Working with children offline - for teachers; Teaching kids English at home - for students; Personal Experience - Elzara Eminova.
TEACHING YOUNG LEARNERS IN OFFLINE
Who are Young Learners?
We refer to students between the ages of two and eleven as "young learners." However, a two-year old will be different from a nine-year old, and it is important to understand these differences. Children before the age of 10 are:
excited about learning (when done correctly);
learn best via play and other fun activities;
utilize everything in the physical world (what they see, do, hear, and touch, for example) to learn and comprehend things;
employ linguistic skills without questioning (or being able to question) why or how they are used;
love doing well and benefit from praise;
have vivid imagination and often can't tell the difference between reality and fantasy;
have a limited attention span and cannot focus on one item for an extended period of time;
If they are involved, they will talk (and participate) a lot; they will tell you what they are doing and what they have done;
are excellent imitators, so they imitate the way their teacher talks without instructions.
Young learners find it exceptionally hard to sit still and need to be able to move around and engage in various active games and exercises. TPR (total physical response) is a fantastic tool to use with smaller students. The idea behind it is that you support new information with a gesture or a movement. Action verbs, such as flying, running, jumping, swimming can be taught with corresponding gestures. Active games where students need to run or jump will keep them engaged and focused and help them learn along the way. For instance, to revise new vocabulary, you can place flashcards in a line on the floor and ask students to hop from one card to another saying words. Camp songs that involve special actions are a huge success with kids - checkout Penguin Attention! and Banana songs on youtube.
In order to make use of children’s imagination to the fullest, you can make up special characters, that will help you keep them focused and entertained. A puppet doll is a great tool to use here, since it can take up many forms and is rather inexpensive. It can even be made from a sock or cut out from paper. Apart from being used by a teacher, children can use the puppet to make short dialogues with each other and role-play different scenarios.
When playing a game children do not realise they are actually learning or practicing vocabulary and grammar. There are a lot of different games for children such as “Simon says”, “Please, Mr Crocodile”, and so on. One more example is games with cards, where students need to remember the order, name what is written/illustrated on the card from memory, put the cards in the correct box and others. Competitive games are a great fun, where students divide into two teams and need to score as many points as they can.
Chants, Rhymes and Songs
It is no secret that we remember something best if it rhymes, and for a child, there is no bigger truth than the one that has a rhyme in it. Learning words, grammar structures and collocations through rhymes and songs works perfectly with this age group. As we mentioned in the Movement section, combining songs with TPR will ensure great results and high engagement from your young learners.
Do you work with young learners? What are your favourite games and activities?
How do I start teaching my kids English at home?
Many parents would like to teach their children English at home, but don’t know how to start. It doesn’t matter if your own English is not perfect. The most important thing is that you are enthusiastic and that you give your children lots of encouragement and praise. Your child will pick up on your enthusiasm for the language. Don’t worry if your child doesn’t start speaking English immediately. They will need a certain amount of time to absorb the language. Be patient, and they will begin to speak English in their own time.
Establishing a routine
Establish a routine for your English time at home. It is better to have short, frequent sessions than long, infrequent ones. Fifteen minutes is enough for very young children. You can gradually make sessions longer as your child gets older and their concentration span increases. Keep the activities short and varied in order to hold your child’s attention.
Try to do certain activities at the same time every day. Children feel more comfortable and confident when they know what to expect. For example, you could play an English game every day after school, or read an English story with your children before bedtime. If you have space at home, you can create an English corner where you keep anything connected to English, for example books, games, DVDs or things that your children have made. Repetition is essential – children often need to hear words and phrases many times before they feel ready to produce them themselves.
Children learn naturally when they are having fun. Flashcards are a great way to teach and revise vocabulary and there are many different games which you can play with flashcards, such as Memory, Kim’s game, Snap or Happy Families.
You can find free downloadable flashcards on a wide range of topics on our website.
There are many other types of games you can play with your children to help them practise English.
Action games – for example Simon says, Charades, What’s the time Mr Wolf?
Board games – Snakes and ladders, other traditional games
Word games – e.g. I spy, Hangman
Online games – you could finish your English time with an online game from LearnEnglish Kids.
Using everyday situations
The advantage of teaching English at home is that you can use everyday situations and real objects from around the house to practise the language naturally and in context. For example:
Talk about clothes when your child is getting dressed, or when you are sorting laundry (‘Let’s put on your blue socks’, ‘It’s Dad’s T-shirt’, etc.).
Practise vocabulary for toys and furniture when you are helping your child to tidy their bedroom (‘Let’s put your teddy bear on the bed!’, ‘Where is the blue car?’).
Teach food vocabulary when you are cooking or going shopping. When you go to the supermarket, give your child a list of things to find (use pictures or words depending on their age). Revise the vocabulary when you put the shopping away at home.
Younger children love books with bright colours and attractive illustrations. Look at the pictures together and say the words as you point to the pictures. Later you can ask your child to point to different things, e.g. ‘Where's the cat?’ After a while encourage them to say the words by asking ‘What's that?’ Listening to stories will get your child used to the sounds and rhythms of English.
The animated stories on LearnEnglish Kids are an excellent way for children to develop listening and reading skills. Older children can complete the accompanying downloadable activities to check understanding.
Songs are a really effective way to learn new words and improve pronunciation. Songs with actions are particularly good for very young children as they are able to join in even if they are not yet able to sing the song. The actions often demonstrate the meaning of the words in the song.
There are many fun, animated songs on LearnEnglish Kids which you can listen to with your children.
With younger children, there is no need to explicitly teach grammar rules, but instead get them used to hearing and using different grammatical structures in context, for example ‘have got’ when you are talking about someone’s appearance, or ‘must/mustn’t’ when talking about their school rules. Hearing the grammar being used in context from an early age will help your child to use it naturally and correctly when they are older.
For older children, you can use the grammar practice section on LearnEnglish Kids. Videos, quizzes and games help kids to learn in a fun, relaxed way.
It can be very useful for older children to teach their siblings or other family members. Explaining how to use grammar to someone else helps you to master it yourself.
Which words and phrases should I teach first?
Consider your child’s interests and personality when deciding which topics to teach, and let your child help you to choose. You may like to start with some of these topics:
numbers (1–10; 10–20; 20–100)
adjectives (e.g. big, small, tall, happy, sad, tired)
animals (e.g. pets, farm animals, wild animals)
You can find lots of fun activities on a huge range of topics on LearnEnglish Kids.
It is also important for your child to get used to ‘English time’ language, so use the same phrases with your child each time, e.g. ‘It’s English time! Let’s sit down. Which song shall we start with today?’ Children will soon pick up phrases such as please; thank you; Can I have …?; Where is …?; Point to …; What colour is it?; It’s …; I like …; I don’t like …
Whatever your approach, the most important thing is to relax, have fun and make learning English an enjoyable experience for both you and your child.
Do you practise English with your kids at home? What are your favourite games and activities?
My name’s Elzara and I’ve been teaching English for about 7 years. I’ve worked with a big variety of students, namely, teenagers, adults and most recently kids aged 6-8. I began to work with children a year ago because I decided to learn something new in my profession, to challenge myself. In my opinion, without challenges there aren’t any discoveries and without discoveries there isn’t progress and improvement.
At the beginning it was extremely hard for me since I was used to teaching teens and adults and I had no idea what to start from and what activities to use to teach kids. I realised that I implemented a lot of activities which were not suitable for the age of 6 when kids looked bored and were always repeating the same phrase “how bored I am!” (believe me kids are very direct students and this is both good and bad at the same time). On the plus side, hearing that phrase can make you try harder and make your lessons more interesting which improves you as a professional; however, on the other side, those complaints from your young students may evoke frustration and depression in you. But don’t worry and try to withstand this difficult but short period of time!
One more thing which may not seem very pleasant to you is the fact that when you try to gather the kids in one place they just simply can’t do it because of being constantly on the move. My suggestion is “why not let them move and design a lesson in which they won’t have to stay or sit in one place?”. To find out about activities which involve constant move I watched many videos with sample lessons and a lot of advice about activities and materials which could make the lesson more interesting and exciting for kids. In addition, I visited several lessons of experienced teachers and could see in real how to manage and keep the kids busy during the lesson.
To make your classes effective and enjoyable try to know your kids, what they like, what interests they have, believe me it is much more easier to design lesson according to kids’ interests compared to adults’ ones and it goes without saying why. Kids get really carried away if your activity involves their favoured cartoon character or if you let them play their favourite game during the lessons. Playing games at the lesson doesn’t necessarily mean that kids do not learn anything, they learn a lot of thing because they interact with you and with each other during the lesson, your duty is just to be sure that your lesson is 90% in English, all activities must be conducted in English. The 10% which is left is for some managerial phrases that may sometimes be needed during emergencies of any kind.
The most important advice that I would like to give is NEVER TEACH kids aged 6 - 8 any words written on the board, they shouldn’t copy anything to their copybooks it’s for adults not for kids. The main tool when teaching kids is game (speak, mime, show pictures, words, draw, color or listen to some materials, watch videos, sing songs) everything must be done through game. My favourite game with kids was to play board game on the floor: I put pictures of words which we covered at previous lessons on the floor around the classroom in the form of a snake; it looked both gripping and colourful so exciting for the kids. Then I gave to each kid per counter of different color and ask every one of them to roll the dice one after another (by the way, it is important to decide the turn; to do it I always used the dice which the kids rolled and the one with the biggest number started). This game is popular with kids and allows to revise the not only the words but also the phrases or even sentences related to the words on the pictures; it just depends on your curriculum and the level of your kids, all games can be adjusted.
The thing I really liked about teaching kids is their true excitement and joy in their eyes that make you have fun together with them and offers some form of escapism. Moreover, they get used to you very fast and begin to love you almost as much as they love their parents, that really buys you over 😍🥰😝😜
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