5 top tips for teaching English to kids
Posted on 14-06-2018 by Joseph Francis
The prospect of teaching English to kids can strike fear into the hearts of many a recent TEFL graduate. But it needn’t be so scary. There are ways you can dodge the dreaded rowdy classroom of nearly-10s and keep everyone entertained for the whole duration. It might take some getting used to, but you could find that you’re soon eliciting all-new vocab and spinning excellent grammar from the little ones, especially if you follow our top five tips…
Games, games, and more games
Ask any veteran of teaching English to kids and they’ll tell you that half the battle is having enough games up your sleeve to keep sessions ticking over. And we’re not just talking 10 or 20 games that you can pull out whenever things start going south. We’re talking 100s of different activities that you can use in a strategic way to build a real learning arc for students of different levels. It’s important to keep planning new ways of playing for younger learners so that you cover all learning types (more on those later) and ensure no one loses interest – it’s likely your class won’t respond so well to the same game two lessons in a row.
Get the energy flowing
Kids have too much energy. It’s a fact of life that means keeping the little ones still for up to an hour of English tuition can seem like performing keyhole brain surgery – it’s not easy! So, why not channel all that glucose and use it to your advantage? There are plenty of games and activities that can help you get students out of their seats and jumping or moving around the classroom, whether it’s just group word-linkage races or act it out sessions. And it’s even better if you have the facilities in your TEFL school to take the class al fresco. Go outside and get a football throwing or something. Just be sure to tie it in with grammar and vocabulary work and you’ll soon see how effective this method can be.
Be stern but not too stern
The level of discipline that you should employ when teaching English to kids is a hotly debated topic in the world of TEFL. Some say stern is the way to go, with strict policies for undone homework and misbehaviour in class. Others prefer to be loose and nurture a loud, free-flowing learning environment. And while it’s true that you’ll need to tailor your responses to particular classes, cultures, and individual students, it’s also a good idea to try and strike a balance between these two ways of looking at things. Too stern and you risk creating an atmosphere where students aren’t confident enough to speak up. Too loose and there’s no structure to the learning.
Don’t be afraid of varying the media
That school textbook can get boring even for adult learners. Page after page of prescribed activities and tasks that you simply have to get done by the end of the lesson is a sure-fire way to keep things mundane and dreary. So, while you will need to work through certain sections of your curriculum material, it’s also a good idea to vary the media and mode of your class as much as you can when teaching English to kids. That means bringing in videos, using audio recordings (not just the oral conversations offered by many textbook accompaniment CDs), and even visual art and painting. These are especially useful for warmups in younger classes, adding in an element of free-flow Student Talk Time that’s great for you to see what student is at what level before you get stuck into the more academic stuff.
Get to grips with learning types
Learning types underpin many theories about how children learn. They outline a web of various ways of approaching tasks that kids – and adults for that matter – have naturally from birth. Some people are said to be visual learners, which means they will respond well to pictures in a classroom environment. Others might be kinaesthetic learners, in which case play and physical action is a good way to get them to understand those new vocabulary lists. Others are a mix of learning types. There are several other categories of learner that it’s a good idea to read up on before starting teaching English to kids. Then, it’s just about catering to the various learning styles you can identify in your class, balancing your approach to teaching so it creates and effective atmosphere for all.
Teaching English to kids is never a cinch. You can get in touch in the comments below with any thoughts you have on it. Or, if you think it’s time you qualified for your TEFL and hit the classroom to try your hand at it all, you can head over to our courses page.