Hello! It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything. It’s been pretty hectic with moving, adjusting to a new school system, students, and all that. Things are settling down now, and while working at this new academy keeps me busy, I don’t mind. The level of stress is manageable. Anyway, let’s get on with the show, shall we?
I teach at a kindergarten and elementary academy. I teach three classes of 5-year-old students and I love them! They are so cute! Their age brings some challenges. Short attention spans and teaching 5-year-olds in a foreign language can make things difficult. For other teachers here in Korea who teach this age, don’t let that discourage you!
1. Keep it simple. – This should go without saying, but it’s easy to forget these kids aren’t native-speakers. While language acquisition is much easier when children are younger, it doesn’t mean they understand what you’re saying. If the program has a textbook, follow that book and complete one or two pages per class (depending on the plan). Stick with the
alphabet, as well as simple phrases such as, “I am happy/sad/angry/etc.,” or, “My name is ________”.
2. Use Actions! – Kids love to move. Any activity that allows them to move
helps them develop concrete thinking skills. This past month I’ve been teaching my students about shapes. One thing I do is make the shape with my hands, and have my students make it, too. I form a shape then ask, “What shape is this?” and they reply, “A circle/square/triangle!” It’s fun for them to try making the shapes such as a rectangle or square (just use your thumb and forefinger to make a picture frame). They also can work on their physical development (i.e. motor skills).
3. Have a daily routine. – Kids, especially early childhood learners, need regularity. When they come to a new environment for the first time, like a school, it’s easy for them to be confused and scared. Daily routines help students adjust to their new environment. At my school, we open with a “hello” song, talk about the weather, and how we feel. After that we go into the main lesson for the day, and end with a “good-bye” song. It’s the same thing everyday, and while it’s tedious for teachers, it’s necessary.
4. Make sure every student gets a chance to participate. – There are worse things than parent complaints. But in Korea, parents have an absurd amount of influence at academies here, and one or two complaints from prominent parents can really hurt your career. Kids DO talk to their parents when they get home, and if one child says he/she did get to do the activity, be ready to hear about it the next day. Beyond the obvious parental concern, participation allows for more social and emotional development.
5. Remember to have fun! – While learning is important, for 5-year-olds, having fun is just as important. Play is the best way they learn! If they go home happy at the end of the day, you’ve done your job well. Teaching English to young learners is difficult because they learn slowly, in some ways. There is lots of repetition, but you as the teacher can find games and activities to help them learn while having fun at the same time. Parents like that, too.