The LEA is a whole language approach that came about for the development of reading skills and aims primarily at learners with literacy needs. LEA uses students’ own language in order to generate materials that will later be read by those same students. It can be used both with individuals or groups.
The learners recount a personal experience or a story to their teacher who then reformulates what the student has said into full sentences in order to create a text around which they will work on. The degree of difficulty is determined by the students’ own language and learning takes place at a comprehensible level. Though the students might not be able to produce the language themselves, they will still be able to understand what they are doing and why. As a result, their learning experience is less stressful and the learners become more positively orientated towards the target language. The teacher can also expand what the students are saying by asking questions and eliciting more information on the topic. In such a way the students get more challenged and their learning moves to a slightly higher level, following Krashen’s i+1 model.
What’s more, LEA draws on students’ life experiences making their learning more meaningful and memorable. The students are able to see the link between real life and language learning and their motivation is increased. Their progress becomes evident shortly and they get more confident and positive.
Although LEA is designed for the development of reading skills, it can be equally used for the promotion of other skills such as writing, speaking or listening. It can also be adapted to suit learners of all levels. It’s a whole language approach that is structured around students’ personal input, it provides plenty of opportunities for scaffolding and it allows language development to take place in a relaxed classroom environment.
See a LEA classroom activity here: http://eltea.org/classroom-activities/language-experience-classroom-activity