English as a Second Language at Kindergarten: Importance of Non-Verbal Language and Use of TPR to Elicit Communication


As more and more experts urge to adopt second language education from early childhood, an increasing number of kindergartens all over the world have included activities in L2 or bilingual programmes in their curriculum. This paper is based on eight years observation and practice at St. Anna Institute of Rome as English teacher at kindergarten and primary school and is aimed to provide indications and suggestions for English L2 teaching, to address groups of very young learners - from three to five years old. Years of teaching with communicative approach proved how non-verbal language worked as catalyser for the later spontaneous use of words. TPR (Total Physical Response) methodology provided a number of techniques to motivate children. Reflection-in-action and on-action helped discriminating how metalanguage (L1 or L2) affected contents of the lessons and results; and helped detecting a stronger need for non-verbal language when L2 is metalanguage. As a result of the experience, it is possible to say that activities such as storytelling can be adapted to fit the need for body expression, and to the same purpose can be used role play and realia. Paramount importance must be given to the role of game, surprise, discovery and experience. With this in mind, a careful lesson planning and extreme flexibility are fundamental. Hints will be given on how to present and introduce audio-video material in the lesson; and, finally, observations will be made on the different classroom settings.

Author Information
Manuela Marchitelli, Italian State Educational System, Italy

Paper Information
Conference: ECLL2015
Stream: Language education

This paper is part of the ECLL2015 Conference Proceedings (View)
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon