Language Acquisition and Language Awareness - Portuguese Context

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Module 1 – Work_4
After reading a set of documents and articles concerning English Teaching to Young Learners and having in mind the Portuguese context, I came to the conclusion that the aims of Teaching English to this age group vary from those which are concerned with sensitisation or language awareness to the ones which concentrate on language acquisition. These two models are both ways of initiating children into English learning, although with different emphasis. The first focus on developing the children’s understanding and emphasises the children’s present interests and cognitive development. Though Young Learners may develop some basic competence, the main aim is to develop cultural and linguistic awareness. The second focus on improving the children’s linguistic competence and emphasises performance and progression. It requires more time than the first one and it is essential that secondary schools take into account the children’s previous learning so that progress in English learning is maintained. In order to accomplish this, it is necessary to include English in the Portuguese primary curriculum. Only then, we can think of a truly language acquisition programme. According to the Portuguese ME, teachers should promote sensitisation when teaching English to Young Learners, mainly in the 1st and 2nd Grade. At this stage, it is more important to build motivation and a “taste” for English learning. Moreover, in these grades teachers have limited time of teaching (about 90 minutes per week) and English Teaching is still a voluntary activity, and not a compulsory subject. Children should have the opportunity to use and assimilate English without noticing that they are effectively learning. Teachers should also stimulate the children’s imagination and make them possible to exchange ideas and opinions in the target language. Therefore, emphasis on the oral comprehension and production should be given. Teachers should focus on teaching English through a wide...
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