teaching young learners

Lesson idea: Introducing inventions (2)

My Primary students (aged 11) are studying technology and inventions at the moment. I used this activity to introduce the topic – it worked well. This idea could be used for generating interest, sharing personal responses, developing schematic knowledge, revising comparatives, developing spoken fluency, and much more… It’s amazing what a few images can too – it’s fairly low-prep.

  1. Students work in pairs or groups. Give each group some images of inventions (like above). Do a ‘name the invention’ mini whiteboard challenge, or some variation. Use word scrambles for support (e.g. theelonep = telephone). Check and drill the invention names
  2. Instruct students to put the images in order – which was invented first?

Give them process language to help, e.g.

A: I think _______________ was invented before ____________

B: I agree / maybe / hmmm, I’m not sure. I think….

Etc. (more…)

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An EFL book I’ve used: Incredible English

Last year our course book for primary level learners was Incredible English. This was the first coursebook I ever used for teaching primary learners, and I have to say I thought it was great. It seemed like the perfect book for a novice primary EFL teacher. Here are just a few of its great features…

  • Fun stories (in comic form) that really engage the learners
  • A standard structure to units which helps learners know what to expect in a lesson
  • A separate workbook which means the coursebook isn’t full of dull gap fills
  • Some excellent online and interactive tasks
  • Dialogues which are easy to extend and exploit
  • Nice visuals, not too cluttered layout

I’m just listing random points here. Above all though, it seems clear to me that Incredible English was written by experienced teachers of young learners. I mean, you’d hope that was the case (!), but some of the previous coursebooks I’ve used just don’t feel they’ve been written by a practising teacher… Hmm, that sounds so damning…

Our new primary product (in-house) is good too – I don’t want to put it down. But there are things I miss about Incredible English, and the stories are one of them.

incred

example of the stories in Incredible English (c) OUP

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Introducing travel – student quiz

This came up again recently. There’s nothing wrong with ‘Where the hell is Matt?’, that will always be a classic. However, I like to mix things up, personalise, find different ways to engage my students. This worked well…

First up, a bit of teacher/student rapport building. Stick pictures of your own travels around the room. Get students to guess the country where the pictures were taken. You can make them obvious…

1709

or not…

1709a

Anyway, good for checking prior knowledge, and gets the class doing something straight away.

Then do a bit of sentence completion:

My top travel destination would be…  because…

Get students to complete the sentence in their notebook first (this will help you gather info!)

Then do a whole class mingle. Tell the students they have 5 minutes to ask as many people as possible about their top travel destination. They should make notes to remember what they hear – after the activity you will give them a quiz…

While everyone is chatting, listen/ask questions/look at notebooks etc. Gather info on each of your students’ responses during the 5 minutes.

When time is up put the students in pairs. Tell them to share their information. Then look at the data you’ve gathered and ask them 10 questions, e.g.

  • Which student’s top travel destination is Brazil?
  • How many students said that England was their top destination?
  • Who said they would like to see Big Ben?
  • Etc…

Obviously some students will hear questions about themselves – encourage them not to give the game away. When you’ve finished check scores and announce winners.

It’s fun and personalised. Young learners enjoy it! These stages take about 20 minutes in total, depending on level.

I’m writing a series of short posts in response to Martin Sketchley’s blog challenge. You can view his new blog here.

ClassDojo – not a no go

Sometimes I think I’m far too serious to teach young learners. Maybe my expectations are too high. Maybe I just don’t ‘get’ them. Perhaps I’m getting too old. Maybe I’m just not learning how to teach them properly. I don’t know. I feel at my least confident when I’m teaching groups of kids aged 8-10. I’ve never taught anyone younger. But strangely, people keep telling me that they think I’d be good at it, and I had some good feedback on the CELTA YL. Comments that I’m ‘a natural’ felt a bit far-fetched. I reckon that once I have children of my own the penny might drop. Until then, meh… (more…)

Tips for managing young learners

We set up a ‘Quality Circle’ here at the British Council Bangkok last term. Ours is basically like a reflective practice group set up for teachers, by teachers. We meet twice a term. Every 5 weeks we choose a topic to discuss. Me and my mentor Sarah put our heads together and devise a series of action research tasks on the topic. Other teachers complete the tasks (or just do their own task if they want), then we meet up and discuss our findings.

We had a great meeting the other day on classroom management. There was a 10 minute screencast from one teacher on classroom routines, some great tips from another on using gestures and expressions, and some lovely presentations on signposting and ensuring that learners have a ‘sense of progress’.

Our final short presentation was from Yvonne Leonard, and experienced teacher who works at one of our smaller centres here in Bangkok. She’d chosen a lovely collaborative task to get teachers at her centre involved in the group: (more…)

12 tiny tips for writing lesson plans

I recently took a CELTA extension course for teaching young learners. The course went well and I quite enjoyed writing formal lesson plans again. Tutors said that planning was my strength, which probably meant my teaching wasn’t that good!

I’ve looked back at the positive comments from my tutors and shared some tips below for anyone who needs to write a formal lesson plan. These are a little random, and most are specifically aimed at those teaching young learners.

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