Tip 1: Choose suitable topics
The children will typically be aged between 11 and 17 years old and therefore (although some may be budding economists) are unlikely to be interested in European politics or the global economic crisis. Therefore, when selecting materials for reading exercises and oral discussion topics, look for themes that are likely to interest and excite your pupils. After all, engaged students are more likely to want to speak out and participate. Popular music, sport, celebrities, current cinema or the newest crazes, provide a few suggestions...
Tip 2: Play educational games
Children like to play games and use their imagination. They will be used to sitting still and looking at a white board whilst their teacher talks so make the classroom a more relaxed and enjoyable environment with a summer atmosphere. Playing games will let the children relax and have a good time and this is when they are most likely to practice their English skills. Games such as Pictionary, Hang man and Charades make children practice their vocabulary whilst having fun.
Tip 3: Use technology
These Generation Yers/Digital Natives are extremely tech savvy and technology has a normal place in each of their everyday lives. Therefore they don´t expect and won´t enjoy coming into a technology-free classroom. Try to take average to the technology and resources available to you in order to engage with your students and make their learning more interactive and entertaining. There are endless resources and ideas available on the Internet; incorporate You Tube videos into activities or use audio clips to improve their listening skills. There is a world of materials out there.
Tip 4: Set group projects
Most young students are likely to be quite self conscious in class and will be reluctant to make mistakes. This can result in a very quiet classroom, which is the worst environment for language learning. Depending on their competency level, one way get your students talking is to split them up into small groups. Try to mix the nationalities to avoid pairing up students who share a native language. Firstly, encourage the children to speak about themselves and what they like doing as this will help break the ice and encourage them to make friends. Afterwards, set a mini group project such as creating a role play or get them to produce a comic strip. This will encourage every member of the group to participate and speak more naturally amongst themselves without the pressure of speaking alone, out loud, in front of an entire class.
Top Tip: It’s not all about teaching
These children are going to be spending a lengthy stay, up to three months, in a foreign country. Although most will be staying with experienced host families or being supervised in residential homes, you will be one of the adults which they see most regularly. Being away from their parents, in unfamiliar surroundings means that many children will try to seek comfort from a constant presence and that will be you! You won´t only be the person who teaches them about the Simple Past Tense, you are an authority figure who needs to ensure that the children are enjoying their experience, feel comfortable in the classroom, are aware that they have someone to talk to and, most importantly, are having fun.
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