With the development of economic globalization, the significance of learning English well has been increasingly prominent, and there has been a fever of learning English at a younger age in China. Scientific research shows that the early childhood stage is a sensitive period of language development, and timely stimulation of second language information for young children contributes to the development of the brain language central system. Children are characterized by limited cognitive level, poor concentration and self- discipline. In traditional teaching model, the instillation of knowledge was so emphasized that children’s initiative cannot find its place, thus gradually lost interest in English. Therefore, reasonable and effective situation-creating strategies play a key role in pre-school English teaching.
Firstly, this paper analyses the cognitive characteristics of children theoretically. Based on the theory of Constructivism, the author proposes four basic principles for situation creation: induction principle, proximity principle, authenticity principle and level principle. Combined with the two-year immersion English teaching experience, the author explores the situation-creating strategies suitable for children of different ages, and discusses the connotation, feasibility and necessity of each strategy, so as to provide reference for Pre-school English teachers.
Key Words: Situation-creating; Pre-school children; English teaching；Principle; Strategies
1 Introduction 1
2 Literature Review 1
2.1 Research on Situation-Creating Methodology Abroad 2
2.2 Research on Situation-Creating Methodology at Home 3
3 Situation-Creating Methodology in Pre-school 4
3.1 Influencing Factors 4
3.2 Four Basic Principles 5
3.3Three Situation-Creating Strategies 7
4 Case Study: Situation-Creating Strategies Implemented in “Tata Subject English” 10
4.1 For Children Aged 3 to 4-- Game-based Situational Teaching Method 12
4.2 For children aged 5—Life-based Situational teaching method 13
4.3For children aged 6—Story-based Situational teaching method 14
5 Conclusions 16
Situation-Creating Strategies in Pre-school English Teaching
Childhood is the best time to learn language. Therefore, children's English education has also attracted people's attention. Educational institutions and parents have begun to invest efforts into English, so this has pushed children's English learning to a climax. English learning is showing a trend of younger age. Faced with the problem that the rigid form of traditional education led to the lack of interest and initiative of young children, situational teaching was advocated in pre-school English teaching.
Situational teaching is a teaching method based on the theory of situated cognition, which was put forward by John Seely Brown, Allan Collins, and Paul Duguid. Situated cognition is the theory that people’s knowledge is embedded in the activity, context, and culture in which it was learned. An important step to situational teaching is situation-creating. Only by creating the situation that is suitable for children’s cognitive level, stimulate children’s interest and meet their learning needs, the goal of situational teaching can be achieved. Good situation-creating strategies will help construct a favorable classroom atmosphere which facilitates the improvement of teaching effect and the establishment of interaction relationship between teacher and children. In fact, many teaching modes that claim to use situational teaching are in name only.
Most of pre-school English education institutions adopt the immersion teaching method, that is, teachers use English as teaching language. However there are few studies on situation-creating strategies for children of different age groups under the English immersion teaching mode. In this mode, English, as a medium of instruction in teaching, is both learning object and learning tool (Ndileleni, 2014).This paper will analyze the specific situation-creating strategies from practical cases. These teaching strategies and practical cases are concluded from two years of teaching experiences in Tata Subject English. The advantages of each case will be introduced in detail to prove the effectiveness and feasibility of the strategies.
2 Literature Review
2.1 Research on Situation-Creating Methodology Abroad
In abroad, early in ancient Greece, art of midwifery, put forward by Socrates, advocates that teachers and students create problem situations through conversation so shat students can solve the problems independently.(Wu, 2006) Later, Plato inherits and carries forward this, and stands for learning through game and form a dialogue. These can be thought of as origins of situational teaching in the west.
Johann Amos Comenius (1992), a Czech educator, points out that teaching should begin with observing the real thing, for perception of physical objects can help students form perceptual knowledge. Rousseau (1764), a French educator, mentioned the case of using natural environment to guide students to learn direction in his book Emile. In the 1950s, The Suggestive Method, was proposed by G. Lozanov, a Bulgarian psychotherapist, insisted that the key to teaching is to organize and create a learning environment (Feng, 2010)
John Dewey, an educator and the contemporary western pioneer of activities educational theory, creates “learning by doing”, who makes the situational teaching further developed. In his opinion, if the children have not the opportunity to “do”, this is bound to hinder the natural development of them. Children are born with a desire to do something and to work with a strong interest in activities (Wu, 2006: 522). Influenced by him, America did well in designing activities in order to render students participate in the classroom as much as possible, especially some kinds of competition activities. Dewey criticizes traditional education in school, and promotes relation between school learning and situations in life and reflections on problems in experience situations.
In the mid-1980s, the west has a trend of constructivism, which emphasizes on the active construction of learning, the situational activities and social interaction. Constructivism insisted that learning should be conducted through participation in social and culture activities. Based on this theory, Constructivism put forward situated or anchored instruction, which is considered as the application of situational learning concept in teaching practice. It held that teaching should be carried out in situations similar to real situation. Although many foreign works have not explicitly put forward the concept of situation creating, it is the same with situational teaching in essence. However, the author has not consulted the research specifically target on situational teaching in Pre-school aboard.
2.2 Research on Situation-Creating Methodology at Home
Domestically, English learning lacks a real language environment. With the popularity of situational teaching, educators have gradually paid more attention on its research. Zhang Shiyi , the chief editor of English Education early put forward the idea of Situational Teaching. Zhang believes that teaching a language is teaching a response to a situation. In 1970s, the book, New Concept English whose feature is leaning and using language in situations by creating situations, has been in general use in our country. In the book Foreign Language Education, Jian Zhangzhong advocates the learning mode of ‘situational, structural, enlightening and communicative” and believes that only in real or simulated situations can we structure thinking better (Qin, 2012). In 2001, The English Curriculum Criteria, promulgated by the Ministry of Education, advocates the Task-Based Language Teaching (TBLT).
It can be seen that English teachers in our country have begun to pay attention to situation-creating to assistant teaching, and the related research on situational teaching of English has been constantly emerging. But most of research focuses on the discussion of teaching strategies from the angle of English education in primary school，junior middle school，senior middle school or university, which cannot directly applied into the pre-school English teaching, especially under the English immersion teaching mode. In China, research on English immersion teaching for children is rich. By access to information, the author finds that most of these research focus on immersion teaching theory, teaching experiment, curriculum research, teacher-speaking language interaction, children's second language acquisition and language, teacher professional qualities and other aspects.
3 Situation-Creating Methodology in Pre-school
3.1 Influencing Factors
The Influencing factors of situation-creating include Cognition, physical and mental characteristic, personality, interest differences, of which cognition is of supreme importance. Cognition is the mental process involved in knowing, learning, and understanding things, which is the most basic psychological process of human beings. Cognition includes sensation, perception, memory, imagination, thinking, etc. The human brain receives input information from the outside world, processes it, transforms it into internal mental activity, and then dominates human behavior. This process is a process of information processing, that is, cognitive process. Sensation refers to the general feeling of attributes and characteristics of things. Perception means a person's understanding of the whole of things and their relations. Memory denotes people's recollection, preservation, recognition and reproduction of past experiences. Imagination is the process in which people process and transform existing images to form new ones. Thinking refers to people's indirect and general reflection of objective things. Cognitive development is considered as the development of human sensation perception, memory, imagination, thinking and other cognitive processes and their qualities. The cognitive process is displayed as below.
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