The child’s needs

Children at the nursery education and primary reception class level are not yet very secure emotionally. They are learning for the first time to subsist in an environment beyond their familiar family circumstances. They make their first friendships, encounter new individuals to relate to, undergo an immense range of new personal experiences. This unfamiliar situation, combined with the new sounds of the foreign language, requires a sensitive approach and particular awareness of the emotional component in child development.

Together with specific capabilities, every child also has very definite needs: and these should be fed into early foreign language teaching, so that the child learner feels comfortable and the learning process can be correspondingly fruitful. A child needs -
  • to feel safe and secure while in the learning environment
  • to receive affection and be able to show affection
  • to express feelings, be happy, and make others happy
  • to communicate with others, to express thoughts and feelings
  • to play, be active, move, romp about
  • to express him- or herself creatively
  • to experience successes and be praised
  • to encounter new things by experience, by learning, by discovery, or through conscious research
  • to re-run new experiences and insights in role-play (or similar) and thus assimilate these emotionally.
Recommendations

In planning and implementing the aims, content and methods of early foreign language learning, the practitioner or teacher should always ensure that the child’s needs are taken into account.

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