Tuesday 4 March 2008

Teaching English to Young Learners

Updated 24 February 2012
Change Activities Often
  • Young children simply can’t pay attention for a longer period of time and will start fidgeting.

Move Around
  • TPR (Total Physical Response) is great for children."Simon Says", "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes", and "Do What I Say Not What I Do" are some examples.
  • Children love to be active and move around.
  • Try giving rambunctious children leadership roles. Have them hand out papers, collect game pieces, etc. It will keep them busy, quiet and make them feel important.

Games and Holidays
  • Forget boring fill in the blank activities. Put those questions on a game board instead.
  • Card games work well as well.
  • Try MES English for game ideas and templates.
  • Holidays are a great way to teach children English and culture so try to integrate them into your lessons.

Group Children Differently

  • Children learn just as much from their peers as they do their teacher.
  • They can learn to work together in addition to language skills.
  • When you pair students up they can sit side-by-side, face-to-face, back-to-back, or even on opposite sides of the room.
  • Small groups work well around a table or sitting on the floor.

  • Rather than punishing students for bad behaviour, try rewarding them for good behaviour.
  • Praise, stickers, stamps, and little gifts are wonderful ways to reward students that behave well.
  • Watch what happens when you compliment one student on sitting properly in his chair, all the others will quickly sit up straight because they want to be praised as well.
Discipline is Key

  • Try Star Lotto. At the beginning of class draw six stars on the board. When you want them to be quiet start counting down from ten and if you reach zero erase a star. At the end of class have a student draw a number. Numbers need to be from one to six. If a student gets a number that is equal to or less than the stars on the board, then the class gets a sticker on their Star Lotto chart. Once they get a certain number of stickers the class gets a prize.
  • Use signals for silence. Have a signal, such as putting your hands on your head, then clapping three times and then sitting up straight. Students will be able to see you and know that you want them to be quiet even if they can’t hear you. TEFL dot net has some ideas for calming down a pre-school class.
  • Make sure students understand the rules.You might need them to be translated into their native language.
  • Demonstrate how to do something with a couple of students in front of the class. That way if they don’t understand English they can see what they have to do.
  • Realise that boys and girls act very differently. Try reading how boys and girls learn differently for more info.
Learn More
If you're looking for online courses, check out How to Teach Young Learners offered by International House and Oxford TEFL.

This article has been published in the ELT Times.


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