The ESL/EFL teacher that works with children might struggle sometimes to find ways to make them understand grammar concepts or practice their pronunciation.
Five to ten year olds love to talk about a handful of things though, and, if you are a child trainer struggling, try framing your learning objectives around fun-for-children topics. Here are some examples of how to do so!
12 Things Little Kids Are Always Interested In
Mom and Dad
Learning objective: daily activities.
Have picture cards or handouts of activities – washing clothes, cooking, going to work – and have them match mom or dad to the activities. Ask, “Who washes the clothes?” If they are a little more advanced, use this for time and clocks as well! Ask, “When does dad wash the clothes?” and mark it on a clock.
Brothers and Sisters
Learning objective: traits and characteristics.
They will love to talk about, write about, or just think about which of their siblings is tall, fat, happy, sad, angry, pretty, and perfect! Have them bring in pictures of siblings and talk about their traits. It can be a take home writing activity as well to have them practice simple sentences.
Cats and Dogs
Learning objective: superlatives and comparisons.
Have them compare different pets or common animals. Ask, “Which is bigger?” and show a flash card of a cat and another of a dog. “Which is friendlier?” “Which is smellier?”
Cake and Ice Cream
Learning objective: love and want verbs.
Teach them how to use want, love, and like to express desire with the two things they crave most – cake and ice cream! Talk about different flavors of ice cream and cake, different sizes, different serving methods, etc. You can take polls, as in “Who likes vanilla ice cream?”
Learning objective: teaching dates.
Teach kids how to form dates in English by asking them when their birthdays are and playing a memory game to remember when everyone else’s birthday is. Write the dates on a board or paper for the classroom wall if you can!
Learning objective: directions.
School is probably the only place kids go throughout the day, or one of them. It is probably the only place to which they know how to go as a result. Use it to teach directions. Have them draw simple maps from their house to school and then help explain their routes in English, i.e. “turn right at the gas station”, etc.
Learning objective: present progressive and immediate future.
Teach kids how to use the present progressive by asking about what they are doing or going to do with their friends in the immediate future. Use basic activities too that incorporate the other child friendly topics here, like bicycles, dancing, and school. Create an activity with the action verb in a picture, and ask them to match it to a friend. “With whom do you run to school?” “Are you running with her tomorrow?” “Are you going to run with her Monday?”
Learning objective: past tense.
Use ghosts, monsters, and scary experiences to practice the past tense. “I saw a ghost when…”. “The scariest thing that ever happened to me was…”.
Learning objective: Describing places and events.
Kids are infatuated with fireworks. Use them to talk about place vocabulary as in “Where do you go to see fireworks for Independence Day (or whatever holiday)?” or “What events have fireworks?” These questions should bring up talking about places like soccer fields, stadiums, and landmarks as well as describing events.
Painting and Drawing
Learning objective: colors, everything!
Involve painting and drawing whenever you can to teach, especially for colors. Kids love to paint and draw and using that part of their brain for language helps them learn better.
Learning objective: transportation.
Kids enjoy talking about their bicycles because it is usually their only mode of transportation. Big things that get people places are fascinating to all, but especially to children. Use them as a starting point to discuss transportation and its fundamentals, like concepts of “speed” and “distance”. “How far do you ride your bike?” or “How fast can you get to the supermarket?”
Dancing and Music
Learning objective: parts of the body, everything!
Involve dancing and music as much as you can in your class. Music, especially rock or rhythmic beats, can activate the part of the brain that absorbs language. Classic games for learning parts of the body are Hokey Pokey and Simon Says, which you can turn into a dance by doing it rapidly and touching parts of your body along with popular music.
Your five to ten year olds will learn a lot more if you try to work topics that they like into your teaching.
In the process they will have more fun as well, and so will you!