Teaching EFL in a Kindergarten The role of a kindergarten teacher is

The role of a kindergarten teacher is very challenging yet highly rewarding. This is usually the first time that children have left the safety, comfort and familiarity of their own home and families, and it is often the first time that they have direct and regular contact with a language that is completely foreign to them. This new environment needs to ensure that the children are completely at ease and ready to begin their language learning journey.

“Many kindergarten teachers have made the miracle of learning languages possible with their effort, extra hours, smiles, care and numerous other positive features of their teaching.” (1)

Teachers make a huge impact on a child’s learning, and providing an encouraging a supportive environment is provided the language learning journey will begin in a positive manner. At this early stage in a child’s schooling it is essential that the teacher is of a caring, kind and warm nature, ensuring these tiny children feel safe, happy and at ease.

“Teaching EFL in kindergarten is much more than teaching colours and singing songs, it also includes the challenging task of gaining a child’s attention.” (1)

It is very difficult to gain and hold a child’s attention for long, so thorough planning, fun activities and endless energy are vital for a teacher to hold a captive and interactive audience.

“They have a very limited attention span; unless activities are extremely engaging they can easily get bored, losing interest after ten minutes or so….” (3)

With young children it is best to plan short bursts of themed activity using a variety of teaching materials. The same theme, e.g. colors, can be taught in numerous ways. There are picture books, felt story boards, colouring activities, singing songs with actions and so on. As the children are constantly processing from language one into language two, it is essential for this constant reinforcement of subject matter to occur.

“Children enter kindergarten as kinesthetic and tactual learners, moving and touching everything as they learn.” (2)

Activities need to keep children interactive and interested if the subject matter is to be absorbed. Keeping tasks fun and enjoyable will be rewarding for both child and teacher alike. Although kindergarten pupils are primarily kinesthetic learners, teaching should incorporate other learning styles into their teaching methods. Audio-lingual, visual and solitary learning are all vital too. Children have strengths and weaknesses in different areas, so it is essential that each child style is met.

“It is through play that much of a child’s learning is achieved. The physical, socio-emotional and intellectual development of children is dependant on activity. Therefore, opportunity for play is a key aspect of the kindergarten programme.” (5)

Whether the subject being taught is science, mathematics or a foreign language, learning through play is paramount. Phonics are also a vital part of a child’s language learning. ‘Jolly Phonics’ is a popular material source for this subject matter and is used in some kindergarten classes in Phuket.

“Jolly Phonics is a thorough foundation for reading and writing. It teaches the letter sounds in an enjoyable, multi-sensory way and enables children to use them to read and write words.” (4)

Teaching EFL at kindergarten level, could be a daunting prospect some individuals. However, with thorough preparation of a variety of fun and interactive activities, this could develop into a highly rewarding career. Having fun while learning, is very important to Thai adults, so it is highly essential in the language learning of kindergarten age children.

1. http://www.tesl_ejorg/ej39/hl.html

2. methods/38519.html

3. The Practice of English Language Teaching. Harmer, J. Longman. 2001