Teach English in Xieqiao Zhen - Taizhou Shi

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With younger students comes an increased need to maintain order, focus and interest in the ESL classroom. Younger English students are often in classes because their parents have them enrolled either in this individual course or they’re in school. Thus, they don’t have the personal motivation that older students, who may have specific goals in mind as to why they want or need to learn English, more often than not have on coming into the course. A plus side to teaching younger, and, thus often lower-level, students is that the concepts you’re teaching are more basic. Essentially, you’re switching out difficulty navigating how to teach a complicated grammatical structure that you may have had to review yourself with learning how to manage classroom behavior, focus and participation. Points to consider include student and classroom arrangement, body language, presenting information, individual attention, talk time, giving instructions, discipline, and cultural awareness, among others. These are the main points that I will discuss in this essay, and they even can be applied to classes of all ages, but I will be tailoring them specifically to young learners. Classroom arrangement impacts how the students and teacher interact with one another and can be changed around from class to class based on number of students and activities planned. Some arrangements include orderly rows, circles or horseshoes, separate tables, and where you as the teacher are positioned. Rows are the most traditional and allow you to clearly view all the students and cuts down on discipline from talking. Circles and horseshoes are best for smaller classes and the teacher becomes less dominating and more of an equal. Separate tables are informal and make it easy for teachers to hop from table to table. They make it difficult to maintain eye contact but do allow for group work to easily be started. Finally, the teacher’s position varies in all of these that were listed, but be cognizant of when you are standing, sitting, remaining at a distance, walking and checking/engaging, or simply walking around. As we think about how we are standing, sitting or moving in the classroom, think about even more specific body language such as eye contact, gesture and tone and clarity of voice and how they can effect student engagement. Students who are being taught by a teacher who doesn’t make eye contact and speaks lowly or quickly won’t be engaged, leading to increased levels of classroom disorder. To combat this, maintain eye contact with students to keep them engaged, indicate who it is speaking, and encourage contributions. Gestures will add visual interest and reduce the need for verbal explanations, which can’t be used too much for beginner students who aren’t learning grammar or lengthy phrases yet. Consider how you can use your hands (cupping to ear, hand to mouth, counting), face (smiling or frowning), head (nodding yes or no), and even your entire body. Movement of voice and body is interesting and will catch the attention and interest of children, and even older students. Especially in lower-level classes, body language makes up for what language isn’t being understood which, most likely, will never be 100% in any ESL course. Students also link words / actions with gestures so once they understand the gesture and what is being linked to it, such as holding a cupped hand to the ear when wanting the class or an individual to repeat something, they begin to understand that English phrase or word! Instead of thinking of how to discipline younger students, be proactive and think of how to curb it from even beginning in the first place (although it inevitably will occur to some degree when dealing with children). Why would a younger student misbehave? Some reasons may include cultural differences (more informal student-teacher relationship), uninteresting or predictable course material, or feeling overwhelmed by the pace of the course. These can be combatted by ensuring that you stay enthusiastic, increase student talk time, vary the structure of the course (think of how to vary the ESA structure), include games, keep your language concise and correct, and see what the students are interested in! If you’re teaching a lesson on American Football and none of the students are interested in sports, not only are they more bound to misbehave but they won’t be retaining the information. Try at the beginning of a course to not only learn who everyone in the class is, but what they’re interested in. In closing, at the end of each lesson and course, it is good to not only reflect on how the students did and how they may be improving, but how you as a teacher are improving. Being ready with materials and a structure to bring to each class will help ensure a successful and generative class and so will being reflective on what techniques, games, and structures are and aren't working. Teachers can improve just as much as students can, think of it as a symbiotic relationship! Happy teaching.