China has huge market demand for ESL teaching from children to adults. But teaching English to whom exactly? And more importantly how do you go about teaching well? This is the question is often asked by many expat teachers. Whichever school you work at, for the most part, you will be teaching English to three different main age groups, each requiring a different methodology.
The youngest children to enter an ESL class can be as young as three years old. Managing a group of students who don’t speak your language is no easy task, and amounts to lots of running around and general chaos. It takes practice and confidence on the part of the teacher before the class responds to instructions in English. The best way to manage the class is to create a set of routines and simple instructions that they can become familiar with. Using flashcards and playing games will help to manage the class and the students will listen to you. Rewarding them through check marks, praise, and a high five's for speaking English and listening to the teacher can go a long way. When you have your routines down and a bunch of fun activities that the children know and love, these classes can be the most fun to teach.
Teenager students range from 10-18. Once a student reaches the age of 10, they are no longer the happy, energetic child who gets excited over flashcard games. While some of them might have some real motivation to learn English and English class is just one more class in a long list of lessons that they attend. As a result, many will be in a class at a certain level without having completed the required amount of hours needed in order to study at that level. This means that you will be teaching material that is above the level of your students, and you will have to find ways to present that material and organize activities in ways that engages the class.
The goal in every class should be to maximize student-speaking time while minimizing the time the teacher talks. Similar to the small star classes though, classroom management can also be a big issue, especially in a large class of 15 where boys outnumber girls. The point system can work here too, but at this age students can tell that they really don’t mean anything, so you need to come up with other ways of discipline, such as assigning more homework or threatening to call home. Activities greatly differ here too. Rather than drilling and practicing new language with flashcards, teenagers need to be given a task that requires them to learn new language through their own pre-existing knowledge. Drawing games, cut and paste activities, and short dialogues are some ideas. Teenagers like to feel that they are in control, so it is your job to find as many ways as possible to transfer the power to them.
Adults in China are those who are 18 or above age. They might be students from universities, housewives, workers, and managers. There are different classes of people in the same group and it means teaching adult classes are not as easy as you imagine. They are here for themselves without being told to do so by their parents. Classroom management is never an issue, and while you can present some language to them, adult students mostly have enough English that they can learn from each other and complete tasks to learn new language using language that they already know.
Classes should always start with a warmer activity or conversation to get the students comfortable and speaking English, and then they can take it upon themselves to talk about and correct each other’s homework. Teaching adult students you need to be knowledgeable and talking about the latest events happening in the world are advisable.
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