24/02/2019

GAP-FILL ACTIVITIES WITH YOUNG FOREIGN LANGUAGE LEARNERS. (IS IT EVEN POSSIBLE?)

It is possible. 
Very possible. 

If you ask me, gap-fill activities are essential. 




Like this one? 


This is a good gap-fill activity because it is presented as a story (has a context). But, no, this one won't work with young children. They cannot read yet.




How about if we add some pictures?


Those sentences ... they don't create a story. Besides, there are still some words included ... No, I don't think this could work with young children.


What gap-fill activity could possibly work with young children?


The key element in the gap-fill activity is finding the missing pieces of information (words). Good context enables finding the missing piece easier. 

Since we know that youngsters cannot read yet, we can do it orally.

I know what you probably think; how, for the love of dingo's kidneys, will a child be able to listen to such a text and be able to focus on the missing piece of information? 

You're right, they won't. The above-shown activities are not for young children. We have already established that.

We have also established that the way we speak to children is through games. So, let us combine the two. Children will be actively involved in the game where some dialogue takes place. Children will speak just the words they know while the rest of the dialogue will be spoken by the teacher.


How about we play the game 'the hoops'?


Yes, this is the game.

The context: Taken from the story The Sly Fox and the Little Red Hen (an old folk tale).

The participants: In order to have all the children involved, you divide roles: one child is a fox, the rest are the hens. Each character is represented by the sound (for example the fox's sound is scratching on the drum and the hens' is light hitting on the drum with a finger).

The win: The fox catches a hen. 

The rules: The hens and the fox are moving around while the sounds are performed: the fox is sneaking around and the hens diligently collect wood. The hoops (henhouses) lie scattered on the floor and the hens are not allowed to step into them. Hens have scarves around their necks in different colours that match with their hoops (henhouses). When the sounds stop, the fox starts catching the hens and the hens hide in their houses. When the fox catches one hen, it is 'bagged'. The catching time is over, the dialogue starts.

The dialogue:

T(eacher): Where are the hens?
H(ens): I'm here.
T: Where are you (to H1)?
H1: I'm in the (my) blue henhouse.
T: How do you know it's your henhouse?
H1: Look, my scarf is blue and my house is blue. It's a match.

(The teacher picks several hens for the dialogue, then the roles change and the game starts again. The caught hen becomes the fox ...)

The gap fill dialogue:

teacher's speech
child's speech

T(eacher): Where are the hens?
H(ens): I'm here.
T: Where are you H1?
H1: I'm in the (my) blue henhouse.
T: How do you know it's your henhouse?

H1: Look, my scarf is blue and my house is blue. It's a match.


Why is a gap-fill activity important?


Because children use the language and do not (consciously) learn about the language. The teacher is there to provide examples of how to communicate and children contribute to their best abilities and meaningfully. 

That's what makes learning a language interesting, engaging and motivating.

Have a go and tell me how it went ...

If you want, you can read more about how to use the language in reading and writing and in listening and speaking, following the links to my other posts.

If you have a question or would like to add something, just drop a line below.

Wish you a good day,

Mija