ETpedia Young Learners is the newest resource in the ETpedia series, providing tips, advice and activities for all teachers of young learners.
Here, author Vanessa Reis Esteves discusses her work, teaching young learners, the book and more in these 10 questions.
1 What’s your name and where do you live?
My name’s Vanessa and I live and work in Porto in Portugal.
2 What does your work involve?
I work at a university in Porto teaching English language and methodology to university students and pre-service teachers. I also work as a freelancer, writing course books and delivering teacher training to teachers around the world.
3 What’s a typical day like for you?
Well, I like to get up bright and early. I’m definitely a morning person and that’s when I manage to produce my best creative work. I usually have a sandwich in the company of my faithful computer answering emails and then off I go to teach my students, which is always loads of fun and sometimes a bit of a challenge. I try to get a bit more work done after dinner but sometimes I must admit that I can’t resist a good book. In between all this I try to be a good mother, wife and dog owner.
4 Why do you enjoy working with Young Learners?
I guess that the reason that I totally love young learners is that they are still believers. They believe that anything is possible and they especially believe that they are good at everything. I love seeing the power of their imaginations and feeling the trust that they have in me. They are always ready to play and learn with me and they remind me of how exciting learning is every time I go into the classroom.
5 How did you go about writing ETpedia Young Learners?
I went about it a page and topic at a time. I spent quite a while thinking about what my journey as a teacher has been like. I’d find myself jotting down notes on the fears, challenges and difficulties that I had faced. I’d then stop and think about what I’d learnt since then. That would then inspire me to face the blank screen on my computer and share my ideas and experience with my fellow colleagues.
6 What kind of teacher do you think will find this book useful?
I think that various types of teachers will find different parts of the book useful. Teachers who are starting their teaching careers will find lots of ready to use tips and ideas that may make the difference in their lessons. I think that more experienced teachers will be reminded of activities that they may have done in the past but fallen out of the habit of doing for some reason. I also think that the suggestions at the end of the book will challenge us all to think of what the next step in our teaching careers is and sometimes that is all we need to discover our next teaching secret.
7 What did you learn from writing the book?
I’m not sure whether I learnt or was just reminded of how great it is to be a teacher and of all the fantastic colleagues that I have who were always ready to share their teaching tips and secrets with me. I was reminded of how collaborative and enthusiastic we teachers are and what big hearts we have! I’m proud to be a teacher and writing this book reminded me of that.
8 What’s your favourite activity in the book?
That’s a really difficult question. I think that I’m going to have to choose the making a storybook about a story that the children have just heard. I love telling stories. It’s a hobby and passion of mine but more than that I love watching children tell a story that they have heard. That’s magical for me. It’s amazing the way they take ownership of it and tell it in their own way with the language that they know. I also really like the fact that they are making something to take home and share with their family and friends. It’s a way of helping them to shine like stars in front of those who they love so much, and the best part of all is that they get to do it in English!
9 What do you think is one of the biggest challenges for a teacher of Young Learners?
In my opinion mixed abilities is a serious challenge that we face in the YL classroom (and in all classrooms) nowadays. This along with children’s limited attention spans means that we have to have lots of tricks up our sleeves to engage young learners and get them on board.
10 You also made some videos to go with ETpedia Young Learners. Can you tell us about them?
This was an idea that John Hughes and I came up with as we were discussing how we could exemplify some of the possibly more confusing or detailed instructions in the arts and crafts section. We thought that it would be great if teachers could actually see what was happening as it was happening. This would save lots of time and guarantee that you immediately knew how to make a particular craft or activity. So we decided to make a quick video that would do just this because sometimes an image really is worth a thousand words. Each video is only about 3-5 minutes long and it helps you understand what materials you need to make an activity and how you should go about making it so that you are absolutely certain that you’ll ace it with the children.
You can see some of Vanessa’s activities on video here.