Top Tips for Online ESL Classes with Younger Students
In the past few years, teaching English as a second language on the internet has gained a lot of reputation for English teachers around the world. The convenience of only needing a stable internet connection and a computer to go to work sounds far more pleasing than going to a school or other institution to teach a couple of hours per day. Additionally, online teaching provides opportunities for English teachers to travel to new destinations while still being able to work as a freelancer. Consequently, teaching English to children online, in different parts of the world, must be one of the most rewarding aspects of the job. However, many obstacles need to be overcome to be a successful English teacher for children online. Hence, these will be addressed in the following.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Jeremy M. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
A successful English teacher may be perceived as an experienced teacher with a lot of knowledge of the English language. While this may be true, it does not mean that they are suitable to teach English to children. For instance, an English professor that is experienced in teaching English to students aged 20-40 years old may not be able to teach children that well. Similarly, cultural differences may confuse as to what to expect from a good teacher. Nonetheless, there are general guidelines of what teachers should aim to be.
To briefly mention a few, teachers are encouraged to always be kind and patient. Children at a young age can be very sensitive and therefore need special care when it comes to teaching. Patience is key, to prevent any disruptive behaviors. Furthermore, teachers should be able to motivate young learners as effective as possible. Children tend to have high curiosity but a short attention span, which means they get bored very easily. Therefore, engaging students using fun activities will increase their motivation to learn English. Moreover, teachers should love teaching. In the eyes of the children, the teachers are their role models. Therefore, if the teacher is motivated to teach, then the student is motivated to learn.
Some teachers might get confused on how to approach the lessons because getting the attention of young students is different compared to older students. Nevertheless, there are a few factors on what a teacher should do when teaching children:
Firstly, teachers should always use English to speak to their students. This can be a challenge when the teacher understands their native language and tries to use it to make it easier for the students to understand. However, this causes the students to be too comfortable with their native language and will spend less time using English during their lessons, which is not the goal of learning English in the first place.
Secondly, teachers should be prepared to make fun of themselves. Children enjoy it when adults make funny mimics and faces, which in return will help the students with memorizing the words and phrases more effectively. Additionally, the use of children’s toys such as puppets, pop-up books, and rewards stickers will help the class be more interactive. A good topic for young students to learn is the study of phonetics whereby students learn the sounds of letters and words. Teachers can repetitively exaggerate the sounds so that the children can memorize and get used to how the letter or word sounds like.
Lastly, it is encouraged to speak slowly as the children are still getting familiar with the language. It is highly unlikely for a young student to understand what the teacher is saying when the teacher is speaking too fast.
Furthermore, teachers should be aware of what is typically avoided when teaching English to children. First, a teacher should never raise their voices. It can be quite challenging to grab the students’ attention since their mind wanders now and then. Even though teachers need to discipline their students, it is highly unnecessary to raise their voices. This can establish a negative rapport with the students, which may result in poor behavior in future lessons. Second, teachers are encouraged not to have any favorites in the class. This may be different in online one-to-one sessions, but it is relevant when a teacher has several students within an online session. Other students will feel left out or jealous when they are not treated equally. Finally, teachers need to limit negativity around the students. If a student makes mistakes, stay positive and do not correct them on the spot. For instance, use the phrase ‘almost there’ or ‘very close’ so that the students feel obligated to learn from their own mistakes.
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There is a more extensive list of what to do and what not to do when teaching children. However, to conclude all aspects of that list, it can be broken down into three points: Be repeatedly patient, show positive encouragement and give frequent praise. The result of the student’s learning growth will most likely depend on whether the teachers can use these three points in their lessons, whether the lessons are online or in a regular classroom. Either way, the journey for teaching English to children online can be adventurous and exciting for both beginner and experienced teachers all around the world.
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