The course


General Aim

The EYL curriculum is based on a scientifically validated and research based plan for developing the multiliteracies of young children. Taking into consideration the needs and interests of Greek young learners of English its aim is to: a) help children develop in and through a foreign language those social literacies that they have already developed in their mother tongue; and b) to help children acquire an intercultural ethos of communication.

The curriculum promotes a learner-centred, ‘learning by doing’ approach that aims to contribute to the development of the learners’ social, cognitive, affective and psycho-motor skills. Such an approach encourages the use of a variety of experiential learning activities that engage pupils physically and emotionally and that account for their different learning styles, preferences and interests. Finally, in this approach the aim is to get young learners to creatively use English in order to deal with tasks that are embedded in specific socio-cultural contexts.

The EYL curriculum introduces materials and graded activities that are built around topics children are familiar with from their immediate social environment (e.g. home and school setting, different places in Greece) and that are organized in cycles which correspond to different school semesters.


Rationale and Specific Aims

The EYL curriculum is based on three basic principles that underpin all teaching and learning:

  • It addresses pupils who are beginning to develop school literacies in their mother tongue but who have already developed significant social literacies in their mother tongue and can therefore begin to develop those social literacies through an additional language.
  • It aspires to cater for the need for differentiated learning in and through activities that are appropriate for the age of the young pupils rather than cover a specific syllabus.
  • Its overall aim is to develop the Greek learners’ intercultural awareness and to prepare them to be not near ‘native speakers’ of a given foreign language, but competent users of two languages.        


Pedagogical aims

Self- and social growth

  • Development of social skills
  • Development of co-operation skills
  • Development of respect for oneself
  • Development of respect for individuals or groups that are linguistically and/or culturally different
  • Development of intercultural awareness and ethos of communication

Cognitive growth and development of cognitive skills

  • Development of analytic and synthetic skills
  • Development of learning strategies
  • Development of visual perception
  • Development of auditory perception
  • Development of inductive and deductive skills


Specific Cognitive Aims

Tolerance towards linguistic, social and cultural differences

  • Learning to understand and accept cultural differences
  • Learning to appreciate the role of one’s own and others’ mother tongue and culture
  • Learning to appreciate the role of English as an international language but also the role of other languages
  • Learning how to make parallel use of two or more languages effectively

Building the foundation for further foreign language development

  • Familiarization with different everyday communicative practices in English
  • Providing further motivation for learning English and other foreign languages
  • Development of oral skills (reception and production skills)
  • Making connections between spoken and written discourse in and through the gradual development of practices that focus on recognizing rather than understanding messages


Methodological aims

  • Using an eclectic approach (a combination of different approaches, of language learning methodologies and of various techniques) that will motivate and engage learners (e.g. Suggestopedia, Total Physical Response etc.).
  • Selecting activities that are conducive to the broader pedagogical aims (development of co-operation skills, development of learning strategies etc.).
  • Selecting fun activities and creative tasks that allow learners to approach and process the new language in different ways.


The approach to language learning

Taking into consideration the first and second graders’ profile, the EYL curriculum promotes a ‘learning by doing’ approach, whereby language is viewed as social practice, and learning takes place in and through interaction. During this preliminary foreign language learning programme in the Greek primary school, young learners learn to interact with each other in socially appropriate ways through oral activities and are taught to understand and produce spoken discourse in English. Initially, language learning is restricted to making sense of individual words and phrases, always used in specific social and linguistic contexts, and then it expands to understanding and producing chunks of speech (i.e. following a story, describing an object etc.).

The syllabus drawn for each class is based on research carried out in several classes during an extended pilot project. The a-posteriori syllabi designed by the EYL project team are indicative and teachers are encouraged to create their own syllabi and activities, based on the profile of their pupils and their school reality. These a-posteriori syllabi are built around various educational activities that learners are invited to participate in and complete with the help of their teacher. Given that children have different abilities and learning styles and that they respond differently to different activities, educators are encouraged to value all learners' contributions while they are advised not to evaluate pupils’ responses on the basis of assessment criteria that do not take into account each and every child’s learning needs, preferences and abilities. In line with this recommendation, the EYL project team is developing a new scheme for assessing and evaluating the young pupils’ performance.


Assessment of the students' performance

By adopting a learner-centred approach, the EYL curriculum hopes to shift the EFL teachers’ attention from the outcome of learning (or teaching) to the learning process itself. More specifically, with the help of a specific assessment tool and marking scheme teachers will be able to monitor and observe the way learners participate in and carry out a given activity. That is, educators will be able to observe how each of the learners engages in the learning process and what kind of changes take place at the cognitive, social, communicative level, etc. We hope that in and through the use of the EYL assessment tool, teachers will be able to monitor the way each learner:

  • experiences a particular event
  • makes sense of whatever happens during that event
  • analyses the given information
  • uses the processed information in order to participate constructively in the learning process.

We also hope that the tool will help educators to assess and evaluate (based on the marking scheme provided) the learning process rather than the outcome. Thus, for example, after each activity, the learners will be assessed either individually or collectively based on the abilities and skills displayed while thinking and acting:

  • with some help
  • on their own
  • in a group / while cooperating with others
  • while helping others.