Top websites for teachers of Young Learners

There is a whole world of content for Young Learners and their teachers on the Internet but sometimes it can be hard to find exactly what you want. Below I outline some of the top sites for children learning English and their teachers.

First up is the British Council site dedicated to children at http://learnenglishkids.britishcouncil.org/en/ This site has a wealth of materials and activities. The home page is regularly updated with songs, games and stories. For example, at certain times of the year, it has materials to learn more about Ramadan and Eid-al-fitr. The kids’ games section has quizzes, simple labelling activities and spelling games. These games could be used in the language lab or children could be directed to play them for homework. Parents are encouraged to be involved – there is a forum where they can share ideas or ask questions about helping their child with their English studies.

As well as all this there are sections for skills work (listen and watch, read and write), making things, spelling and that favourite, grammar. In this section, children can watch videos that make meaning clear as well as fun, do grammar quizzes or take tests. The videos are high quality and could be used for a whole class presentation. The site also has a Little Kids tab with fun songs and stories and there is also a link to the British Council Teens site if you teach older Young Learners.

Next is Macmillan’s teachers’ resource site www.onestopenglish.com, which has sections for both children and teens. The children’s section has a wealth of lesson material, some of which is free. There is a whole phonics course in two parts, first concentrating on the letters of the alphabet. The letters are ‘food characters’, e.g. A is Alice Apple, to enliven learning and make it more memorable. The second part of the course focuses on specific letter sounds and blends i.e. letter combinations. The materials include a poem and pictures that illustrate the different sounds.

Another popular resource on onestopenglish children is the Top Trumps game, which has lesson plans written by Carol Read. Children learn to ask questions and interpret written information about baby animals. A full set of game cards is available to subscribers as is an Interactive Whiteboard edition of the game.

One stop CLIL features lesson plans and activities for teachers wishing to integrate other areas of the curriculum with English. Free resources include lesson plans for teaching geographical map symbols, understanding the colours of the rainbow and learning about Christopher Columbus.

A standout feature of the site is the 60 M Tunes animated song videos for young learners. These feature real film footage or animations of songs which have karaoke-style words displayed on the screen as they appear in the songs. Many of the song videos are free and can be downloaded by teachers to use in their classes. The levels are usefully linked to the Cambridge Young Learners English or YLE tests.

Last but not least, onestopenglish has a methodology section for teachers wishing to find out more about classroom management and child development.

If you are preparing children for the Cambridge English YLE tests, it’s worth checking the parents’ pages on the Cambridge English website at http://www.cambridgeenglish.org/learning-english/parents-and-children/activities-for-children/ Here you can find resources to practise vocabulary and reading skills at three levels of the CEF: below A1 (Starters), A1 (Movers) and A2 (Flyers). It is also a good idea to register for webinars hosted by Cambridge English and its publishing partner CUP. Recent webinars include Computer-based testing for young learners, which can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qjBgUj1b_Lg&index=5&list=PLpmCHL8PnXq88RiE_Bc0bAaotsDCHsEay

and Keeping younger learners motivated in the classroom by Karen Saxby the author of Storyfun for the YLE tests series, available at http://www.cambridge.org/elt/blog/2015/03/2386/

Some of the best websites for YL teachers are those written by big names in the field of Young Learners teaching, training and materials writing. It will come as no surprise that Carol Read’s ABC of teaching children at https://carolread.wordpress.com/ contains a wealth of tips, resources and also anecdotes from Carol’s own teaching experience. Of particular interest is the entry for C, where Carol outlines her whole approach model of teaching children based around ‘C’ factors such as Challenge, Cognition and Curiosity. The A-Z approach of the website makes it easy to dip into regularly and it contains useful ideas that can be tried out straightaway in the classroom as well as allowing teachers to develop their methodological awareness.

Vanessa Reilly’s blog https://vanessareillytelt.wordpress.com/ is another valuable stopping point for YL teachers. It is full of links to resources such as YouTube videos of storytelling sessions and sites with make and do activities. Vanessa is the co-author of OUP’s Very Young Learners Resource Book for teachers so a lot of the material linked on her blog is for the 3-7 year old age group. One note: it is worth bearing with the long scroll-down it takes to access the right-hand bar menu. The content is organised alphabetically so R for Resources, for example, comes some way down the page.

I hope you find this summary of YL websites useful and interesting. If there is anything I have left out or you want to add to this discussion, please leave a comment on my blog.

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