Teaching EFL to students in elementary school is a unique experience. The students develop so much from year to year, it can be difficult to set specific rules, but there are some general pointers that will make their English lessons far better.

Most resources on the internet focus on teaching kindergarten students, adults and business English learners. There is not much that looks at teaching elementary school students in an English as a Second Language (ESL) or English as a Foreign Language (EFL) context.

For kindy students, EFL teachers would typically focus on very beginner and (pre-) elementary EFL topics in lessons and need a lot of energy to keep kindergarteners engaged. Classes would typically be very “fun and games” oriented. Elementary students (looking at grades 1 – 5) are a little more grown up, but teachers can still use some of the “fun and games” approach, with some adjustment.

Let’s look at five tips for teaching these elementary school students in an ESL/EFL context.

Tip 1: Consistency

While this is an important point to remember as an EFL teacher whether you are teaching kindy or high school students, it is just as crucial to keep consistency in mind with elementary students. Young learners prosper on schedules that are consistent, and teachers should implement one. Consistency also lets your students know what is OK and what isn’t in the classroom.

Tip 2:  Write Down the Rules

A fundamental part of any classroom is to set expectations regarding behaviour. With elementary students learning to read or already knowing how to read, by writing the rules down and putting them up somewhere in the classroom, everyone has a visual aid and can be reminded of the rules while in class.

And it never hurts to brush up on Classroom Management in the EFL Classroom.

Tip 3: Introduce More Group Work

In elementary school, a child’s social relationships become quite important. Elementary students are also more likely to learn how to work in a group and to build friendships with their peers. As such, an EFL teacher should start to introduce more group work to further teach students how to work together.

Tip 4: Homework

In some countries, elementary students go to extra, after-school EFL classes to learn English. It is good for teachers to be aware that these students have homework to complete from their elementary school and then also from EFL lessons. I am not saying that teachers teaching at an after-school EFL school should not give elementary students any homework; rather remember that they probably already have a lot of homework to do. Make sure that the homework you give them is what they can complete at their level.

Tip 5: Remember to Add Fun

Elementary students are still young children, and EFL teachers should remember to make learning fun. Don’t just rely on worksheets to keep students busy and think that this is the only way they can learn. Structure activities for vocabulary, phonics, grammar, etc. in such a way that students can play games (interactive activities); students can think they are only playing a game, but sometimes they learn English in a better way when they don’t realise they are learning.

Need some ideas? 5 Ways to Make Learning Fun and Interesting

What are some of your tips for teaching English as a Second Language to elementary school students?  For more tips, you can always visit our Teaching Tips.

About the Author

Denine Walters is currently a freelance writer, editor/proofreader and ESL teacher. Previously, she taught online English lessons to students from all around the world and, before that, she lived and taught English to young learners in Taiwan. In her free time, she likes to read, do scrapbooking and grammar quizzes, and travel.

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