7 Tips for Teaching English to Elementary Students

Teaching elementary studentsMy time spent teaching at three elementary schools has taught me that there are huge differences between class atmosphere and the way students respond to you. I have gathered a few simple teaching tips that can be applied to all lessons, and are good to remember while teaching or lesson planning for an elementary class.

-Sarah is Teaching English in Japan

1- Use Visuals

Using visuals is very helpful in class, whether it is flashcards or a PowerPoint. Whatever it is, visuals are a great way to communicate something to students, especially beginners. Use them every class. Try to get students to visualize the meaning of the words. It will help students recall the vocabulary for later.

Read: Introductory Lessons for Low Beginners

2- Slow Down

While practicing vocabulary and phrases, slow down your speech so that students can hear every sound you pronounce and watch how you shape your mouth. It is important to slow down initially, but gradually speed up to a natural speed. English links many words together and stress conveys meaning. When a phrase is slowed down, it does not sound natural. Make sure the students understand how to speak naturally.

Read: Simplify the Language of Instruction

3- Use Authentic Material

Introduce cultural material to the students. Talk about your home country and other countries. Expand their horizons and expel any stereotypes. As a foreigner, this is a great opportunity to teach new things about other countries. Many students do not get much exposure to them.

Read: Classroom Activities for Teaching English and Culture

4- Teach Meaning

Relate English class to their lives. When teaching something, relate it to a real-life situation. Teaching directions? Tell them how you could help a tourist find their way to the train station by using what they are about to learn. Use pop culture to increase interest in the topic. Reference things that relate to them.

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5- Use TESOL Games

Find a game that works with the grammar point. Do not pick a game that will not give good practice for what the class just learned. It only wastes time. While explaining the rules, be sure to stress that only English can be used. If they need help, ask the teacher, a fellow student or even gesture. Try to find another way to communicate rather than falling back to Japanese. That would not work with a tourist.

Read: How to Use TESOL Games

6- Constantly Check for Understanding

Many students will not speak up if they do not understand. And if they do not understand, they cannot participate and this could lead to disruptions. Check for understanding and ask students to explain back to you what was said. A good game can easily fall apart if the instructions were not clearly communicated.

Read: Tips of Teaching English in Japan as an ALT

7- Make Students Move

Elementary students need to move about and use their energy. Get them out of their desks. Ask questions and have them guess and brainstorm. Get them involved as much as possible. Do not spend most of the class time talking. Students will not focus.

Read: Get Your Students Moving

These are just a few tips that are good to consider before beginning an elementary class. I hope this helps you reflect on how you direct your elementary classes.