How Young Learners Learn

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How Young Learners Learn Introduction This assignment aims to examine how young learners develop and learn. The main section of this assignment will present an overview of several theories of child development and learning that appear to have had a profound impact on educational perspectives in the last two centuries. Brewster, Ellis and Girard (2002) stress that every young learner is a unique individual with different learning needs. The ideal learning environment, it seems, would be one which presents the young learner with the opportunity to discover their own learning style, interests and preferences which would lead to independence and success. The overall aim of the assignment is to highlight various theoretical standpoints on learning and first and second language acquisition and the highlight the links between them. Definition of Terms For the purpose of this assignment, the term young learners will be taken to mean children between the ages of 6 to 11 years old. Stern and Weinrib (as cited by Rixon, 1992) describe this age group as ‘younger children in primary school’. The definition of learning in this assignment will refer to the definition provided by Brown (2000) which is ‘acquiring or getting knowledge of a subject or skill by study, experience or instruction’. Development will be taken to mean ‘real-time learning that is affected by language processing abilities (Ellis, 1985). Pinker (as cited by Brown 2000) defines language as ‘a complex, specialised skill, which develops in the child spontaneously’. In this assignment, first language acquisition will refer to the language that is most used in the YL early years (Lightbown & Spada 2006). Ellis (1985) writes that second language acquisition is ‘the study of how learners learn an additional language after they have acquired their mother tongue’. SECTION ONE: HOW YOUNG LEARNERS
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