Teach English in Xinjie Zhen - Baoji Shi

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Teaching English to young learners is quite different from teaching to adults in many ways. One of the differences is that young learners do not learn the language in a conscious process, mostly they acquire the language. For young learners, it can be said that it is easier for them to acquire and learn the language as long as they are exposed to the language. Since learning the language differs from age to age, teaching styles and strategies, also change according to it. As English teachers, we have different approaches, methods, techniques, and tools which gravitate towards different needs and levels of young learners. So, as English teachers, we should address those needs. First of all, to teach a child, we should adopt an approach so that we can design our syllabus and arrange our class’ going. According to me, the communicative approach is more suitable for children than other approaches. We should use English as much as we can and make them acquire the language by using the drills and repetitions. Also, since they are children and they are kinesthetic learners, so we should include TPR to our lessons and we should choose short activities for them since their attention spans are short. Moreover, while teaching the language and speaking, we should consider the context. They should be familiar with the context from their lives to make connections and we should use it in a meaningful context. The other thing to consider while teaching to young learners is setting the learning environment for the students. By that, it is implied both the physical environment and the classroom atmosphere. The physical environment should be flexible and easy to change according to children’s need and their personality (hyperactive, calm etc.). As teachers, we should observe our students and place them to the right places in the class and with the right groups of students where they can express themselves more and are comfortable. Personally, I prefer the semi-circular chair arrangement since it is more suitable for the communicative class. Also, this arrangement helps students to move around easily and since they are young learners they cannot sit on their chair for long periods of time. Moreover, the classroom environment should be lively, energetic and welcoming for the students. We would want our students to feel comfortable in the class. Lastly, it is important to mention the appropriate materials for young learners. Usually, there are two types of materials, authentic and non-authentic materials. We can use both of them according to our learners’ needs but personally, I don't stick to one type of material, I arrange it according to the class' need and level and the topic. So, there are situations where we should use non-authentic materials which are designed for the exact need of the learners. Mostly they are song and chants. We use these types of non-authentic materials to make them memorize some vocabularies and some patterns. According to my experience, kids learn by song faster and they memorize it automatically and it helps their pronunciations. Another useful teaching method is using games. Since they are young learners and full of energy we can easily design simple games to help their learning. For instance, we can play hopscotch game with fruit flashcards and make them jump and say the name of the fruits on the cards. They already know the game and they are also practicing the vocabularies. To continue, we can add our teachings arts and crafts. We can link fun drawing, coloring, cutting, sticking or painting activities to our teachings. We can simply give them a paper plate and want them to draw foods and we can talk about their foods on the plate. To sum up there is a variety of things we should consider while teaching to the young learners and be prepared for. Although, there are things we learn only by experience.