An elementary school is an establishment where pupils receive the first compulsory education. It is also known as primary education. Elementary school observation creates an awareness of the experiences and environments of school age children (Fraser, 2002 pg 94). I undertook an observation that lasted 150 minutes of a language class in one of the public owned elementary school. I first requested for permission from the principle in the school. I observed the instructions provided by the teachers and the response of pupils in two 75 minutes classes.
Language assessment falls in the field of applied linguistics. It focuses on the assessment of the first, second or other languages in Elementary learning institutions. The assessment normally includes speaking, reading, listening, and writing skills. I realized the difficult task that teachers face in evaluating linguistic competence of their pupils everyday. Assessing linguistic competence of pupils is an important issue that language teachers take seriously and asses in every lesson. Language teachers analyze pupil’s level of proficiency to develop ways of instructing them appropriately. In one of the lessons, a teacher had a set standard, which he used when making comparisons on language competency of different pupils hence enabling him to make necessary adjustments where possible. In both lessons that I observed, the teachers motivate the pupil’s participation. The pupils must also be encouraged to create interest in the learning process.
The two components of the classroom that support industry are the use of proper curriculum and assessment of pupils in every lesson. For instance, there is a clear guideline on how to teach the language. Assessment is a qualitative way of measurement of pupil’s progress. The role of assessment in teaching of any language is of great import, for there to be clear and reliable information on a child’s progress. Research also shows that for there to be success in the teaching of languages, teachers must take regular assessment seriously. After analyzing the progress how the pupils, that is when teachers can modify the teaching approaches. Analysis of progress can be either formal or informal. Appropriate curriculum material should be used in order to have the desired results.
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The teachers used learning aids as a necessary tool, which they incorporated in the learning process. Use of ICT as part of the tools in teaching languages improved the pupils’ interest in the learning process. Use of ICT encourages accessing of information stored in a variety of ways. Activities, which motivate communication not only in the language being taught but also in other languages. Since most pupils in the classes come from different backgrounds, the teachers included multicultural perspective in the teaching methods. Images, singing, art, music from the given languages was included in the learning process. This made the learning process more enjoyable for the children. Use of poetry and literary skills gave the learning process the required positive experiences. The same strategies, discussion and active learning are applied when teaching other subjects like math and reading. Active learning allows the pupils to listen to their teacher and respond accordingly. I observed that if one pupil responds, he instills a sense of confidence in the others. The other pupils will also try to respond thus making the learning process an interactive one.
One of the lessons I learned from the observation is that teaching should not only comprise of delivering of information. Use of tools like teaching aid not only makes the learning process enjoyable but also enhances retention of knowledge (Smith, 1997 pg 211). Discussion and active learning has the same results. The insights I gained my elementary school years is that teaching was very traditional. The teacher would only narrate things and expect no response from us. There was neither discussion nor teaching aids. However, we were able to learn to learn.