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  1. #1
    Kristen48 is offline Newbie
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    Exclamation Advice Please! Teaching Pre-K through Third grade English clases

    Hello all,

    I am a missionary from the United States serving in Guatemala, and I was just asked to teach Pre-Kindergarten through Third Grade English classes. The classes will be held twice a week on tuesdays and thursdays for forty-five minutes per grade level.

    Now this is a daunting task considering my background is in science, and I have never taught English. Also, I have no curriculum to work with and almost all the students are absolute beginners with regards to the English language. Each class has approximately 15 students.

    Any advice would be so appreciated! I was told to speak as much English in the classes as possible (I do speak Spanish decently though) and to focus on speaking as opposed to straight up vocabulary. Right now, my greatest concerns and difficulties have been as follows:

    1. Trying to develop seperate lesson plans appropriate for each grade level.
    2. Finding game ideas and story ideas to incorporate into the lessons.
    3. Developing realistic learning objectives for each class.
    4. Working with EXTREMELY limited resources (my students will not have access to textbooks, computers, or worksheets)
    5. Figuring out how to assess learning retention

    I realize this may be very vague, but like I said, this is all very new for me. Any teaching advice, game ideas, or very basic stories or song ideas would be appreciated! Thank you so much for your time and help :)

  2. #2
    Char at EarlyYearsEnglish is offline Newbie
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    Re: Advice Please! Teaching Pre-K through Third grade English clases

    Hi Kristen,
    Wow, you have a challenge on your hands! Your experience sounds very much like my first teaching experience. There really is no way round it - it's going to be tough. I do, however, have a few suggestions for you. I hope they are useful.

    -Language. I understand that the school wants you to use English as much as possible, and I support that. The only way for students to learn English is to hear it and speak it. However, I think your Spanish skills will really be useful here, especially for classroom management and giving instructions. I would suggest giving all your instructions in English, repeating them in Spanish if students seem confused, and then saying them in English again. That way they are still getting a lot of English exposure but they will also know what is going on.

    -Lesson plans for each grade level. I wouldn't worry too much about trying to make all your lessons separate. You can often use the same lesson plan for K, 1 and 2, but expect more from the G2 students in terms of language production and rate of learning. It's hard to know without knowing your students, but as a general guide I would suggest songs, story-telling (you tell the story) and play-based activities for K+1, and some writing and story-telling (they tell the story) for G2 and G3.

    -Game ideas and story ideas. Think back to your own childhood. A lot of games and stories are very universal and children might be familiar with a variation of them. My Korean, Thai, Saudi and Russian kinders were all familiar with 'what's the time Mr Wolf', clapping games (such as 'a sailor went to sea sea sea, to see what he could see see see') duck duck goose, simon says, traffic lights, telephone, I went to the zoo and I saw....(memory games). If you are able, talk to the local teachers and ask them what games or stories the children know and like in their native language. Then you can just translate them into English and use them. For stories, I often stick with traditional tales. Do you have a chalkboard or paper? You could tell some traditional tales or fables, draw the characters (or have the kids draw them) on separate sheets of paper and then retell the story as the kids act out the parts of the characters. For older kids with some English, you could do a reader's theatre where you read the part of the narrator and they read the lines of the characters. You can practice this over and over which helps their fluency, pronunciation, and confidence.

    -Learning expectations. Just keep them really simple. Better to exceed expectations than fail to meet them! For K-3 I usually use statements like 'students will be able to name some animals' 'students will join in with a song' 'students will be able to write some adjectives to describe themselves'.

    -Limited resources. This will be your biggest challenge. If you can get some paper it will really help you out. Otherwise you are really limited to songs, games, chants, poetry, listening to stories. If you have a watch, phone or egg timer and students can talk a bit, you can have them take it in turns to talk to the class for one minute each. My kinders used to like to see how high they could count in a minute, how many animals they could name, how fast they could recite the alphabet etc. My older students like to talk about themselves and their families.

    -Assessment. It's really hard to asses students with very little English and very few resources. I would suggest making a list of words they know around a certain theme at the beginning of the week, and then retesting them again at the end to look for improvement. So for example you could give them a sentence frame 'I like -------' and see how many words they can come up with to finish the sentence. If they get more words at the end of the week - success!

    I wish you all the best - let us know how it goes!
    Charlotte

  3. #3
    Kristen48 is offline Newbie
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    Re: Advice Please! Teaching Pre-K through Third grade English clases

    Dear Charlotte,

    Thank you so much for your advice! It has proven to be very helpful, and I am excited to try some of the songs and story ideas that you mentioned. I will post a lengthy update soon, but for now I'm off to work on more lesson plans haha.....Thank you so much for taking time to help me out; it is very much appreciated!

  4. #4
    Char at EarlyYearsEnglish is offline Newbie
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    Re: Advice Please! Teaching Pre-K through Third grade English clases

    You're welcome Kristen! Best of luck with it all, I'd love to hear about it!
    Charlotte

  5. #5
    I'm With Stupid's Avatar
    I'm With Stupid is offline Senior Member
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    Re: Advice Please! Teaching Pre-K through Third grade English clases

    Quote Originally Posted by Char at EarlyYearsEnglish View Post
    -Language. I understand that the school wants you to use English as much as possible, and I support that. The only way for students to learn English is to hear it and speak it. However, I think your Spanish skills will really be useful here, especially for classroom management and giving instructions. I would suggest giving all your instructions in English, repeating them in Spanish if students seem confused, and then saying them in English again. That way they are still getting a lot of English exposure but they will also know what is going on.
    I don't agree with this. Tell them what to do in English, then model. Spanish should be an absolute last resort. If they know that you're going to say it Spanish afterwards, they simply won't listen to the English. You can use there native language for things like setting up the classroom rules at the start of the course, and anything administrative, but classroom instructions are actually one of the best examples of real communication in most classrooms, so I'd never do that in anything other than English.

  6. #6
    Char at EarlyYearsEnglish is offline Newbie
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    Re: Advice Please! Teaching Pre-K through Third grade English clases

    @I'm with stupid, good to hear someone else's opinion on this. There are many ways of teaching :)
    I agree that if the students are able to fully understand instructions in English, then they should be hearing them in English. However, the reason that I suggested using Spanish was that the OP mentioned that she was teaching pre-K, K and G1 students. If it turns out they have no knowledge of English (which I think is quite likely), then I think some Spanish will go a long way towards eliminating confusion and maintaining control in the classroom. This summer I worked with kindergarteners with very limited English. I don't speak their L1, but I had a bilingual aide who clarified instructions in L1 when necessary. I found it was really helpful and it didn't stop the students from listening to me when I spoke English. In fact, I think it made them feel safer and more relaxed in the classroom, which made them more likely to take risks and experiment with language. Since the majority of the lesson was in English, and all the activities the students were doing required them to use English, they still wanted to hear my instructions and key words in English. Hearing instructions in L1 and L2 helped them to mentally translate and make connections between the two, which is a useful language learning strategy.

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