Designing a Plan for a Preschool ESL Class
Although I have spent many years as an English tutor and teacher of children, I always relied on my own innate skill and have never been formally trained. Within my circle, I was the resident expert on the English language, as I was one of the few native speakers. From my own efforts and studies, I developed my own program for my students. I often felt unsure if I was applying the right methods and longed for some formal training. Now I can say that I have learned a great deal from studying the ESA method, and have a better understanding of what good lesson planning and classroom management involves. From my own intuition and experience, I learned to apply some of the techniques and methods presented in this course; however, the examples and explanations provided were more detailed, logical, and comprehensive than the lesson plans I had done previously.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Kim T.
Bilingual Experience Classroom
First I must mention that the classes I was teaching were basically enrichment classes; the students were native-born Americans whose parents were non-English speaking immigrants. As such, although the students spoke English as their first language, compared to children of English speaking parents, their vocabulary was somewhat limited. Although most of the parents had some level of proficiency in English, they did not have the confidence or ability to help their children in their school work. I was asked to provide lessons to pre-school children age 4, to prepare them for Kindergarten.
For the preschool children, I would generally base my lessons around the seasons and holidays. I would begin the lesson with some songs, and then read a book to the class. Usually, after that, we would do some activity; I used resources and materials from Mailbox, a preschool teachers magazine.
If I could design my ideal ESL class for 4-year-old children and money was no object this is what I would do. I would have a classroom large enough to accommodate 10 children; there would be one teacher and one assistant. One section of the classroom would be carpeted and used for circle time, music and movement, and story time. One section would have a play kitchen set with all the accessories-play food, dishware, utensils, table, etc. One set of shelves would have age-appropriate puzzles. One set of shelves would be supplied with paper, scissors, crayons, and colored pencils. There would also be playsets of farm animals, wild animals, people of different sorts, etc. The materials would be rotated according to the lesson plan; not everything would be out at once. That way the materials will stimulate more interest. There would also be a water/sand table. Objects around the classroom would be labeled, for example, “door”, “window”, “art center” etc. to teach sight words and encourage literacy. The most ideal set up would have a bathroom and sink directly accessible in the room.
Routine for Younger Children
Although older students and adults become bored with the same schedule every day, young children actually do better with a predictable routine. I would base my program on the following pattern, using what I have learned from this online course. Of course, as I learn what works and what doesn’t work, I would modify what I do to be a more effective teacher. A lesson based on the Eric Carle picture book “The Hungry Caterpillar” would have the objective: students will be able to recognize and name the foods mentioned in the story. As teaching aids, I would have the storybook, plastic food items relating to the story, paint, paint brushes, and paper, and a CD with “The Hungry Caterpillar Rap”. My personal aim would be to facilitate smooth transitions between activities by giving students ample cues before switching. An anticipated problem for the students would be to remain focused on the activities. My solution would be to keep each activity no longer than ten to fifteen minutes and to be prepared to change the activity if it’s not working. An anticipated problem for myself would be dealing with any discipline problems that arise during the lesson. A solution would be good teamwork with my assistant and calm firmness with the children.
In the Morning
As the children arrive they would be greeted by the teachers and asked to sit at the tables to have free play time with puzzles; some of the puzzles would relate to previous lessons and some would be new, relating specifically to the day’s lesson. To begin the first phase, students would be called to sit on the carpet. There I would show the students the play food items in the story and try to elicit the names from the children, teaching them any words they do not know. Then I would read the story, pausing and pointing at the food items and allowing the children to call out the names.
For the next phase of the lesson, the children will remain in the circle area but will get up and dance to the “Hungry Caterpillar Rap”. This activity will reinforce some of the vocabularies, and also allow the children to have fun and move.
Teacher Directed Activity
For the final phase of the lesson, the students will put on their smocks and go to easels that have been prepared with paper, green and red paint, and paint brushes. The children will then paint their own Hungry Caterpillar. Children who already may have some knowledge of letters will be encouraged if they “sign” their names. As students finish their work, they may go either to the puzzle table or to the kitchen, where they can play with the food items from the story, as well as other items. The students will remain in free play, with the teachers present to guide and reinforce the lesson, until the parents come to pick up the children.
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The same book can be used for further lessons to teach the days of the week, counting, and colors. These lessons could be added on as previously covered material is reviewed in a fun way. Children of this age love repetition and many more lessons can be planned from the same book. This is how I would plan a lesson now, based on what I have learned from ITTT.
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