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General guidelines for teaching ESL/EFL for children

I have been dealing with teaching ESL for children since 2009 and I have to say that it is a big challenge. Creating the right environment for children to learn is by far the most difficult part. The teacher has to work systematically in order to establish clear parameters for behavior. Usually this requires great amount of patience but it is the best way to create a relaxed, happy and child-centered learning environment.

The most important points you can apply in your children class are detailed below.

Treat children as individuals

Sometimes you have a very large class and probably it is quite impossible to remember their names or anything else about them. However, it is absolutely vital that children feel you know them as individuals not as a big group of students that has to be controlled. It is a good idea to find out a few personal things about them and use it in specific strategies like start-of-class routine where you can ask different children questions about personal things you know about them.

Value children’s work

Listen to what children have to say, respond to the content they have to say (not necessary to the language) and decorate the class with examples of their good work are just three ways the teacher can influence their motivation, level of achievement and their willingness to make an effort in the class.

Catch them being good

It is very important to praise children for good behavior. They have to know that they can get your attention through good behavior and you value this good behavior.

Keep expectations high

Your expectation of children’s behavior and their potential to achieve are usually up to you. You should keep your expectations high (but not very high) and for sure children will inevitably live up to this expectations.


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