Teaching EFL in a KindergartenKindergarten is an essential transition in children’s schooling. It is the official step between pre-school and kids starting in the official school which makes teaching Kindergarten an extremely rewarding and important job. “Kids at this age are eager to learn and they absorb new material like a sponge! Everything is new to them, they are curious about learning and exploring the world around them, including a new language – especially english
which is considered ‘Cool’! The best thing about teaching these ages is how quickly they evolve and how much you, as a teacher learns as well!”
However, children at this age have a short attention span and tend to get bored easily. As such, it is up to the teacher to encourage the students, keep them motivated and interested in the task at hand. Students at this age, still have an attention span close to 10 minutes and require varied classes with different activities throughout the day, especially when the subject being taught remains the same: english
Lesson planning for young learners
should revolve around interactive and fun activities rather than worksheets and course books. The activities need to be short, so teachers should come prepared with a lot more activities planned than in adult ESL classes. The teacher should actively search for songs, games, dances etc that will help the students grasp the language. This can be very physically demanding and teachers should expect to be standing, dancing and running around throughout most of the class.
Although teaching ESL in a Kindergarten may seem hectic, and busy it is important to slow-down during the teaching process. Young learners will need repetition and slow articulation to understand the new sounds, how to create them and reproduce them. They will want to hear the words being taught slowly… this is what they have been exposed to until now with parents and family teaching them vocabulary in their native language. Learning english
at a young age shouldn’t be too different from their past language experience in order to make them feel comfortable.
After researching teaching methods, I came across a particular method, which inspired me, especially when dealing with Kindergarteners: the ‘Reggio Emilia’ approach. This teaching method centers the student in the learning process, giving young learners the power to learn things they are interested in, curious about and excited to learn, all the while utilizing some form of guided structure and focusing classes on specific themes (for example: letters, sounds, animals…).
This approach allows Kindergarten ESL teachers to teach in a much more fluid environment. Lessons are taught through different guided activities that the students can choose from rather than creating activities around a particular lesson. For example, if the student is excited to play with clay, the teacher can ask him/her to create objects around the theme of the day (transport: car, plane, truck…).
Students are likely to pick up the language faster when engaged in a safe, comfortable environment, surrounded by play. The Reggio Emilia system fully supports the following statement and creates an environment that tugs at the children’s curiosity to learn, pushing them to use the english
language as much as possible.
Teaching EFL to Kindergarten students can be extremely challenging if the teacher does not approach the class with the right mindset and expectations. It is, nevertheless, a very fulfilling and rewarding experience seeing 4 to 6 year olds pick up a new language so easily and know that this will contribute to shaping their future.