Here we look at a number of proven ESL teaching methods that work well with young learners:
Table of Contents
TPR is a teaching method that emphasizes the connection between language and physical movement. It is particularly effective with young learners who are naturally active and kinesthetic. Teachers can give commands, such as "Jump!" or "Clap your hands!", and students respond by performing the corresponding action. This method helps reinforce vocabulary and language structures through movement and provides a fun and memorable learning experience. See the work of James Asher for more details.
Young learners respond well to storytelling and picture books as they combine visual cues with language input. Teachers can use simple, engaging stories with colorful illustrations to introduce new vocabulary, sentence structures, and grammar concepts. Encouraging students to participate by acting out characters or predicting story outcomes enhances their language acquisition and comprehension skills. Encourage them to make their own storybooks.
Also read: What are the best books for ESL teaching?
Music is an excellent tool for teaching young learners. Songs and chants help reinforce vocabulary, pronunciation, and rhythm. Teachers can use catchy songs and repetitive chants to teach vocabulary, basic phrases, and grammar structures. Additionally, incorporating gestures and actions that correspond to the lyrics further enhances understanding and engages students in active participation (see TPR).
Young learners thrive in a playful and interactive learning environment. Incorporating games and hands-on activities not only makes the lessons enjoyable but also reinforces language skills. Games like "Simon Says," memory matching games, board games, or flashcard activities promote vocabulary recognition, listening skills, and critical thinking. Hands-on activities, such as arts and crafts or role-playing, provide opportunities for language practice in a creative and immersive way.
Utilizing multiple senses during language learning enhances retention and comprehension of language. Engaging young learners through visual aids, tactile materials, audio recordings, and interactive digital resources supports their language development. For example, using flashcards, real objects, or virtual tools like interactive whiteboards and language learning apps can effectively stimulate students' visual, auditory, and tactile senses. These can be tailored to the level of the students if you make them yourself.
Young learners benefit from social interaction and cooperative learning. Group activities, pair work, and collaborative projects promote communication and teamwork. Encouraging students to work together on tasks like dialogues, role-plays, or creative projects fosters language production and helps build confidence in using English.
Consistent repetition and review are crucial for young learners to internalize language structures and vocabulary. Teachers should incorporate regular revision activities, such as vocabulary games, chants, or quick quizzes, to reinforce previously taught material. This practice helps solidify students' understanding and retention of the language.
In conclusion, when teaching young learners, it's essential to create a positive and supportive learning environment, provide clear instructions, and maintain a balance between structure and flexibility. Adapting teaching methods to suit the interests and developmental needs of young learners will enhance their engagement and progress in learning English as a second language.
For information on specific TESOL courses for teaching young learners, please visit our Specialized TESOL Courses page.