The greatest challenge in my many years of teaching English to young children has been to find a workbook that would be ‘the right one’ for the young learner. No matter how many books I tried, none of them did justice to the task. Not that there was anything wrong with the books; on the contrary, they were good quality and well structured. It is simply that the young learner becomes bored too quickly with a workbook, and the teacher needs to be in constant readiness to change the activity in order to maintain the children’s attention and motivation. The lack of other materials that would support and enrich the workbook, as well as the ‘obligation’ to cover the book entirely, was somehow an obstacle to me.
I have found that the workbook is simply not enough in itself. What is needed is a kind of wider base of a variety of worksheets (preferably doodles for the young) and teaching aids that can support topics from different angles and in different ways. Only then does the teacher have enough material to enable her/him to quickly adapt to a situation and choose the right material for the specific need.
Throughout the last years, I have been gradually preparing and collecting different kinds of material. The collection is now broad enough to cover the basic needs of any teacher who teaches young children. I have also made a kind of ‘Dictionary for Young Children’, which consists of two ‘CoolHouses’ (registered under Registered Community Design Numbers 002369595-0001 and 002369595-0002) and the ‘CoolTool’ (Community Design Registration Proceedings Numbers 002376012-0001, 002376012-0002 and 002376012-0003). Together, they function as a Picture Dictionary Young Children, made up of 700 of the most frequently used words, covering the topics usually found in workbooks for the young. Each word has its own card (a word and a picture) in three different versions. They enable a range of social games and are very handy for different types of cooperative learning. Moreover, the same ‘Dictionary’ enables children to learn how to read and write at an early age through play activities.
All of the materials mentioned above can be used very effectively in the classroom as essential accessories in a teaching process that is based on:
The approach is called ‘CoolPool’ (AAS, 15. 4. 2013, R-67/13) and can easily be tailored to any curriculum.
Mija Selič, M.Sc is a practitioner and teacher trainer whose twenty years of practice teaching English to young learners has resulted in the development of the teaching aids presented above, which are the result of actual work with children. She holds a Master’s Degree in primary teaching, with a research focus on cooperative learning in the mother tongue and a foreign language. She also holds a degree in the English language and a certificate in convergent pedagogy. She ran workshops on early language learning for the National Educational Institute from 2007 until 2011. She is currently running her own school for early language learning where she teaches children, runs seminars on didactic and methodological approach to early language learning and develops unique teaching aids for young learners.
I believe that the teaching aids created by Mija Selič, M.Sc will be of great assistance to teachers of English at the early level, as learning on this level needs to be supported by the greatest possible range of material. The teaching aids have been designed on the basis of the creator’s many years of experience of teaching English, while at the same time taking into account the principles of English didactics at the early level. Organised thematically, the teaching aids can be used in a diverse range of activities and are accompanied by clear recommendations.
Karmen Pižorn, PhD
Assistant Professor of English Didactics
Department of Education Studies
Faculty of Education
University of Ljubljana
The card catalogue is a set of cards for the words used most frequently in connection with teaching young children a foreign language, and covers the vocabulary used in textbooks for the young beginners. There are three different types of cards for every word, in different combinations of the word and its illustration and efficiently facilitate any programme without using a workbook. More details in CoolTool section.
They are two flat houses made of fabric which windows are turned into pockets where the cards are kept alphabetically (the Cool Alphabet House) or thematically (the Cool Theme House). Children can easily find the wanted card by searching for it under the starting letter (an apple can be found in the Alphabet House in the pocket ‘A’) or under the topic ‘fruit’ in the Theme House). More details in CoolHouse section.
The combined use of the cards and the houses functions as a unique and high quality picture dictionary and a library for the young children, with one exceptional advantage: the words can be taken out, held in the children’s hands and played with.
Projects are chosen by the selection of different stories which are introduced through narrative. The follow up activities that are based on themes from the stories are upgraded to different types of cooperative games that promote socialisation, learning new vocabulary and grammar.
The actual writing is introduced through writing texts on posters. It can be fun once the topic of the text is well comprehended and the children dictate the text while the teacher is doing the writing. For that the global approach is used.
Pre-writing and pre-reading is introduced through partly finished pictures called CoolDoodles. After completing a CoolDoodle with sticking, gluing, colouring, printing etc., children can write words or sentences next to the correct picture. For that the the picture dictionary is really handy. They can also sequence the story, dictate a task to a friend and do many more things. More details in CoolDoodle section.
At the end of each school year children perform a show for their parents. Usually it is a mix of songs and school-plays based on the topics covered throughout the school year.
A complete didactic and methodological approach to early foreign language learning based on the CoolSchool teaching aids can be acquired through seminars. More details in Seminars section.