English Courses for Young Learners

Our students learn how to express themselves in English and develop their speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills.

At Shane English School, children learn English in the classroom but they will also find a use for it outside in their daily lives as well. In our experience, the immersion style of English teaching delivers the best results because children’s speaking and listening improves greatly due to their need to communicate.

The Shane Primary English Course (SPEC) for children is designed to introduce and practise key vocabulary, pronunciation, situational language in use, and grammatical structures that are needed for children to move from Primary School level through to a High School level of English language ability. So when the students are preparing for junior high school and senior high school, their English speaking and listening is already in advance of where they need to be.

The SPEC series of books is a logically structured, progressive course that will enable your child to develop all 4 language skills (listening, speaking, reading, writing) as well as improve their grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation.

Progressing from SPEC 1 to SPEC 9 means your child will improve from pre-A1 to A2 level on the CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference, the most widely used measure of language ability). Our students who have finished SPEC 9 can expect to pass important English exams such as the Trinity GESE speaking test (level 5/6). As we focus on developing all 4 language skills, the SPEC course also provides an excellent basis from which to study for Cambridge YLE exams (Starters, Movers, Flyers).

SPEC books employ a synthetic syllabus in which students are introduced to a single grammar structure (target language) in each lesson. We concentrate on accurate and fluent use of the target language across all 4 skills, following the natural order of acquisition (listening, speaking, reading, writing). Accuracy focuses on using each grammar structure correctly and with clear pronunciation. Fluency practice encourages the children to speak at a normal speed with few pauses and using natural intonation.

As the course progresses we add complexity (more and more difficult grammar). However, as each lesson only features one key language point, the students are able to assimilate each item of target language into their developing knowledge of the language. In this way, each child will be able to use every language structure receptively and productively as a result of our lessons and the accompanying supplementary materials.

Listening

In our SPEC course, we place considerable emphasis on developing the students’ ability to listen to near-native speed speech, although this takes time and practice of course.

Initially, children will be listening for phonics sounds, word recognition and to understand short dialogues (up to 20/30 words). By the time the students start SPEC 8, they will be able to listen to conversations of up to 200 words with multiple speakers from different accent groups.

As listening is the basis for language development for children at earlier ages, this represents valuable practice as well as making it much more likely that the children will be able to use their English outside the classroom in future.

Speaking

Throughout our SPEC books, students are supported to speak about a variety of topics in progressively more challenging ways. This gives our students the ability to express themselves with ever greater precision as they continue through the books.

For example, a theme that runs through the books is describing people. In SPEC 1, the question form is “Are you tall?”. At SPEC 6, we progress to: “What does he do?” while SPEC 9 teaches: “What’s your brother like?” / “He’s talkative and generous.”

Owing to the excellent listening practice that gives students examples of language in use, students will be able to use natural, clear pronunciation when they speak English.

Reading

As children at SPEC age will naturally be switching from taking in information aurally to reading for information, it is important for their language development that we focus on reading.

Similar to the listening we do in SPEC, the reading passages progress from short texts featuring much repetition of the target language to long readings that feature a variety of genres and consist of much more authentic use of the language.

By the time the students reach the end of the course, they will be able to understand emails, diary entries, letters, narratives, essays, and dialogues. This is especially true for students who make use of our various supplementary books and Crest Readers to do extra reading practice. The benefits of reading in a foreign language are well-attested and students are supported from initial reading to proficient reader through their SPEC career.

Writing

Writing is not the easiest skill for many children to learn but we want our students to benefit socially, economically, and academically from their study with us – that means being able to write.

We support children in the first SPEC books with pre-writing exercises and practice in which they only have to write single letters or words. We encourage all our students to learn to spell key vocabulary as they progress through the course, enabling them to use their learning productively as well as receptively.

As students become more proficient, we use guided writing exercises. These involve the children copying and tracing print, which gives them the support they need to write accurately.

Then as students move into SPEC 4 and beyond they are encouraged to do their own free writing. This means that by the time they reach SPEC 9 our students will be able to write confidently about topics such as family, school, hobbies, future plans and dreams, and health. Doing this kind of writing will naturally involve the students utilising all their previous learning. This review phase acts as effective consolidation for previously learnt target language. It also encourages them to learn and replicate features of common writing formats such as emails, letters, stories, etc.

What to Expect from Young Learners Lessons

  • Development of speaking and listening for communication
  • Reading for pleasure and vocabulary-building
  • Emphasis on phonics and pronunciation
  • ‘Freer’ writing taught for exam preparation
  • Grammar taught in context
  • Improved vocabulary range
  • Periodic, practical ‘special’ courses which focus on a variety of subject areas, such as science and history

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