January 19, 2014: Using a cross-curricular approach in children's English classes by Lesley Ito

posted Jan 27, 2014, 4:14 PM by Hamamatsu JALT   [ updated Nov 14, 2014, 9:22 PM ]
Using a cross-curricular approach in children's English classes, by Lesley Ito.

The presenter emphasized the importance of teaching language in a meaningful context, that is interesting to children. For example volcanoes can be used to teach numbers with their height and the years in which they erupted. Or how to make a mummy can be a theme which teaches verbs such as "take out", "dry out", "stuff", and "wrap."  Or colors can be reviewed using white coffee filters, on which a line of color can be drawn with water-soluble ink, such as orange, and then dipped into warm water, after which it bleeds into shades of its original primary colors.  Lesley also stressed that the level of language needs to be appropriate for the learners, and that teachers need to scaffold lessons with English expressions that are needed for each activity, so that children don't just get excited about the topic and revert to using L1 most of the time. She showed us several other ideas, such as how using cups made of different materials (glass, metal, plastic, ceramics) will conduct the temperatures of liquids put in them to different degrees. Then children can touch the outsides of the cups and make comparisons: the metal cup is hotter than the plastic cup, for example. Or doing a lesson about famous people and using that to practice questions: Where - from? What - do? Her overall point was that language should be contextualized and supported in ways that children will both enjoy learning and remembering. We found her ideas both refreshing and useful.