Shelly Terrell

Shelly Sanchez TerrellSurvival Tips for Teaching Young Learners English- see online here

Teaching children English is a mission for a special breed of educators. For those called to this profession, we can have a lot of fun and motivate our learners to speak and learn English. We just need the right skills and tools to transform our classroom from a madhouse to a fun and learning environment. After several mishaps and extensive research of how incredible teachers manage their children’s classes worldwide, Shelly has come up with a list of over 10 survival tips she will share during this session. Shelly Sanchez Terrell is a teacher trainer, online instructor, author, and international speaker. She has been recognized by various notable entities, such as the ELTon Awards, The New York Times, Microsoft’s Heroes for Education, and the Bammy Awards as a leader, innovator, and visionary in the movement of teacher driven professional development.She is the co-founder of the award-winning #Edchat movement, #ELTChat, the free Reform Symposium Global E-Conference, The 30 Goals Challenge for Educators, and various open online courses. She has trained teachers and taught learners in over 20 countries and has consulted with organizations such as UNESCO Bangkok, The European Union aPLaNet Project, Cultura Iglesa of Brazil, the British Council in Tel Aviv, IATEFL Slovenia, HUPE Croatia, and the British Council in South East Asia.

She is the host of American TESOL’s Free Friday Webinars and regularly shares at Teacher Reboot Camp and on Twitter, @ShellTerrell



3 Responses to Shelly Terrell

  1. Micaela Carey (Spain) says:

    I really enjoyed Shelly’s session. Her survival tips were spot on!

    The discussion going on in the chat box was really interesting as well. One of the topics touched on was the use of L1 in the YL classroom. How much should the teacher use? How can teachers get YLs to use L2 instead of L1? I wondered if we could continue the discussion here.

    In my classroom, I encourage children ages 4 to around 9 or 10 to use L2 but I never obligate them or tell them not to use L1. I respond to them mostly in English and if they use words or phrases in L1 that they know how to say in L2, I ask them- How do you say… in English? I also try to set up activities in which part of the game/roleplay/etc is using certain chunks of language. That way using L2 just becomes a natural part of what we’re doing.

    What do you think about using L1 in the classroom? How much should teachers use and how much should we ‘allow’ learners to use? How do you get your young learners to use L2?

  2. Micaela,

    Delighted that your message has appeared after initial technical difficulties. I’m aware that when one urges, as I do: “English only spoken here!” it is frequently misunderstood. Personally I most certainly do not mean: “The mother tongue is forbidden”. “English only spoken here” here is, for me, the ideal. The purpose of English lessons (or any foreign language) is to enable the learners to learn the language – right? We are talking about effectiveness – and OF COURSE, even before that, having fun, enjoying learning a new language. My experience, both in and out of the classroom, is that operating in two languages can be confusing. Staying in one language contributes to creating an atmosphere where a language can truly be learned. There is a sort of tension for the learners in striving to understand, but that slight tension is productive. If the teacher lessens the tension by using a rough equivalent in the mother tongue, firstly, it misleadingly implies that learning a foreign language is a question of finding equivalents in the two language – think of the mother tongue word and link it to the target language expression i.e. translation, pedagogically a very ineffective method. But switching languages, in the classroom ( never say never, but as rarely as possible, when no other method works] is a pity because it destroys an atmosphere, breaks a spell. And on top of that if learners know that they need make no effort to understand because the teacher will translate for them anyway – well,. that’s demotivating – no effort required. And what comes easily is quickly forgotten. If the learners invest effort in learning, the chances are that that will make learning more likely. And do not let’s forget the fun. It is surely fun to play the game: “Let me say what I’m trying to say using only the target language.”. It’s a bit like crossing a stream by hopping from stone to stone – so much more fun than if someone just picks you up and carries you across . [Well, I guess that depends crucially on the context. If you are a girl and are picked up and carried by your future husband I guess that it far more significant in personal terms than making progress in a foreign language 🙂 .]


    • Micaela says:

      Thanks for your input, Dennis! I agree that as teachers we should try to use English almost all the time. It sets an example for learners and as you said, creates an atmosphere of ‘English spoken here’. However, I do think there are times when using L1 can be beneficial, especially with young learners. One example that comes to mind is when I want to discuss strategies for figuring out what an unknown word means or how to use a text to answer Wh- questions. Most of this can be done in English using the board or an overhead but I usually allow a few minutes in L1 for questions and clarifications. For concepts that are more abstract, I think that YLs do need at least some L1 in the classroom but I do agree that the teacher should strive to speak mostly in English so as not to ‘break the spell’. 🙂

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