Teaching Young Learners

Teaching Young Learners

It takes a special person to teach English as a foreign language. It takes an even more special person to teach English as a foreign language to young children. 

Young learners can be a real pleasure to teach because they do not feel stressed by their studies and approach everything with youthful innocence.

At this point in their lives, they may not know or comprehend how important English classes can be. They might view them as simply another fun activity and that is just fine. If we encourage them to develop an interest in learning English, it will stay with them for long.

What Young Learners Want

Students at this level are just starting their academic careers. School may be intimidating for some of the students in your class so, in order to encourage everyone to participate, it is important to make your lessons relaxed and fun. Young learners will be learning very basic material but you can design creative lessons that get them moving around and speaking with one another. Young learners are generally very enthusiastic about songs, especially if they can sing along, and active games. Be sure to provide lots of encouragement and positive feedback. You want to create a safe, stress-free environment where everyone enjoys learning.

How Young Learners Behave

Keep exercises fun and short because these students have short attention spans and are easily distracted. Overacting and projection will help keep the focus on you. Teach students how to behave in a classroom by asking them to be quiet while you are talking and raise their hands if they have questions or want to answer a question. Teach them to respond to basic classroom English phrases such as “Please sit down” because these are expressions that they will hear repeatedly throughout their study of English. Students will perform better in their classes if they behave well and have a good understanding of basic principles.

What To Focus On

The primary focus of these lessons will be on communication and laying a solid foundation for further English coursework. Students should practice the different sounds of the English language and learn material such as the alphabet, numbers, colours and shapes. You will introduce vocabulary words gradually and may choose to study some simple structures that relate to everyday life too. Reading and writing may wait a little bit; focusing on speaking and listening will help students become more comfortable and confident with English.

More YL Tips

There are many other things you can do to ensure that students succeed in class. There is no need to assign homework immediately after lessons start but be sure to track individual and class progress so that students can visually see what they have learned and how they are doing. Encourage them to try their best and create a constructive learning environment where students do not need to worry about making mistakes.

Students will also feel more comfortable if you stick to a regular schedule so if you decide to make changes, implement them over a period of time rather than all at once. Constantly review and avoid introducing too much new vocabulary at a time. Students may not remember material from one teaching session to the next so repetition is important. The more students are exposed to certain material, the faster they will learn it. This is how native speakers learn English, by listening to people around them and expanding their range of vocabulary gradually.

Teachers play an important role in helping young learners develop into lifelong ones. Foster a love of learning by creating lesson plans that appeal to them, suit their maturity level, and focus on what will help them excel in future English courses.•