Teach English in Huangnidong Linchang - Yongzhou Shi

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Teaching methodology should be greatly dependant on the demographic of a particular class. In this essay, I shall explore how kindergartners differ from older students in terms of their learning capacity, motivation, attention span and other factors in order to gain an idea of how a teacher can adapt their teaching strategies to better engage and effectively teach English to this age group. Kindergartners consciously learn at a slower pace than older students due to their comparatively underdeveloped cognitive abilities, shorter attention spans and lack of external motivation to learn a second language older students often have. Because of this, the standard lesson structure of ESA/ engage, study, activate becomes inappropriate to implement, as the students are too limited in their English skills. Instead, lessons should be more centred around engagement and practice, using repetition and drilling exercises to reinforce vocabulary and a diverse range of activities to engage their shorter attention spans while practicing this new vocabulary. Kindergartners also have a lower capacity to engage with and understand conceptual language. While this certainly inhibits them from gaining a complete, nuanced understanding of grammatical rules and conceptual vocabulary, they should not be excluded entirely from a lesson. A teacher can focus on simple grammatical concepts, such as comparative adjectives that can be demonstrated through the use of diagrams or realia to ensure they have a strong vocabulary base to aid future learning. The standard communicative approach that is used in older classes should still be used at the kindergarten level to immerse the students in English and, when possible, get them thinking in English, but as they typically have little or no English background knowledge at this level, the native language can be used more freely than at higher levels to support their understanding of tasks. Any written material prepared for a kindergarten class should typically be non authentic, or very simple authentic material such as magazine advertisements with simple slogans or phrases which consist of relevant vocabulary, as authentic material in general would usually be at an inappropriate level. Use of diagrams or realia should be more prominent in kindergarten classes, as they provide concrete examples of vocabulary without resorting to the students’ L1. The use of movement and dance in activities is a learning strategy particularly suitable for kindergartners, as they typically enjoy these activities, unlike older students that may find them embarrassing and withdraw from them. Kindergartners tend to be energetic, and love moving and noise. Incorporating this into a lesson through chants or games such as Simon says can help entertain and engage them whilst providing more sensory information for them to associate with the new language being learned, aiding their retention of it. Overall, a good kindergarten teacher will adapt to the limitations of their class and use the uninhibited, playful attitude children typically have at this age to their advantage, designing classes that elicit language use and encourage language learning through strategies such as games and songs to make an enjoyable environment that engages students, in turn providing them with a solid vocabulary and understanding of simple grammatical constructs that will serve as an anchor from which they can expand their knowledge of English in future years.