Teaching English to young children (0-11) is not an easy experience. For one, young children often struggle to make progress in language acquisition. This is surprising to many. However, TESOL literature makes it clear that though young children are superior when it comes to pronunciation in a second language, adolescent students make faster progress and are more effective at learning a language than young children.
Despite this, the myth that early exposure is best compels teachers to work with young children. As such, this post provides some tips on dealing with young children.
How Young Children Learn Language
Here are some basic characteristics of young learners in bullet format.
- Young kids struggle with grammar so avoid it for now.
- They need individual attention. This means try to limit the size of the classes.
- They have short attention spans. Several small activities are better than one long one.
- The respond to topics related to themselves and their immediate space. This means to limit the conversation to something in the room or their life.
- They love to learn. Use this enthusiasm to motivate them.
Tips for Teaching Young Children
Teaching young children involves have a litany of activities. Since their attention span is so short, young children need many different activities in order to learn for long periods at a time. It is not easy to find enough reasonably relevant teaching activities that relate to goals and objectives while encouraging learning. This is perhaps the top challenge of teaching young children. Finding meaningful activities that are not only fun but lead to learning that is measurable and aligns with goals and objectives.
Classroom environment needs to be visually stimulating. This means that decoration is necessary. The easiest way to make this happen is to allow the students to decorate or at least pick the decorations for the classroom. This gives students a voice in a harmless decision. In addition, this is useful for male teachers who struggle with decorating.
Teaching young children English is a job that requires dedication and expertise. Young kids are fantastic imitators but struggle with truly understanding and appreciating another language. To overcome this problem, a teacher needs to keep in mind the traits of young learners as well as ideas for overcoming the disadvantages of teaching young children.