What is it Like Teaching EFL in a Kindergarten?
2019-04-01 Linda Dunsmore Alumni Experiences
The majority of children turning 5 years old attend kindergarten for two years in preparation for primary school. Some kids enter kindergarten earlier at the age of only four. This actually varies according from state to state and also from country to country.
In China, most kindergartens combine childcare with teaching so that the children will develop physically, morally, and intellectually in a harmonious way to get ready for their formal school education. A good environment is assured for the kids to have a conducive place to learn actively. Teaching English in China can be overwhelming considering that English teachers are also assigned to teach kids as young as one year old or even younger. Chinese parents prioritize the education of their children, so having them exposed to learning a new language very early on is seen as an advantage.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Marie M.
“Teaching EFL in a kindergarten is really challenging.”
Before coming to China, I never had the experience of handling kids from 1 to 9 years old. I was very reluctant about handling classes with kids when I was working at a language school in the Philippines because I was not confident that I could manage them well in my class. To me, teaching kids wouldn’t be my forte. But, since I got a job offer in China for a Kindergarten English Teaching position, I took the chance and prepared myself for a challenging phase in this career. Undoubtedly, teaching EFL in a kindergarten is really challenging. With my experience teaching EFL, I searched for some resources and tried to adjust it with the kindergartners’ learning needs. I have learned a lot of things in teaching. I have created learning materials to be of good use in the classroom. I have relied not only on textbooks but other sources to improve my teaching. I have become a better teacher through my experience.
“Teaching Kindergarten is like a Rollercoaster Ride!”
Answering the question, “How is it like teaching EFL in a kindergarten?”, I would say that it is like a roller-coaster ride. Kids have a very short attention span. Their attention could be taken away by a single movement or sound. It is so hard for a teacher to even have their attention alone, that is why it is very important to prepare various activities, materials, or tools that could help you deliver the lesson and be able t have it retained in their minds. Teaching a foreign language could make them hesitant to listen to you, that is why building trust among the kids should be a top priority.
Incorporating the target language in an educational play is one of the things you need to prepare, you could also search for sources for art projects that could emphasize their creativity, singing songs and chanting are very effective in getting familiar with the words through melody, repetition and actions, and, last but not least, is preparing active games that make the kids move.
Don’t rely on Translations
Kindergartners learn fast through experience and that reference is what I as a teacher focus on for them to remember the keywords in English. Having English as a foreign language to them makes it more difficult to check their understanding, that’s why it is very important to demonstrate and show them what something is for them to understand it better without utilizing the help of the Chinese teacher. I am grateful to have a Chinese teacher as my assistant, but I see to it that the kids don’t rely on direct translation in our class, but practice how to use their own observation in understanding the content of the lesson.
Preparation is key!
Preparations for the activities is the key to be able to assess how the flow of the class will be in reference to the kids learning needs. Once the class has finished, considering the fulfillment of all the necessary preparations for a better learning outcome, my mind feels at ease and I can get ready for my next lesson. Once a teacher has established a routine, it wouldn’t be so hard to prepare, execute, and revise the lesson plan because you have already learned how to handle and deal with certain situations in classes. It might take time to be familiar with the class, the approach for a certain group, and the right activities for a desirable outcome, but everything is worth it.
Truly, teaching is a rewarding job.
Teaching kids makes you feel that young and free. You get to learn a lot of things from the kids that you can’t get through teaching adults. All the hard work pays off as you get hugs, kisses, smiles and other signs of appreciation from them. Truly, teaching is a rewarding job that cannot be replaced.
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