Teaching 2-6 Year Olds – An Impossible Task?
Admin - Sep 09 2015
Fact: English learners, all over the world, are getting younger and younger, with many parents sending their child for lessons as young as two! So how do you teach English to these young learners – often aged between 2 and 6? It’s a tricky one.
Keep the class active!
Remember your target audience! These are children, so go ahead and tear up that board-based grammar lesson plan…
Your students should be up and about a few times a lesson in order to keep them engaged, so make sure to have lots of activities and games up your sleeve. These don’t have to involve lots of running around; it can be different kinds of movement such as passing things round, moving different parts of the body and interacting with one another.
Varying seating is also another way to keep the room from falling into a deathly silence. Rather than just rows of chairs, pair your students up, move chairs into a circle or get them into groups. It will create a nice buzz in the classroom too!
Encourage your students:
Ok, hand’s up! Who was put off languages by their dreaded French/German/Spanish teacher during high school? Scarring wasn’t it?
For many really young students this will be their first taste of the English language (they won’t have been exposed to enough film, music etc. to understand it) so make sure it is a positive one. By encouraging your students regularly you will make a long-lasting impression. You also want to make your students feel good about themselves; a great way to do this is to display their work on the walls/corridor.
Top TEFL tip: Make sure to award praise where praise is due but don’t overdo it and only provide rewards on a special occasion.
Make learning vocabulary fun
Once again, remember your target audience. Giving your students endless lists of vocabulary to learn will not go down very well. Make it interactive!
For example, when learning about food rather than hold up a flash card or describe types of food to them (where’s the fun in that?!) bring in food for your students to see, smell, touch and taste.
All students develop at different rates and this is even more obvious in younger children. So make sure to arm yourself with a dazzling colgate smile and firmly hide your frustration.
Unclear instructions are one of the biggest causes of chaos in a classroom. The last thing you want is for children to start darting off in all sorts of directions, chatting shouting to one another and thinking it is playtime.
To avoid this TEFL teacher’s nightmare here are a couple of ideas:
1) Stand in a particular spot each time you give instructions. This way, children will know when the next activity is about to be announced.
2) Think of a symbol/action to do when you want your student’s attention
3) Show students what to do rather than telling them.
You will need to keep practicing newly learnt language/vocabulary with your students. Rather than plain repetition, recycle language in a variety of different ways such as games, singing, drawing, reading and writing.
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