Primary English language teaching is a widely discussed phenomenon. With the ideas of multiculturalism and multilingualism its importance increases in the Kazakhstan context nowadays. Despite many positive sides to standardizing early English language teaching in Kazakhstan many problems still remain to be tackled. The aim of the article is to give an account of the importance, evaluation and the development perspective of early English language teaching in Kazakhstan. The article investigates the current state of early language teaching and introduces possible changes to improve the quality of primary English language teaching in Kazakhstan. The necessity of using communicative tasks in teaching English to primary school children is substantiated in the article. Complex of exercises for different stages of learning are described. Factors affecting communicative competence development are analyzed.
The teaching of English is a growing focus of many nation states as English is considered to be a key competence in the information society. Consequently, many nation states focus on teaching English to children at the early stages of schooling, a strategy that may create both competent citizens and competitive nation states. This calls for new learning designs and new learning materials for primary school levels .
In order to implement the indicated reforms, the following steps should be taken in the system of education, in particular, step 79 provides for the gradual transition to the English language of teaching in the education system — in the senior school classes and the higher school .
In these conditions, the problem of teaching foreign languages (here in after - FL) in the primary school is especially topical; its strategy should be built in accordance with the new priorities of the school in the 21st century, the school as a source of development of abilities and creative activity of learners capable of independent solving of emerging problems in the form of communication . The educational subject «Foreign language» has great potentialities of the impact on the learner's personality, since all the spheres of human communication are affected and all the spheres of life are covered . Moreover, the study of this subject should be carried out in accordance with the new State obligatory standard of the primary education, typical curricula and typical English language educational programs. The task is complicated by the fact that the State program for the development of education and science of the Republic of Kazakhstan for 2015-2019 provides for a phased transition to the trilingual education .
The study of the scientific literature and the background of the issue show that the methodological science has not undertaken a study yet, in which an integral concept and methods of the early teaching of FL were offered. At the same time, the analysis of the current situation and the survey of teachers, who teach English in the primary school, allowed us establishing the fact that learners starting to study FL encounter a large number of difficulties affecting motivation and interest in the subject and, accordingly, the effectiveness of mastering FL. The reasons for the difficulties are rooted in the organization of the first year of FL studying, in the insufficient attention to the psycho-physiological capabilities of the junior school age, which are important to take into account when developing methods for the early teaching of FL, as well as in the unresolved problems associated with the development of the ability of a junior schoolchild to the foreign speech activity and with the formation of his/her conscious educational and cognitive activity. Achievement of the positive learning outcomes will be facilitated by the transition to the personal paradigm of education, for the implementation of which it is necessary to create a theoretical and methodological base that takes into account the specifics of the primary school.
One of the possible ways of resolving the issues mentioned above is to develop both a theoretical and methodological as well as technological basis for the successful teaching of FL at a junior school age characterized by its integrity and systematicity. It becomes possible when creating a methodology that takes into account the specifics of studying the subject «Foreign language» in the primary school.
All of the stated above has allowed us to establish contradictions:
- between the requirements of modern society for the level of foreign-language preparation of junior schoolchildren and the absence of a theoretical and methodological base necessary for the implementation of the developing potential of the subject «Foreign language» and creating conditions for organizing the process of successful mastering of FL by junior schoolchildren;
- between the existing theoretical base of teaching FL and the undeveloped character of the integral conceptual basis of the early teaching of FL in the context of trilingual education;
- between the necessity to improve the quality of teaching foreign languages to junior schoolchildren and the lack of methods for the early teaching of FL based on the best international practices and taking into account new trends in the foreign language education.
The need to resolve these contradictions determines the topicality of this work and allows us to formulate the problem of the research, which consists in the scientific search for conceptual and didactic solutions to the issues of the early teaching of FL in the modern primary school in Kazakhstan.
One of the most important goals in foreign language teaching should be creating competent foreign language users in terms of language and communicative competence. Depending on the age of the students, all four skills - listening, speaking, reading and writing are taught at all levels of the education system to a greater or lesser extent. The difference in the prevalence of language skills in foreign language teaching has been most visible in early learning, i.e. from the first to the fourth grade. More specifically, in the first and the second grade the emphasis is mainly on developing listening comprehension skills and speaking, while reading and writing skills are gradually introduced in the second half of the first grade. Reading and writing skills are taught and developed more systematically and intensely only in the third and fourth grade. This difference in the teaching of language skills at an early age has been introduced thanks to Piaget's theory on the division of cognitive and social development of children in stages .
The main function of all components is the personality-forming function, namely: the moral, cognitive and communicative development of the personality of the junior schoolchild as a subject of one's culture, which is capable of speaking a foreign language. The worked out methodology of the early teaching foreign languages is presented in Table.
Table Methodology of the early teaching foreign languages
STEP I. Setting of aims of the early FL teaching
aim and objectives of teaching English at the initial stage
STEP II. Planned result
systemic totality of knowledge, skills and abilities, values necessary for the foreign language communication of the primary school pupils distributed according to the levels of mastering a FL and the types of speech activity
STEP III. The totality of means of transforming the aim into a planned result
hierarchy of principles, content, technology and means of the early teaching English in the primary school
Thus, a methodology for the early teaching foreign languages represented by three main STEPs was worked out within the Project:
- the first STEP sets the algorithm of pedagogical aim setting in the field of the early teaching FL in the primary school, which reflects the aim and unity of the three objectives;
- the second STEP lays out a detailed image of the planned result, which reflects the systemic set of knowledge, skills and abilities, values necessary for the foreign language communication of the primary school pupils and distributed according to the levels of mastering the FL and the types of speech activity;
- the third STEP is aimed at creating a set of means of transforming the aim into a planned result, which is represented by a hierarchy of principles, a description of the content, technology and means of the early teaching English in the primary school.
An important aspect of the readiness of the educational institution to conduct educational activities is the provision of modern didactic means (textbooks, syllabuses, workbooks, teaching aids, methodological working outs, methodological guidelines, methodological recommendations, etc.), because through them a child learning a foreign language , will have to learn the material, get basic knowledge and its quality will influence how easily and quickly the child will be drawn into the process of learning a foreign language.
The basis of the offered methodology for the early teaching foreign languages is the system of the English language teaching aids at the initial stage (didactic means for pupils and a teacher) for pre-school and primary school education:
- didactic support of the early teaching foreign languages in the primary school: «Dictionary in pictures for primary school», «Grammar in pictures for primary school», «Alphabet and spelling in pictures for primary school»; methodological guidance on the use of the syllabus in English for the primary school.
Didactic support for the primary school was worked out and presented in the form of the syllabus in English for primary classes («Dictionary in pictures for primary school», «Grammar in pictures for primary school», «Alphabet and spelling in pictures for primary school»), on paper and electronic media, the Methodological guidance on the use of the syllabus in English for the primary school.
The syllabus is considered by us as a model for the implementation of the worked out methodology of the early teaching a foreign language and as a means of implementing its embedded teaching technology. The didactic teaching aids in English worked out for the primary school for the most part possess all of the above characteristics and meet the requirements of the modern State obligatory standard of education (2017). Each of the didactic means worked out by us corresponds to the standard curriculum on the subject «English language», has a certain structure and is offered as additional material for the basic English textbook «Eng- lish» (published in Almaty).
The integrity of the worked out syllabus in English for the primary school is determined by its single conceptual basis, as well as by the structure that includes editions for the formation of skills of the foreign speech activity, lexical (Vocabulary), grammatical (Grammar), orthographical (English Alphabet) skills and abilities, as well as independent work (Tests). The redundancy of the speech material specifically introduced in the syllabus allows a teacher to creatively approach the planning of pupils' activities. The structure of the electronic textbooks is presented in Figures 1, 2.
The edition «Alphabet and spelling in pictures for primary school» on paper and electronic media is offered to be used in the second half of the year for class and homework assignments that form initial reading and writing skills, along with grammatical and lexical skills (Fig. 3). The edition includes a system of exercises aimed at the interrelated development of pupils' speaking, reading and writing skills in the learning process; the development of the foreign-language reading and writing techniques and the development of the ability to independently read and write simple words and short sentences.
Assignments with visual support purposefully develop pupils' ability of independent and creative written speech.
Thus, the didactic means of teaching English on the preliminary (1st grade) and basic stages of the initial foreign language education are presented by the worked out syllabus in English for the primary school («Dictionary in Pictures for Primary School», «Grammar in Pictures for Primary School», «Alphabet and spelling in Pictures for Primary School»), performing functions that are determined by the target component of the offered method of the early teaching FL and meet the requirements reflecting the specifics of the subject studying in the primary school.
The next element in the system of didactic means offered by us is the edition that organizes the activities of a teacher — Methodical guidance for the teacher on the use of the syllabus in English for the primary school. The methodical guidance contains recommendations for working with exercises aimed at developing skills in the foreign language communication; recommendations for conducting speech or phonetic drills; detailed recommendations for the work on new lexical and grammatical material; recommendations on the use of handouts; recommendations for describing possible project assignments.
The Basic Requirement for Primary School English postulates that the main aims of primary English include:
- to develop pupils' interests, self confidence and positive attitude towards learning English;
- to cultivate the pupils' language sense and enable good pronunciation and intonation;
- to develop the pupils' preliminary ability to use English in daily exchanges and lay a good basis for further study.
Although the Basic Requirement does not enforce any specific method for teaching, the performance descriptors designate a change in methodology. They clearly reflect an activity-based approach, encouraging teaching and learning through listening, speaking, singing, playing, doing, acting, viewing, reading and writing to provide children opportunities to experience the language and facilitate their own discovery of meaning as a first-hand experience. Children are required to do things with English, and the learning process is expected to be a playful and happy experience.
It is also stated in the Basic Requirement that the assessment for primary school English needs to meet with the purposes of enhancing students' overall development and teachers' effectiveness in teaching. Formative assessment is expected to be used as the major method of assessing students' achievement in English. Variety in forms of assessment and opportunities for pupils to choose from the different forms according to their own strength and interests should be the characteristics of the new assessment system for primary schools.
The worked out syllabus in English for the primary school, including such editions as «Dictionary in pictures for primary school», «Grammar in pictures for primary school», «Alphabet and spelling in pictures for primary school» was successfully approved in the educational process of Karaganda schools (Communal public institution «Educational complex «School-kindergarten» №. 77», Communal public institution «Gymnasium №.3») and submitted for examination to the Educational and Methodological Center for the Development of Education in the Karaganda region to be recommended as the additional teaching aids in English to be used in schools of Kazakhstan.
Thus, the consideration of the conceptual foundations of the early teaching foreign languages formed the basis of the worked out monograph «Theory and methodology of the early teaching foreign languages» and the teaching aids «Methodology of the early teaching foreign languages».
In order to verify the effectiveness of the results of the scientific project, the theoretically reasoned and practically worked out methodology for the early teaching a foreign language and its didactic support were introduced and approved in pre-school educational institutions (municipal state-owned public enterprise «Kindergarten № 16 Altynay») and in the primary school of the city of Karaganda (Communal public institution «Educational complex «School-kindergarten» № 77», Communal public institution «Gymna- sium № 3»).
Educational and methodological support for the early teaching foreign languages was presented in the syllabus, which includes:
– syllabus in English for primary classes containing such editions as «Alphabet and Spelling in Pictures for Primary School», «Dictionary in Pictures for Primary School», «Grammar in Pictures for Primary School» and the methodological recommendations on the organization of the early teaching foreign languages for the primary school.
We have discovered that although syllabus in English for primary classes are supposed to be fun and easy there are certain things teachers need to keep in mind when using them inside the classroom. First of all the teacher needs to do everything in his or her power to make sure that all students have a good experience from playing the game. Also the teacher needs to keep in mind that not all games fit certain students and some cannot be played inside the classroom. When selecting a game teachers need to ask themselves, «What are the goals am I trying to achieve by playing this game?» and they have to make sure that the game they choose is not too easy but at the same time not too difficult. If teachers believe a certain game might be too difficult for their students they need to be aware that they need to augment the game to make it more fitting.
English language teaching in Kazakhstan has entered a new era with the introduction of primary English. Many teachers are beginning to realize the need to change their beliefs about language and language learning, and the need to acquire new skills and techniques in teaching and in assessment according to the new concepts in teaching and learning and according to the needs of their tudents. Research into primary school English teaching and teacher training are urgently needed to ensure a better understanding so as to better inform and improve practice .
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