Jan 19, 2012

Teaching English to Children

photo By grumpyoldscotsman
I work for a private English Academy for kids ages 0-13.
Usually I go to a different school everyday. By train or bus sometimes I travel for up two hours and sometimes just 30 minutes, one way. I work from 10am to 7pm, daily and currently my days off are on Monday; The school doesn't operate (in the areas I work) on Sundays.

The youngest classes are done with little babies, who can't even stand, to 3 year old toddlers. These classes are done with their parents (usually the Mother, though rarely the Father) there are multiple ways to get babies interactive with learning, even if they cannot really speak or do anything but drool and squeal. In these classes, especially with the younger babies, its mostly the parent doing all the work and the its just a matter of being interactive through their senses of touch and hearing. The toddlers are more interactive of course, as things naturally go... They all get involved via something referred to as TPR and obviously when they can talk they say easy things like "Sunny". With the youngest groups we mainly focus on getting them used to hearing and the different rhythms of the lessons. The idea being the sooner you interact with something the better, even if they can't follow whats happening coherently, they still learn. -edit- very few of the kids I teach come in in uniform.

We follow a series of books that are consistent in their topics. We cover basics like feelings, actions, and our environment. (i.e., weather, objects, colors, etc.)

Lessons center on the books, but, as teachers we are encouraged to make fun and exciting games for them to learn with. This is probably the most difficult thing about this job. (bedsides the commuting and living in Japan as a foreigner, I might go into more detail about that another time) Easy English is easy to teach but thinking like a child, remembering what it is like to be a child, what is fun and what isn't fun for a child, takes a special shift in perspective. I expect some people can do this more readily than others.

My first month was spent, learning where schools are and what is expected of me, on a basic level; It was also December so the theme is xmas (in a superficial way, without explanations of what an 'angel' is exactly or, how 'reindeer', 'santa claus', and a 'chimney' are related, etc) so mostly just games centered on the topic of xmas.

January is my first chance at really getting into teaching relevant topics. Some of the aspects of teaching that take time to get used to and get into, are as follows:
  • Thinking like a child--what is fun?
  • Pace and tone of voice.
  • Lesson Plans, specifically games that involve learning the topics.
  • Timing of individual activities.
  • Respect, what kind of things to kids look up to? What can I do to gain/lose their respect/attention.
I am sure there are more aspects, might edit this later as they come to mind.
Anyway, thats all I have to say about teaching for now. Until next time... :)

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