Challenges Faced by EFL Teachers in Kindergarten in Bangkok, Thailand
Kindergartners can range from as young as 1 and a half years old to 7 years old. These children have barely developed in themselves and their native language and are required to learn English as a foreign language. To achieve this, creativity is essential to make language learning as fun and enjoyable as physically possible. My new role as “Teacher Ellie” in a kindergarten school in Bangkok, Thailand has provided me with on the job experience of language teaching. This essay will explore what I have learned so far, including any problems I faced and how I overcame them.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Ellie H. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
Firstly, I shadowed and observed the teachers in my school to see how they taught this age group.
The methods of teaching they used varied and each said that in time they had developed their style of teaching. The main thing I noticed was a large number of songs and games, that were sued by most of the teachers. Due to the excitable nature of these kindergarten children, songs that had them on their feet dancing and singing using the English language were very successful. Also, any games that incorporated physical movement or competition made the students highly motivated to participate fully and focus on using the English language correctly.
Once this observation period was over I started teaching my classes.
Immediately I noticed the difficulty in pronouncing my name. They could not pronounce the double’ sound, so it took lots of repetition for them to pronounce it properly. This was useful though, as in the future I could remind them of the double’ sound in my name. The TEFL course also taught me how tongue twisters could be used to teach pronunciation. The specific example of this sound as well as double ‘or’ in the red lorry, yellow lorry. I quickly learned that choral drilling is essential for this age group to teach them pronunciation. Also, the teacher can make it a more fun activity by altering the speed and volume of the drilling. However, I have learned that individual drilling is often necessary because sometimes the few loud children repeat after the words whilst others just sit there not saying anything. Therefore, it is vital to learn the names of the students and ask them to repeat after you individually to ensure their pronunciation is correct.
Games and Activities
As mentioned earlier, games and activities are very successful methods to teach language and allow the students to simply have fun. Although I soon learned that the simpler they are the better. The school provides the teacher with lots of flashcards so one of the best games is blue tacking them to the board and having the students come up and have a big plastic squeaky hammer to hit the correct flashcard that I have said. It gets even more exciting when the class is split into two teams and the teacher keeps score. However, the more complicated the game the higher the chance the children simply will not understand. The TEFL course also highlights this point in one of their modules. The demonstration of this group is vital. Even for the simple flashcard game, I should go up and hit the correct flashcard to physically show the students rather than to try and explain it. This is because the students are so young, and they are still learning basic English vocabulary so cannot be expected to comprehend a detailed explanation.
Another difficulty I experienced was how to classroom manage students at different levels.
When the children are expected to complete the same worksheets I soon found that some completed them in around five minutes whilst others took the whole half an hour lesson period. Even as I attempted to go through the worksheet on the whiteboard the students would raise their hands or shout out “finished”; when on the board I had only gotten halfway through. Luckily, lots of the worksheets have pictures for the students to color so this can be good to occupy them and allow me to help the other students complete the worksheet. However, this can sometimes be distracting to the other students, so in the future, I may use techniques I have learned from the TEFL course like pairing up the students with one stronger and one weaker.
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In conclusion, my experience teaching at this kindergarten school has been highly rewarding. Along the way, I have met countless challenges that over time I have overcome. The TEFL course has provided me with the knowledge needed for language learning as well as providing me with examples and ideas to transfer to my classroom. I am sure I will encounter more challenges as a teacher in the future, but I now feel more equipped to deal with these when they arise.
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