Never Stop Talking: English for our Young Linguists

Little Hearts kids are avid learners with bright minds – in fact, they seem to have the makings of young linguists! In addition to their regular schooling, they take two hours of English language classes at Little Hearts on Mondays through Thursdays.

The kids are split up for their English classes according to age. The youngest (in Level 1, taught by Ilang) spend their time reading short stories and comics with Khmer translations, expanding their vocabulary, learning basic grammar, and doing fun activities such as group games and puzzles. Intermediate students (in Level 2, taught by Patje) have more advanced grammar lessons, try out simple conversations, give oral presentations and play games such as word searches and general knowledge competitions. The oldest kids, including our university students (in Level 3, taught by Roxanne), study higher grammar and vocabulary, flex their conversational muscles (they won’t stop talking!) and progress to full learning units in science, geography and history in English.

Srey Roth, best student of last year

Our English teachers embrace Dr Suess’ mantra that ‘the more that you read, the more things you will know’, so every Friday is a DEAR (Drop Everything And Read) day. The aim is for the kids to develop a routine of reading regularly and immerse themselves in the world of literature. To reinforce the reading habit, Level 3 students are tasked with writing monthly book reports on a novel of their choosing, which are evaluated to determine how their reading and comprehension skills are coming along.

Across all levels, we imbue the English lessons with lots of creativity – class projects have included building models of the solar system, upcycling plastic bottles into a coffee table, performing songs and reciting poems.

Though they are already enthusiastic linguists, all the kids get a little extra encouragement: each month, class rankings are announced, and Student of the Month Awards are handed out, rewarding the three most studious and engaged kids in each level with prizes of their choosing based on a small budget. Last month, for example, Daleine, who won first place in Level 3, opted for a pair of new jeans and a top.

The competition doesn’t stop there, though. Little Hearts’ English teachers also crown one very hardworking pupil as Student of the Year for maintaining their Student of the Month status the longest. This award comes with a certificate of recognition and a surprise gift. (Last year’s overall winner was Sreyroth in Level 2.) So, the kids have an incentive to work hard in their English classes and are recognised for their dedication to learning – a reward system that boosts interest and confidence in our budding linguists.

We find that the kids have little fear in practising their English, both inside and outside the classroom. Hopefully, the culture of learning and curiosity we try to cultivate at Little Hearts will expand beyond just English language and carry the kids far in their lifelong educational journey.

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