by Ayesha Rahman
Just recently I finished teaching an ESL class (English as a Second Language) to a large group of kindergartners and preschoolers in my school. It was a challenge at first, but after a few classes I realized how easy it was to involve all the children with fun activities and teach a second language at the same time. The “absorbent mind” is really like a sponge absorbing all that you pour in.
Teaching English to young children had numerous significant and unique challenges which were absent in teaching English to older children and adults. Toddlers do not have the capability to sit down and give a teacher their full attention. This makes learning new vocabulary and grammar rules extremely difficult. It takes an enthusiastic teacher to take on the dual task of educating by providing an interesting environment that holds the attention of young children. So there were several ways to make it fun, exciting and rewarding. Here are some suggestions teachers might consider:
One of the most imperative ways kindergarten teachers can achieve the maximum growth from each lesson is by becoming involved in and guiding children’s play. By producing an environment in which the children are free to play with each other and with carefully selected materials, teachers facilitate children’s development and learning.
It’s important for the teacher to take advantage of activities which maximize children’s focus on sounds, rhythms, and phonics. Playing music games, singing songs and reciting rhymes and riddles can help children learn sounds and phonics of English that are new to them. Classic games such as “Simon says” and using flashcards can be incorporated in lesson plans by utilizing different themes such as colors or body parts. Games should be varied, brief and–most importantly–fun. By using games and keeping the classroom an educational playroom the teacher can better manage the difficult task of educating toddlers.
Literacy skills begin in kindergarten and it’s important to expose children not only to the sounds of a language but also to its grammatical structure and vocabulary. This means we must not only speak English to young learners, but we must read to them as well.
Teaching children by sound and sight means introducing letters with fun shapes, sizes and textures. It’s important to remember that literacy is developed through seeing the letter and hearing the sound. When reading to the children, teachers should remember to give the students a visual text so they can follow along. Young children are highly visual and interactive learners. Using visual aides in all lessons and having countless pictures, toys and materials around the classroom will instigate conversation. For the greatest degree of effectiveness the teacher should make the visuals fun, bright, colorful and easy to see and understand. One of the most effective ways to use visuals is to hold up the visual, say and repeat the name and than have the students say the name.
Teaching young children can be an exhausting and difficult task. By integrating the fundamental yet natural methods that children use to learn into every lesson can make each lesson enjoyable and beneficial for the child and the teacher. It’s important that young children have fun while learning and these methods can make teaching more fun, exciting and rewarding for the dedicated and enthusiastic teacher.