• British Council
  • British Council Presents Learning Time with Sean and Timmy logo

English in Early Childhood: Language Learning and Development

Discover how very young children learn English as an additional language and how you can help them progress.

219,690 enrolled on this course

English in Early Childhood: Language Learning and Development
  • Duration

    6 weeks
  • Weekly study

    2 hours

Teaching English to children while they’re still learning their mother tongue is a challenging but rewarding prospect. In this online course, you’ll learn how and why children learn best through play. What can parents and practitioners do to enable children to get the most out of a learning experience?

This course for parents and practitioners will explore how young children learn English and investigate many more aspects of early childhood learning and development.

British Council educators will share their insights and experiences, so that you can learn how to best talk to young children; how to create the best environment for them to learn English as an additional language; and how to monitor their progress.

Through articles, videos and live events you will hear from early childhood experts and parents, and see for yourself how young children learn inside the early years classroom. At every stage, you will be offered tips, advice and downloadable resources that will help you with teaching English as a foreign language to children.

You will join discussions and have the opportunity to interact live with our experienced educators.


  • Week 1

    How children learn

    • Getting started

      Meet the educators and introduce yourself

    • Early childhood development

      How do you think children learn?

    • Children and language aquisition

      English in early childhood

    • Review

      Watch the weekly round up and reflect on this week's learning

  • Week 2

    Learning through play

    • All play is a form of learning

      Earliest memories and experiences of play

    • Play is important

      The benefits of play

    • Creating the right play environment

      Planning and resources

    • Developing language through play

      Interacting and communicating

    • Review

      Watch the weekly round up and reflect on this week's learning

  • Week 3

    How to talk to young children

    • Communicating with young children

      Are we helping or hindering?

    • Talk that encourages a child's emotional development

      Praise and labelling, nurturing a growth mindset

    • Developing language through interactions

      Encouraging communication

    • Review

      Watch the weekly round up and reflect on this week's learning

  • Week 4

    Learning: English and everything

    • Developing the whole child

      Learning many things at once

    • Learning English in context

      Activities that are motivating and have a purpose

    • Guiding the learning experience

      The role of the adult - tapping into a child's curiosity

    • Everything is connected

      Making learning meaningful

    • Review

      Watch the weekly round up and reflect on this week's learning

  • Week 5

    Feeling safe and happy

    • Children learn when they are safe and happy

      Positive relationships and enabling environments

    • Positive relationships

      Nurturing well-being so that children can learn

    • The importance of knowing the child well

      Providing the right amount of support and challenge

    • Enabling environments

      Providing the right conditions for learning and development

    • Review

      Watch the weekly round up and reflect on this week's learning

  • Week 6

    Watching children learn

    • Every child is unique

      Knowing, understanding and planning for the individual child

    • Observation

      Observing children and understanding their actions

    • Assessment in the early years

      Analysing our observations

    • Planning: building on what children can do

      Supporting and challenging learning and development

    • Next steps

      Reflect on your learning this week and throughout the course, and plan what to do next

When would you like to start?

  • Date to be announced

Add to Wishlist to be emailed when new dates are announced

Learning on this course

You can take this self-guided course and learn at your own pace. On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Investigate how children learn and how they acquire language
  • Discuss the importance of play and look at language development opportunities
  • Reflect on ways to communicate effectively with young children
  • Explore meaningful learning and developing language in context
  • Demonstrate the connection between learning and a child’s well-being
  • Identify ways to support and challenge children, and measure their progress

Who is the course for?

This course will be of interest to you if you are: a parent of young children who wishes to support their child learning an additional language; an English teacher or an early childhood practitioner; or someone who is interested in the area of child development and language acquisition.

If English is not your first language please be reassured that this course is suitable for those who have learnt English to around intermediate level (approximately B1 on the CEFR).

The principles of learning an additional language during early childhood apply to all languages, so if you are a parent, teacher or practitioner interested in teaching languages other than English, you will find plenty of relevant methods in the course.

What do people say about this course?

"I want to thank the British Council for giving me the opportunity to learn about how children learn English in early childhood. I learned about how children learn, about learning through play, about how to talk to young children and about watching children learn. Now I feel more confident about child development and language learning thanks to this course and I will certainly apply what I learned here in the future because I hope to become an early childhood practitioner. "

"I definitely feel more confident about child development and how it really works, teaching English to very young children. I'm now more confident about how to explain the learning process to parents. It's important to share this knowledge with the parents so they can support their children in the best way."

Who will you learn with?

More than 20 years experience working with early years children and young learners in kindergartens, schools and teaching centres. I never stop learning, growing and changing.

I have been teaching languages for over 25 years. I love the creative aspects of teaching and learning, and I now mostly work in the areas of teacher development and materials writing.

Who developed the course?

British Council

The British Council builds connections, understanding and trust between people in the UK and other countries through arts and culture, education and the English language.

We work on the ground in more than 100 countries. In 2019-20 we connected with 80 million people directly and with 791 million people overall, including online and through our broadcasts and publications.

Learning Time with Timmy - British Council

The British Council presents an innovative approach to learning English for 2-6 year olds in partnership with animators Aardman.

Endorsed by

recognised by

Early Years Excellence logo

Learning on FutureLearn

Your learning, your rules

  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps, but you can complete them as quickly or slowly as you like
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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