Little Miss Teacher Blog

By Clara Fiorentini

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

The Language Experience Approach in the Infant classroom

Do you use the Language Experience Approach?

I find it a real 'go-to' methodology when working with the younger children. Obviously, it's a fantastic methodology for use with any primary school age group but it is something which can be used again and again with the younger kids across the curriculum.

It's not something that takes a lot of planning. It's not something that needs to be particularly pretty. It's all about the purpose! It's also amazing how much learning can be drawn and extended from a short little piece of writing.

With the infant classes, what I enjoy is that the language comes strictly from the pupils. Teacher is there to act as scribe, offer support and assist in structuring their little sentences etc. The beauty of it is the shared experience, integrating speaking, listening, reading and writing through the development of a written text.

Here's a very simple LEA example of mine.
So our topic this week obviously is Easter. We spend some time discussing what we know etc. Then the children decide what we should record.

  • The children get the opportunity to share a piece of information and I act as scribe.
  • We always number our points.
  • On completing the writing of the text, we revisit and read it together.
  • Then we will hunt for the keyword. In this case the keyword is 'Easter'. Considering it is infants, and many are still only at the emergent reading stage, I highlight the keyword with an underline or pattern. The children will assist in locating the keyword with a special pointer...a fly swat in our case, haha!

Language Experience Approach - Little Miss Teacher Blog 

  • Another activity is hunting for our 'Tricky Words'. I usually ask the Juniors to hide their eyes and I circle a selection of Tricky Words / Sight Words from the text. Then we revisit and see if we can read them. It doesn't have to take long but it's great practice. Also, I tend to leave an obvious one or two out so as the children have a chance to spot a few themselves.
  • We'll revisit the text several times throughout the week. If the children learn more about the topic or think of additional information, then we will add to it!

Language Experience Approach Ideas:

As I've mentioned, you can use the Language Experience approach for lots of different learning instances, such as:

  • Procedural Writing
  • Recording Previous Related Knowledge
  • Recounts
  • News
  • Recipes
  • Fact files
  • Stories
  • Rhymes
  • Sequencing
  • Story mapping
  • Poetry

.... to name but a few!!

Then use texts like these to:

  • Hunt for letters / sounds / blends / digraphs
  • Recognise tricky words 
  • Focus on capital letters / punctuation
  • Oral language development
  • Develop comprehension skills

Also! The LEA benefits all kinds of learners but particularly beneficial pupils learning English as an Additional Language!

“When we focus on rich, engaging, meaningful content and experiences, then language seems to take care of itself.”
  Catherine Snow, Learning to Talk by Talking

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