Teach English in TushAn Zhen - Xuzhou Shi

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Some feel that teaching kindergarten students can be intimidating as not all grownups can, want and know how to handle them. For some even worse when thinking of doing so in a foreign country with a different culture and language. Personally I would say it’s the most satisfying and nourishing job I had. I’ve always enjoyed the presence of kids and did activities as an instructor during summer camps back home. I felt recharged from the energy surrounding them. I always felt there’s no gray area here, either you like working with kids or you don’t. Therefore, After moving to China my first job was as an English teacher, and I chose to teach kindergarten level students. In some cases, some study book was provided, but it was never enough to plan a lesson or few on the same topic, so I always found myself printing flashcards and adding my own material. I always found myself adapting and, in some cases, changing my lesson plans according to the dynamics of the class. Some classes counted about a dozen students some for up to thirty and more. At some point I had around 15 lessons a week for different classes, so I started to have my own rhythm and method which I’ve followed for years to come. I should say that not knowing the local language Is not a barrier for communication, as for kids you need to be able to reach their hearts and show them you’re like them in a way, so being a clown in some occasions played the role to my side and when the kids start liking you they will follow your lead. Of course sometimes some kids will try to tease you and see where are the limits, but it’s a normal behavior, we were all kids once and remember how naughty we were. So my first impression was that I must be funny within the limits and not too harsh on kids, I didn’t like the severe attitude anyway. As a foreigner I already was interesting for them, as a funny guy I got their attention even more. Another important duty I set for myself is to be attentive on most students. I always set a goal to myself to let the students lacking confidence or that were scared of me to loosen up after some time and let them participate in class during my games. Whenever the local teachers forced a child to the activity, I always stopped them if I saw the student’s discomfort. I encouraged them to try next time and said it was ok, and even gave them a sticker as a token of love and not let them feel left aside. Patience, warm feelings and feed backs with high fives were essential keys in my view, it came out naturally from me. As a method of teaching I adopted some basic rules in introducing new words using flashcards, it was the main tool at that time together with CD’s and common toddlers’ songs. I always started my lesson introducing first 2 cards, one at a time, while I’ve already prepared three to five cards for that lesson. After mastering these two words I added another one and made sure they memorized all three by mixing them several times. If the majority already remembered I will keep on this repetition while adding more cards. I never rushed into it and always made them feel how much I’m enjoying with them and how much fun it is. The best part is that I never had to fake it. One important point is to keep talking in English and make gestures, even if we think they don’t understand everything we say. I always repeated some simple sentences each class, so after a while they could understand my meaning. After accumulating some basic vocabulary one can start adding words like verbs to form simple actions, for example: hands, wash my hands, clap my hands etc.. It’s a constructive way to add more vocabulary while building simple sentences. Another key ingredient for teaching a language for children is the use of songs. It can add lots of vocabulary and it’s an easier and fun way to learn, adding to them gestures and actions will definitely improve it. In recent years many schools have smart boards and projectors connected to computers, it’s a welcome addition to the tools a teacher might use. I enjoy using pictures, video songs etc.. I started doing PPT presentations with pictures where kids can press on pictures and get an interaction and feedback about their answers. I use funny emojis as reactions to their choices whether correct or wrong, adding some funny sounds to it and children just love it. At the same time the emphasis is always on learning. After some years of experience with kids I found it more beneficial to have a foreign language teacher accompany the kids for more than just in the lesson time. It can provide more intimate relation for starters and the teacher can keep talking to them in English for basic activities like would do so a local teacher. It will keep the ear of the students in constant bilingual environment, which can improve significantly their use and understanding of the language. I see it happening more and more in recent years. Many kindergartens require foreign teachers for a full time job ,with the same class. I would say it’s the right method to reinforce and develop the speaking abilities of kindergarten age students.