The vast majority of TEFL jobs are about teaching English to children and young learners.
If you love kids, you can choose between thousands of jobs in language centers or public schools.
But teaching a gang of little rascals can be… at least challenging.
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This article will aid you in understanding what it takes to teach English to children and will give you valuable tips for the classroom.
- Teaching Children: What it Takes
- 8 Tips for Teaching English to Children
- 1. Get Down to Their Level
- 2. Be Fun And Keep Them Engaged
- 3. Promote Their Progress
- 4. Use TPR
- 5. Always Come Up With New Activities
- 6. Be Patient But Firm
- 7. Use Vocal Dynamics
- 8. Reward Your Students
- Bonus: Find Jobs to Teach Children
Teaching Children: What it Takes
A position to teach young learners or even toddlers may be perfect for you if:
- You have a lot of energy.
- You enjoy having creative tasks.
- You possess patience.
- You love children.
- You prefer active teaching.
If that sounds like your personality profile, fantastic! There is a school eagerly waiting to scoop you right up.
Also read our guide on teaching different age groups of learners.
8 Tips for Teaching English to Children
How do you connect with a large group of younger students, keep them excited, focussed and on your side for the whole lesson?
Let’s look at 8 effective ways of teaching English to children and managing your classroom.
1. Get Down to Their Level
Imagine how you’d feel if you were in a classroom with a giant, twice your height towering over you. I’d imagine you wouldn’t feel that comfortable right? It’s no different for your students.
You need to consider what you look like through their eyes, especially when meeting you for the first time.
- Try crouching down.
- Try sitting down on a chair, stool etc.
- Even try sitting on the floor if you have to!
Anything to bring your height down will help.
You are no longer a scary giant but a friend leading the lesson. You are also closer to their eye level now which helps things even more with connecting!
2. Be Fun And Keep Them Engaged
Imagine the field trips galore! Do you remember how fondly you looked forward to field trips when you were younger?
Now, your students will be looking forward to those same experiences with you. You will have the opportunity to help them solidify fun memories that they will remember for the rest of their lives.
Children are imaginative, creative, and brutally honest – they are an endless source of entertainment and energy. They love games, songs, dancing, and let’s face it, do we as adults ever really grow out of that? I don’t think so.
The big difference now is that you get paid to have fun with some of the coolest human beings on the planet!
3. Promote Their Progress
Kids soak up information swiftly. If you care about results and teaching to make a difference, teaching children may be the perfect option for you.
They don’t see learning a language to an end, but often love school and think of the experience as fun. As a teacher, do not only watch your students grow, but help them to develop intellectually over time and show them ways to use the information they have learned in the classroom outside.
4. Use TPR
TPR (total physical response) is a way of using actions to help learn a language.
For example, if you teach them the word jump then get them to do exactly that… jump! It has been found to be very effective with younger students and best of all, it’s really fun.
Younger children naturally have more energy and can feel stifled and bored sitting silently in one place for too long. Why fight this tendency when you can work with it?
Get them moving around, using actions to learn in class and you’ll be known as the fun teacher that they can’t wait to have lessons with.
5. Always Come Up With New Activities
Young learners respond to a variety of different activities and stimuli. The more creative an activity may be, the kids are likely to enjoy it. Use a variety of approaches while teaching and constantly try something new.
Whether it’s a hands-on activity like making a craft, sharing a funny educational YouTube video, using regalia in the classroom, or including sports activities as part of a lesson, children tend to gravitate toward those activities.
Here are more tips especially on how to teach English online to kids.
6. Be Patient But Firm
No two students are the same, and that can lead to some interesting situations. Not all students will enjoy learning, though most of them likely will. Some students will be unmotivated, lazy, boisterous, or naughty in the classroom.
As a teacher working with children you will have to be adaptable, patient but firm at the same time, and have to be strongly focused on classroom management to make sure lessons are completed properly and in the proper time frame.
Learn 7 strategies to become more patient in the classroom.
7. Use Vocal Dynamics
Have you ever seen a young child quite content watching the news? No, right?
They usually gravitate towards cartoons. What is different about cartoons (besides the bright colors)?
Watch a cartoon aimed at kids and just listen to the voices. They are never monotonous, flat, dull, etc.
- Are dynamic (going between loud and quiet)
- Use a wide vocal pitch range (low pitched to high pitched)
- Vary the pace (sometimes speaking fast, sometimes slow)
Why does this happen?
Because it’s interesting! This is what hooks kids and keeps them entertained.
We can employ the same tactics with our own speech. Experiment with different sounds and see the results you get.
Don’t be afraid to sound silly either.
Which is more embarrassing?
Colleagues and parents seeing a class full of bored children while you drone on in a monotonous fashion?
Or… a room full of excited, happy kids hooked on every wacky utterance and noise you make? Exactly!
8. Reward Your Students
Learning for the sake of learning and the enjoyment of it is a foreign concept to young learners at this stage.
To keep them interested in learning, teachers will need to focus on giving stickers, prizes, toys, and other means of reward to teach children that learning is a good thing.
Teaching proper behavior during this stage is just as important as teaching spelling to young learners and can take up a good amount of time in the classroom.
Bonus: Find Jobs to Teach Children
The traditional classroom, one-to-one lessons, and even online lesson options can allow you to supplement your income while doing rewarding work if you know where to look to find those jobs.
- Home Tutoring
- International Schools
- For-Profit Language Training Schools
- Day Care Centers
- Kindergarten Schools
- Public Schools
- Online teaching
VIPKID is one of the best companies if you want to teach English online to kids. Read our comprehensive guide on how to become a teacher for VIPKID.
As you can see, there is a little something for everyone no matter your teaching style. Whatever environment or age range of children you prefer, an opportunity is waiting for you to grab.
3 thoughts on “Teaching English to Children: 8 Tips For The Classroom”
Some people find it harder to work with children than with adults. Simply because they require a slightly different approach. But teaching children is a fun process, and it’s very rewarding when you see their successes and their sincere gratitude.
Total physical response is a really effective method. In such a playful way children memorize words with the help of clear examples and immediately understand how to use the word. Learning basic vocabulary in this way is quite easy.
Thank you for this interesting article. I agree with everything said here.
I live in South Africa. Most of your options are for American/Canadian accents. I would love to teach children. I spent 20 odd years coaching a sport and took some of my students from 6 years old bowling 1 pin per game to International standard bowling in tournaments all over the world representing South Africa.
Thank you for this great article. I fully agree.