Teaching English to Children

Teaching English to ChildrenI don't mind telling you that I was pretty nervous my first time teaching English to children.

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I'd taught adults and older teenagers before, but being presented with a class of 9-10 year olds was a pretty scary experience!

I made mistakes. I expected them to have the same concentration levels as adults, I expected them to be able to work for a two hour class, and I expected them to behave well and respect me. None of those things turned out to be true!

The children I taught tested me to see how far they could go. Once they knew I had boundaries and that I stuck to them, they respected me and started to behave.

We developed ways together to deal with discipline issues and they worked.

Class rules

It is important to have class rules when you are working with children, whatever age they are.

I find it is a good idea to get them to make posters with the rules they think are important and put them up in the classroom.

Be prepared for some strange rules, but generally this works really well.

If you have a problem with children playing with toys or cell phones during your class, have them leave their bags and coats at one end of the classroom, just taking out what they need for the lesson.

Start as you mean to go on. Children appreciate consistency so don't change your rules part way through a semester or they will be confused and unlikely to cooperate.

Classroom activities

Lessons for children need to be fun and varied.

Depending on the level and age of the children, there are various things you can do.

1. English Games

English games are an essential part of an English lesson for children. Turning them into competitive team games and/or offering rewards such as gold stars really help kids' motivation.

2. Create movement in the class

You can't expect young children to sit still for a whole class.

Have some movement games in the lessons (for example, miming words), cut up reading texts and hide the pieces for them to find, create treasure hunts around your school, or simply have them get up and move seats every 20 minutes or so.

3. Music and song work really well with kids

Teach them songs in English, get them to listen to music and draw pictures of how it makes them feel and ask them to describe their drawings, get them to write different words to existing songs, etc.

If you have a longer activity, some children work really well with music in the background.

4. Children love visual activities

Drawing pictures, making posters, making magazines, etc., all of these are great ways of teaching English in a fun way.

5. Stories are another way of getting your class to use English

There are so many activities you can do based around English stories, including giving word prompts for them to make stories, giving them a story to act out or draw pictures for, or getting them to write stories in groups.

Even though I said I would never do it, teaching English to children has made me a better teacher and given me a new repertoire of activities.

I enjoyed it immensely, and so can you!

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