Planning stage II
Planing Stage II: Defining Levels
In the first year of English learning, be it at the pre-school level or class
1, we can define certain levels of capabilities in children.
Level 0: Children have no idea of English
Level 1: Children understand few words and structures (phrases
and simple sentences). They don’t know how to write. Some may recognize
letters and words.
Level 2: Children can understand simple English and can read
and write (letters and small words)
These levels are broad. Each level will have many sub-levels (except Level
0). A majority of children begin at Level 0 and successfully reach Level 2
by the first year end. This course maps the path from Level 0 to Level
Mapping the path from Level 0 to Level 1
A child at level 0 will have to pass through the following path to reach level
1. Silent period – where children do not speak (in English) on their
This is a phase that can last from a couple of days to several months. This
phase is similar to a baby’s careful observation of talk before it ventures
to speak. The only difference is that the baby also has to learn to produce
sounds, but a child at level 0 has no such problem. His only hesitation is
that he has still not learnt enough of the new language and hence prefers to
remain silent. However, during this phase, children can repeat whatever they
are asked to repeat.
The length of this phase has no bearing on the progress a child makes in learning
a new language. A more adventurous and talkative child may speak earlier than
a child who is shy.
To find out if this phase is over, teachers need to look for children producing
words on their own and not mechanically repeating what is said.
2. Focusing on comprehension
Children try to understand what is being said. To begin with, they demonstrate
their comprehension through gestures. For instance, “Come here” will
prompt them to walk up to the teacher; “Open your book” is responded
by opening the book to the page shown. Children have no problems in understanding
short commands or some common classroom utterances.
They begin to pick up vocabulary and pronunciation gradually. They can now
demonstrate their ability to comprehend and act on simple instructions, like
giving a yes-no response or one word answers. Children can soon respond in
phrases and short sentences. This phase generally lasts for 2-6 months.
These two phases may co-exist. Children at this stage naturally use their
first language whenever they need to communicate.
We now consider the following three possibilities:
Children whose mother-tongue is English would have completed both the phases
before arriving at school.
Children who have opted for English as a second language but are at level
0, pass through these phases in their first year of schooling – be
it pre-school or class 1.
Children who have opted for English as a third language (class 5 or 6) may
have a very brief or no silent period and move on quickly to the comprehension
Goals for level 1
During the silent phase children must be capable of
* Giving one word answers to questions like “what is your name?”; “What
is this?”, etc.
* Pointing to objects like pencil, book, box, chair; or parts of the body like
eye, nose, hand, stomach, etc.
* Drawing or scribbling on paper; circling or marking out things in charts or
* Following simple instructions like “sit down”; “look here”; “come
here”; “clap”, etc.
* Answering Yes or No questions like “Shall we sing?”; “Are
you hungry?”, etc.
The silent phase leads to the comprehension phase, but for some children, the
two phases may co-exist. During the comprehension phase, children must be capable
* Listening and understanding simple sentences and catch new words
* Answering in chorus
* Reciting short poems
* Using short phrases (1-3 words) to respond to questions. Demonstrating more
confidence in their speech
* Naming and labelling objects