The Importance of Affect in Teaching and Coursebooks for Young Learners in Chile
María Teresa Sepúlveda L., Chile
Professor María Teresa Sepúlveda L., (MA in Professional Development for Language Education, Leeds Metropolitan University, UK) is a Chilean EFL teacher who studied English Pedagogy at Universidad de Santiago, in Chile. She has specialized in teaching English to young learners, but she also teaches English as a foreign language to adults and teenagers. She has given different talks at international conferences, being the last one at the University of London (2007). Currently she teaches EFL methodology to students of English Pedagogy - both for teaching adults and young learners - at a private university in Santiago, Chile. She also teaches methodology at post graduate level as part of a Master’s programme. She has also written textbooks for children for some Chilean Publishing Companies. She has carried out action research in the area of assessment and qualitative research concerning the role of affective factors when teaching English to children. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
In my opinion and experience, affect is one of the important elements in a class with children because it involves feelings and emotions which are inherent to human beings. Teachers have got human beings in their classrooms – with feelings and emotions - so I think they should treat their learners as a whole person, but without disregarding the cognitive side of the teaching and learning process.
Affective factors such as anxiety and motivation are interrelated and they are the result of many situations that occur in the classroom. Many of the learners I interviewed share feelings of uneasiness and frustration mainly for what happens in their classrooms. Therefore, I believe that teachers should not lose sight of the fact that their task is to reduce the effect of negative feelings in their students and to instil genuine interest and motivation.
In this article, I will share the extent to which teachers take into account affective factors when teaching English to young learners as well as the extent to which materials take into account affective factors. Besides, I will describe some theoretical concerns about the importance of affect in the teaching and learning process and present the findings on how Chilean EFL teachers interpret this concept in a variety of ways in their working context. The participants in this study were fifty teachers who teach English at primary school level and their students (an average of forty to forty-five students per class).
During the past twelve years the Chilean Ministry of Education (Mineduc) has been developing the ‘English Opens Doors’ programme to stress the importance of the English language for further development of the country. Therefore, the educational reform now states that English should be taught as from primary levels in state schools. In the state school system, English as a Foreign Language (EFL) instruction begins in the fifth grade of primary education – when the children are nine or ten years old - and continues through high school. The majority of state school children are provided with only two class periods a week, not enough ‘to acquire a basic linguistic competence that allows them to read and to listen to authentic material comprehensibly according to their age and interests – being this the basis for future learning’. (Curriculum for primary Education No. 232: English as a Foreign Language, 2003: 1)
One of the reasons why schools cannot offer more English classes is the deficit in the number of qualified EFL teachers to teach English at primary level. There are teachers who are qualified for teaching at secondary level and now they face the challenge of teaching children between nine and eleven years old, or even younger children. On the other hand, there are primary teachers who have all the necessary skills to teach young learners, but they lack the knowledge to teach English as a foreign language. These facts make it necessary to have coursebooks which not only connect with the children’s psychological and sociological reality, but also books which are a guide for teachers along the path of the teaching and learning process. The teacher’s books for the first two primary levels are written in Spanish, whereas the corresponding student’s books are written in English.
It must be pointed out that the Chilean government is contributing to a decentralized education system with technical and material support offered to municipal and subsidized schools, such as free coursebooks and supplies for classroom libraries for all students in primary schools, benefits or services for low-income students, free continuing education for teachers, programmes for improving educational quality, as well as technical assistance.
Since I have been involved in developing materials for primary and secondary levels here in Chile, I am aware of the fact that all EFL coursebooks used in state schools try to meet the requirements set by the Ministry of Education as far as the linguistic content is concerned. In addition, most coursebooks encourage the best progress and achievement for all learners and they help them to develop their confidence in their capacity to learn English by working not only independently, but also collaboratively. Coursebooks, according to the curriculum, should not only provide varied contexts so that our young learners can develop and apply a broad range of knowledge, but also they should encourage learners to gain confidence by making discoveries for themselves. An example of this, which is something very good that I have noticed in our Chilean EFL coursebooks, is the fact that learners are not always given the grammar rules, but they are guided to infer them.
In general terms I think that the coursebooks written by Chilean teachers are fine. Now I realise that I was wrong in my perception of the different materials when I started my research because I have discovered that authors do actually care about the issue of my concern. The aspect I mentioned above (grammar) is a good one and it also affects ‘affect’ in a positive sense. Before starting my research I believed that the books were the problem (as a result of my first encounters with teachers). Nevertheless, as my research was progressing, I started to realise that most Chilean materials writers show concern about this issue and teachers can find a lot of support for this in the teacher’s book. Now it is clear to me that the problem lies in the different constraints that teachers have to face in state schools in Chile. Nevertheless, I cannot close my eyes to the fact that most teachers do not deal with affective factors in their classes because they give much more importance to the cognitive side of the teaching and learning process.
‘The affective side of the learner is probably one of the most important influences on language learning success or failure’ (Oxford 1990: 140). It is known that foreign language learning is not a simple task so it is susceptible to human anxiety, which is associated with feelings of nervousness, frustration, and apprehension (Brown 1994). In my experience, this fact has proved to be especially true with children.
In an ideal EFL classroom, teachers should provide their learners with an atmosphere where they can feel relaxed, and where they can develop self-confidence and self-esteem. Additionally, they should be allowed to develop positive attitudes towards the learning experience and be involved ‘intellectually, aesthetically and emotionally’ (Tomlinson 1998a).
Young's research (1990) with language learners suggested that teachers who used humour and created a welcoming, supportive, and relaxed classroom atmosphere that encouraged risk-taking, were most helpful in reducing foreign language anxiety and facilitating learning. This is emphasised by Arnold and Brown (1999) when they say that teachers need to give as much attention as possible to the way they can overcome the difficulties produced by negative emotions and also how to create and use more positive emotions.
Coursebooks and Teaching EFL in Chile
In this section I discuss the ways teachers deal with children and affect in their classes in state schools and also how they make use of the coursebook in their classes. I have also included comments from both teachers and children. I would like to point out that affect is catered for in the materials, but many teachers struggle to cope with affect in the classroom.
According to the Chilean Mineduc the coursebook is a key tool in the teaching and learning process because it is the instrument which takes the curriculum to the classroom, thus improving the students’ learning possibilities – always with the intervention of a teacher. To achieve all this, the book must deal with the Fundamental Objectives, the Contents and the Fundamental Transversal Objectives (FTO).
The complexity of living in today's societies makes it fundamental to emphasize the role of schools in terms of the ethical and social imperatives required of individuals in the consolidation of societies guided by justice, pluralism, and solidarity. Therefore, the FTO are a means to stimulate a school culture that fosters social-affective and ethical skills necessary for modern and democratic societies (How can the FTO be developed in the classroom? Mineduc, 2003).
Through the FTO, the students of English as a foreign language are given the opportunity to enhance their self-esteem since they can be faced with situations in which they have to show their capacity to express themselves in a foreign language. This may aid their self-confidence as well. According to the Mineduc, if we emphasize the receptive skills, then as a result, the students have the possibility to develop their communicative abilities by reading or listening to different messages in English. The FTO also emphasize the fact that through a foreign language (English, in this case), students become aware of the traditions, music and literature of other cultures and, in this way, not only do they expand their knowledge of the world but also they strengthen the value of the Chilean culture.
Below there is a page from a Chilean EFL coursebook for students of sixth grade. They have some knowledge of English from the previous year, so they can understand instructions and they are used to the following pattern: Pre, While and Post Listening/ Reading activities. The names of the authors of the coursebooks will not be mentioned because of legal agreements with the publishing companies (the official textbook had not arrived at the schools where I carried out my research, so a different one was used).
This page shows the beginning of a reading lesson for 10 – 11 year olds who are doing their second year of English in state schools. Here, the author has followed the requirements of the Ministry of Education. The FTO are very important for the curriculum, so they are clearly shown and developed at the beginning of the lesson.
The Before reading section motivates the children to get engaged with the topic. The unit starts with group work (blue square) which can be done either in English or Spanish – depending on the level of the class. In this case, some English can be used by the teacher. The intention of the author here is that the children feel at ease as from the beginning of the unit. They will talk about friendship and every answer is accepted. I believe the author is giving an important role to affect in this part of the lesson because each child’s opinion will be shared with his or her peers and also with the teacher. Besides, the author is aware of the benefits of making the learners work in groups and she expects the teachers are also aware of this fact. If this is not the case, then the teacher can find a lot of guidance in the teacher’s book, which is a mini-methodology guide.
I decided I had to observe how the teachers I interviewed would deal with this lesson in the unit because in this way I thought I could answer one of the questions I started asking myself after my conversations with them (What is not working? The materials? The teacher?) . I watched teachers at different stages in their career:
1. Inexperienced primary teachers
These teachers are qualified to teach different subjects to primary schoolchildren, except English. They are teaching English because they have done some courses in language institutes, but they do not know what teaching strategies to use when teaching the language. They are just starting their professional careers. This was not their first lesson.
I found they had in common the fact that although they wanted to follow the teacher’s and student’s book ‘to the letter’, they felt insecure, because their knowledge of English was very limited in most cases. Nevertheless, many of them knew how to deal with a children class. I thought that this fact would make them feel more secure. Some of them started the unit in English, but most of them did it in Spanish. It must be pointed out here that these classes had more than forty-five children per class in most cases.
Due to their lack of experience in teaching, it was difficult for some of these teachers to form the groups, so the first activity could not be done successfully in all the cases. They had serious problems with discipline and classroom management. The teachers who were a bit more ‘successful’ could hardly do what the author suggested in the teacher’s guide but the problem was that they were in command of everything. That is, their classes were totally teacher-centred. Consequently, they did not play their role of facilitator nor did they allow their students for any free answers. When I asked them how they felt about their class and the unit they had to teach, I got answers such as:
‘…it was OK, but it’s impossible to do all the activities the author suggests.’
‘I don’t have enough time to make the children work in groups.’
‘How can I organize such a big group?’
‘It was difficult for me to make them talk about friendship so I didn’t do the first activity.’
‘I don’t know how to use this book.’
‘It’s impossible to care about each child. That’s a dream!’
‘There are too many things in the lesson.’
‘No, I don’t do games in my classes. There isn’t enough time.’
I believe that these teachers were doing their best to give a good class, but all the effort they made was not enough. I understand when they say that they cannot cope with everything in a class. Although it seems that the lesson in the book is very short, it is difficult to cover the contents in two sessions mainly because of the size of the groups.
Some other teachers said: ‘We were trained to teach children, but teaching English to them is something different.’ When I asked them what was different about teaching English, they said that their main difficulty was that their own level of English was low, so ‘…how can we teach them appropriately? ‘We feel lost.’ ‘We cannot devote time to understanding the children’s emotions and feelings.’
I had a feedback session with each of them, separately. I asked them about the importance they gave to affective factors in their classes. They said that in other subjects it was possible for them to care about that issue, but ‘…not in the English class’ because it was hard for them to try to teach a language they did not feel comfortable with. They also said that apart from feeling insecure, they felt tense and anxious before and during these classes.
The result of the observation of these classes was not very positive and I got a bit disappointed and at the same time I felt sad for these teachers. How could they ever care about the children’s emotions in their classes if they were suffering from anxiety themselves?
I believe that being able to cope with different things - among them affect - in a children class, is a matter of experience, management of children and of understanding that children have specific learning needs. However, for some of these teachers dealing with affect was not high on their list of priorities.
Children will not learn much if they do not feel secure in class, but this sense of security takes time. Therefore, the teacher should try to devote some time to developing positive feelings in her pupils, and this can be done with activities that encourage self-acceptance (Branden 1994), or activities that consider the different intelligences that children may have.
I also asked the children how they felt about this English class. They gave mixed answers:
‘I like English, I want to study it but my classmates are too noisy.’
‘The teacher never pays attention to me when I want to say something.’
‘I would like to say something in English, but I never have the opportunity to do it.’
‘English is boring.’
‘I don’t like talking about friendship because I am the only one who has very few friends.’
I believe that in cases like this the teacher has to support the child.
The teacher who was with these children made them work in groups, but she never listened to what the children said because ‘…it’s impossible to care about each child.’ As a result, what tachers see is a ‘mass’ of children instead of individuals.
The page below corresponds also to ‘Lesson 2’, but it shows the last part of it, so this was the second lesson I saw. I thought it was important to watch this part of the lesson too because I wanted to see how these teachers would deal with it and if I could see any differences. Unfortunately, they went through nearly the same situation and I realised that it is very difficult for inexperienced primary teachers to deal with affect in their English classes. It is understandable that with two hours a week they cannot do much – considering the fact that they lack teaching experience. Therefore, apart from all the problems they face, they also have these time constraints in the way.
I believe it would have been a good opportunity to do something interesting in the After reading section. For example, the Do you agree? section meant nothing to these teachers. Some of them just translated it for the children. The idea behind this was to enhance the children’s thinking development and their capacity to decode the meaning of the metaphor. They could have made a poster to illustrate this or any other appealing thing for them. The author had suggested some very interesting activities to develop here, but again it was not possible.
Unfortunately, I must say that these kinds of things are very common in our state schools and that is why the Mineduc has created the ‘English Open Doors’ programme (launched in 2003). The programme has made considerable strides in just a few years, organising EFL teachers’ networks and local workshops throughout the country in addition to providing further training for school teachers. In my opinion, this is a big effort on the part of the Mineduc, but I also believe that after the teachers attend a training course it is mainly their own responsibility to continue improving their teaching skills and knowledge of English. I believe that it is very difficult for the Mineduc to control what happens after the teachers attend a training course. The teachers in this group need even more training on teaching English to children. They also need to continue studying English.
I asked some of these teachers permission to see a different lesson - not an English lesson - and I could confirm that they cared about affect in their classes. They were trained to do it, but it was impossible for them to do it in the English class. These teachers could perfectly deal with the child as a whole person and they could also care about feelings and emotions, without disregarding the cognitive aspects. When these teachers said: ‘I find it easy to teach children’ it reflects that they are well trained to do it, but to show that in the English class is difficult.
It is my belief that these teachers are becoming less and less motivated to teach English. They complained that they are ‘thrown’ to teach English before they are really prepared to do it. I understand their feelings because I could see that it is a hard experience for them.
2. Experienced primary teachers
Experienced primary teachers in this article are those who have been teaching different subjects to children for more than two years.
These teachers have been teaching children for more than two years, so I expected a big difference in terms of classroom management and that was what I saw. It was not difficult for them to form the groups and they were moving around the classroom all the time. They looked interested in what each child was saying and there were very few discipline problems. The children were genuinely interested in the class, although again, very little English was used by the teacher – mostly isolated words or sentences mixed with a lot of Spanish.
They had nearly the same problems as the other group in relation to their level of English, but since they have more experience in teaching and managing children it was not so difficult for them to deal with discipline problems. Most of these teachers had that natural characteristic a teacher of children should have.
The children seemed to feel at ease in these classes. Most of these teachers not only did what the author suggested, but also they used different activities that enhanced the role of affect in their classes. For example, one of them asked her students to form several circles when they were talking about friendship and she would run to sit in each circle. She also allowed herself time to talk to the children about her own friends and she listened to them carefully. This teacher told me that it was necessary to be ‘alert’ when a child is suffering from low self-esteem, for example, or when they feel anxious. In this teacher’s opinion, the coursebook gives teachers the possibility to develop a humanistic approach in their English classes. Moreover, she thinks that the most important support in this sense is in the teacher’s guide. This teacher thinks that this particular author cares about and promotes children’s independence to learn because she not only gives more ideas on how to be a successful EFL teacher of children, but also she provides teachers with some background notes on self-assessment, learning strategies, and the importance of affect in the teaching and learning process.
Some other teachers said that they always read the guidelines in the teacher’s book, but they felt free to use other activities as well. In fact, I must say that a good number of these teachers had very good ideas which they put into practice in their classes. What I missed though, was more use of games and songs, or stories (this is continuously suggested and recommended in the teacher’s book). In other lessons they have songs, games and stories, but not all the teachers do them. Again, time constraints deprived children of having some more fun in class.
In spite of all the good things I saw in this group of teachers, they did not feel very happy with the way they are teaching English to children. They have attended different seminars and training courses along their professional lives, but their English is not good enough yet. This fact makes them feel insecure, too – the same as the first group of teachers.
This is what some of them said:
‘I don’t feel I am a good model for the children’
‘I have to use a lot of Spanish in my classes.’
‘I have attended postgraduate courses, but I still feel that my problem is English.’
‘I never thought I would be ever teaching English.’
‘I like the book and so do my students.’
‘It’s difficult to deal with everything in 45 minutes.’
These teachers also said that all of a sudden they had to start giving English lessons. At the beginning they did not feel very happy and they still believe it is not an easy task for them.
I believe these teachers are aware of the fact that they should be individuals that children can trust, and that they should not only show affection for their pupils, but also be helpful when they are in trouble. I could notice that these children feel more secure in the classroom because as Branden (1994) said, the significant person to them in the classroom – the teacher – allows them to develop healthy feelings of self-esteem.
Again, I wanted to know how the children felt in this class.
Their answers were:
‘I feel fine. The teacher is caring.’
‘I love the English classes because the teacher is lovely.’
‘I like the activities we did in this lesson.’
‘The colours in each lesson are beautiful.’ ‘I love colours.’
‘When I work on my own, I feel important because the teacher believes that I will answer correctly.’
‘I like talking about my friends.’
‘No, I never feel scared in class. Well, yes a little… when we have a test, but I get good marks.’
‘I feel embarrassed when I have to say something in English, but the teacher helps me.’
‘I liked the lesson. Yes, I could understand nearly everything …yes, that made me happy.’
‘I liked the photographs in the lesson.’
‘I made a beautiful card for my friends.’ ‘I like drawing.’
The answers these students gave are very different from the answers the other group of children gave me. These children were happy in their English class. Besides, I could notice that they were motivated with the book.
There was agreement among most children when I asked them: ‘When do you feel happy in class?’ They said: ‘When we play games, and when the teacher plays with us.’ This confirms that children learn best when they have fun and when they feel relaxed.
3. Experienced secondary teachers of English
These are experienced teachers because they have been teaching EFL for more than two years. Some of them are studying to get their Diploma in Education to teach English to children. Some others are taking part in the ‘English Open Doors’ training courses. I had high expectations with this group because they have a much better command of English than the other two groups, so I thought they would not have those problems of anxiety the other two groups had. However, new problems arouse here, but due to different factors.
In this part of the world, some secondary teachers still believe that they know much more than a primary teacher. This is because in the past primary teachers did not have a university degree. Nowadays, all teachers must have a university degree.
The teachers I visited are qualified teachers of English. They have a university degree to teach English at secondary level at schools. They taught the same lesson as the other teachers but although they had no problems with English, they had serious problems in the way they organised their classes. Most of them think that noisy classes mean discipline problems, so they did not allow the children to move much during some activities.
When I asked them why they did not allow their learners to move in class they said:
‘If I allow the children to play noisy games, then the class turns into chaos.’
‘They need to learn the contents first of all. If they learn what I’m teaching, I can let them play - only in that case.’
‘When I allow the children to play, it is very difficult for me to continue with the class.’
‘I never read the teacher’s book. I know a lot of methodology.’
‘The book is too childish.’ ‘There should be more grammar.’ ‘Grammar is more important.’
‘Playing the same game again and again sometimes makes me feel bored.’ ‘These children love playing Simon says all the time!.
‘My students say that they used to play funny games last year, with another teacher, but I am different. They have to understand that.’
‘The book suggests a lot of games and game-like activities, but I prefer a traditional class.’
‘Honestly, I don’t like teaching young learners.’
‘It’s easier for me to teach adolescents.’
I think this is a sad reality also. These teachers use the same methodology they use with adolescent or adult students. Their classes are not very motivating for 10 to 11 year olds. Most of them say they feel much more secure when they are in front of the class, in control of everything. They avoid playing the games or singing the songs suggested in the book for two main reasons: discipline problems and because they think it is a waste of time. Some of them also said that they do not use the coursebook much in their classes. I could realise that a lot of them concentrate on the grammar contents and they only do ‘mechanical’ exercises. I sometimes felt as if I had gone back to those days when the Audio-lingual approach or the Grammar-translation method were in fashion (I am ware of the fact that as teachers we must use bits of each method).
When one of these teachers said that she knew a lot of methodology, and therefore she did not need to read the teacher’s book, I realised that she was the kind of teacher who feels ‘superior’ in relation to primary teachers. It is sad to say this, but there were many teachers like her in this group.
Teaching children requires the teacher to have competence in primary teaching methodology, to know how children think and learn, to provide the children with patient repetition, to praise for all progress and to build their self-esteem. In this way, teachers lower feelings of anxiety in their learners and, as a result, learning takes place and the children feel relaxed and with positive self-esteem. The assertion: ‘We do not have time to deal with the problems each child could be facing’, is commonly said among some of these teachers. However, time is not the only problem; these teachers do not know how to manage children in general terms and furthermore, with children who have some emotional problems.
I believe that prior to sending teachers to teach children, it is essential to give them some special training, since being a teacher of children requires knowing how children behave at their different ages, and also the way they are developing. It is worth mentioning here that many of the techniques and attitudes that are essential for the teacher of children seem to be in disagreement with general EFL methodology.
Most children in these classes were not very happy with the English classes and I understand their feelings. They have distant teachers who do not care about the developmental stage they are going through. They need to have fun in their EFL classes. These teachers need to realise that it is necessary to satisfy their learners’ needs. Unfortunately, teaching the contents is what worries them most.
The feelings the children expressed are listed below and they reflect what the teachers did in these classes.
‘I feel scared sometimes.’
‘This teacher is too serious.’
‘We never play any games.’
‘I don’t like the English class because of the teacher.’
‘We hardly ever play a game.’
‘Sometimes I would prefer to be out of this class.’
‘Yes, we use the book, but only to do some exercises.’
‘We have never listened to the cassette.’
‘I’d like to sing songs in English.’
It must be pointed out that very few of these teachers want to change their teaching styles. They have attended training courses given by the Mineduc and other institutions, but they still have problems to manage young learners.
Some teachers in this group said that perhaps they noticed the children with emotional problems, but they did not even try to help them because they would not know how to deal with the problem. Besides, they said that doing it would take away valuable time from their classes. Does it mean that caring about each child is not worth the effort? I asked what ‘valuable time’ meant to them, and I got this answer: ‘Unfortunately, we have to do so many things in a class, that for us valuable time is the time we devote to teaching the language, so trying to educate the whole child would be a waste of that time.’ They emphasised, again, the fact that teaching the language should be more important than caring about each child.
When I visited these classes, I noticed that those few teachers who used different materials – other than the coursebook - in their classes, devoted a long time to taking out and putting away the materials, for instance. Maybe, they could have asked the children to do it and it would have taken five minutes at the most. On the other hand, when they have some children who are slow learners, they could try to encourage fast learners to support them. Nevertheless, it might be possible to argue that having to be helped by a brighter child might undermine a child’s self-esteem even further, but I believe this depends, to a great extent, on the teacher’s attitude.
These teachers said that affect was an issue of their concern, but they added that it was very difficult to achieve it due to time constraints. Time constraints seem to be one of the most common answers. Their justification of having to cover a number of units in the coursebook, and therefore not having time to care about the child as an individual, was to me sad and disheartening. Being myself a teacher of children for many years, I can say that one can and should try to find time to care about children’s emotions and feelings in class. I have been asking myself - since the beginning of my research - why time is such a big problem for most teachers. Could that be a problem of experience?
Finally, I would like to point out how important it is for children to see the teacher at their level sometimes, and not hundreds of miles away. I believe that teachers of children should try to bear this understanding of education in mind all the time. They should also attempt to consider the fact that all children have learning differences. I would like to add that good teachers should not give up on any of their learners – as it was the case with this group of teachers - because this fact could seriously damage the children’s self-esteem.
It is sad to confirm that although teachers attend different training courses, they do not change their teaching strategies and they end up repeating the same methods and techniques. It is my belief now that they are more interested in getting a certificate or a diploma instead of changing or improving.
I realised that not all the teachers I observed and interviewed have the tools to deal with children’s problems, because in order to build self-esteem in their learners, teachers must admit the heterogeneity that exists in their classrooms. Besides, they must consider their learners’ development and their individual learning styles and different intelligences. If teachers tend to see all their pupils as having identical abilities and feelings, it is not only their fault. They have not been provided with enough training before being sent to teach English to children.
During my research I also realised that some of the teachers seem to be unaware of the fact that we are educators and not only language teachers, so they do not give any importance to affective factors. As a result, they only create obstacles and barriers in the teaching and learning process. I think this is very harmful to children's self-esteem and may have very negative consequences since low self-esteem can become a permanent part of the child's personality.
Apart from the problem of time constraints, I have to point out that it is not easy for some of the teachers whose classes I observed, to deal with young learners nor are they prepared to play the necessary roles of a teacher of young learners. Sometimes, they have to take children courses because the school expects them to do so to complete their timetables. Furthermore, it is not always possible for them to say that they do not like teaching children since the decision is normally taken from above.
I would like to point out that although the Mineduc is doing its best to improve the EFL teacher’s profile, there are still many teachers who do not have the necessary skills to deal with EFL classes of young learners. Besides, how will they ever use the books given by the Ministry in an appropriate way if they do not have the right level of English?
I believe that the authors in Chile are making a big effort to write good EFL materials, they also try to satisfy the requirements of the Mineduc, they offer a choice of topics and activities, their books are attractive, but without appropriate skills and knowledge on the part of the teachers it is very difficult to make good use of the books. Perhaps as Tomlinson claims, authors should establish a closer relationship with the learner.
Finally, I would like to say that it was interesting to find that the materials did cater for affect, and that it was teachers who sometimes struggled to cater for affect.
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Wenden, A. and Rubin, J. (Editors) (1987). Learner Strategies In Language Learning. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall International.
Williams, M., Burden, R. (1997). Psychology For Language Teachers
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Wood, D. (1988). How Children Think and Learn. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers Ltd.
Young, D. (1991). ‘Creating a low anxiety classroom environment: What Does Language Anxiety Research Suggest?’ The Modern Language Journal. 75: 426-439.
Different articles on EFL/ESL teaching and learning.
Humanising Language Teaching
Planes y Programas de Inglés.
Marco de la buena enseñanza.
Objetivos fundamentales transversales. www.mineduc.cl
Please check the Methodology and Language for Primary Teachers course at Pilgrims website.