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APC Online Course for Teaching English to Young Language Learners

Instructor:  Sandra McKay
Website: http://www2.hawaii.edu/~slmckay/ <http://www2.hawaii.edu/%7Eslmckay/>

12 Modules
Module 1. The Social Context of Young Language Learners in Korea
Module 2. The Cultural Basis of Teaching English as an International Language
Module 3. A Critical Examination of the Teaching English through English Movement
Module 4. Curriculum Options: Structural Syllabus and Theme-based Syllabus
Module 5. Curriculum Options: Task-based Syllabus
Module 6. Teaching Vocabulary: Word and their Meanings
Module 7. Teaching Vocabulary: Selecting, Presenting and Practicing New Vocabulary
Module 8. Teaching Speaking and Listening: Songs and Holidays
Module 9. Teaching Speaking and Listening: Storytelling and Art Projects
Module 10. Teaching Reading and Writing: Approaches to Teaching Writing
Module 11. Teaching Reading and Writing: Using Pictures and Readings: Responding to Student Essays
Module 12. Principals of Materials Development


Required Readings:
Online Readings

Course Overview:

            This course begins by examining the role of the family, school, and community in young learners’ acquisition of English in Korea. It then examines various curriculum options for organizing materials for young language learners.  Finally, the course examines strategies for teaching vocabulary, speaking, reading, and writing to young learners.

Course Objectives:
            By the end of the course, you will be able to

  • Critically assess language materials designed for young language learners;
  • Evaluate and respond to readings on the teaching of young language learners; and
  • Design your own lesson for a group of Korean young learners and provide a rationale for the development of the lesson

Design of the Course:

As an online class, this class is structured around lectures or modules posted on Moodle.  Each lecture describes several reflections that you are to complete in your journals. Also, some lessons have required readings that you are to respond to.  Both of these components are described below

All instructional activities will take place online and consist of 12 Web-based instructional modules that contain:

  • Written lecture notes;
  • Reflections that require you to offer your thoughts and opinions on the topic of the module;
  • Required readings; and
  • A final project that will be submitted online and assessed.

You will be asked to communicate online with the instructor and peers asynchronously (delayed time) through E-mail and with postings made on the Forum.

Materials and Equipment
To interact in the course, you need to have access to the following Hardware and Software;

  • An up-to-date, networked computer with Windows operating system if you are using a PC, or MAC OSX.x if you are using a Macintosh computer
  • Word processing software—preferably Microsoft (MS) Word
  • MS PowerPoint
  • An up-to-date version of Acrobat Reader – minimum 6.0 
  • Virus protection software for PC’s – MAC’s are excluded
  • An up-to-date Web browser that supports Java for both Windows or MAC



Module 1.   The Social Context of Young Language Learning in Korea

In this module we examine some of the many social variables that affect young learners’ experience in acquiring English.  To begin, I talk about how the fact that English is an international language influences young learners’ language experience. For example, many people today believe that knowing English will increase their social and educational mobility.  This belief leads Ministries of Education and parents to require and encourage young people to learn English.
            In addition, many English teaching institutes reinforce a belief in the power of English by associating, in their advertisements, the learning of English with being young, rich and successful.  We will carefully examine one such website of a private English language institute to illustrate the many appeals that are used to convince people today that English as an international language has a great deal of power.

  • Reflection 1.1 – Major languages of the world
  • Reflection 1.2 -  Benefits of speaking English
  • Reflection 1.3 – Analyzing the appeals used in English teaching advertisement
  • Reflection 1.4  - Equal access to English


Module 2.  The Cultural Basis of Teaching English as an International Language

The goal of this module is to examine what the cultural basis of teaching an international language should be so that you as teachers can make informed decisions as to what cultural information to use in your classroom materials.  In the lecture, I point out how culture is present in language teaching on both the linguistic level and the pedagogical level.  On the linguistic level, culture is present in the vocabulary of the language, in what is considered appropriate and how written texts are organized.  On the pedagogical level, culture plays a role in both what content is used in classroom materials and in the role of the teacher and learner.
            The module provides examples of all of the various ways in which culture is present in learning a language.  It also illustrates how the choice of cultural content can affect the dynamics of the relationship between the teacher, learner, and textbook.  I argue that the goal of examining cultural knowledge in a classroom should be to establish a “sphere of interculturality” in which students compare their own culture with another culture in order to gain a better understanding of their own culture.  Finally, we examine the characteristics of Communicative Language Teaching to demonstrate what is meant by a culture of learning.

  • Reflection 2.1 – Varieties of English
  • Reflection 2.2  - Source culture or target culture?
  • Reflection 2.3 – Authentic materials
  • Assigned Reading:  McKay, “Teaching EIL:  Implications for cultural materials in the classroom”


Module 3.   A Critical Examination of the Teaching English through English Movement

The purpose of this module is to critically examine the movement to use English exclusively in English classes in Korea – the teach English through English (TETE) movement.    To begin, I explain two theoretical justifications for using only English—Krashen’s model and Long’s model of language learning and point out some shortcomings of these models.  I emphasize that the English-only model originated in ESL contexts rather than EFL contexts and hence, may not be appropriate for EFL contexts.

The second part of the lecture summarizes two Korean studies, one on teaching English through English and the other on classroom code-switching.   Based on the findings of these studies, I set forth several principles for the use of English in English classrooms.  In conclusion I argue that teachers need to carefully consider when to use English and when to use Korean in the English classroom so that their students can develop their English proficiency.


  • Reflection 3.1 – What we need to know about using only English
  • Reflection 3.2 – Using English in the Korean classroom
  • Assigned Reading:  Cameron, “Challenges for ELT from the expansion in teaching children.”

Module 4.  Curriculum Options:  Structural Syllabus and Theme-based Syllabus

In Module 4 I begin by emphasizing that all curriculum options have to deal with two critical decisions:  what to include in the curriculum and how to sequence this material.

In a structural syllabus, teachers are faced with the decision of what grammatical structures to present and practice and how to sequence these structures.  In the lecture, I discuss several criteria for selecting and sequencing grammatical features.  I also point out common problems with grammatical syllabus—the use of unrealistic language, little guidance on how to use the language appropriately and hidden social and cultural assumptions.

This module also deals with theme-based syllabi.  Like all syllabi, teachers who use themes to organize their classes need to decide what themes to include and how to sequence them. Hence, we consider what themes to use with young language learners.


  • Reflection 4.1 – Selecting and sequencing of grammatical structures
  • Reflection 4.2 – Cultural content in textbooks

Module 5. Curriculum Options:  Task-based Syllabus

In Module 5 we examine task-based syllabi, a very popular option today in English teaching.  The lecture begins by defining a task and clarifying various dynamics that can exist among the participants engaged in a task.  I then exemplify various types of tasks ranging from jigsaws to open discussions.

As in the preceding lecture, we deal with how to select and sequence tasks.  You are also asked to design your own task for young language learners in preparation for your final project in the class in which you design a fully developed task-based lesson.

  • Reflection 5.1 – Task difficulty
  • Reflection 5.2 – Designing a task for young language learners
  • Assigned Reading:  Willis, “Tasked-based learning:  What kind of adventure?”


Module 6.  Teaching Vocabulary:  Word and their Meanings

Module 6 and 7 deal with the teaching of vocabulary.  In module 6 we consider what it means to know a word.  I point out how English words are related to one another and argue that in fact each word is unique and hence, it is very difficult to identify words that are perfectly synonymous.  We also deal with how words vary by dialect, register and style. 

In the closing section we examine various ways to make the meaning of words clear to learners including gestures, context clues and line drawings.  You watch a short video in which a teacher is attempting to make clear the vocabulary related to making French toast.

  • Reflection 6.1 – Synonyms
  • Reflection 6.2 – Making French toast


Module 7. Teaching Vocabulary:  Selecting, Presenting and Practicing New Vocabulary

In module 7, we continue our focus on teaching vocabulary by examining various ways of selecting, sequencing and practicing new vocabulary.  I cite various websites that deal with word frequency counts.  The lecture also illustrates various ways of grouping words when they are presented to students such as by topic, by process, and by similarity and differences in meaning.  The lecture ends with a model of how to select, sequence and practice a group of words.


  • Reflection 7.1 – Selecting new vocabulary words for young learners
  • Reflection 7.2 – Practicing new vocabulary words

Module 8.  Teaching Speaking and Listening:  Songs and Holidays
Module 8 and 9 deal with the teaching of speaking and listening to young language learners.  We begin by considering some of the differences between teaching these skills to adults and teaching them to young language learners.  I then point out the benefits of using songs to teach English to young learners, pointing out that songs provide not only language input but also cultural knowledge and a change of pace in the classroom.  We then examine how holidays of other countries can be introduced as a way of having students reflect on comparable holidays in their own country and compare the types of celebrations held in both countries.

  • Reflection 8.1 – Using Songs with your Learners
    • Listen to the song “One two buckle my shoe.”
    • Then briefly describe what you could do with young language learners to prepare them to listen to the song.
    • Next briefly describe what you would do as one of the follow-up activities.


  • Reflection 8.2 – Using the holiday theme to promote listening and speaking
    • To begin, describe the target class in terms of age and proficiency level.
    • Next select a holiday to use as the basis for the activity. It can be a holiday that is unique to Korea or one from another country.
    • Then briefly describe how you would begin the activity so that students have the necessary vocabulary to talk about the holiday.
    • Finally, describe one activity you could use that would encourage students to talk about the holiday.

Module 9  Teaching Speaking and Listening:  Storytelling and Art Projects

In this module we consider ways of using stories and art projects to increase students’ listening and speaking abilities.  I point out that when teachers use stories in the classroom it is important to provide students with a structure for creating the story such as the first and last sentence of the story.  I also emphasize that it is useful to give the other students a listening so they are involved in the telling of the other students’ stories.  In the second half of the video we explore how art projects can be used to develop speaking and listening skills. I point out the benefits of using art projects as a source of motivation and provide examples of a variety of art projects that could be used with students of various ages and levels of proficiency.

  • Reflection 9.1 – Structuring storytelling
    • Using one of the techniques for storytelling described in the preceding power points or an original technique, briefly describe an activity that could be used to provide some structure to a storytelling activity.
    • Be certain to begin by briefly describing the age and proficiency level of the learners who would be doing the activity.


  • Reflection 9.2 – Using art projects
    • Begin by describing the target class in terms of age and language learning level.
    • Next describe an art project that you would have students do. It could be a collage, a drawing, a mobile, etc.
    • Then describe how you would combine the art project with a task that would ask them to talk about their art creation.

Module 10. Teaching Reading and Writing:  Approaches to Teaching Writing

In module 10 we being by examining the advantages and disadvantages of having young language learners write in class.  I argue that one major benefit of using writing is that with writing, learners have time to develop their ideas and check their work.  We then examine four major approaches to the teaching of writing:  controlled composition, free writing, communicative writing and the process approach.  I provide several examples of each type of writing and encourage teachers to design their own writing tasks.

  • Reflection 10.1 – Designing a controlled writing task
    • Design a sentence combing task for a group of young language learners similar to the one on the television star


    • Design a model set of instructions such as the one on lighting a candle
    • Be certain to describe the target class you would use this with and why you think the topic would be motivating to students
  • Reflection 10.2 – Designing a communicative writing task
    • Design a communicative writing task such as the one on being a movie reviewer or being a frog.
    • Be sure to describe the target class you have in mind and explain why you think this topic would be motivating for this group of learners.


Module 11. Teaching Reading and Writing:  Using Pictures and Readings: Responding to Student Essays

In module 11, we continue to examine the teaching of reading and writing to young language learners.  I provide examples of how pictures can be used as topics for writing.  We then examine a variety of readings, including short poems, and explore how these can be used both for developing reading skills and as a stimulus for writing.  Next, we discuss various challenges in responding to student writing and I present several strategies for providing students with feedback.  In closing you are asked to apply these strategies to a writing sample.

  • Reflection 11.1 – Using pictures and readings as a writing prompt
  • Design a writing prompt that makes use of pictures such as exemplified with the photos of children. Be certain to attach the pictures to the assignment


  • Design a writing prompt that uses a simple reading such as Silverstein poems or the paragraph on Japanese food. Be certain to attach the reading to the assignment.
  • As always describe the class for which the prompt is designed and discuss why you think the prompt would be appropriate for this group of learners.
  • Reflection 11.2 – Responding to a student essay
  • Read the essay on the following page through
  • Write an end-comment that provides your response to the content
  • Correct the errors you think need correcting either directly or indirectly
  • Why did you correct the errors you did?
  • What should this student focus on now?


Module 12. Principles of Materials Development


Course requirements

The following are the requirements for the course.

1. Course Readings:  You will be expected to read the assigned readings after you have watched the lecture and to post a commentary on the reading on the forum.  Your commentary should include two distinct sections.

  • What you learned from the reading:  How did the reading enhance your knowledge about the social context of young language learners in Korea and/or approaches to teachings these learners?
  • How you will apply what you learned:  Based on what you learned, describe how you would apply this knowledge to your classroom teaching.

This assignment will be graded credit/no credit. In order to get credit, you must post commentaries on each of the assigned readings.  For the worksheet on the Cameron article, you should complete the survey before you read the article and then again after you read the article.  Compare the two times you took the survey to see if the article changed your opinions.

2. Reflections:     Each of the modules includes one or more reflections.  Some reflections ask you to state your opinion on a topic; others ask you to design a short activity; and still others ask you to order the difficulty of tasks.  In short, these reflections differ in what they ask you to do; however, all of them are designed to get you more involved in the topic we are examining. 
            You should respond to each of these reflections in a document that you name “Reflections.”  Begin each entry with the reflection number that appears in the power point.  Your reflection journal should be submitted after the completion of module 5 and again after module 11. 
This assignment will be graded credit/no credit.  To receive credit, you must include a response for all of the reflections. These reflections should be at least one full page of text.

3. Term Project: A description of the final project and the evaluation rubric are listed below.  This assignment is to be submitted on line.

Task-Based Lesson Plan


The purpose of this assignment is to give you an opportunity to design a lesson for a group of young language learners in Korea.  It would be best to design this lesson for a group of learners you are familiar with and ones you are teaching or will be teaching in the future.
Your lesson plan should include a full description of a lesson built around a specific task that develops students listening and speaking ability, as well as their language competency.  The lesson should provide

  • a full description of what you would do in the pre-task to provide students with the necessary grammar and vocabulary to successfully complete the task;
  • a complete description of what students will be expected to do to complete the task, including how students would be accountable for completing the task  (This will likely be done through a presentation to the other classmates.); and
  • a detailed account of how you would follow up the task with a focus on language development.

Before you begin to do this assignment I’d suggest you review the Module 5 lecture and reread the Willis’ article on Task-Based Learning.  This should give you ideas for your lesson.


The lesson should have the following components.

1. Class description: Provide a detailed description of the class for which the lesson is written (level, location, goals of students, language backgrounds, numbers in class, etc.).

2. Objectives:  Tell what you expect students to be able to do as a result of the lesson in terms of promoting their language awareness and spoken English ability.  These objectives should be written in a similar format to the objectives listed at the beginning of  this syllabus under Course Objectives.

3. The Lesson and all materials: Provide the complete teaching directions and all materials necessary, including handouts and visuals. Your lesson should include a full description of the following components of the lesson:

  • Preparation for the task: Describe how you would prepare the students with the necessary vocabulary and grammatical forms to successfully complete the task.
  • The task: Include a full description of the task.
  • The reporting of the task:  Describe how students would share their task results with the rest of the class. 
  • A language focus:  Describe how you would follow the completion of the task with formal attention to relevant language forms.


4. Rationale: Provide a rationale for the lesson, drawing on information from the readings, as appropriate.  The rationale should be an explanation of why you are teaching what you are teaching to these students at this time. (e.g., Why these tasks?  Why this topic/context?  Why this language focus?)


Your Final Project will be evaluated according to the following rubric:

If you meet all of the criteria listed below, you will receive an A for the project.

  • There is a complete description of the class this lesson is designed for.
  • The objectives of the lesson are clearly stated.  The objectives state what the students will be able to do at the end of the lesson and what language goals they will have met.
  • There is full description of the lesson and all of the materials.  The lesson is described in sufficient detail that another teacher would be able to conduct the lesson.  The lesson includes the following:
  • A description of how the teacher prepares students for the task;
  • A complete description of what the learners are to do either individually or with a partner;
  • A description of how the students share what they do for the task with other classmates; and
  • A description of how the teacher gives attention to relevant language forms after the task is competed.
  • There is a full rationale of why the teacher is teaching this lesson to this group of learners.


Course Evaluation


Course Evaluation:
Reflections                                35%
Reading Commentaries 15%
Final Project                             50%