One challenge faced by many language teachers is how to motivate young learners and later how to maintain their interest. It is essential to create an interest in language and ensure that younsters enjoy our lessons, through enjoyment the learning process is enhanced no end. This post will touch on classroom management (see further reading at the bottom of the page: 20 strategies) and the types of activities that all ESL teachers should be incorporating into their lessons.
A good friend of mine (and fellow language teacher) always says, ´to learn something well, you need to love it!´. With young learners I believe enjoyment is essential to ensure an enriching teaching-learning experience. Children should want to come to class and should enjoy themselves while learning. Not only will they learn more effectively but also their behaviour will be better, this makes your and their lives far easier. Teachers need to be adventurous and dynamic in their tecaching strategies to prevent students getting bored while, at the same time, maintaining a routine so that young learners can benefit from a clear progression and development set out by the teacher in their curriculum. Try to incorporate various methods of delivery into your classes, such as: song, dance, crafts, games, individual/paired/group work, class projects etc. An important factor is the level of you classes. Children need to be challenged yet capable of achieving the learning goals, this careful balance is an important component of the teaching-learning experience. If the level is adapted well enough and the interest is maintained, there is no end to the possibilities.
The interest of the child and the importance of motivation is an essential part of our jobs and one that we need to communicate with other teaching professionals and the parents of our students to ensure the success of our classes.
A great tool for teaching vocabulary and grammar structures to young learners is music and song. Not only is it enjoyable to dance and sing in class but it also helps to reinforce these components of language. It is a well known fact that through song things are much easier to remember and are more likely to be remembered for a longer time as the learning can be related to a context (the song) and an experience (the dance/gestures). I´d recommend SUPERSIMPLESONGS from the super simple learning website (www.supersimplelearning.com) the songs are catchy and easy to dance to. They are focussed on the key basic vocabulary units that are always used when introducing basic English language so they are perfect, you can also downlod free worksheets from the website.
Teaching tip: Super Simple Songs are catchy as it is. They have great videos and are easy to make into dance routines. They are great for reinfocing vocabulary or grammar structures. Try to introduce songs to your students in stages; you can play new songs as background music before incorporating them into lesson time, use new vocabulary in games before teaching songs and make up creative dance routines that represent the meaning of songs to enhance meaning.
Available on iTunes and Amazon;
Suggested further reading:
This article is a really interesting read with 20 ready to use tips to motivate even the most challenging students. It is well worth a read.
As a keen reader of the Guardian I came across this article not too long ago. It talks about motivation and the importance of positivity in the teaching – learning process.