Despite the difficulties of keeping a young learner's attention focused and keeping them seated for the duration of the lesson, teaching English to a young learner is both rewarding and fun for the teacher and student. Rewards for the teacher appear in the form of witnessing young learners' vocabulary grow everyday and watching them develop into confidant language user. As for the students, they become capable of expressing their thoughts and feelings in ways that were previously unknown to them.
Things to Consider
Set up an environment that is both relaxing and entertaining.Young learners have short attention spans, which means that getting cold or bored can easily draw their attention away from the lesson you are teaching. Additionally, keep in mind that reading and writing English are skills they are just now learning; therefore, change games and activities every five to 10 minutes so that students do not become overwhelmed or bored.
Select activities that are task based. Task-based learning can take place before the language lesson is discussed; or, teach the language lesson first, and then follow that with the task-based language activity. For example, a task-based activity lesson on learning animals may consist of drawing and/or coloring animals included in the lesson. Then, after each animal is completed, paste each animal to a poster board that resembles the animal's native habitat (forest, water, tree, etc.).
Set a routine and follow it. Whether you are in a classroom or a home-school setting, children learn best when they know what is expected of them. For example, have a designated study time, such as 5 o'clock every evening. Always study in the same environment, such as the same classroom, library or room of the house. Additionally, always start with a review of the previous lesson before beginning any new material.
Set attainable goals for the student to achieve and explain what those goals are before the lesson begins. For example, a single goal of a lesson may be to accurately recognize and recall the names of five animals in a stack of flashcards to reinforce a lesson learned earlier in the week. Additionally, create a system of rewards. Rewarding students with a sticker, a drawn smiley face, or candy raffles are easy ways to reinforce good study habits.
Use read-along books and songs if your student is a non-native speaker of English. Non-native speakers of English are under more stress in learning English than a native speaker of English. This way, the student does not focus on the stress of learning a new language; rather, she becomes involved in learning a new story or song.
Practice conversational English by having students explain what they did before class or where they traveled on vacation. This allows students to become familiar with accessing vocabulary they are familiar with and gives them an opportunity to use new vocabulary as well. Additionally, read-along books and songs are ways to learn words on site and practice pronunciation.
Learning is a social, purposeful and memorable act that can be best absorbed in a warm, relaxed environment. Engaging students in activities and games makes learning a positive act and reinforces a good relationship between the student and the act of learning. Additionally, try not to use abstract concepts with language lessons; instead, use concrete items the student can relate to: clothes, toys, shapes and colors.