Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

The Effect of Using Short Stories and Songs on the Second Language Achievement of Iranian Young Learners

Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

The Effect of Using Short Stories and Songs on the Second Language Achievement of Iranian Young Learners

Article excerpt

1.1Introduction

Teaching of English to young learners requires special training, something which has never been part of the curriculum of elementary school teacher education program in our country (Iran). In some famous universities of the world TEYL is a specialist field within the area of TESOL and the MA TEYL courses designed for training teachers for the same purpose are concerned with the special language and learning needs of young learners (Mart, 2012).

There is an extensive empirical literature on the differences between child and adult language learners. Ludke (2010) pointed to some of these points that can be summarized in five areas: (1) attention span, (2) concreteness, (3) playfulness, (4) phonic acuity, and (5) affective points. Teaching a Foreign Language (FL) to young learners at early age is different from teaching adults; it is definitely not easier. It is rather more challenging and interesting. The Critical Period Hypothesis suggests that early exposure to the target language is more effective than later stages at adulthood (Cameron, 2001).

Zigárdyová (2006), as well, commented that the earlier learners are introduced to a FL, the better they learn it. The present study is an attempt to investigate the effect of using short stories and songs on the second language achievement of Iranian young learners

1.2Literature Review

Teaching of English to young learners requires special training, something which has never been part of the curriculum of elementary school teacher education program in our country (Iran). In some famous universities of the world TEYL is a specialist field within the area of TESOL and the MA TEYL courses designed for training teachers for the same purpose are concerned with the special language and learning needs of young learners (Mart, 2012).

Mart (2012) noted that teaching a FL to young learners involves stimulating their early interest towards the language and developing their awareness of rich language uses. Cameron (2001, p. 1) differentiates young learners from adults in the following terms:

1. Children are often more enthusiastic and lively as learners;

2. they also lose interest more quickly and are less able to keep themselves motivated on tasks they find difficult;

3. they do not have the same access as older learners to meta-language that teachers can use to explain about grammar or discourse; and

4. they seem less embarrassed than adults at talking in a new language.

Among the various types of genres, stories are the most widely used in educational settings (Wajnryb, 2003). Since their early childhood, children have opportunities to listen to various types of stories (Loukia, 2006). Songs can also be used for a number of purposes in the young learners' English classrooms and there are many reasons why songs can be considered a valuable pedagogical tool. Songs can help young learners improve their listening skills and pronunciation; therefore, they potentially help learners to improve their speaking skills (Murphey, 1992). Songs can also be useful tools in the learning of vocabulary, sentence structures, and sentence patterns, not to mention their reflectivity of mother tongue culture (Murphey, 1992). Perhaps the greatest benefit to using songs in the classroom is that they can be fun.

Le Roux (2002) also supported the theory that ESL students can relax and feel good about themselves while singing because that is a form of an expression that they are familiar with. It can also appeal to students who already have negative attitude towards learning a new language or the traditional methods that are commonly used.

Moreover, teaching English as a foreign language to young learners varies in many ways from teaching adults. One of the major differences lies in course design and the kind of tasks and activities covered in the books (Yousofi & Yousefvand, 2012). More varieties of activities are needed to be used in the classroom in order to teach young learners and make the lesson an attractive process as well as making learning effective by making use of various intelligences and engaging different competences in the process of learning (Rahimy & Asaei, 2012). …

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