In order to best enable children who want to learn or master English, English language classes should be adapted to the age of the students.
English language classes are usually held in groups. This is true for children aged 3 to 5 years, that is, pre-school children. But it’s equally so for schoolchildren, both for those attending lower grades as well as those in higher grades. It is imperative that the teachers adapt the curriculum so that it matches the students’ age and abilities. For example, the youngest students will most likely master English through various games and singing, which shouldn’t come as a surprise given that young children best acquire a foreign language when it’s presented to them in a familiar way. Older students can use much more sophisticated learning methods.
Teaching Students Age 3-5
The youngest students, who are between three and five years old, should be introduced to the basic concepts they know in their mother tongue while learning English, and they will learn them better through playing, drawing and singing. Activities should, therefore, be organized in a way that they revolve around activities the child would usually do for fun at that age because such activities will not bore the child as easily and will hold their attention for a longer time, as opposed to tedious exercises.
Furthermore, at such an early age, it is important not to force the children to learn through rules and definitions because an approach like that will most likely not yield the positive results the teachers should strive to achieve with their pupils.
Moreover, teachers should try to motivate their pupils to work and learn by, for example, giving them interesting stamps that vary in shape and size, like star or heart shaped stamps, that is, give them praise when it is deserved, and other rewards, with the aim of developing creativity and team spirit, which will have an extremely positive effect on the acquisition of knowledge of English language.
Taking into account that this is a specific group of children, who are younger and cannot be tested in writing, as in the case of older children. Testing here should be carried out mainly orally.
To maintain interest with younger students, it’s also good to have A Fair Reward System in a Class of Young Learners
Classes with Students Age 5-7
When working with young children, teachers should fully adjust the curriculum to the age of the students, which means that they will help them in the best possible way to adopt knowledge that suits their age. Since in this age group there could still be pupils that haven’t mastered the writing skill, teachers should try to adapt the curriculum and classes, first and foremost, to the abilities and knowledge of such young learners. This means that in this case, similarly to working with students 3-5 years of age, most of the learning will take place through games that are already familiar to them because this is also the best way to master English language skills that are suitable for children from 5-7 years of age.
Also, sounds of English language should be introduced to children at this point so that they will, through fun and interesting activities and play, get to know the sounds of a new language, learn their first words in English and, at the same time, develop curiosity and listening skills.
And it’s always good to know How to Motivate Young Learners.
Working with Students Age 7-10
For students in first to fourth grade, that is, for those whose age is from 7 to 10 years, different ways of acquiring language skills should be envisaged. The curriculum should contain mostly topics and areas that are close to students, that is, those that will stimulate interest so that they will be relatively easy to master.
Apart from the fact that the students at this age should learn how to communicate properly in the foreign language, and at their level of knowledge, team spirit will develop, since it is best that the teaching be as interactive as possible. This approach to teaching should very positively reflect on the acquisition of knowledge that the teachers seek to convey to their students.
It is expected that all students who attend a course of English language at this age should learn to communicate in the spoken language, at the level appropriate to their age.
Since the lessons should be designed primarily as interactive, so that all students participate equally in them, it means that it will, among other things, have positive effects on their further learning at school.
Teaching Students Age 11-14
Students attending higher grades of elementary school, that is, children aged 11 to 14, should already have a certain level of knowledge of the English language, and the teacher should determine what these skills are, but also perfect them in a way that they follow the school’s curriculum as closely as possible.
The curriculum should also be adjusted to the students’ interests in order to hold the students’ attention during lessons, and through the practice of all language skills (writing, reading, listening and conversation) students will get the necessary security in the knowledge they have acquired.
Furthermore, versatility in class activities will not only help with mastering all language skills, but it will awaken the interest in students to learn more and they will be less likely to get bored during the classes because they will be more interesting.
Testing learners should happen at this level, and in accordance with the students’ age, be done in a way that will put each language skill to the test – writing, speaking, reading and listening comprehension.
If you are just starting to teach English or want to develop your skills in working with children and improve your career opportunities, these are just some of the guidelines that you can follow in order to achieve your goal. After all, have in mind that not every child is the same nor do they possess equal learning abilities and knowledge.
This is also a good age for adding some modern tech to class: 11 Tips for Using Technology Effectively in Your ESL Classroom
About the Author
Milica Madić, freelance blog/article writer from Serbia, with experience in teaching and working with young learners.
With schools around the world, Shane English School always has exciting new opportunities to offer.