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S. W. - Costa Rica said:
Teaching EFL in a KindergartenI look forward to having the opportunity to teach younger children in the EFL setting. I have used puppets and familiar english children’s songs in the past, at schools in the united states. I believe these tools will be very useful in the EFL classroom and should prove very engaging for the younger students. The puppets I would use will be common domestic and farm animals that all children are familiar with. Not only will the names of these animals, and the use of the song lyrics, be useful in their early english conversations, learning how to properly pronounce these words will provide the students with pronunciation building blocks they will continue to use throughout their studies. The teacher of younger students must be comfortable being silly and have the ability to be very animated at all times. This aids the students in relaxing and letting the language flow freely. A teacher of younger students must also be able to pick up on cues that the children need a change of activity, or are loosing interest. Having a basic lesson plan with many activity options, will help the teacher change gears easily while still providing the fundamentals. In addition to puppets, I would use ‘finger plays’ and movement songs to help reinforce vocabulary in a fun and engaging way. This allows the students to make connections by using gestures with the vocabulary, which helps many types of learners. Songs also help children with attention problems, focus better. The label ‘attention problems’ is not restricted to specifically diagnosed children, ALL children present attention challenges, so this type of instruction with young children can be beneficial across the board. Games should also be incorporated, some examples would be; tossing a ball to give each student a turn to participate, grab bag vocabulary identification, placing objects in spots around the room and allowing the children to tell you that location, putting out items for the children to memorize, then removing one and asking them to tell you which has been removed, and walking outside to count like objects. All of these activities help get the children up and moving around the classroom, so that the boredom of continually sitting at their desks does not limit, or curtail, their learning motivation. These are just a few game options and almost anything can be made into a game for this age group, from lining up at the door, to hand washing and cleaning up the classroom after a creative session. Worksheets should also be used, because they provide opportunities for individual creativity like color choice, cutting and pasting, and basic tracing and writing practice, are invaluable tools for kindergarten, and younger students. Children feel a sense of pride and accomplishment when they can complete these types of assignments, and they can easily become part of a ‘book’ of each student’s work which can be shared later with each other and family members. Finally, I like to end each class with a story, which can be read or sung to younger students. This calms down the class at the end of a fun-filled class, and can refocus their attention back to a review of some of the vocabulary they have learned. I would also suggest using a class mascot puppet to greet the class, at the beginning and end of each class. This provides continuity and gives the children signals about what to expect, for example, when the bunny puppet ‘Bobby’ sings the Hello Song at the start of class, the children know the lesson is about to begin and can focus, and when ‘Bobby’ comes out to sing the Goodbye Song at the end of class, they know the day’s lesson is complete. This type of continuity is critical for the Kindergarten and younger students. I look forward to having the opportunity to teach Kindergarten, and younger learners, in the future!

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