Published 15th December 2015
Let’s face it: teaching can be tough. You work long hours, you’re on your feet all day, you have to do prep before and marking after, and sometimes you feel like you’re banging your head against a wall. But something that can be even more challenging than teaching, is teaching Young Learners. Young Learners are completely different from adults and even each other, depending on the age of your Young Learners. They still have a long way to go developmentally so to ask them to accomplish anything is going to be hard, let alone in a foreign language. Teaching Young Learners can definitely be rewarding though, so to make it easier for you, here are our top tips for teaching Young Learners.
Think outside the book
Young Learners need colour, visuals, movement and music to make the lesson enjoyable and effective. Every activity you do should include one of these elements – the more, the better – to make sure you keep your learners attention.
Though you may soon get sick of the constant “Play game, Teacher”, you will find that games are necessary to help your Young Learners learn. Educational games are a great way to focus your students and motivate them to learn. Even online games can be extremely effective, and students love them.
In order to make sure all the games are, well, fun and games, there also needs to be established routines to frame the chaos. Your learners need to know when they are expected to listen, sing, sit, stand and play, so that you will be able to create that balance of noise and quiet-time. If there are no boundaries, your students will not be able to benefit from the educational aspects of your lessons.
As hard as it can be sometimes, patience is key. If you don’t have patience, your lessons will only descend into chaos and you’ll get a migraine. Young Learners are needy and constantly need individual attention, which is impossible in a class of 20 Young Learners, so you will need patience to be able to handle and deal with their constant cries for attention.
Repeat, repeat, repeat
This is the same for any age learner: repetition is key to language learning. So try to recycle language and vocabulary any chance you get. Repetition can also apply to songs and games, though, as your students are highly likely to get attached to Eensy Weensy Spider or Let It Go. Even though you might find it mind-numbing, you’ll never see your Young Learners happier than when they are singing songs.
Teaching English as a Foreign Language to Young Learners is challenging to say the least, so remember these tips when you go into the classroom and hopefully they will make your lessons easier.