Sharing Ideas on the VYL

by Kylie Malinowska and Cesca Key

As I’m sure you are all aware, in 2014 we officially launched our brand new training course, the IH Certificate in Teaching Very Young Learners.

“The new course is aimed at qualified and experienced language teachers that are interested in teaching very young learners, or have already taught young learners but would like specific training. It will prepare teachers for the specific challenges of working with very young learners (aged 6 and below) through a series of online course modules.”

IHWO Teacher Training Newsletter, September 2014

The course, which can be taken online with no need for a local tutor or purchased and run face to face, consists of 10 practical modules designed not only to give theoretical information, but the opportunity to share ideas and reflect on classroom practice. Participants of our first online IH VYL are now nearing the finish on the course and we must say we have thoroughly enjoyed being the course tutors. In each module, the participants have not only diligently worked through each of the tasks, but also shared so many ideas with each other that we don’t think anyone will run out of new things to do with their VYLs any time soon. They’ve also been sharing their trusted ‘favourites’ on the various forums e.g. the list of flashcard activities below.

Favourite Flashcard Activities to use with VYL

  • Run to the picture – This one I use with 5/6 year-olds. I give them a FC with a word which only they can see. I place the FC with the pics on the floor around the classroom and when I count to three, Ss have to run to the correct FC and stand next to it (or pick it up). Then they show the words and, if one of them is wrong, the other Ss need to help him.
  • Say STOP: T says the name of a picture. The, she shuffles the FCs and starts showing them to Ss. T repeats the word she elicited. Ss must say STOP when they see the correct FC. If done with one S at the time, I ask them to repeat all the names at the end of the game.
  • Pick a FC from the bag: I have my students sit in a circle (usually already in a circle from previous activities). I place FCs that we have been learning in the bag. I ask students to individually stand up and come over to the bag when it is their turn and ask them to choose one FC without looking. The student holds it up to the other students and the students have to name the FC. I find that the students really enjoy being the one to present the FC to the other students!
  • Matching FCs : I have two sets of the same FCs. I usually have my students sitting in a circle and place the FCs face down on the floor. The students take it in turns to turn over two FCs to see if they get a match. If they get a matching FC they get to keep them. As the students turn over their FCs they must also say what the FCs are.
  • Playing ‘monsters’ game – flashcards are placed on the floor in a circle with one flashcard more than there are learners. Each learner stands on one card. The teacher names a card, which means there is a monster under this card. The learner standing on this card has to run and stand on the free card. If the learners doesn’t run away from the card on the count of three – the monster eats him/her up.
  • Magic wand: T sticks the flashcards on the wall or on the whiteboard. Ss walk around the classroom and when the T touches a flashcard and names the object, Ss are transformed and have to behave like the related object. This activity works well when introducing new vocab (especially animals) as it’s a multi-sensorial activity as images, sounds, movement and behaviour are connected in a memorable way. Later on, during the lesson, when Ss feel more comfortable with the new set of vocabulary, it could be a “little teacher” task.
  • Flyswatters: Children are divided into 2 groups, one child represents each group, the kids get one flyswatter each and they run to the board to hit the flashcard nominated by the teacher. Alternative: We are doing flyswatters with mosquitoes drawn on the board, inside each fat mosquito there is a letter. Children have to kill the mosquito with the letter I name. I’m going to try all of them )))
  • Flashcards bridge: I usually have 2 Ss coming to each other from 2 different sides of the “bridge”. As they go they need to name the flashcards they step on. When they meet they play “Rock, Scissors, Paper” and the one who loses has to come back and start again. The winner is the S who reaches the other side.
  • Musical FCs. Works well with 3 year olds. Ss are sat in the circle, when the music is playing, ss pass the FC around the circle (face down), when the music stops, the s with the FC turns it round and names the FC. (Basically pass the parcel but with a FC!)
  • Spin the bottle. Again ss sat in the circle. T spins a bottle in the middle. The s the bottle is pointing at when it finishes spinning picks a FC (again they can’t see them, I usually hold them out like a deck of cards face down). If they can name the FC they get to spin the bottle next. (They love doing this although they are not particularly good at it.)
  • Whispering FCs – I learned this one recently from a colleague and it’s great for team working.  Split ss into two teams and have them line up in 2 lines a distance from the wall/WB.  FCs are put on the WB or wall and I beckon to the front 2 ss to the FCs and whisper one to them both, they then go back and whisper to the next person in their team, who whispers to the next and so on.  The s at the end of the line then runs to the front and points to the correct FC and names it.

The above list was written by our course participants who are both internal and external and joining us from all over the world. Thank you Larissa Afanaseyeva (Voronezh), Alyona Lytovchenko (Poltava), Isabella Campos Alvim (Brazil), Laura Szego (Valladolid), Laura Brown (Valladolid), Isabel Fechas Correia (Porto), Jennifer-Anne O’Neill (Valladolid), Ella Nolan (Valladolid), Chiarra Pasantino (Palermo), Rafa Nasab (Beirut),  and special thanks to Katarzyna Mochniak (Wroclaw) for collating the list from the forum.

We want to thank all the writers from around the globe who wrote sessions and participated in putting together the course and our very first online participants for all their hard work and sharing. We’d also like to extend an invitation to others to join us for the next intake of this wonderful course.