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British Council

English in Early Childhood: Language Learning and Development

British Council via FutureLearn


Teaching English to children while they’re still learning their mother tongue is a challenging but rewarding prospect. In this online course, you’ll learn how and why children learn best through play. What can parents and practitioners do to enable children to get the most out of a learning experience?

This course for parents and practitioners will explore how young children learn English and investigate many more aspects of early childhood learning and development.

British Council educators will share their insights and experiences, so that you can learn how to best talk to young children; how to create the best environment for them to learn English as an additional language; and how to monitor their progress.

Through articles, videos and live events you will hear from early childhood experts and parents, and see for yourself how young children learn inside the early years classroom. At every stage, you will be offered tips, advice and downloadable resources that will help you with teaching English as a foreign language to children.

This course will be of interest to you if you are: a parent of young children who wishes to support their child learning an additional language; an English teacher or an early childhood practitioner; or someone who is interested in the area of child development and language acquisition.

If English is not your first language please be reassured that this course is suitable for those who have learnt English to around intermediate level (approximately B1 on the CEFR).

The principles of learning an additional language during early childhood apply to all languages, so if you are a parent, teacher or practitioner interested in teaching languages other than English, you will find plenty of relevant methods in the course.

Taught by

Sheona Gilmour

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4.8 rating, based on 1,304 reviews

Start your review of English in Early Childhood: Language Learning and Development

  • Anonymous

    Anonymous is taking this course right now.

    Along this week, we reviewed about how to talk to young children, and how their social and emotional well-being is so closely linked to their ability to communicate. There was a video conversation on this week in which educators answered some of the questions...
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    This is my first online training that I have participated in learning with FutureLearn. I enrolled due to the lockdown as the school nursery where I work is obviously closed. I have thoroughly enjoyed working with other students and reading their...
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    At the beginning of this course, I was wary about what I would learn that would be "new" to me. Having worked with 2-3 year old's for around 7 years and now working in a very multi-cultural setting in England where I would say at least 70% of our children...
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous is taking this course right now.

    The course is well organised and structured in a very simple manner in such a way that even the learning content is intensive most of the participants can understand and able to do the activities as required. Apart from the administration of the course,...
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    I enjoy this course a lot because it teaches me many other ways to encorage child's grow and developement in language acquisition, what children undergo when they acquire their first and language and how they learn a second language. "A child who is not...
  • Alla Lisnychenko

    Alla Lisnychenko completed this course.

    The course "English in Early Childhood: Language Learning and Development" covers essential issues of young children learning: the importance of playing in learning; the ways of motivating, involving, praizing children; developing language in context;...
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    I've been teaching children aged 2- 6 for the past 5 years in Hong Kong and Beijing, and I think this course was very informative and I definitely learned a few new things. However, I would have liked more about how to discipline students. Some tips...
  • We are currently half way through this amazing course and I cannot express my gratitude and how much I look forward to every week of learning and sharing experiences.

    The guidance, advices and wisdom of Sheona Gilmour and Tracey Chapelton have been splendid, and on top of that they have been sharing such great resources and videos of connotated characters in the early childhood education world.

    I would recommend this course, eyes closed, to practitioners who are interested in learning better approaches to develop English language in early years, how to understand their learning process, learn new technics to improve and encourage their communication skills and oh! so much more!!
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    Teaching English as an additional or foreign language is challenging. The course "English in Early Childhood: Language Learning and Development" lasts for 6 week with focus on : 1- development stages 2- playing in childhood 3- interaction 4- learning...
  • Anonymous
    The course is fantastic! LOTS of useful information and recommendations on how to communicate with young children successfully, what should be taken into account at the lesson, how children's brain is working, and much more! I advise this course both as an English teacher and as a parent!
  • I think this course is really great for early childhood teachers as well as carers especially. It gives us a lot of helpful information, thoughts, ideas and facts that we must need to know when we care our children or students. There will be no loss if you join this course.

    The most impressive idea that I got is "We should label the actions and not the children" Labeling children in their earlychildhood is really dangerous and it can sometimes lead to bad things to young children.
  • At whatever stage you are in your ELT career this course will make you stop and think ... the reflective process is to useful especially to think about your own values and beliefs about what you do and why. I'm half way through the course and my mind is buzzing with ideas whic is exactly what I wanted to happen, so thank you course developers for your careful guidance and I'm looking forward to the second half!
  • A MUST take course for anyone who works with early years (pre-primary and primary 1-3) in order to understand how children learn and how they learn language. Also critical to understand appropriate methods of assessment and making a value judgement about what a child can do and what step is needed next. Observation being key! So thank you course creators, this is a sterling course!
  • Paresh Shah
    I think the course exceeded my expectations in that it covered most relevant points and encouraged sharing of ideas and discussions. While the central focus is on learning English, early years, we all agreed that early development and learning a language...
  • Course make teachers learn how to act during classes, how to impact on children and what to do to get them involved in studying process.
  • Anonymous
    This course definitely expanded and improved my knowledge on this subject. I gained lot of useful information, advises, explanations why some parts of the progress are as they are. This course definitely helped me understanding the way the children are...
  • Anonymous
    I became interested in early childhood when last year I was asked to teach English to students training to become Early Years Educators. This course provides really valuable information and has encourage me to do some more search on how to teach English to the little ones. And since we all agree on the importance of books and story-telling, I think it might be good if we could view some lessons where, for instance, teachers tell a story to the 2- and 3-year-olds. It´s something which I consider may engage children easily but at the same time it is not an easy task for those of us who are not used to working in early childhood. Thank you very much for helping us to improve, and even change, our teaching approach.
  • Profile image for Melek Ibrahimova
    Melek Ibrahimova
    HELLO.I discovered very important,paramount,useful,essential information about young children in this course.I learnt how teaching children (through playing and so on),how make them soft and comfortable environment in learning language.Then ,who is key person and what is his/her responsibilities.We should take observations during the lessons or when child is playing.Results of our observations we give assessment and share it with parents.The other step, i learnt how support and encouraged them .I loved expression MAGIC MOMENT and wrote my thoughts in comments.I can say this course is the best event in my life and i want to they thanks for sharing resources,videos and articles.
  • Anonymous
    This is probably one of the best courses i have ever participated in as I learned a lot about child learning development. I always wanted to learn something like that but unfortunately I didn't have the opportunity nor the time to do that. This course was recommended to me by a fellow practitioner. There was descriptive details about how to deal with children's fears and motivational energy. "Playing is learning " is one of the most important lessons I have been taught here . Also the more the kids are enjoying the activity and using the language in context that in the end everything will come naturally and it is inadvisable to force children into learning or playing.
  • Anonymous
    The course was so interesting. I have learnt and discovered a lot of things that I did not experience in my 8 years of teaching early learners. It had better equip me with skills on teaching young children learn English. It was so fun to interact with other learners from different parts of the world through the comments. The educators were also so engaged throughout the course. Having a baby niece, the course also helped me understand and support her language development. The resources that were shared were also helpful to study further. I highly recommend the course for educators, parents, future parents and to anyone who has children in their care.

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