Teachers' Blog

Skype lessons for young learners

Who are the young learners?

The age of the learners is a major factor in our decisions about how and what to teach.

The young learners have their own characteristics, which are different from adults. The characteristics cover their ways of thinking, their attitude, their aptitude. This, of course, influences the ways of teaching them. To give the best quality of teaching English to the kids, the teachers should know and understand them.

When I first started teaching online, I was reluctant to accept students younger than teenagers.I’ve been teaching online for 5 years. Although I was skeptical at first, I gave it a try, and I must say I’ve never looked back.

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The peculiarities of teaching young learners.

  • they understand mostly when they see, hear and interact rather than from explanations;
  • it’s difficult for them to deal with abstract notions;
  • they love using their imagination, drawing and discovering new things;
  • they have a short attention span;
  • colorful pictures and interesting activities should change each other;
  • repetition and revision is necessary;
  • no more than 5-6 new items in the lesson;
  • teacher must use short instructions repeating them from lesson to lesson;
  • they need approval of their teacher.

Teaching Strategies via Skype

  1. Good equipment and connection. You’ll need to become familiar with the options at your disposal. I always use video with young learners and ask parents to be near in case of emergency.
  2. Prepare the material before the lesson. If parents have a printer, send them the material for printing it. Ask parents to prepare pens, pencils and a sheet of paper for a child.
  3. The duration of the lesson is 30 min, I’ve tried 40-50 min lesson but it was not productive.
  4. Well-preparation for the lesson. Write down the stages of your lesson just to avoid mess. The teacher should have colorful pictures, toys which help to make a vivid lesson. There are many activities with pictures that will make your lesson fun.
  5. The language should be first presented through sounds, not written symbols. Show and not to explain! Say the word “rabbit”, than show the picture and repeat “rabbit”. Let a child repeat this word. For a better memorizing, clap the syllables /ra-bit/. The kids usually do it with pleasure, they clap the hands and repeat the new words. They love playing with language sounds, imitating and pronouncing the words happily, angrily, loudly. If we study the verbs, I ask the kid to show me how he can “run, swim, jump”.
  6. Keep instructions simple. Shorter, less complex sentences.
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  8.  The main road-block with kids is their attention span. They have to be constantly entertained. The lesson should be a set of different meaningful activities, the new words should penetrate all the lesson. I teach 5-6 new items during the lesson.
  9. If lessons are planned well, with plenty of fun activities, it doesn’t seem to matter whether the teacher is present or not. Learners are at an age where learning capacity and brain development are at their peak, and nature has given them the drive to maximize that power with its best learning tool –play.
  10. More frequent meaning checks to make sure that he or she understands.
  11. Praise the kid when he/she deserves it. “Good, well done, fine!”.
  12. I use rhythmical poems and songs, 4-6 lines. You can sing together with a kid, showing all the actions, than your kids will do the same. e.g. One, one, one (you show 1 finger)I can run. (you show the movements of running)
  13. Be positive, smile and enjoy the lesson!“Emotions drive attention, create meaning, and have their own memory pathways.” Many of my student activities have positive emotions associated with them, such as games, songs, rhymes. Creating a warm emotional climate in which kids feel confident, free, and highly motivated is equally as important as providing activities that have emotional connections.

If you have any questions about teaching via Skype, you can contact me and I will be happy to share my experience.

 

6 thoughts on “Skype lessons for young learners

  1. Sometime students can not listen your words in the 50 or 60 students then what will do?

    1. Hi Mohit Singh,
      in Skype lessons I have only one kid. If we talk about real lessons, unfortunately, the large size class isn’t easy to teach but it’s possible. I ‘d divide students in groups and make them work in small groups. While they are working, I can monitor and help some of them. You may also want to delegate some of the work to more able students. These can play the role of teachers’ assistants.

  2. Natalia,

    Your suggestions are very welcomed. I have been teaching Spanish in the USA for 11 colleges in the NYC area for seven years.
    When I returned to Spain, all that experiencie don´t count to find a job (amazing!) but surprisingly I could find some jobs for private schools these years.
    Currently, I am unemployed again and I decided to begin with this adventure on-line because I feel tired that our job is never well recognized.
    I have some questions for you.
    1. SKYPE is a good way for teaching or is it better to find a web offering jobs for teachers on-line?
    2. I would like to know if there´s a good brand of PCs for teaching and any kind of suitable material. Is it possible to be associated with other better experienced on-line teachers to act as leaders?
    Please, I don´t want to annoy you in some way. I am not a competitor (I´m new at this area) but a collaborator…

  3. Hi Jose,
    In Italy the situation is the same, it’s pretty hard to find a job even for experienced teachers.
    As for your questions:
    1. I’ve been teaching online for more than 5 years and I find it very comfortable way of working. I have already my net of students and I don’t need any web. You should think about the point of finding the students: ask some of your students to study via Skype, for you it will be a good practice!
    If you don’t have students who are eager to study online, then it’s worth joining some webs who can provide you this job.
    2. You don’t need any special PC. You need only PC with programme Skype and headphones. Some of my students use their mobiles with app Skype. You can send the material on email before the lesson. Unfortunately, I don’t know any sites where teachers discuss online teaching, though there are many sites and blogs where you can find any ideas.
    I hope I’ve helped you)

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