A. Schleicher, OECD
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English for Kids
English is a global language. With more than 350 million people around the world speaking English as a first language and more than 430 million speaking it as a second language, there are English speakers in most countries around the world. However this proficiency in Turkey is very poor. English Proficiency Index (EPI) shows that Turkey is among 60 countries as of 41st in the list. The average of TOEFL is 75 over 120. Communication in English is seen as a difficult issue by Turkish people. Most of them who attended courses and even sertificated as upperinter are still complaining about this unskilled situation.
In Turkey, students are introduced with English lessons when they are 8-9 years old in public schools nearly one and a half hour in a week. Total refers to nearly 60 hours throughout schoolyear and mostly based on grammar practices. Because of this situation we would like to practise a project in preschool to familiarize kids with the new languages specifically English. Then, Shared Melodies began in public preschool in the suburbs of Istanbul, Turkey. As teachers, we noticed that children love singing and easily learn with songs. We selected some songs in Turkish and English with the same melodies then started to sing these songs.. Because singing gets pupils to overcome their shyness, helps them in other areas not just music but science and maths and literacy skills also helps them improve their confidence, leadership and teamwork skills..
In order to spread the positive effects of this method last year we expanded framework of the project with games and cultural activities of the project then we enlarged its frame into the primary schools. We added new ideas according to selected songs like dances, games, stories and online/offline coding activities for children. Thanks to this small project we observed that the children can learn with fun, the teachers want to overcome the barriers about the use of foreign language, the project can be a motivation source for the teachers' language learning and the parent appreciation in their children cognitive and affective skills' improvement.
Until this time we have sung kids songs together with the participation of 16 teachers from 10 different countries and more than 500 children. Since September 2018 we have been acting as an ambassador to spread the information about innovative ideas for English learning for kids via social media. We believe that spreading such ideas worth will open new doors for pupils' own rooms. Because we know that all activities mentioned above are the part of the universal language and we believe that children have right to learn to speak this language in order to learn they can go anywhere they want.