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    #1

    Teaching "difficult" young learners

    Dear teachers,


    I would be eternally grateful for any advice. Last year I taught English in a preschool. Some days were better some were worse but in general I would say it was Ok. Some days the kids were really badly behaved but on others they were involved in the lesson, participated eagerly and were always happy to see me. The farewell before the summer was really emotional, I got lost of beatiful drawings. They closed down that preschool so I do not teach there anymore, but this year I have a group of 5 five-year-olds. And it is a nightmare. I do not see that I am doing anything that much different from last year, yet it jus does not work. I try to prepare varied lessons with singing, drawing, games, physical activities but anything I do is usually greeted with "boring" from my young learners. Sometimes they decide something is boring even before I start the DVD with a new song. I try motivating them with stickers with their favorite cartoon characters, and if they collect 25 they can choose a bigger prize. I really put a lot of effort into preparing the lessons. I have 2 hours a week with them and on average I spend about 5 hours weekly preparing to these classes. I try to come up with creative and fun activities but it is for nothing. I feel that it is one girl that brings this kind of attitude into the class, and the rest of them just catch on, but then today we were playing their favorite games (the few ones they do not complain about), and they seemed to be enjoying the lesson, when suddenly this girl that usually does not complain said that she does not like our English lessons, and of course the rest of them chorused the same. I have to mention that I teach many other groups of 6-year-olds, and older kids and they love our classes, and I am usually happy as a teacher, but this one group just takes all the fun out of it. I really try my best but nothing works.
    I would be really grateful for any tips or ideas.

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    #2

    Re: Teaching "difficult" young learners

    I don't teach young learners, but the first question I would ask is about what support systems are available to you in the school.

  1. Skrej's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: Teaching "difficult" young learners

    I agree with Tdol, this sounds like more of a discipline issue rather than a lesson-planning issue.
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    #4

    Re: Teaching "difficult" young learners

    Quote Originally Posted by Skrej View Post
    I agree with Tdol, this sounds like more of a discipline issue rather than a lesson-planning issue.
    Do you have any advice about how to get them to be more disciplined? I just don't know what could motivate this girl that keeps complaining. She even says that she's bored when we play games or play in general. I tried a chart with smiley faces for good behavior and sad ones for bad, it didn't work on her either. And when I try not paying attention to the complaining she comes up to me, to make sure that I did hear her and tells me how much she doesn't like the lessons. I guess I shouldn't let it get to me but to tell the truth it's really difficult for me to hear such things. It makes me question myself as a teacher, but then the rest of the groups are happy, and they're making great progress. She doesn't care about getting stickers either. I'm not sure if telling her that if she complains she doesn't get to play with the rest of the group would work as she doesn't want to participate in these games in the first place.

  2. Piscean's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: Teaching "difficult" young learners

    I think Tdol was referring to support systems within the school rather than your own handling of discipline. Have you spoken to to her other teachers about this child. Is she a problem with them? If so, how do they cope with her? Does the school have a procedure for dealing with disruptive children?

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    #6

    Re: Teaching "difficult" young learners

    Quote Originally Posted by Piscean View Post
    Have you spoken to to her other teachers about this child. Is she a problem with them? If so, how do they cope with her? Does the school have a procedure for dealing with disruptive children?
    It is a private language school so the kids are here twice a week for one hour, so I am the only teacher dealing with this group. We are not supposed to "use negative motivation". If a child complains to the parents and they are not happy with our lessons they can always simply take the child away to another school. Usually the case is that some children are really badly behaved and spoilt but it is always the fault of the teacher if anything is wrong.

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    #7

    Re: Teaching "difficult" young learners

    It sounds to me like you are doing a great job, just got unlucky students. I once had a student like this, also a girl. It took me a while but I focused on not focusing on her directly, like if she sighed I just pretended I didnt hear it. I made sure the other students knew I had their full attention.

    I also focused on giving this girl positive attention when she least expected it. For example, if she did something I would praise it. But I would simply ignore and attention grabbing she tried to do.

    I also made a Star system that benefited the class as a whole, rather than individual students. If they got 10 stars in a week they got a gift. But they were all in it together. If one student misbehaved or moaned they all lost a star. The effect was that the students themselves started to put pressure on the other students and the disruptive girl towed the line because she cared much more about what her peers thought.

    I would never raise my voice, just if something wasnt done properly or a student complained unfairly I would just walk over to the board an erase a star. No fuss, but it had a big effect and that girl got much better.

    There is a good saying I heard. Kids just want attention. If they dont get attention for being good they will seek it for being bad. Its better than no attention at all.

    hope that helps
    Eanna

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