English as a Foreign Language in Cyprus Primary Schools ... ?· English as a Foreign Language in Cyprus Primary Schools ... the syllabus for English as a Foreign Language ... do not see the need for learning a foreign language

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  • English Language Curriculum for Primary Schools in Cyprus

    1

    Pilot Curriculum

    English as a Foreign Language in Cyprus Primary Schools

    (Years 1 6)

    Styliani Hadjikyriacou Inspectress, Cyprus Ministry of Education and Culture Androulla Englezaki Inspectress, Cyprus Ministry of Education and Culture Sophie Ioannou-Georgiou Teacher Trainer, Cyprus Pedagogical Institute,

    Cyprus Ministry of Education and Culture Pavlos Pavlou Assistant Professor, Department of English Studies,

    University of Cyprus Kleri Kouppa Maria Xanthou Primary EFL Advisors, Koula Christodoulou Cyprus Ministry of Education and Culture Yianna Rodiki-Petrides

  • English Language Curriculum for Primary Schools in Cyprus

    2

    Pilot Curriculum for EFL in Cyprus Primary Schools (years 1 6)

    Contents 1. Introduction 2. Philosophy underlying the new curriculum

    i. Emphasis on Young Learners Characteristics ii. Communicative Language Learning and Teaching iii. Individual Learner Characteristics iv. Intercultural Awareness v. Life-long Learning vi. Cross-curricular links

    3. General aim of the curriculum 4. General Objectives 5. Recommended Methodology 6. Assessment / Evaluation 7. Syllabus

  • English Language Curriculum for Primary Schools in Cyprus

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    1 Introduction Learning foreign languages is a vital requirement for succeeding in a competitive, modern, dynamic and rapidly changing European society whose primary concerns include the fostering and enabling of communication among European citizens, the promotion of European integration, linguistic equality and plurilingualism. The ability to communicate in more than one language is a basic skill for all European citizens. Learning foreign languages promotes the acceptance and understanding of different cultures and is the way forward for a multilingual Europe of many diverse nations, communities, cultures and language groups. European citizens are called upon to exemplify the European values of openness to others, tolerance of differences and willingness to communicate. Learning and speaking other languages encourages these values. According to the Council of Europe:

    only through a better knowledge of European modern languages it will be possible to facilitate communication and interaction among Europeans of different mother tongues in order to promote European mobility, mutual understanding and cooperation, and overcome prejudice and discrimination.

    (Council of Europe, 2001) Furthermore, the European Union aims to have a powerful economy and a competitive market force. In order for these aims to be achieved, European citizens should have the language skills necessary in the global market-place. The European Union is built around the free movement of its citizens, capital and services and the citizen with good language skills will be better able to take advantage of the freedom to work or study in any other member states. (Commission of the European Communities, 2003). Cyprus has responded to these challenges and has been investing heavily in the promotion of Foreign Language Learning (FLL). Given that English plays the role of a lingua franca in Europe and all over the world, special effort has been made to improve the competence of all Cyprus citizens in the English language. As part of this policy, the proposed curriculum aims at improving the current state of teaching and learning of English in Primary Education. One of the innovations in the present curriculum is the introduction of English from the age of 6. From year 1 to year 3 of primary school, children will participate in English lessons of 40-minute periods twice a week. Furthermore, from year 4 to year 6 of primary school, children will have English lessons of 40-minute periods, four times a week. Introducing English from the age of 6, follows a general trend in education systems across Europe. Countries such as Sweden, Italy, Spain and France have introduced English to children from the age of 6 and some have been doing so for more than a decade. In Austria, for example, many schools teach English from the first year of primary school (6 year-olds), since 1989.

  • English Language Curriculum for Primary Schools in Cyprus

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    There are many studies as regards the optimal age to start language learning but there is not, however, a definite agreement in their results that a very early start is superior to a later start. An indisputable effect of early language learning seems to be on the development of a native or near-native pronunciation. It must be noted, however, that most of the research available has been carried out in naturalistic settings and not in school contexts where learners are exposed to the foreign language for a few teaching periods a week. In cases of formal instruction, it has often been found that older learners catch up with those who have had an early start; a result mostly due to the increased cognitive abilities of older learners. There are, however, other advantages to an early start. An interesting study is mentioned in Johnstone (1994) with children learning English in the first and third year of primary school in Italy. Reading and writing were also included from the start. Interestingly, the benefits extended beyond the foreign language since the children also showed significant improvements in all aspects of their mother tongue development when compared to a control group. There are, therefore, numerous advantages in starting to learn foreign languages at a young age, in addition to the improved phonological and aural skills which many children have and can use to pick up and reproduce the pronunciation and intonation of the foreign language. These other benefits focus mostly on the childrens lower inhibitions and less developed language ego. The fact that the childrens language ego and self-identity are still forming, enables them to be more open towards learning languages than adolescents and adults (Brown, 2000; inter alia). These same characteristics lead to the most important benefit of early language learning which is the development of lifelong positive attitudes to other languages and other cultures. Even though linguistic benefits might disappear, if in the future the learnt language is not practised, positive attitudes will remain. From a clearly linguistic point of view, an early start in an L2 will imply less interference from L1 and will, in time, enable children to form a healthy foundation in the foreign language, an awareness of language learning skills and metacognitive skills which can assist in the successful introduction of an L3 (mother tongue plus two foreign languages), which is the target aimed for by the European Union (Commission of European Communities, 2003: 7). This curriculum aims to provide a framework for the effective teaching and learning of English in Cypriot Primary Schools.

    This proposed curriculum consists of the following:

    an analysis of the philosophy which underlies it its aims and objectives the methodology recommended for successful implementation of the

    curriculum recommended procedures for evaluation and assessment the syllabus for English as a Foreign Language (EFL) in primary education

  • English Language Curriculum for Primary Schools in Cyprus

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    2 Philosophy underlying the new curriculum

    The present curriculum is based on the principles which guide the teaching of young learners and on the notion that language is a means of communication between people from different cultures. i. Emphasis on Young Learners characteristics In order to understand how the teaching of foreign languages to young learners differs from teaching other age groups, one needs to understand the strengths of young learners when it comes to language learning. These strengths can then be used to their full potential in order to improve the childrens learning experience. Children are able to grasp meaning easily. Children can understand the general meaning conveyed in communication before they can understand individual foreign language (second language/L2) words. Their understanding can, therefore, be enhanced through visual aids, gestures, facial expressions and demonstrations that convey meaning. Children can creatively use their limited language recourses. Children are capable of using their little knowledge of the L2 so as to successfully communicate their intended message. They can achieve this by recombining what they already know, by using various communication strategies, gestures and facial expressions. Children have a capacity for indirect learning. This is what happens with first language acquisition. Native speakers do not consciously focus on learning their mother tongue. This is learned indirectly through Peripheral learning when people use language to try to solve problems and/or perform various tasks. Children can reproduce this kind of learning when it comes to a second or a foreign language, provided the teaching and learning context offers them the opportunity to do so. Children have an instinct for play and fun. At a very young age, children most probably do not see the need for learning a foreign language. They have an inherent need, however, for play. They also do not see the need to communicate in the foreign language, if they do not live in an L2 context. The need to communicate and the reason to use the foreign language can, therefore, be created through participation in games and other fun activities. Children have a lively imagination. Childrens capacity for fantasy and imagination has a very constructive role to play in the language classroom and provides a powerful stimulus for real language use. It can help them to travel to other

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