Ġorġ Mallia

Author, cartoonist, and instructional technologist

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This international collection of papers about Teaching English as a Foreign Language, was edited by Dr. Charles Mifsud of the Faculty of Education, University of Malta, and myself, and published by World Academic in 2000. I did the production of the book and designed the cover.

It has become one of the definitive collections in its field, and is on the reading list of a large number of TEFL units given in Universities around the globe


Foreword to the book

Most of the papers in this edited collection were presented at the international conference: Teaching and Assessing Young Learners held in Malta between the 24 and 27 March, 1999.  This event was organised by the Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) Programme of the University of Malta in collaboration with UK-based IATEFL, the International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language.  Other papers which were submitted for the conference, but were not presented at that event for a number of reasons, are also being featured in this collection.

The Maltese organisers of that conference are very grateful for the logistical assistance and moral assistance offered to them by Wendy Superfine, the IATEFL Special Interest Group co-ordinator for Young Learners (YL) and Kari Smith, the co-ordinator of the IATEFL Special Interest Group which deals with Testing, Evaluation and Assessment (TEA). 

The main funding for this conference came from the British Council in Malta through the good services of Anne Bradley, its dynamic Manager for these last few years.  The publication of this book marks the graceful retirement of Anne Bradley from her post as Manager of the British Council in Malta.  Anne has served as a source of inspiration to all those involved in the enterprises of education, English Language Teaching and culture in Malta.  She has given us freely both moral and logistical support in all of our endeavours, and not least in this publication that has benefitted from her encouragement.  She will be sorely missed.

Others who have contributed to this publication and who must be thanked here are Catherine Vella, who helped index the various chapters; Frank Spiteri, Frans Jones and the pre-press department of Gutenberg Press for their patience and professionalism; and last but definitely not least, Vicki Spiteri, the Conference’s able secretary.

Charles Mifsud
Gorg Mallia

University of Malta
September, 2000

Introduction to the book

The teaching and assessment of young learners of English as a Foreign Language have become especially important in recent years.  One reason for this has been the introduction of Primary English as a Foreign Language in a number of European countries and other places all over the world.  The issues of teaching and assessment are closely linked.  How they come together, or at times do not come together, is a matter of grave concern for all of us involved in education.  The papers in this collection range from theoretical discussions of issues and policy implementation to research and practical classroom suggestions.  They provide opportunities for enlightened reflection on a number of issues and present ideas for effective practices.

Age of the learner and classroom practices
Age of the learner has a strong influence on the teacher’s choice of particular classroom practices.  Brumfit et al (1991) recognise that although what we mean by “childhood” itself varies considerably from country to country,  nonetheless, there are a number of shared characteristics.  Work like that of Breen et al (2000) has confirmed that indeed the age of the learners does make a difference to what language teachers do in their classrooms.  This refers also to their assessment practices.  In this book the term “Young Learners” refers to the whole range from childhood to the early teenage years.
In a study by Hird et al (2000) ESL teachers of children and adults differed in the teaching practices they used in their lessons.  The teachers of children were more explicit in modelling and explicitly explaining strategies for independent learning.  They lay more emphasis on practical and multimodal activities in their lessons.  This may have been due to the notion that primary school should be ‘fun’ and the belief that ‘hands-on’ techniques and a multisensory approach are key elements in language learning.  Also, teachers of children used practices that encouraged their learners to ‘have-a-go’ and experiment with language to a greater extent than did the teachers of adults.  Children are perceived by teachers to have more time to achieve mastery of a second language and thus are freer to ‘explore’ and ‘discover’ in their routes of language learning.  Teachers of young learners must often address areas of learning taken for granted by those who teach older learners (Schinke-Llano & Rauff, 1996).

This book is divided into two sections.  Section One presents both research and practical teaching and learning considerations in the Teaching of English to Young Learners.  Section Two explores the interplay between teaching and learning and assessment.  A number of country cases and research reports are presented in this section.

Breen, M., Hird, B., Milton, M. & Oliver, R. & Thwaite, A. (1998).  Principles and practices of ESL teachers: a study of teachers of adults and children. Western Australia:  Centre for Applied Language and Literacy Research, Edith Cowan University.
Brumfit, C., Moon, J. & Tongue., R. (Eds.) (1993). 
Teaching English to Children: From Practice to Principle. London:  Collins ELT.
Hird, B., Thwaite, A., Breen, M., Milton, M. & Oliver, R. (2000). 
Teaching English as a second language to children and adults: variations in practices in Language Teaching Research  4,1:3-32.
Schinke-Llano, L. & Rauff, R. (Eds.) (1996). 
New Ways in Teaching Young Children. USA:  TESOL Inc.

Contents of the book


Section One:  Ways Teaching Young Learners of English as a Foreign Language

Introduction to Section One 
1  Stories, young learners and teachers: Exploring purposes and practices in using stories to teach English
    Jennifer Jarvis 
2  How Children‘s Writing Develops in the L2: Implications for Teaching and Assessment
    Jayne Moon
3  Making topics memorable
    Wendy Superfine
4  Getting teenagers to talk
    Helen Barrott-Asal
5  Stimulating teaching and learning activities
    Marjana Finzagar & Miloša Gogala
6  Creating a learning environment for Discourse Competence Acquisition of English as a Foreign Language in Primary   Schools
    Liudmyla Byrkun
7  Comics Create Creative Language
    Stacey H  Hughes
8  Audio as an instructional medium in the EFL classroom
    Gorg Mallia

Section Two:  Measures Assessing Young Learners of English as a Foreign Language

Introduction to Section Two

9   Why do we want to assess young learners?  How do we do it?  Who does it?
     Kari Smith
10 Testing Times for Young Learners:  Testing, assessment and the communicative classroom
      Diane Phillips
11 What are the desirable characteristics of  language tests for children, and how can we produce them? 
      The Cambridge Young Learners English Tests
      Rosalie Kerr
12 Presumptions, Realities & Prescriptions Regarding Language Assessment
     Fred L  Perry, Jr 
13 Classroom-based assessment
     Doreen Spiteri
14 English Language Assessment:  Selection of students for High School in Brunei Darussalam
     Lewis Larking & Khoo Suan Chin
15 Assessment of Young Learners in Primary Schools in Poland
     Daphne Pawlec & Anna Lesinska-Gazicka
16 Reading in Two Languages in Malta
     Charles Mifsud & Josephine Milton


TEFL Publication by Maltese academics receives international recognition

The book Ways and Measures: Teaching and Assessing Young Learners of English as a Foreign Language has been placed on the recommended reading list of a number of  post-graduate courses at both Diploma and Masters levels in the Teaching of English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) of a number of universities and international teacher education institutions.  This is remarkable considering the fierce competition and high quality and quantity of ouput there is in the TEFL publishing industry.  The latest addition is the MA in TEFL of the London Metropolitan University:

“I find this book to be very useful for international teachers following the module I teach on Young Learners on our MA TEFL course here.  I have really found this collection of articles the most useful on Young Learners around.  Many thanks for putting together this collection!”

Dr Janet Enever
MA TEFL Director
Department of Humanities, Arts and Languages London Metropolitan University

Dr Charles Mifsud of the Faculty of Education and Dr Gorg Mallia of the Centre for Communication Technology, both of the University of Malta, are the editors of Ways and Measures: Teaching and Assessing Young Learners of English as a Foreign Language.

This 256-page collection contains papers by international authors that range from theoretical discussions of issues and policy implementation to research and practical classroom suggestions.  They provide opportunities for enlightened reflection on a number of issues and present ideas for effective practices.  This publication fills an important lacuna in the literature on EFL teaching and assessment. 

The authors represented in this collection are leading experts in the field.  These include Jennifer Jarvis, Jayne Moon, Wendy Superfine, Helen Barrott-Asal,  Stacey H. Hughes, Kari Smith, Diane Phillips, Rosalie Kerr and Lewis Larking.

This book is of particular interest to student teachers of English as a Foreign Language; teachers and administrators in regular and EFL schools; academics and researchers interested in teaching and assessment methodologies; as well as to parents of young learners.

Ways and Measures
(ISBN 99932-606-0-6) is published by World Academic.


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