How to Manage a Young Learners Classroom
One of the many challenges any TESOL teacher faces today is controlling a class full of energetic children. Some say experience is key, others say training. Common sense would suggest a mixture of the two. There are many theories and methods for fulfilling the successful teacher role in young learners classroom. Here are our tips to help you if you are starting out in the scary world of teaching children:
- Be prepared. This is one of the most important things you need to be. If you have not prepared your class properly (yes, including back up material) you will soon find yourself surrounded by a group of very bored little ones, and this could lead to mayhem.
- Do some training. This could be in the form of a short course like the CELTA Young Learners or similar. Your school may provide you with some internal training. If this isn’t an option for you, see if a friend can let you shadow some of their classes.
- Don’t punish too much. This is difficult, but try to find the golden area on your level of strictness, a classroom should be a happy, fun environment. However, don’t let discipline get out of control.
- Stay calm and focused. Prepare yourself mentally for the classroom and let things go. The easier it is for you to get stressed out the worse it will be, kids can tell if you are not handling it well.
- Enjoy yourself. Yes, it can be an amazing and rewarding experience. Be happy and your good mood will rub off on those around you.
Boredom and distraction
One of the biggest issues any young learners’ teacher faces is the short attention span of children. In this day and age of learner-centred teaching, the last place you should be lecturing is a kids’ classroom.
The key is to have a variety of activities which change throughout the lesson – sometimes it’s good to swap and change them depending on the reaction of your students. Make sure you have engaging tasks prepared, covering a range of skills and your curriculum.
There are lots of resources out there on the net to give you inspiration to plan your classes, additionally your employer should provide you with some resources as well. Try and get a clear agreement with your employer at the beginning of the year in terms of the materials that are available to you.
A young learners’ classroom is usually one of the most resource rich levels in English teacher training. To provide the wide range of activities the children crave you need lots of physical resources such as paper, pens, putty, reprographics access and whatever else you may utilise. Take this into consideration if you have to travel with materials to teach class as you may get weighed down if you take on too much.
Teachers may wish to embark on training for teaching Young Learners. Many go for online courses such as the ELTcampus Young Learners certificate: https://eltcampus.com/product/teaching-english-to-young-learners/
Reward and progress
It’s always a good idea, and often required by the school you work for, to track the progress of your students. A traditional test cannot obviously work for children of some ages, and it may not demonstrate their true ability at any age.
The best way to examine young learners is to do so in practice, meaning that you should assess them whilst they are in the classroom unaware. You can design some special activities with which you use as a basis to judge their ability, to them it will seem like another classroom task.
Kids love to be rewarded and know when they are doing well, so do so, but don’t pick favourites; each learner excels at a skill, so cheer them on and encourage their learning.
Do you have any other tips and advice? Post your thoughts in the comments section.