English Teacher Article A reflection on lesson planning for young learners

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Some colleagues had asked me for some tips on teaching elementary school children English as a Foreign Language. Besides providing them with information on games, referrals to ESL websites, and other helpful information, I found I had shared with them my approach to teaching elementary school students. Here's what I said.

I spend some time considering the goal and target language for each lesson. I find this is important for me to visualize how I will teach the lesson. Visualization allows me to go through the lesson, figure out what I'll need to teach it, and how to pull and tie things together in a fun way. My structure has a beginning, middle, and an end and within that simple structure, I pattern my teaching and stick to it. Structure, I find, helps me teach.
As I like to begin and end my lessons on a high note, I begin and end my lessons with a song. I find that teaching songs the children would enjoy helps to build their self-esteem and confidence in participating in drills and activities. I usually call upon some of the more rambunctious children in my classes to join me at the front of the classroom when we sing. They get a kick out of it and so do I while it serves to encourage the shier ones to join along.
I always greet my classes with a friendly smile. I like them to know that I am happy to see them. It helps to put my students at ease and creates a warm atmosphere for learning. Regardless of the way I am feeling physically, and I have had my days, believe me, I smile and do my best.
I draw on visuals such as flashcards, three-dimensional objects, and posters to help me teach my lesson and convey meaning. I also like to use TPR to teach vocabulary such as happy, sad, hungry, thirsty, sleepy, and angry.
I play games that test the target language. The children enjoy them while practicing English in the process. I also like to do a hands on activity towards the end of the lesson such as a drawing, colouring or connecting the dots activity that re-enforces the learning.
I also like to use puppets to teach whenever I can. I love them. The younger children love them too. I use puppets to introduce target language. Here's an example:

Stefan: Hello
Puppet: Hello
Stefan: I'm Stefan. What's your name?
Puppet: I'm Panda.

I enjoyed writing this short piece. It made me realize how much of me is behind each lesson, and that I like to teach English in a fun and creative way. Perhaps, it may spark some thoughts for you in your context.

Copyright (c) 2005 Stefan Chiarantano- All rights reserved

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8 Comments

Which songs do you use?

May you please send me An Idiomatic Expressions at the following address:387 Mvulani street
:Mafahlaneng
:Tweling
:9820
May you please send it before this coming week.
thank you

If you do a google search using keys words young learners and idiomatic expressions, you will get hundreds of hits offering idiomatic expressions.

I like to use the "WeeSing" CDs by Pamela Conn Beall and Susan Hagen Nipp. Many of the songs are appropriate for young learners of all ages.

I am always looking for games for adult learners.

Any ideas? Perhaps using verb tense.

Hello, Stefan!

I would appreciate your assistance on the following issue: is there a web site or book which can provide me with detailed information as to actually how to start a class/course of English as a foreign language to learners aged 3-5?

Respectfully,

Nave' Granot

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