What is a Good English Course Structure for Elementary School Students?
There are many course structures available now for teaching English. However, there are problems there to be solved. Problems are like some students find memorizing words and grammar all the time are boring; some find learning English itself is meaningless; some find they can’t talk and use it after learning all grammar from grammar practice books; some students are so nervous to talk that they kill the “communication and thinking tool” in its cradle; some even hate it after several tries of learning. However, English’s not to blame for the problems. Neither the things described by English nor grammar is. Resources are littered casually within the mind, they need to be kept in personalized rows by using a good inclusive course structure.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Carpenter L. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
1. A good English Course Structure should have clear objectives:
Knowledge objectives like learning the outline of grammar and vocabulary and getting four basic skills improved; Emotion objectives like willingness to exchange information with each other; Method objectives like knowing what to do to keep studying and using English in a life-long period. The outcome of this requirement would be every student is open-minded, solution-oriented, and futuristic when it comes to learning English.
2. A good course structure has four main syllabuses to choose from:
situational, structural, functional-notional, and learner-led. (From TEFL certificate learning material, Unit 3, syllabus design) Generally speaking, all students around 10 years old are curious about new things. They are self-motivated in exploration but they don’t have a big picture of almost everything, so naturally, they easily get lost while learning and get frustrated and biased about something. Students have many questions, let them ask by starting the course with a part of learner-led elements and keep the structure open to change within a hidden structural syllabus, which is for students to have a general picture of English grammar and vocabulary and thus enhance self-learning skills, till the course ends. We can also embed some situation and functional-notional elements most related to elementary school students’ daily life into the syllabus. That done, students find practical usage of it.
3. A good course structure should have a variety of materials and specially designed activities.
Elementary school students are still learning even with their native language. We must put a reasonable amount of practice but also thought-provoking materials and activities into the course. Students hear, smell, see, and feel. Realia, pictures, and imagination are necessary like water to plants. Particularly if one still wants to see shiny but not dim eyesight from students after the course. Plus, games, drama, music, and even fieldwork are good impetuses.
4. A good course has a flexible but strict timeline.
A lesson’s time can be 45 min long. The course should also have tests and lessons with different sub-goals. A diagnostic test is necessary to know the student's current level. A placement test should be used when there are many students at different levels. These should better be used before the course starts. During the course, progress tests and creative-assignments need to be planted to let students feel they are indeed growing in English. The final achievement test is to let students know clearly that they succeed which is very important to boost their confidence and confidence is most important in learning a language.
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All in all, we can see this effect: before the course, students don’t communicate in English, they don’t think about going traveling abroad and make international friends. They neither have a map of English nor a willingness to learn more. After this class, they identify as soon as they meet English. They use it to learn, make friends, and learn more about what is going on around the world. They have clearer and more practical but futuristic goals as well as a life-long learning habit. They know English is not only a language, but it also represents an inclusive, futuristic as well as practical attitude.
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