Rhyming Is Fun: An Interactive Approach in TEFL to Young Learners
Anyone involved in language teaching will know that “pleasure for its own sake” (Richards, 1969) has been an important element of language learning no matter of the level of language proficiency. In this paper we will focus our attention to young learners of English as a foreign language at the pre-school and early primary school level. Our main concern will be directed towards such qualities of teaching materials which bring enjoyment into the classroom through pleasant sensory images, beautiful words, and subtle descriptions. To enter the children’s world of expectations, ideals, visions and images, one must enter the world of song, play and dance, the world of rhymes and games, the world of bright-colored books with beautiful illustrations full of surprising, mysterious and fantastic elements interwoven with the elements of everyday life. We need language sources that will help develop children’s imagination through rhymes, laughter and happiness. We also need the narrative side of the story which stands beyond any rhyme only if we, teachers, know how to get the story out of a rhyme. Stories are necessary because they satisfy a child’s curiosity about what is and what appears to be. Children tend to seek a story in any rhyme or a game played with rhymes. There is an incredible urge to imagine the things, to sense the imagination, to act according to the imagination. “Don’t tell me of a man’s being able to talk sense. Can he talk nonsense?”(William Pitt). Children need stories with characters created by the imagination where fantasy and magic intermingle. They want to dramatize, illustrate, play with puppets and tell stories their way, followed by the desire arising from their imagination and dreams. They must be emotionally attached to the characters of the story in order to become co-actors in the dream-like setting. Within the scope of the theory of challenge or stimulus pleasure plays the role of a factor that stimulates the learner to develop his desire towards learning in a pleasant and enjoyable environment. On the other hand, teachers eager to obey the quest for teaching points focus their attention to presentation, repetition or revision of language materials neglecting the major influence of pleasure and fun in the foreign language classroom. Teachers should, therefore, “devote greater attention to the study of factors within the teacher and the learner and the community in which they live – factors which appear to have a much greater impact on the learning process than has yet been fully realized”(Finocchiaro,1976). Teachers should show readiness to stir imagination and activate young learners’ willingness to respond to a rhyming stimulus in an interactive classroom technique of teaching.
The second important element in language teaching is the communicative approach which favors the acquisition of communicative competence obtained through various types of learning/teaching activities. Special attention is paid to goal-oriented activities or problem-solving tasks concentrated on rhyming-type interactions. Teachers may know what they want to teach, but do they always have much idea of how to go about it, how to support or supplement the language input through a considerable amount of pleasure present during the process of learning?
Jean Piaget, the Swiss psychologist, underlines the factor of active engagement of young learners during their foreign language lesson. “They need to be engaged in activities of which language is a part; they need to be working on meaningful tasks and use language to accomplish those tasks” (Piaget, 1955). The Russian psychologist, Lev Vygotsky (1962) has developed postulates that children learn in social contexts, in groups where they interact with the group members and with the teacher. Krashen (1981) evolves his theory of learning by telling that children learn directly from the...