LearnEnglish Kids is a site from British Council/BBC. It is directed to children, in the age of 1-11 years old, all over the world, who are learning English as a second or foreign language.
It is a free website and you can use it without to register an account, but if you do, you get access to more parts. You need an internet connection and Adobe Reader. The children can use it at home, alone or with friends. They can also use it in school, individually or in groups. If you, as a teacher, use it in school with a group of students, a projector would be a useful tool and, of course, a computer to each pupil would be a dream for this, as well as for all ICT-uses in school.
Except for the children, the site has two target groups, teachers and parents. As a teacher, you are free to use any materials on the website in the classroom, as well as the children are free to use it in school or at home, as mentioned above.
The site's structure and uses
LearnEnglish kids is divided into five sections. These sections are;
Games: There you can find online games and activities about different topics. Games are divided into fun games, learn words, find words, play with words and spell words. There are a lot of games with different themes, such as colours, animals in the sea, the world, the spring and the classroom and so on. Sometimes you have to read, other times listen or be quick on your keyboard. Also, there can be a combination of these skills.
Listen and watch: In this section there are animated stories and songs. Listen and watch are divided into songs, short stories, kids talk, kids news and tongue twisters. You can watch and listen to songs and short stories with the aim to learn counting, the alphabet or names of the animals in a zoo for instance. Many of these have also worksheets that you can download and use in the classroom. There are also videos and online activities designed to practise listening skills.
Read and write: This section has worksheets to download and use as a help for the pupils to develop their reading and writing skills. This section has a part called your turn, which also invites students to write contributions to the site. They ask the children to write about different things relating to the particular task. All a child has to do is to find a question that interests them and write as much as they can about it on the site. Word of the week explains a word, awesome for instance, with the help of a short video clip.
Make: This is a creative section. You can find online activities, such as creating your own story in story maker. You can also make a crazy animal in a game called animal maker or do your own comic strip. You can also find arts and worksheets to download and you can see videos of children who are making things.
Explore: This section is where children can find help when using the LearnEnglish Kids website. They can also find a list of links to other useful websites for their learning.
As a teacher, you can find tips about how to use the material on the site, called Teaching kids section. These tips you can find on the British Council/BBC website Teaching English, which is an external link. There are a lot of detailed lesson plans for instance. Additionally, there is also a special link for parents in order to get optimal use of the LearnEnglish Kids website.
My thoughts about LearnEnglish kids
For teachers, there are an enormous variety of uses to explore of the website LearnEnglish Kids. Some parts fit in to the early years of teaching and others can be used up to 12 to 13 years of age. You need to explore a lot to find all the possibilities that the site offers.
One of the most interesting things I found about the site was the possibility to find ways to integrate other school subjects. For example, if you read about the human body you can find numbers of exercises relevant to that topic. Or if you read about different religions you can listen and watch a little story about the Islamic festival called "Eid al Fitr" in a series called my favorite day. If you found an activity in a topic which fitted your wishes you get suggestions on more activities for similar topics.
The parts that invite kids to write contributions are very good for their training in how to express their opinions or their thoughts in written English also, they have a great opportunity to interact with other children.
If you as a teacher have a clear goal with your lesson planning, this site may be a great complement to other things the pupils does in their process to learn English. It would be a good idea to introduce the web site for the pupils the first time, individually or in a group. You could introduce them to the website and show them what they specifically should focus on. Let the pupils become aware of what they are supposed to practice in each particular activity so they not just "do" things. Once the activities are introduced to a pupil, he or she can use them in school or as homework, to reach every pupil’s special needs.
LearnEnglish kids has an appealing layout and colours and in my opinion, one of the best things, compared to other websites is that you do not get lost among a numerous of advertising windows. To summarize, I think it is well worth for a teacher to take the time to explore what British Councils website LearnEnglish kids have to offer.Elisabeth Wikström