Teaching English as a Foreign Language to Young Learners
Teaching English as a Foreign Language in a Kindergarten could be interesting, challenging and rewarding at the same time. The outcome of the experience mostly depends on the following but not limited to the school environment, norms and cultures of the country, attitude of the teacher, rules and regulations of the school to mention but a few.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Olamiposi Blessing I. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
Many kindergarten teachers have made the miracle of learning languages possible with their effort, extra hours, and care because It is truly very difficult to gain and hold a child’s attention for long, so thorough planning, fun activities and endless energy; the teacher can hold an interactive audience and also develop good rapport with the kids.
In many countries today, the learning of English starts from the kindergarten level, however unlike the advanced students it is unnecessary to bug the kids with difficult rules of grammar and long boring lectures because they basically cannot even speak their mother tongue clearly yet; they have a very limited attention span; unless activities are extremely engaging they can easily get bored, losing interest every no and there. The teacher must be ready to make fun of himself (behave like a kid) by singing or dancing, making funny faces or putting on a clown’s outfit just to please to kids.
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For an inexperienced teacher, walking into a kindergarten classroom may leave the teacher with no other option but to run out of the class immediately because a kindergarten classroom can be unpredictable, sometimes the kids are not just in the mood, it’s now left for me as the teacher to arouse the kids’ interest. At this level, the kids just want to play, explore, be pampered, have fun and express themselves freely with no hindrance. Routine, repetition, and consistency are quite important when teaching this age group, though I can be bored as a teacher the kids will love every single repetition. Activities should be changed often by incorporating a physical component into my activities, kids need and must move often; running, dancing, jumping, etc.
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However, some factors should not be ignored because it is acceptable and applicable globally in teaching EFL in a kindergarten and even for adult learners, the factors are music, chants, and games. These three works like magic in raising the interest and changing the atmosphere of the classroom. Popular songs and rhymes can be used to start or end the class depending on the time. It is also a good method to memorize simple phrases, vocabularies, greetings, etc. Phrases and songs such as “Hello, good morning” “Heads shoulders knees and toes” “Old McDonald has a farm” “ABCD” etc are typical examples for memorizing and helping the mind to remember new things.
Games and various activities on the other hand also play their useful role in the kindergarten, they are a vital part of teaching English as a foreign language. Whether teaching adults or children, games will liven up your lesson and ensure that your students will leave the classroom wanting more. They can be used before the class (warm-up), during (lesson to give students a break when you’re tackling a tough subject) and after the lesson (when you have a few minutes left to kill). There are a multitude of games and activities to choose from, each with its unique function of either learning basic words or just having, testing vocabularies, practice dialogue, etc.
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Finally, I can conclude that teaching EFL at the kindergarten level is interesting based on my personal experience, I appreciate it more than teaching adults though it could be a daunting prospect to some individuals. However, with thorough preparation of a variety of fun and interactive activities, hard work of the teacher and trying constantly to understand the kids, this could develop into a highly rewarding career which is “having fun while learning”.
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