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The Appropriacy of Punishment in Younger ESL Classes

The Appropriacy of Punishment in Younger ESL Classes | ITTT | TEFL Blog

Is it appropriate to punish younger children in an ESL classroom? No, there is no need for that. Punishment is such a strong word to use for children when trying to learn a new language. Learning a new language may be difficult for everyone. It requires patience towards the children you teach and patience towards yourself. Punish us not the word that I would use, discipline is.

This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Kathrina M. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.


At some point, the children in your class would misbehave during a lesson. Yes, it would disturb the flow of the class. Others can also join the other student and misbehave as well. But the students we are teaching here are children.

Children will misbehave and not listen to anything you are teaching at some point. So I, as an educator should be able to handle this kind of situation without thinking the word "punish."

happy young students

Also Read: The 4 Most Important Reasons Why Is English So Challenging for Chinese Learners

The Principles of Discipline

So, you ask yourself how should I discipline the student? As much as possible I would talk to the student calm voice. He may not respond because of the language barrier or the child may respond to me in his/her native language. Whether the child understands you or not, you should still try to talk to your student. Talking to them and making them understand is important.

When a student refuses to participate should the student be punished? If a student is punished for this matter, then a student would not want to participate at all. It can resort to more misbehaving. The teacher must talk and have a better understanding of why the student refuses to participate? Does he or she not find it enjoyable? Is it boring? Is it not interesting enough? After getting an answer from your student, explain to your student that why is it important to participate with everyone else. Maybe you can also ask him/her if she/he has an activity idea in mind that the class can try next time.

Disciplining your students for misbehaving, not doing tasks or homework or refuses to participate can lead it to bigger problems. The child may not want to go to your class at all or possibly may misbehave more. In this situation, if it goes on and you see that there is no progress in a student's behavior in class, it is important to talk to the student's parents or guardians. This way it can be explained more to the student in how he/she is behaving during class.

Also Read: How to find a job teaching English in Latin America?

Understanding Students’ Challenges

Learning a new language while still learning your native language cannot be easy for any children. For us teachers we should be patient and more understanding.

Learn how to make your teaching fun but still educational so they would be interested in learning. Find ways or asks tips from your co-teachers in what you can do more to help your students.

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Teachers shouldn't punish their students, especially children inside the classroom and during class. There should be room for mistakes inside the classroom. Mistakes can be corrected and can be learned. There are better ways of handling mistakes without the need to discipline a child. Because there is no need for that.

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