Teaching children, especially when you are new to it, can be incredibly daunting, not least because they are so full of energy and can be so easily distracted. Yet it can also be a wonderfully satisfying teaching experience, and with the growth of EFL for younger learners, is increasingly one that English language teachers need to be prepared for. If that rings true for you, then to help you out we’ve put together 10 tricks for keeping the attention of primary-age children in class.
Dear teachers, we hope you are having a fantastic school year and that you and your pupils are enjoying working with Islands and Our discovery Island. One main celebration during this term is Halloween next week and many of you will be preparing special activities in your English classes now and over the next days for this.
We have prepared lots of fun Hallowe’en activities related to the characters in Islands and Our Discovery Island and materials that we are sure you’ll be interested in: Continue reading
I have to admit that I spend a huge amount of time browsing the web searching for resources and trying to be as up-to-date as possible. And while diving into educational sites, you can read a lot of grandiose statements about children – about what they like and how they learn, sometimes written by non-teachers far away from the reality of the classroom, or, as the Pope says ” Lots of shepherds not living with the smell of sheep”
And…you know what? I feel a kind of sadness when I read statements such as:
“All children are bored in schools”.
“Children don’t like books anymore”.
“Poor children! They have to listen to their teachers”.
“Children learn like this, children like that….”
Most of the time, those statements are not based on serious research or real experiences but on general prejudices, not respecting the wide range of children’s personalities and interests.
The fact is that after more than 15 years of teaching I have to say that:
– Children usually love going to school since it’s their universe.
– They like to have books because they love to have something of their own and books can also facilitate those intrapersonal moments that every human being needs. I believe in complementation not in substitution. Books and technology can live together.
– They also love to listen and talk to people who care and who listen to them. As Rita Pierson makes clear in her passionate TED Talk: “Children don’t learn from people they don’t like” since learning flourishes from interactions and relationships. Innovation should always start from there.
We talk a lot about innovation and about thinking outside the box, but sometimes innovation could be easily found by looking carefully inside the box and listening more to our children. Once, a great principal from a great school told me: Nowadays, great teachers speak a little, listen a lot and reflect on that all the time.
I’ve also learned that encouraging students to reflect on their own behaviour, feelings or knowledge, and making these thoughts visible by expressing them in a logical and coherent way helps to structure their minds and to interiorise their own learning.
So, that’s the reason why a while ago, we decided to interview young students asking things such as: How do you learn English? What do you think about the material you use in class? How do technology and videogames help you? How do you solve problems?
I asked Pedro Fernandez (colleague and friend) for some help, and he presented his 5th grade pupils the following task:
He told them that we needed their help so as to improve our materials. We wanted them to think and reflect on their own learning and explain it in their own words. We made clear that there wasn’t a right or a wrong answer, we just wanted to know their point of view. They had 2 days to reflect on it before the day of the recording.
The day of the recording we just made sure that they felt comfortable enough so they could speak freely and then we pushed the record button and just listened to them.
Children have a lot to say. They should be listened to more often
Have you heard about badges and gamification? You like the idea but you are not sure how to implement it with your younger learners?
We have a freebie for you!
Here is our proposal. It uses the familiar idea of stickers as badges to complete a collection of skills.
We hope you enjoy it and if you do…share it!
And here are some more stickers for day-to-day use.
Carnival is here and we have a present for you and your students.
Your students can dress up their favourite characters (we published them here), and play with them.
Here you have the cut-outs for the costumes.
Carnival gives us the perfect context to discover new vocabulary about clothing. Here you have some resources.
Are you still looking for the perfect costume? What about dressing-up as a tablet or as your favourite artist self-portrait?