We’re often asked “do I need a second language to teach English abroad?” and the answer is “No!” All you really need is a pen and some paper – plus oodles of patience & energy!
It’s easier than you think to teach English as a second language, especially to children.
Here’s a quick and easy way to teach hobbies
- Teach the class some answers to your questions first – once they have learned a few words well, you can add in your questions so your students can answer with confidence! For example “I like swimming” “I like shopping” etc
- Use your sheets of paper to create some simple flashcards with pictures illustrating swimming, shopping. Alternatively you could mime the actions which can be more fun for your students to watch and if you have the energy you could introduce a song to go with the phrases, watch this video to see a group of older students singing new phrases.
- Flashcards suitable for What do you have for breakfast?
- Spend plenty of time asking the class to repeat what you are saying as you hold up the flashcard or mime – it’s OK to spend at least 10 minutes on each new word or phrase even if that feels like a long time to you, for your students the time will go more quickly as they are concentrating and trying to mimic your pronunciation each time. When students repeat what you say this is called drilling and it is a great way for new learners to feel confident and safe using new language. Start them repeating as a group together, then pick out the stronger students to repeat individually back to you and finish with the weaker ones. Repetition really is an excellent way to learn a new language! Remember how many times a young child learning their own language repeats a word like table before they ever have the confidence to use the word in a sentence.
- Now you are ready to introduce the question, for example “What do you like doing?” The students might repeat the question, but don’t panic, this is normal, they will have been repeating everything. Hold up a flashcard or mime the activity and prompt a more confident and able student to say the phrase “I like swimming”. The others will soon grasp the concept that they need to give you the activity when you ask the question.
- Now they need to learn how to say the question for themselves. Use the same repetition method as a group then individually until they are confident.
- Now comes the clever part. Ask a stronger student “What do you like doing?”. Hold up an activity (or mime the activity). The student responds, now gesture to the student to turn to the next student along and prompt them to ask the question to their classmate. You can hold up a flashcard to show which answer they need to give or let the student asking choose a flashcard.
- If you have time, allow the class to illustrate their lessons to help them remember what they have learned each day. They can draw the pictures and label them. If you do not have access to a whiteboard, simply write the phrases on a piece of A4 paper and hold it up or pass it round the class.
For beginners of any age around the world, your students just need to listen and repeat the words you are saying so that they know how they should sound and can associate them with a picture or action to help them to recall them later. Don’t worry about teaching them to understand verbs or write sentences; that comes much later.
If you can remember this basic outline for any beginners class, you are well on your way toteaching English to a whole class of very excited children! With your guidance, they’ll have a brand new skill which will help them develop socially and improve their lives both now and in the future.