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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.

You will join discussions and have the opportunity to interact live with our experienced educators.

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 1,235 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,...
  • 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.

    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...
  • 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!
  • 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...
  • 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
    Your review helps other learners like you discover great courses. Only review the course if you have taken or started taking this course. Your review helps other learners like you discover great courses. Only review the course if you have taken or started...
  • Anonymous
    Learning English as an additional language in early years is a challenge for both educators and children. This a is process that requires time, a proper level of instruction for the educators -mastering English language, having notions of child psychology and pedagogy, being able to plan and conduct play and learning activities for children- and high quality educational toys and materials (books, pictures etc) for the children to play (manipulate) it throughout the process of learning.
    This course introduces adults in the universe of "how a young child is learning'' offering a modern perspective of teaching English as a second language.
  • Profile image for Pamela Heather Utchanah
    Pamela Heather Utchanah
    This expert track came in just in time to build my confidence and it has provided me a lot of important information and knowledge of how to tackle and plan ahead my task as a practitioner. As I've been recently accepted for teaching English to very young...
  • Anonymous
    Thank you for the course once again , thank you for all kinds of videos and articles provided. Through the whole chapter I have learnt , really a big surprise for me .I can share the ideas with others the same time ,I can absorb lot of new information related to different subjects. Besides, I do agree and really thank you for the information what have been explained to us , for me the course has been in some aspects enlightening and mostly interesting and thought provoking, I do believe everyone who have learned the couse will make a big achivement than before.

  • Anonymous
    I have learnt so much during this course and each step was informative for me not only as a parent, but also as an educator. Topics including how children in Early Education learn through play, the different types of play, how to communicate with children and the respect that needs to be given to them, and how to observe and assess their learning. The course supported learning through a variety of articles and videos and at no stage did I feel lost or unsupported. I highly recommend this course to anyone who is interested in teaching, current teachers for their own personal development and parents who would like to understand their own children's needs better and how to get the most out of their environment. Thank you British Council.
  • Anonymous
    This course is really fantastic. It is really organized course not only for the teaching language but also to understand teaching young child. Along the way of course study, I have felt enjoyment to know more about EYFS frame, how can young children best learn language, observation, assessment and planning. I would like to say thank you to course instructors for your thoughtfulness of course arrangement.
  • Anonymous

    Anonymous completed this course.

    Interesting course . Learnt some things as have 22 years experience teching infants. There are things one overlooks or do instinctively for example complementing children on their work especially those who rarely receive praise. Imrpove their self esteem...

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