5 tips for teaching kids

  1. 🗣️Speak slowly.

This point seems to be obvious. Sure enough, the main advantage of lessons with native-speakers is that the students acquire lively language and correct pronunciation from the teacher. They also train their listening and speaking skills intensively. Still, there are some situations, where you need to slow down a little bit.

In case your student

  • is under 10 years old
  • has only school learning experience and has never attended language courses or private lessons with native-speakers

you should be ready for the situation when the student’s level of English might be a little lower than you expect. So, try to speak a slowly and clearly in order to make sure that the child understands you.

  1. 🔤Use simple phrases.

The lesson is always a kind of conversation between the teacher and the student. The teacher usually takes the leading part of it, asking questions and suggesting the activities. But how often do you meet the following situation?

Teacher: What do you think of cats? I guess they are lovely. And you?
Student: Er… yes?

Here the problem is that the teacher uses phrases that are too complicated for the student. In general, the children are able to understand a limited range of words and phrases which they have already studied at school. The phrases “What do you think of…?” or “I guess…” are not widely used in the school English classroom, so your student may not understand them. Try using simple phrases:

Teacher: Do you like cats? Or maybe you don’t like cats?
Student: Yes. I like cats.
Teacher: Why do you like cats? Because they are lovely? Funny? Nice?
Student: They are funny.

In case you want your student to learn phrases like “I guess…” and “What do you think of…?” better focus on them another time and teach them separately.

  1. 💬Give prompts for the answer.

Now let’s imagine another situation:

Teacher: What colour is this pen?
Student: Er…

Unfortunately, this student either forgot the names of the colours or, which is more likely, doesn’t understand the question. He might have heard it, but didn’t practice it, so at the moment it seems to be problematic to find the answer. In this case, try to give your student an example of the answer. Then the child will understand what to say and use your answer as a model:

Teacher: What colour is this pen? It is green?
Student: No, it is blue!

  1. 👍Insist on full answers.

Now I’m going to describe a really frequent situation during the lessons:

Teacher: Do you like cats?
Student: Yes!
Teacher: Is this cat black?
Student: Yes!
Teacher: Can cats fly?
Student: No!

Well, it’s no wonder, but kids are often shy to talk as they lack practice at school. Additionally, it takes a lot of efforts to understand what the teacher is saying. And when you finally ask a question which they can understand, they are just happy to say “yes” and relax. As a result, all the lesson goes like “yes”, “no”, “yes”, “no” stuff. Of course, it is really great that the student can understand your questions, but as for the speaking skills, the result is poor.

So here is the decision: insist on full answers. Don’t let the child stop after “Yes”. Give examples of the short and full answers. Ask questions which require a sentence for an answer. Make the student speak. You can even let him make some mistakes, but still, any sentences will be a positive result:

Teacher: Do you like cats?
Student: Yes.
Teacher: Yes, I do!
Student: Yes, I do!
Teacher: Do you like cats? Yes, I do! I like cats. So, do you like cats?
Student: Yes, I do! I like cats.
Teacher: Can cats run?
Student: Yes.
Teacher: Yes, they can!
Student: Yes, they can!
Teacher: Can cats run? Yes, they can! Cats can run.
Student: Cats can run.

  1. 🙋Encourage to make up sentences.

Actually, this is a part of the previous point. The children tend to go the easiest way and answer just “yes” or “no”. So what the teacher needs to do is to help the child build his own sentence. You can give an example of the answer once or twice and then use some similar question and see how the things go:

Teacher: Look! A cat! Have you got a cat?
Student: Yes, I have.
Teacher: I have got a cat too! What colour is your cat?
Student: Er…
Teacher: My cat is red.
Student: My cat is grey.
Teacher: What does it like? My cat likes eating.
Student: My cat likes sleeping.

These were a couple of prompts which can be useful for your lessons. Try them out and I hope you will see the progress.

Thank you for your attention and goodbye.