Young learners like a sense of security and so incorporating routines into your lessons from Day One can make them feel much more at ease going into the classroom.
Having a bank of routines is also great for you as a teacher as it can minimalize prep time and ensure your students are reviewing and revising key vocabulary and structures every lesson.
Getting things wrong
Depending on the educational background of your students, they might find making mistakes quite embarrassing. Encourage a positive vibe around errors so that they see them as a natural step in the language-learning process, as well as something to learn from.
Similarly, you might make mistakes during your first lessons: doing activities which aren’t accurately pitched at the students’ level or which don’t demand students use the target language you’re anticipating. We’ve all been there and it’s important for us to reflect on our teaching as well as the students’ learning. Keeping a journal when you first start teaching is a great reminder of what worked and what didn’t.
Make the classroom your own
Setting up the behavioural expectations and rules from Day One is also essential in a young learner classroom. Different teachers have different ideas on the role of L1 in the classroom, or who decides the seating arrangement, or who’s responsible for doing classroom tasks such as handing out materials. Having these things clear in your own mind will prepare you for your lessons and also make the students feel comfortable in knowing the limits of the classroom.
At the end of every CertTESOL course, we run an optional Teaching Young Learners course to provide you with an introduction to the thinking behind how we teach young learners, as well as a huge variety of practical ideas. During the academic year, this course also includes six hours of guided observation of our own English classes. For more information about the course, check out our webpage.