Published 28th November 2017
If you teach English as a Foreign Language you may find yourself teaching a wide range of ages, from kindergarten right up to mature learners. While the majority of us are flexible enough to teach whatever age group is given to us, most of us have a preference for one age group over another. This post is for those EFL teachers who are more comfortable teaching older students but who find themselves teaching Young Learners, in particular primary learners between the ages of five and twelve.
Tip #1: Cohesion
Young Learners enjoy consistency and routine. While very Young Learners can handle a variety of topics during the day, primary learners are old enough to benefit from an overriding theme. They have the concentration and cognitive abilities to connect what they have done in previous lessons to their current lessons, be it subject knowledge or language.
This is great for your lessons because it means you can start a project in one lesson and continue on it throughout the week without the pressure of completing an entire project in one lesson. This also means you can do more in-depth projects and your learners can really engage with the topic.
Tip #2: Routine
Routine is a definite must when dealing with children and this also applies to the classroom. Having a routine helps your learners feel more comfortable in the classroom and be able to focus more on the work rather than on what they are supposed to be doing.
Your routine does not need to be complex. Having a set way you start the lesson and finish the lesson will prepare the students for what is about to happen in the lesson. Also, you can have certain things you do or say for different kinds of activities. For example, every time you read a story you can get your students to put away all their books and pens and pencils, or whenever you finish a grammar exercise they can stand up and stretch before moving onto the next activity.
Tip #3: Breaks
Young Learners have short attention spans and may struggle to concentrate for long stretches of time. This is why even if you tackle more in-depth tasks you still need to break up the activity into stages. Throughout your lesson you will need to take regular breaks so that your learners can relax for a few minutes and take their mind off learning. This can be as easy as playing a quick game or getting your students out of their chairs and moving around the classroom. This will help them focus again when your lesson resumes.
Above all, with primary learners the key is to have fun. Make your lessons enjoyable for your students (and for you!) and you will find your learners are motivated and dedicated. Children are naturally inquisitive and engage with the learning process if they are able to relate to the lessons and if they enjoy them.