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
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.
University of Malta
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).
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
Contents of the book
Section One: Ways
Teaching Young Learners of English as a Foreign Language
Introduction to Section
1 Stories, young learners and teachers: Exploring purposes and
practices in using stories to teach English
2 How Children‘s Writing Develops in the L2: Implications for
Teaching and Assessment
3 Making topics memorable
4 Getting teenagers to talk
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
7 Comics Create Creative Language
Stacey H Hughes
8 Audio as an instructional medium in the EFL classroom
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?
10 Testing Times for Young Learners: Testing, assessment and the
11 What are the desirable characteristics of language tests for
children, and how can we produce them?
The Cambridge Young Learners English Tests
12 Presumptions, Realities & Prescriptions Regarding Language
Fred L Perry, Jr
13 Classroom-based assessment
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
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
“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
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
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.