Do you have any tips for teaching primary?

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Do you have any tips for teaching primary?

Unread postby michaelkorea » 22 Nov 2006, 15:25

Hi,

I arrived in Korea a couple of weeks ago and have settled nicely into my new school, however, I'm having trouble teaching the children in my 4-5 years class and the 6-8 years class, too.

I'm only 21 years old myself, so it seems like only yesterday that I left school myself, and now I'm teaching, but it is much tougher than I imagined. My school hasn't really provided me with any reading materials or training to make the days run smoothly.

With the class of 4-5 year olds, I am supposed to be teaching English, yet these are children who don't even have a grasp of their own language yet, so it seems pointless to me. And worst of all, lessons for these children are 50 minutes long! Currently, I will choose a picture storybook and read it to the class. Where possible, I will do actions and make noises to spice it up a bit. To avoid boring the children, I choose books which will take only 10 or so minutes to read. After that, I get them to draw characters from the story and then look at every drawing, writing some english words. The children then copy the words. But even doing this results in boredom and the lesson finishes much to early. What do you suggest?

And my 6 to 8 year old classes are only 30 minutes long. The children in these classes never seem to want to settle down and constantly ask for stickers and presents. They also want to do nothing but play bingo. By the time I get them settled with their storybooks and their workbooks, the lesson is over and I've not achieved anything.

Does anybody have some tips for me?
Regards,

Michael
michaelkorea
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Do you have any tips for teaching primary?

Unread postby Lucy » 25 Nov 2006, 20:41

Hello Michael,

These classes certainly sound difficult and you sound like a very concerned and committed teacher. I think you’ll find a way to deal with the classes given some time.

I think the first thing to do is to speak to somebody in the school to see if training is possible. It sounds like you are fairly new to teaching and it should be possible to get some support. If there is no training available, I think you can ask for the school to purchase some books. Some ideas are Teaching English in the Primary Classroom by Susan Halliwell and any of the books by Brewster, Ellis and Girard. These books give tips and ideas for the primary classroom.

I think your approach with stories is excellent. Children learn a lot through listening to stories. In the 4-5 age group, children can understand a lot but are slower to actually use the language. Your use of mime and noises is also very good. I suggest you continue with this and try to get more out of the stories you use.

You can repeat the stories you use. Children are usually happy to listen to a story a second or third time. After a first reading, you could go back to parts of the story and ask the children to mime and make noises with you. Also get them to join in with you; for example, if there is a repeated phrase or dialogue, ask them to say it with you. You can say some key words and point to them in the book. Say the words again and invite children to point to the words. Others in the class can say if they are right. You can ask the children to repeat words or short phrases; they won’t be able to make longer phrases at this age and they won’t be creative with the language.

In subsequent lessons you can show pictures from the stories you have worked on and build games around them. You can play number bingo, picture bingo, guess what’s in my hand using small objects. You can also use rhymes and songs with this age group. You can play Kim’s game: take a number of small objects into class, teach the vocabulary and have children repeat after you. Then lay the objects out on a table, give children some time to memorise what they see; tell them to close their eyes and remove one object. They open their eyes and guess which is missing.

I hope these ideas will help. I will reply to your question about 6-8 year olds in a separate posting. Please write in again if you would like more ideas for games.

Lucy
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Do you have any tips for teaching primary?

Unread postby Lucy » 26 Nov 2006, 19:02

Dear Michael,

When working with children, it is important to understand the activities that help to settle them and those that help to stir them or activate them. Generally, when you ask children to copy, to colour or to listen to a story, they settle down and are quiet. Games involving moving and competition generally stir them. All children are different and they are stimulated or subdued by different activities. I suggest you try different exercises with the class and observe the effect these exercises have on your students. When you understand this, you will have a very useful tool.

With your 6-8 class, you’ll be able to start classes with an activity that calms them down and when you think they are too quiet and need livening up a bit, you’ll be able to introduce an activity that will stir them into action. You’ll be the person who decides what the atmosphere is.

I also suggest that you have a short talk with the class. You’ll need to do this in their own language. If you don’t speak Korean, I suggest you ask somebody to explain to the children. I’m guessing that they ask for bingo, stickers and presents because they received these with their teacher last year. Explain to them that bingo, stickers and presents are nice and enjoyable and that they will continue having certain treats this year. Also tell them that they are a year older and as such you prefer to use these items as rewards for when they work well. Tell them they will still receive treats (games, stickers or whatever you choose) but that they will have to show you that they have worked hard before receiving these treats. For example, they’ll still play bingo but not so often. On the other hand, they’ll learn to play other games that they will enjoy just as much. Remember that children learn through playing, so you will need to include games but that you are the person who decides when they play. If you decide to give rewards when they work hard, you will need to stick to whatever you say. Don’t give rewards if they haven’t worked well.

Incidentally, I forgot to say yesterday that I can see why you think there is no point in teaching English to the 4-5 age group. It can be frustrating at times but in fact children of that age do learn a lot. They learn by just listening and being in an English environment. They are also seeing that studying English is a positive experience which will help motivate them in their later studies.

I hope this will help you. Please write in again if you would like more ideas.

Lucy
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