Акуна Матата
частный детский сад

English language program

На русcком | In English

Программа является интеллектуальной собственностью. Копирование запрещено.

Methodology and Goals:

Core Methodology for All Ages:

Learning material in cycles (we do not abandon any themes-we work in cycles, periodically returning to old themes and revising and expanding them and using words in new ways and in new contexts and constructions)

Encouragement of group decisions and requests made in English (the group votes on the story we read, the group decides whether we want to play cards or draw a picture, etc. This very strongly motivates children to use their English, and teaches children to make compromises and work together. All of this, of course, occurs within the context of equally beneficial options chosen by the teacher. )

Use of a variety of methods for teaching (songs, pictures, games, stories, physical acting-out, drawing, and later some writing) to appeal to the variety of interests the children have (for example, when studying animals, we [depending on the group level], may use drawing, song, charades, guessing games, card games, and role playing with stuffed animals to learn not only names, but tell about our opinions of them, talk about what they can and can't do, discuss whether or not we're scared of them, and where they live...)

Opening and closing rituals (every lesson begins with a big group hello and then with each child, or the children as a group, responding to our questions of the day, and ends with a song or very short movie, and a big group good-bye)

For ages 3-4

Goals: At this age, we mirror the language-learning process through which children learn their native language in a focused but fun manner. We learn to express our emotions, our likes and dislikes, our desires. We learn to describe the world around us in terms of color, shape, size, etc. We learn classroom rules in English so that we can, as a group, have a friendly classroom (no hitting! no pushing!). We learn action verbs, animals, and the names of toys, and how to say where things are located.

Methodology: We move around...a lot! Children at this age do not have a very long attention span, so we work in short bursts. Russian is not used in the classroom at all. While children take a long time to start speaking freely, they quickly absorb and understand language at this age. Everyone is encouraged to speak through games requiring spoken replies, songs, and our everyday rituals and greetings.

For ages 4-5

Goals: Expanding on our existing vocabulary, we begin to meet and use different verb tenses of English. From merely knowing "run," we move on to more complicated constructions like "He is running," or "I want to run." We work on answering questions in full phrases, rather than just "yes" and "no." We reinforce familiar vocabulary, and add to it more advanced vocabulary. We learn to describe the world in greater detail.

Methodology: Using the basic vocabulary and comfort level we have already acquired, we move further and into more detail. When reading stories, we play: I ask questions for them to answer about the story, or I take a story the children know well, change it slightly in a funny way, and they have to notice and fix my "mistakes". Our games
become more complicated, we begin to supplement our lessons with creative work like drawing, learning with that new vocabulary. At this age, attention span is a bit longer, so we can spend more time on these more complicated projects, which always have a linguistic element (there's no "sit here for 10 minutes and draw a picture" in our classrooms!), and which fill the children with pride in their work. Lastly, we meet for the first time the English alphabet. Reading is absolutely delayed until children are comfortable reading in Russian, but they all get to know their names and all the letters of the names of their classmates in our daily warm-ups.

For ages 5-7

Goals: At this age, preparation for school, whether it is a Russian school or an English school, is one of our priorities. We learn the sounds of all the English letters, little by little, and through games, we learn to read. We continue to add vocabulary, a lot of it very fun vocabulary chosen to reflect the interests and things children of that age want to talk about (castles, robots, etc.). We move towards more spontaneous speech, with children working together in pairs or small groups to ask and answer questions, or to act out stories we've read. By now, our basic "hello" and "how are you?" has evolved to include many more questions, rotated each day, that require children to tell me the day of the week, or each one to list their favorite food, or to tell me the weather. Since English questions can be complicated, and often sound very similar ("Who/how," "what/where/when/why"), we work on making sure that with or without context, the children can recognize and answer different kinds of questions.

Methodology: Games continue to play a big role, but longer attention spans allow longer creative activities, and give us a bit more freedom to really communicate in English. The classroom becomes slightly less structured, in order to give children the time and space to add comments or make statements in English-in short, to communicate! Russian is occasionally used, but if a child asks a question requiring a longer answer, and one that is beyond their English language level, they are encouraged to wait and ask after the lesson ends.

Frequently Asked Questions:

  • What is the difference between "English with a native speaker" and "English with a Russian teacher"?
  • What makes lessons at Akuna Matata better than lessons at a big language school?
  • What is the most important thing to help a child learn a second language?
  • My child has never been in an English lesson-can he/she still learn with other children who have been studying for longer?
  • Why isn't my child speaking yet?
  • What if I don't speak English or have the ability or time to supplement my child's lessons outside of the school?
  • I have a child too young to have English lessons-what can I do?
  • My child doesn't want to speak to me in English! What can I do?
  • I know English. How should I talk to my child in English?
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