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  • "Accommodation is what happens when we make adjustments to a schema, and adapt our thinking, in the light of new information" (Robson 2020: 20).

  • It's "used to refer to the re-organisation of the mental representations of a language (McLaughlin 1992)" (Cameron 2001: 3).

  • Accommodation is also known as "restructuring".

  • Example: A child's realisation that, far from all men being daddies, daddy is part of a group called 'men' (Robson 2020: 20)

Assessment FOR learning

       = Formative assessment.

  • It is ongoing, flexible and usually informal.

  • It is based on information gathered from the students during instruction.

  • It is used to adapt teaching to meet student needs.

Assessment OF learning

       = Summative assessment.

  • It is usually done at the end of a unit, term, course.

  • It is used to evaluate student content learning and skill acquisition.


  • "The way in which we transform incoming information so that it fits in with our existing way of thinking about that schema" (Robson 2020: 20).

  • "Assimilation happens when action takes place without any change to the child" (Cameron 2001: 3)

  • Example: A baby will often refer to all men as 'daddies' (Robson 2020: 20)


  • A psychological theory of learning which helps to understand how children learn some of the regular and routine aspects of language.

  • It states that “language learning is the result of imitation, practice, feedback on success, and habit formation” (Lightbown and Spada 2000: 9).

  • Children's imitation is not based on what is “available” in the environment. It is based on something they have already begun to understand (Lightbown and Spada 2000: 11).

  • However, some of the forms created by children can’t be explained by imitation and practice alone. Children can pick out patterns and then generalize them to new contexts.

  • The theory was very influential in the 1940s and 1950s, especially in the United States.


  • "A unit of language that consist of several words that are stored and used as a whole" (Richards 2015: 732)

  • Example: 'How are you?', 'as far as I know'


  • A theory of learning which “places action and self-directed problem-solving at the heart of learning and development” (Wood 1998: 5). This means that children learn by doing and not by being instructed.

  • According to Piaget, children pass through the following universal stages of development: 

1. Sensorimotor (birth - 2 y.o.)

2. Preoperational (2 y.o. - 7-8 y.o.)

3. Concrete Operational (7-8 y.o. - 11-12 y.o.)

  • These stages suggest that “children’s thinking changes in qualitative ways as they develop” (Robson 2020: 7).

  • Piaget (Switzerland) 


  • The narration of lived educational experiences

  • It is a way to gather "the memories of the entire early childhood education community (teachers, children, parents, local community), which in turn can foster thinking and reflection, provide a basis for evaluation and assessment and, of course, communicate and produce a culture of childhood" (Biffi, 2019: 67).

Emergent literacy

  • Describes the phenomenon in which children seem to learn to read without any teaching, gradually, and through exposure to text and to reading (Hall 1987).

Games with rules

  • As young children are strongly motivated to make sense of their world, they are very interested in rules (Whitebread 2012: 23).

  • When children are playing games with rules, they are learning a range of social skills related to sharing, taking turns, understanding others’ perspectives and so on (DeVries, 2006).

  • Examples: board and card games, chasing games, hide-and-seek


  • A theory of learning which states that “children are born with a special ability to discover for themselves the underlying rules of a language system” (Lightbown and Spada 2000: 16).

  • This special ability is known as a language acquisition device (LAD) and is described as an imaginary “black box” which contains “all and only the principles which are universal to all human languages” (Lightbown and Spada 2000: 16).

  • In recent writings, the term Universal Grammar (UG) is used instead of the LAD.

Inquiry-based learning

  • “A student-centred approach to teaching and learning where a unit of work is organised around relevant, authentic, open-ended questions” (Parker and Stjerne 2019: 66).

  • Teachers and students co-author the learning experience. For students, the process often involves open-ended investigations into a question. While for educators, the process is about being responsive to the students’ learning needs.

Montessori education

  • An educational approach developed by Maria Montessori.

       The approach is characterised by:

  • multi-age classrooms,

  • group and pair work,

  • lack of competition, extrinsic rewards, punishments,

  • learning materials supporting self-correction,

  • supportive learning environment,

  • hand-on experiential learning.

  • “Montessori’s theories about children have influenced the way all early childhood programs are structured today, not just programs that refer to themselves as Montessori programs” (Mooney 2013: 57).

Pedagogical documentation

  • Refers to any record of performance that contains sufficient detail to help others understand the behaviour recorded (Forman and Fyfe, 2012: 250).

Physical play

According to Whitebread, physical play includes:


  • active exercise play (e.g. jumping, climbing, dancing, skipping, bike riding, ball play), which is "related to children’s developing whole body and hand-eye co-ordination, and is important in building strength and endurance (Pellegrini and Smith, 1998, quoted in Whitebread 2012: 18)

  • rough-and-tumble (e.g. chasing, grappling, kicking, wrestling), which is “associated with the development of emotional and social skills and understandings” (Whitebread 2012: 18)

  • fine-motor practice (e.g. sewing, colouring, cutting, junk modelling, manipulating action and construction toys), which is often solitary and can "help children develop their concentration and perseverance skills" (Whitebread 2012: 19)

Play with objects

  • Play with objects begins as soon as children can grasp the objects they find.


  • Whitebread (2012) identifies the following three stages of play with objects:


  1. Mouthing, biting, rotating while looking, hitting, dropping (‘sensori-motor’ play)

  2. Arranging, sorting, classifying

  3. Making, building, constructing 

  • “When young children are making or building, they are also often developing a story or narrative” (Whitebread 2012: 20).


  • Play with objects is often carried out within a pretence/socio-dramatic context.


  • It “is also particularly associated with the production of ‘private speech’”

Private speech

  • Private speech is described as "'talking to oneself' that leads developmentally from social speech with others to inner speech and thinking" (Cameron 2001: 196)

  • Private speech "appears to have the function of helping the child to maintain their attention, keep their goals for the activity in mind, monitor their progress, make strategic choices regarding ways to proceed, and generally regulate themselves through the task" (Whitebread 2012: 20)

  • Example: "first the head, then the body, then the tail" (Cameron 2001: 197)


  • The support that a learner receives from an adult or more expert peer.

  • Examples: recruitment of interest, task simplification, direction maintenance, marking critical features, frustration control, demonstration (Wood et al. (1976))


  • "A mental model or framework that organizes information in the mind and represents generalized knowledge about events, situations, objects, actions and feelings" (Richards 2015: 747).


  • Self-regulation is often referred to as “impulse control, self-control, self-management, self-direction, independence” (Bronson 2000: 3).

  • The characteristics of self-regulation vary with age and development.

  • In early childhood, "the nurturing of self-regulation requires an integrated approach that considers the 'whole child'" (Bronson 2000: 6).

Zone of Proximal Development

  • Young learners construct knowledge through interaction with adults in the Zone of Proximal Development, “the difference between the child’s capacity to solve problems on her/his own and her/his capacity to solve them with assistance” (Shin 2014: 34).

  • "The 'gap' that exists for any individual between what he can achieve alone (his level of actual development), and what he can do with the help of another more knowledgeable or skilled person (his level of potential development)" (Robson 2020: 35)

  • Vygotsky, 1962

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