First time teaching ESL to very young children?

5 Aug

Teaching very young children can be either the best experience in the world or the worst, it all depends on you and what your expectations as their teacher are.

I have to admit that when I started teaching ESL to 3-5 year old children I was only 21 years old and I had no experience with them at all. Not just as a teacher but neither in my personal life. I did not have any young siblings or cousins and I had never worked as a babysitter during my teen years.

However, I found out it was easy for me to connect with them and they seemed to like me and enjoy my company. I am aware I was very lucky because it could have been a desastre due to my lack of experience with very young learners. I always say to myself this is a gift given to me and I am very grateful for that.

During my first years teaching I learned a lot from my experienced workmates and from my pupils. This is why I would like to share with those teaching ESL/EFL to very young learners for the first time some of tips so you avoid frustration thinking you are not a good teacher.

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TIPS FOR ESL/EFL TEACHERS DEALING WITH VERY YOUNG LEARNERS FOR THE FIRST TIME:

  • For many of them it may be the first time they hear a person speaking in English. Do not take it personal if they ignore you at first.
  • Some pupils may not be keen on joining you when you suggest activities and that is ok. Whenever they feel ready they will join you.
  • Using soft toys or puppets as your “teacher helper” will be very useful because they can relate to them.
  • Praise them as much as you can, even if it is for very little things they have achieved (e.g. understanding commands, listening to a story, dancing to a song, …)
  • Little children love having classroom routines, it makes them feel secure. Therefore, it is important you always start and finish the lesson the same way. (e.g singing a Hello Song and a Goodbye Song, greeting each other, speaking about the weather, counting how many we are in the class, …)
  • When your pupils are able to follow the classroom routines without you having to say anything, it already means a lot!
  • Do not expect them to express themseleves in English, they will probably use their mother tongue and that is ok. Little by little they will add English words and short sentences in their vocabulary.
  • The more movement activities you add into your lesson plans the better. In general, pupils spend many hours in class sitting down and they will appreciate the chance to move around.
  • Storytelling is essential and I have not met a single child who does not like listening to stories.  It is magic to see how they are able to follow sequences of events and get the general picture of what is going on (having visual support is basic).
  • Little children love partying, this is a good excuse to help them learn a little bit about the English culture through celebrating some festivities as part of the lesson plan.

 

I remember panicking the previous days to my first teaching experience, so I hope to be helping some fellow teachers who feel as lost as I was. We have a lovely profession but it can be very taugh, too. Therefore, I try to help as much as I can sharing my knowledge and experience 🙂

 

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2 Responses to “First time teaching ESL to very young children?”

  1. laiaprincep August 7, 2017 at 5:12 pm #

    Thanks for sharing 😊

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