Being a teacher is rewarding, admirable, fulfilling, and challenging. However, is this still true when you are standing in front of a class of young and eager students who do not even speak the same language as you do? Of Course! Though, you’re teaching approach may be a bit different.
Teaching children English as a second language, when you are just starting to understand their first language is a real challenge. Definitely not impossible but an additional hurdle on your path. In no way should this discourage you, on the contrary, it should encourage you to step up to the challenge. After all, these kids are eager to learn and they are counting on you to work your magic and make it happen.
How is this done? Here are some of the best practices we have accumulated over the many years Israel Experience has been bringing teachers on the Masa Israel Teaching Fellows (MITF) program to lower the anxiety on both sides and make the process effective, but more importantly FUN!
4 teaching tips when teaching English to Israeli kids:
1. Be creative!
Kids lose interest quickly. The average child’s attention span is about 2-3 minutes for every year of age, so if the kids you are teaching are 10, you will only be able to keep them interested for about 20-30 minutes. This doesn’t mean you need to talk faster rather think of methods to get your point across with different activities.
Keep things moving. Repeat the lesson plan through different activities during the course of the day. Perhaps in the morning and then again before they go home.
Try different approaches. Include the main topic or lesson within a song or tell a story with the main words and ideas. Show short videos and music clips to reiterate the topic to hold the students’ attention. Be versatile, play games, take them outside, teach them through actions and activities.
2. Get Physical!
Kids love and need to exert energy. Use that to your advantage. Young learners need to move around, they have a hard time sitting still and listening for long periods of time. They get bored, distracted, and will be put off for the next time you meet.
Think of activities to get them moving while learning:
- Give them directions in English and they’ll need to perform the activity.
- You do the activity and they’ll need to shout it out in words.
- Have them run around until you say a word from a list that does not belong.
- Have them jump and say words relating to a certain topic you choose in advance.
There are so many options to get them moving while learning, be creative and try new things.
3. Have kids take risks.
Push them beyond their limits in the classroom. Assign activities that may be a bit too hard, a bit too funny or silly and you’ll be surprised how they’ll be happy to cooperate. Challenge them! You are creating a fun, personal, and safe place for them and they will reciprocate by completing tasks that are outside of their comfort zone and will push them to excel.
- Facial expressions in regards to new words or ideas.
- Small skits in front of the class.
- Guessing words and sentences even though they have not learned them yet.
Try it, you’ll be surprised.
4. Independent learning.
Learning stations for independent learning are a great way to get kids to investigate, be curious and learn. In each station set up an activity, the kids can explore themselves.
These can be worksheet stations, arts & crafts corners, reading areas and even computer activities.
Kids love to investigate. In most cases, they will go above and beyond to find a solution or understand ‘how’ and ‘why’. This is your chance to help them explore their interests while teaching as well as allow them, and teach them, to work on their own. A real win-win for all.
Start with these while teaching in Israel and make your students excited to learn. As part of your 60-hour pedagogical MITF training, you will learn more techniques and skills that will help you achieve these goals.