the DCB for Nursery Education states:
“Assessing the teaching process means
turning the teachers into reflective beings. It is
teacher who directs and organises the processes of teaching / learning and who
is the first and most direct source of information. S/he is, therefore, one of
the pillars of the educational system and it is a priority to assess her/his
performance, since only in this way can we hope to achieve an improvement in the
teachers and the education on offer.”
in the Nursery and Primary stage meetings in each school and the fortnightly
meetings that take place during the school year in the COPs (the Centres of
at the start, the relevant aspects of each child’s personal history will be
assessed, with special attention being paid to those cases which need specific
pedagogic action. During the school year, the
processes and/or difficulties that the pupils encounter in the different
situations of teaching/learning will be assessed, in relation to the objectives
set out at the beginning.
through direct observation in the classroom. We have very little time with each
group of pupils (1-½ hours a week) which does not facilitate our observation
task. We would, therefore, propose the use of a class diary to note down
comments and relevant observations about the performance of the monitor for that
day, (after each session) and any other incidences and anecdotes worth further
reflection. (See Appendix III for this assessment table). This should be done
systematically every day, in just a couple of minutes (no more time is available).
The use of video recordings of the sessions is very useful for observing and
analysing situations that are more difficult for the teacher to pick up on while
the first assessment should be carried out by the English teacher with the class
tutor. The classroom teacher will provide the English teacher with the
information about each child and highlight any special-needs cases, and what
line of action has been agreed on in each case. The observation in the classroom
will be carried out by the English specialist, although the classroom teacher
can be a great help if they stay in the classroom for the English sessions, or
by providing information about the children other than in their own classroom
situations. If the teacher makes video recordings, these can be watched and
analysed along with other English teachers or with the staff from the same cycle
it is necessary to carry out an initial assessment, before starting the classes,
to obtain lessons the pertinent information about the pupils.The class diary
needs to be used systematically during the whole school year, as we mentioned
above.There should be a section in the term or semester reports that the
classroom teacher prepares about each pupil for the English teacher to write
about the level of participation and motivation of the child in the sessions and
their level of comprehension. The video recordings can be done once a term or
more often if it is considered useful or necessary.
IV. SUGGESTED ACTIVITIES
types of activities that we propose are already used in this stage of Nursery
Education. The English language is used as a tool to carry out an educational
proposal that is coherent with the guidelines set out in the DCB. The relevance
of action is highlighted in these guidelines:
“The importance of action lies in the
fact that it is the main focus and motor of the process of development and
It is through hands-on manipulation and
experimentation that the children acquire knowledge about themselves and the
reality that surrounds them.
Action is a basic element in learning
in that it demonstrates the knowledge that the children have.
Action is a vehicle for expression,
basic in the beginning (gestures, contact, look, etc.), more elaborate and
representative later on.
The Nursery School has to strengthen
and stimulate the action of the child and then diversify and reinforce it:
priority to contexts of action where the pupils can develop their motor skills.
the intrinsic motivation of the action. The need to do and to prove that objects
and machines work depending on how they act on them.
opportunities to verbalise the action. The children can internalise and abstract
the characteristics of their action.
the objects, carrying out spontaneous activities or proposing new explorations
-Encouraging them to try and then
praising their efforts.
The relevance of the action, the need
to act, should not lead to a way of acting without any sense, but rather to a
proposal of meaningful, functional and diverse experiences.”
a general description of activities which will be carried out in the sessions
will be given:
story is a type of text that the four-year-old pupil knows very well. It can,
therefore, be used as a starting point for introducing new ways of learning. The
story has two advantages: on the one hand it contextualises the language and, on
the other, it easily involves the children since the situations are familiar to them.
story, as the main activity in the session, is the third part of the session.
The following points should therefore be borne in mind:
group should be sitting comfortably where they can see the illustrations in the
-A pleasurable, magic atmosphere should
be created when presenting the story.
teacher will talk about the author/s of the book, the title, the number of pages,
types of illustrations, etc. with the pupils.
-They will talk and make hypotheses
about the contents of the book.
should not forget that the specialist will be using only English. The pupils’
replies and contributions may be in Basque, Spanish... Each child’s level of
participation will be different and this should be accepted as normal and
a different format is used for the story (silhouette puppets, blackboard, realia,
the story is finished, the teacher will ask the group their opinions about it.
The aim of this activity is not to get the pupils to produce in English but to
provide a communicative and highly meaningful and contextualised situation for
the pupils. Any gestures and expressions in Basque, Spanish, etc. will therefore
should bear in mind that it is not the same to tell a story and to read a story.
Naturally, there are features common to both of these activities such as the
musicality and intonation of the language, but the aims are different. Telling a
story implies working with the oral language. The narrator paraphrases, uses
supporting gestures, etc. In other words it is oral language that the teacher
uses and tries to develop. On the contrary, when a story is read, it is reading
and writing that is mainly worked on, and one of the main aims as such is the
development of the written language.
telling a story, the narrator usually sits in front of the children and shows
the book with its illustrations, gesturing, changing the voice, etc. S/he tries
everything in her/his power to help the children understand. However, when a
story is read, the reader, if s/he is in front of her/his audience may be the
only one to see the text and the pictures while the others listen and try to
enjoy the story.
the stories are used, a couple of copies should be left in the class library or
book corner for the pupils to look at.
2. SONGS AND RHYMES
we should point out that songs and rhymes are a normal part of the lives of
children at this age, in school, outside and in the home. They are very
attractive and offer us a splendid opportunity to play with the language. They
provide authentic exposure to the English language in the process of teaching
– learning and a model with sound, rhythm and intonation. They are often sung
or recited accompanied by action or movement (clapping, actions, dance, etc.).
In this way, as well as being motivating, they are easy to follow and remember.
the same way, songs are a good way to start the session and they will always be
present in the session. As far as possible, they will be related to the story
being worked on at that moment. They can also be used at other moments: in
school celebrations, shows in front of other classes, etc.
a new song or rhyme is used, it is introduced in the fourth phase of the session.
If it is rather long, it can be divided up and taught in parts. On the first day,
the pupils listen once or twice, only copying the gestures and movements that
the teacher makes. As they get to know it better, it will be worked on in the
second phase of the session. Familiar rhymes and songs should be revised
the end of a teaching unit, the children show the story, songs and rhymes that
they have worked on, to the tutor and/or another class. This activity is very
motivating because it gives everyone an opportunity to take part in the show.
English teacher on the one hand, will be able to analyse the oral production of
each child and on the other hand, will be able to encourage the use of English
outside the classroom and strengthen relations among same age groups or
different age groups.
choice of roles can be done by lottery or using some dipping rhymes. The actors
and actresses can wear masks, costumes, etc. or a picture of the character hung
round the neck. At the end of the show, the audience will be asked their opinion,
in a constructive way.
can be a very rewarding experience if the classroom teacher some other person
can record the show. In this way, the specialist can observe directly the
development of the pupils. It can also be used for the pupils to view themselves
and be motivated by their work. The recording can also be used to show to the
family or to exchange with other schools.
4. HANDICRAFT ACTIVITIES
activities (making books, masks, puppets, etc.) provide us with the opportunity
to use the language as a vehicle. The products made will be linked in some way
to the story of the moment.
activities will take place in the third phase of the session. They also serve to
bridge the gap between the school and home as the children can show, tell,
recite or sing what they have learnt to their families.
specialist explains what has to be done to the whole group using examples. Then
the material is handed out to the pupils and placed on the tables. The pace of
working differs greatly among each pupil, so resources are needed for those who
finish their work quickly or those who are slower: the classroom teacher’s
help, games, books, etc.
monitor has a greater role to play in these activities, because since as the
year goes on they will have the chance to hand out the material, give simple
instructions, etc. using English.
offer some of the best occasions to use the language since the context is real
and meaningful to the children. The pupils love them, but at the same time they
give us the chance to use the language in other situations: to establish rules,
form groups, give instructions, analyse and negotiate behaviour, etc.
the other hand, they can be used very easily outside the classroom since the
situation is so familiar to the pupils.
order to carry out these activities, we can use any empty space in the
classroom, the playground, the gym, the corridors, etc. The rules will be
explained briefly and simply and always with an example. We will ask the daily
monitor to help with this.
are short, one off, activities with varying aims: to get the pupils’
attention, to discipline, to stir them up when they are tired or bored, to move
from one activity to another.
get the pupils’ attention, we can use a gesture, a sound, a rhyme, etc. It is
repeated two or three times until the pupils are looking at the specialist
-To get the pupils all sitting in a
circle, the specialist can count to ten or use a rhyme.
great deal of the language that the pupils assimilate is transmitted through
rituals, that is to say, those aspects of the sessions that are repeated every
“Rituals (greetings, daily
activities, responsibilities, tasks etc.), are natural situations which are
repeated every day and are therefore very useful for working on the language.
They also give the pupils a sense of security since they are situations which
they are familiar with and which they control. We respect the children’s
process of learning since what they know is our starting point, and they are
responsible for their own learning. We introduce new language trough familiar
situations and when the language is familiar we present new situations”
(Cardona & Iturgaitz, 1999)
1. DEVELOPMENT OF A SESSION
Appendix IV we provide a practical example of a session. For each 30’ session,
we specify the duration of each activity, the different phases, the procedure to
follow, the language that could be used and the necessary materials. This
proposal, as we have mentioned already, is flexible in practice, since it needs
to be adapted to the characteristics of the group, the moment, the context, etc.
2. SPECIAL SESSIONS
will be occasions for “special” sessions, a pupil’s birthday, shows to
other groups, school celebrations, etc.
English specialist should know all the birthdays of the pupils and have some
small treat prepared (a medal, a badge, a card, etc.) Formats and rituals are
very important for the pupils in Nursery Education “so” an appropriate song
to sing with the group could accompany the treat. A good moment is the second
phase of the session just for five minutes.
consider it essential to participate in the school’s own celebrations (for
Christmas, Carnival, end of the year party, etc.) and to prepare something
special for these occasions. It provides a way of giving the foreign language
another function and integrating it into the life of the school.
will be occasions for shows to other groups of the stories worked on in class.
This activity is very motivating for the children, both the participants and the
spectators. It is the job of the English specialist, with the help of the
classroom teacher, to make it into a rewarding and enriching experience.