Introducing Callan to children
29th November 2018
The Callan for Kids course is designed for children aged approximately 6 or 7 years old up to about 12 or 13 years old.
Whereas a new adult student at a Callan Method school can be given a Prova (a level test) during which the Method is explained to them and their level is assessed, young children can’t be dealt with in the same way. Firstly, a young child doesn’t know what a ‘method’ is in relation to learning, and they’ll be very unlikely to understand any explanation of the Callan Method itself. Secondly, they may well be shy to speak at first.
As such, the first and most important thing to do when trying to assess the language level of a child is to make them feel as comfortable as possible. A bright, cheerful, child-friendly room is obviously helpful. You or the child’s parent(s) should tell the child why they’re there, and that you’re going to say things to them in English.
NB: Whether the parent(s) should be in the room while their child is tested is something for you to gauge – for some children, a parent’s presence will be calming; for others, it’ll make them more nervous!
Once the child is settled, the various elements of the Method can be introduced little by little while you assess their language level. With adults, the demonstration of the Method and the level test should be separate steps of the Prova, but with children they can be done simultaneously. One possible way is to begin is by engaging the child in simple question and answer exchanges (“What’s your name?”, “How old are you?” etc.), delivering the questions slowly and clearly. You can then start asking some Callan for Kids questions (“What’s this?”, “Is this a cat?”, “Is the mouse on the chair?” etc.). Prompting the answer and feeding can be introduced firstly in a natural way, as a way of helping the child, and then can be done as a matter of course. Try to get the child to say long answers each time. Similarly, saying the question twice can be done initially to help with understanding where necessary, but gradually just become ‘the way you ask questions’. You can also begin to correct the odd error by imitation. Only when a child is clearly comfortable should you start speaking quickly. The child will get used to the Callan Method properly later on, during their first lesson, and they’ll no doubt adapt to it as quickly as, or more quickly than, an adult student.
You should, of course, explain the Method to parents before a child starts lessons.
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