Secrets of Teaching Beginners
Being an educator is one of the most gratifying and rewarding careers of all time. I have been an ESL teacher in Vietnam for the past six months. I have worked with various age groups and I prefer working with young or beginner students. I believe that it takes a special person to teach these young children.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Ahmed T. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
Who Can Teach Beginning Students?
As a teacher of young learners, you should have an absolute passion for teaching as well as dedication and heaps of patients. Here is one of my favorite teaching quotes: “a teacher takes a hand, opens a mind and touches a heart!” – Unknown
When you walk into a classroom, whether it’s for the first time of not, always have the right attitude. Your attitude and mood will determine the outcome of your lesson as well as the moods and attitudes of your students. When you walk into a class for the first time, you should greet your students with a smile and a lot of enthusiasm, this will automatically break the ice. Write your name on the board, give them some background and let them ask you some questions. Introduce yourself to all the students individually. When approaching young learners, bend down so that you are on their level and less intimidating. If you encounter any shy students in your class do something silly to make them laugh. Don’t be disheartened if you don’t receive the outcome you expected, the students will warm up to you as time goes on.
Start of Your Course
At the start of the course or school year, establish your class rules and stick to them throughout the year. Young learners need structure, consistency, and routine. Always bear in mind that these students are learning English for the first time. You should always start your lesson with a warmer to capture the interest and attention of your students. Do something fun and if possible, course-related. I usually play my young students a song where they can sing and dance.
Provide With Visual Clues
When teaching these students new vocabulary, be as visual as possible. Show them pictures or draw pictures on the board. I always use flashcards which can later be used in activities or games. It is important to elicit language first before teaching them the actual words. I always let the class repeat the word 3 times, I will ask a few individuals to repeat the word. I sometimes send the flashcard around the room to listen to each students’ pronunciation. I will also correct any pronunciation and then reward the student with a star or a high five. It’s of utmost importance to keep these students motivated and encouraged.
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When I am finished with my drills, I normally play a game or do an activity to monitor understanding, pronunciation, and memory. Games that the students enjoy are slap the board or what’s missing.
I will then move onto grammar. I will draw two faces with speech bubbles and write the sentences inside. Again, I will elicit language before teaching them the sentences. I will repeat these sentences 3 times and ask individual students to repeat for pronunciation purposes. I will ask the students to practice this dialog with their friend (pair work). I will later ask a few pairs to do it in front of the whole class. Again, rewarding the students with a star or high five. I will then move onto book-work activities. It’s important to give clear and simple instructions to ensure they understand. I will check the answers and allow different students to answer. Again, I will reward students with a star.
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At the end of my lesson, I will play a game with the students, I often play the target game with a sticky ball. I will divide the class into teams, stick all the flashcards on the board and draw a target on the board, each ring representing points. They must hit a flashcard, if the pronunciation is correct, they can move to the target and throw for points. After the game has finished, we will applaud the winning team. I will review the words and grammar for one last time. If there is time left, I will do a warm down song.
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In conclusion, it is important to keep your lessons fun and engaging. Always motivate your students and encourage them to participate and learn. Don’t let your students give up and never give up on them either. I was a teacher who lives for these moments as it is so rewarding going to work and be surrounded by so much love and appreciation.
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