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Educetera, October 2004

More and more books and teaching aids are coming onto the market to help stressed teachers cope better in situations where they feel inadequate or ill–equipped. Teaching a foreign language to small children can be a daunting task if one isn’t altogether comfortable with that language. Cornelsen has set out to help such teachers by publishing a reasonably priced set of teaching aids for Primary School teachers and children who may be encountering English for the first time. It is available at two levels. The set for Class 3 consists of a Pupil’s Book, a spiralbound Handbook for Teachers and an Activity Book. A CD is also included. The text on the CD and software is spoken by Native Speakers to provide authentic pronunciation and intonation. A video demonstrating how to teach English with the glove puppet is also available. Through songs and games The Pupil’s Book introduces the lovable character “Ginger” and other various characters who help to present meaningful, relevant themes and vocabulary already encountered in their Mother-tongue. The entire book is in English.

The Teacher’s Handbook is user-friendly with its spiralbind, allowing for easy paging through and frequent flipping of pages back and forth. Also, the visual aids in the book itself may be more accessible to the pupils when pointing out various objects on a page. All the instructions for using the book are in German. Detailed explanations help the teacher go through each stage of the lesson, step by step, starting with a short description of the theme, structures to be taught, vocabulary to be covered and particular items needing advance preparation.

One of the most important teaching aids in this set is “Ginger”, a glovepuppet . He speaks English only and can’t understand any German. The teacher engages in dialogues with this character who will appeal to all children. This may be taken a step further…. Reluctant speakers or the child who is an introvert may also happily assume the character of “Ginger” and ‘lose’ his or her own identity. A system of colour coding is used for the 7 Modules in the book. The first module includes basic knowledge,for example,colours and numbers, core words and sentences. Words from this first module are repeated throughout the book and can be easily identified as they are always indicated in red in the Teacher’s Handbook.

At the back of the Handbook, among some of the special features, of which there are many, include an alphabetical wordlist with phonetics to help. Next to each word is the module from where it comes, Ubersicht über die didaktischen Hinweise und die weiteren Kommentare in “Ginger1” and photocopiable material for various activities. The Activity Book includes many varied activities which are not gender specific, plus a foldable, treasure chest which is ready to assemble. This is for storing English words. Another useful feature is a ‘Portfolio’ of work covered, with a check-list on the back detailing all the modules’ contents and what each pupil should have achieved. To adopt the role of an enabler or facilitator, as teachers one must strive to develop productive and receptive skills in a low- anxiety climate. Learner’s personalities, attitudes and expectations all differ and need to be considered. These factors all affect the materials, activities and teaching styles that will be effective in a classroom. This set of teaching aids presents and practises language in an innovative way, allowing enough scope for the visual, aural and kinaesthetic learner. The vocabulary and grammar taught is clearly presented, in context, showing what it means and how it is used. Vocabulary and grammar concentrating on themes such as Family and friends, daily routine, food and clothing have been carefully selected for their usefulness outside the classroom. Repetition of new structures through songs, chants and action rhymes is essential if pupils are to remember new modules.

The activities are fun, relevant and quick to accommodate short concentration spans. Focusing ones energy on what’s happening in the class, leaves little time for designing ones own exciting syllabus or course which will motivate learners. Cornelsen has truly succeeded in its endeavour to help teachers accomplish this. All good teachers of children have their own special means of engaging their audience. These guidelines should help you to develop your own classroom style, and enable you to get the best out of the children you teach.