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.
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
- 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.
- 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.
- The duration of the lesson is 30 min, I’ve tried 40-50 min lesson but it was not productive.
- 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.
- 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”.
- Keep instructions simple. Shorter, less complex sentences.
- 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.
- 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.
- More frequent meaning checks to make sure that he or she understands.
- Praise the kid when he/she deserves it. “Good, well done, fine!”.
- 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)
- 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.