Have you ever felt overwhelmed and under pressure before you entered a new classroom full of new faces staring at you with curious eyes and waiting for you to tell them something interesting? Asking yourself what's next?
Good news! Help is on its way! Keep reading! Avoid this feeling and prepare yourself with these easy steps. Set the scene. Don't forget that you are going to work together for a while so it is important for everybody's sake to have a good foundation.
How to Make Your Life Easier with Young Learners: 7 Tips
It is very important to always follow a certain pattern when you teach young learners. It shouldn't be forgotten that it is their second language so routine would give them confidence as they can expect the same things one after another.
Different groups, different levels. So tailor your routine to the children's needs.
Unless you want to end up with a hectic class you should think and talk about the classroom rules with the children on an early stage. Have some general rules from the very beginning, preferably written out and illustrated with simple pictures. If it is possible, put it on the wall as a reminder, where everybody is able to see the illustrations properly. So when someone 'accidentally' misbehaves, you only have to point to the certain picture without interrupting the lesson for telling the student off or saying even a word about it.
Bear in mind that groups are not the same so it might be a good idea to establish various rules with different children. You can let them suggest some do's and don'ts, too. If they take part in making up the rules, they will more likely follow them as well.
Do you have young learners in your ESL class? One of the most useful information to know is that stickers are the teacher's best friends. Kids do almost anything to get one of those smiley faces or stars! It is amazing how much difference these little things can make. Although, you have to be really careful with giving out these tiny rewards! Whoever gets them, have to deserve them! Are you planning of giving out smiley faces just to make them love coming into your class? Well, forget it! The wrong message goes out and they won't follow instructions or do anything you ask them to do, unless they want to do it, anyway. If you hand out stickers just for the sake of making your students happy, the magic is going out of the window within a couple of weeks. Children are intelligent enough to be aware of the fact they could receive stickers at the end of the class, no matter what they do. So the power of the stickers only works in case you use them wisely!
Do you have helpers? Not yet? Choose your 'teaching assistants' at the beginning of every month! It wouldn't take more than ten minutes and it has a lot of benefits. Give children responsibilities for a couple of reasons. First of all, they love being in charge and feel important. Secondly, when it is decided beforehand who does what, it saves you a lot of time. Otherwise these little kids fight over who you choose to do this or that. But when everybody knows who gives out the books, notebooks, papers, pencils, or collects the finished work, who checks the homework or cleans the whiteboard, these fights disappear completely from your life. Everything can go smoothly. Last but not least, you don't have to do all of these things so you won't lose the class attention and waste your precious time with tiny nuisances.
Let your students know what you all are going to work on this term. Tell them about the topics that you are going to cover monthly, so they will have a clue and they will feel motivated to work towards the targets.
Set a goal with your young learners when the term begins. Children must have at least a rough idea about what they are supposed to achieve, assuming that they work day after day. You can keep reminding them of course but as the target is already set it won't be too time consuming.
Choose a certain topic for every month. Before you start it, use a mindmap to have some information about your students' previous vocabulary and knowledge of the topic. You can only plan lessons after finding out how much they already know. Why? First of all, it is useless to teach them the same vocabulary over and over again. Secondly, they will certainly get bored of hearing about things they have learnt. Boredom won't give them other choice than mess around. It would also be a good idea to ask them what they are interested in about the topic.
When planning your week make sure you cover all four main skills: Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing. Always start with listening. Students have to hear new vocabulary a couple of times before they are able to say it. That's when you can use TPR (Total Physical Response). Young learners respond well to exercises when they can move around. It has a specially good use with shy children who don't feel like speaking and they are embarrassed. It is good enough if they answer you with some physical movements.
Do the same with the reading part too! The teacher needs to read the text out loud first, only after that ask the children to read in chorus, in groups, in pairs and finally individually.
- lesson plans:
Prepare your lessons on a daily basis but if something goes wrong or some unexpected happens, don't be afraid to change your plan. Be flexible!
Young learners can lose their attention very quickly. To avoid having bored and fidgety children in your classroom, plan your lesson around a lot of different activities: Children can work or play as a whole class. Group work also has some well-known benefits. To practice dialogues, they can be in pairs. And obviously there is time for individual work.
Praise your students as many times as possible. It boosts their energy and eagerness to learn They also want to please you. It is much easier to work with eager, well-behaved children who follow instructions.
So make a lot of positive comments on their work. Of course sometimes it is not avoidable to give negative comments. In this case use the 'sandwich method': good, bad, good. Try to find something nice to say about their work then tell them what to do differently and finish it off with some positivity like you trust them or how well they can work if they put some effort in it.